Getting Around Chicago

The best way to get around Chicago is public transportation. The public rail system -- the El -- is cheap and easy to navigate, but there are also buses that service nearly every tourist attraction. You can use public transit to reach the city from both Chicago O'Hare Airport (ORD) and Chicago Midway Airport (MDW). Consider purchasing an Unlimited Ride Card -- valid for one, three or seven days -- for unlimited rides for one small fee. Taxis and car rentals are also available at both airports, and cabs are easy to find in the Loop and Near North areas.

Public Transportation

Traffic can be brutal, so you should consider taking the city's public transportation, which is convenient, inexpensive and accessible to nearly every tourist attraction. The above-ground subway train, known simply as 'the El,' is the second-largest public transportation system in the world. However, experienced travelers warn that it's not always particularly clean and can sometimes be unreliable. Just in case, make sure to leave yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. Individual rides on the El and Chicago buses cost about $2. The Chicago Transit Authority offers Unlimited Ride Cards that suit every traveler in terms of length of stay. Unlimited Ride cards range from about $6 to $23 depending on how long they last.


Taxis are a convenient way to get around the Loop and to areas beyond downtown. Within the Loop and the Near North, you should have no trouble hailing a cab from the street. And if you find yourself outside that immediate area, you might want to call for a pick-up since there are fewer cabs about. Meters start at around $2.25 with up to a $1 surcharge per additional passenger. The rate per mile tends to vary depending on the price of fuel.


If you do decide to use a car, you'll be helped by the city's grid layout. But you should be prepared for extremely limited (and often pricey) parking and heavy traffic during rush hour. If you're visiting during the cold months and do not have much winter driving experience, you'll be better off relying on public transport -- roads can be icy and snowfall leads to limited visibility.

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