Getting Around Chicago

Written: The Top Thing Staff | February 9, 2023

Chicago is a city of neighborhoods. With such a rich and vibrant culture, it’s no wonder that this city keeps attracting new residents and tourists from around the world. Whether you’re new to the city and or its your first time visiting the windy city transportation in Chicago can be challenging.

But don’t worry! In this guide, we’ll cover different transportation options available to help you get around the city like a pro. Let’s get into it!

From the Airports

If you’re planning on visiting Chicago, you’ll have plenty of options for getting around the city. Most travelers choose taxi, rideshare, public transportation, or airport shuttles to get from one destination to the next. The best way to choose between these options is to do your homework and research the options thoroughly before making a decision. Here are some helpful tips for taking public transportation and using airport shuttles and private car services.

  • When using public transportation, try to plan your route in advance so you can avoid long lines and delays.
  • Avoid venturing too far from the airport when using public transit, as this can cause delays and can lead to missed flights.
  • If possible, use public transit at night when it’s less crowded and less expensive.
  • Do your research before booking a ride with a private car service, as these services often charge higher rates than taxi cabs for similar trips.
  • Consider traveling during non-peak hours for cheaper fares.

O’Hare International Airport

O’Hare International Airport is the primary airport for Chicago, and is located just north of the city. The airport is served by numerous airlines, both domestic and international, which offer direct flights to over 200 destinations around the world. Public transportation options to and from O’Hare include CTA buses and the Metra rail system. If you’re staying near O’Hare, taxis, shuttles, and ride-share services are also available; however, they may be more expensive than public transport. If you’re traveling to or from Chicago, making sure you have a way to get around the city easily is essential.

Midway International Airport

Midway International Airport is located on the south side of Chicago, just off the I-55 and I-294 highways. It offers nonstop flights to more than 50 domestic and international cities. The airport is served by nine major airlines, providing travelers with a diverse range of transportation options. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, Midway has something for everyone. There are food and beverage outlets, shopping areas, and other amenities available for travelers at Midway. Whether you’re flying in for a quick business meeting or spending a few days exploring the city, Midway has everything you need to make your stay enjoyable and efficient.

Chicago’s street system

In terms of transportation, it’s best to familiarize oneself with the basics of Chicago’s street system. This includes the way the grid layout divides up the city into square blocks and diagonal streets. Also, it’s best to understand that public transportation options in Chicago include metra, lakefront line, bus, taxi and bike. These transportation options serve various parts of the city and can help you explore various areas with ease. In addition, it’s best to consider renting a car or bike if you plan to explore farther distances as these modes of transportation offer greater flexibility and accessibility. Finally, it’s vital to consider any transportation option carefully based on one’s needs and preferences.

Ways to Get Around in Chicago

If you’re planning to travel around Chicago by public transportation, buses, trains, and the ‘L’ are a great way to get around. While public transportation is often cheaper than ridesharing services, it’s also a great way to experience the city. You can read about local sights and stops on transit maps, which can help you plan your route and focus on the sights instead of directions. You can also check out transit apps such as Google Maps transit, Ride app, or Transit app, which should make bus and train trips more convenient and less stressful.

If public transportation isn’t an option for you, taxis are another way to get around Chicago. Taxis are available for hire in most parts of the city. They’re best for traveling short distances quickly, but be sure to follow taxi regulations and safety guidelines when using one. Walking is another way to explore the city. Explore neighborhoods and attractions by foot and experience all Chicago has to offer!

Metra Rail

Metra is a transit system that operates in the suburbs of Chicago, offering train service between downtown Chicago and surrounding communities. Metra trains connect with the Chicago ‘L’ system at 10 stations throughout the region, making it easy to travel around the city. The train offers various amenities, including Wi-In, Wi-Fi, power outlets, and bike storage. One-way tickets cost $2.25 and day passes cost $10.

If you live in one of the suburbs served by Metra, you can use transit as an alternative way to get around downtown Chicago. However, before using transit as your transportation option, it’s important to know how it works and what to look for when purchasing tickets or passes. Get familiar with Metra’s fare structure and learn about discounted fares for students, seniors, and people with disabilities. Also, be aware of any potential benefits or discounts for Metra rail users that may be offered by local transit authorities or transit organizations. If you’re interested in exploring Metra rail as your transportation option, start by learning more about how it works and the fare structure. You can also search online for details about available fares and passes for Metra train rides.


Looking for a way to get around Chicago? You can always count on taxis to provide you with reliable transportation. There are taxi stands in major transportation hubs and cabs can be hailed from the street. However, before you take one, make sure to familiarize yourself with taxi fare rates in the city and safety tips for taking a taxi in Chicago.

  • Taxi Fare Rates: The going rates for cabs vary by city, but expect to pay $2.75 per mile or $13.00 per hour.
  • Safety Tips: Don’t carry large sums of money or important items when taking a taxi. Also, avoid taking cabs after drinking alcohol or using drugs since it may cause you to become impaired and unable to properly assess your situation and make decisions.
  • How to Pay for Your Ride: When taking a taxi, it’s best to use flat rate payment options like credit card or debit card as it reduces the risk of missing any charges. Also, keep track of the taxi’s route so that you can pay the driver directly from the meter upon arrival.

Water taxis

Taking a water taxi in Chicago is a great way to explore the city’s waterways and experience the bustling city from a unique perspective. Water taxis offer fast, convenient transportation from one point to another on water, and can take you to popular tourist destinations, such as Grant Park or Navy Pier, or any other local hotspot. They’re also an environmentally-friendly way to get around town, making them a viable option for travelers looking for an alternative to gasoline-powered transportation.

Water taxis are affordable and easy to use, with fares varying based on the length of the ride. Many water taxi providers offer discounts for students and seniors, so be sure to check our their websites for more information before taking a ride. Safety is obviously essential when riding a water taxi, so be sure to follow all safety guidelines and wear appropriate clothing and safety gear. Additionally, be aware of your surroundings and avoid distractions while on the water.


There are a variety of rideshare apps available in the city. The most popular one is Lyft, which allows passengers to request rides through its app and pay for them using credit card or PayPal. In addition to providing transportation, Lyft also offers carpooling capabilities, allowing passengers to share the cost of a ride with others traveling in the same route.

Another app that everyone uses is Uber, which connects riders with taxi cabs via an app. Passengers can use this app to request rides from cabs as well as from other individual drivers using the app.

Both apps offer similar features and services, making it easy for users to find and book reliable transportation options easily. The best way to use these apps is to read the terms and conditions of each app carefully before using them. This will help you understand how the app works and help make your ridesharing experience as smooth as possible.

Shuttles and Limo service

Looking for transportation around the city? There are several options available, including bus, train, car rental, taxi, and shuttle.

Buses are the most popular option for getting around Chicago. The Metra system connects suburbs across the region with train stations, allowing passengers to travel easily throughout the area. If you’re traveling within a particular suburb, you may want to consider taking public transit instead of driving. There are several bus lines that connect suburbs to major cities, such as route 50 through downtown Chicago.

If public transit isn’t an option, consider using a car rental service or taxi app. With a car rental service like Hertz or Avis, you can pick up and drop off your car anywhere in the city of Chicago. Depending on the type of taxi service you use, you might be able to request one via app or call one yourself. With all these options available, it’s easy to plan your trip and get around Chicago quickly and efficiently.


If you’re looking for a way to explore the city safely and conveniently, consider cycling. The Divvy bike-share program offers members access to more than 1,000 bikes across Chicago, including popular bike lanes, scenic bike paths, and recreational bike trails. With a membership, you can unlock a bike and ride as much as you like, without having to pay any additional fees.

You can also check out the best bike-friendly streets in the city. These include streets with no car traffic, such as parkways and esplanades, as well as residential neighborhoods with lots of bike lanes and safe passing spaces. These areas provide great infrastructure for biking and make the city feel more connected and vibrant.

To stay safe on two wheels, it’s important to follow the city’s biking laws and regulations and learn about the best biking practices for your area. This will help you ride safely and confidently on the road. Not only does biking improve your health and reduce traffic congestion, but it’s also fun and environmentally friendly way to travel around town.


If you’re new to driving in the city, it’s best to familiarize yourself with local road rules and parking regulations before venturing out on the roads. If you want to explore the city with a rent-a-car, consider using ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft. This way, you can avoid the hassles of driving and save money. You can also carpool with other passengers to reduce traffic congestion and save money on transportation costs. To navigate your way around the city efficiently using apps like Waze or Google Maps, make use of navigation features that help you plot your route with ease. Besides, it’d help you avoid traffic snags and reach your destination faster. By taking these steps, you can have fun exploring Chicago without worrying about driving.

Decide the best transportation method for you

Consider what type of traveller you are and decide accordingly on how you would get around the city

  • Public transportation: Buses and the ‘L’ subway system are the public transportation options in Chicago. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but if you’re looking to travel around the city cheaply and easily, public transit is one way to go.
  • Car rental: If you’re planning to explore beyond the city limits, renting a car is an excellent option. However, be sure to do your research and compare prices before making a decision.
  • Taxis: Taxis are readily available throughout the city, but can be expensive. If you’re comfortable with ride sharing apps like Uber or Lyft, they could be a viable option as well.
  • Ride sharing apps: Ride sharing apps are convenient and affordable alternatives to public transit, car rental, and taxi rides. They provide a way for people to get around with less hassle and money spent.

Metra trains provide good connections to the suburbs

The Metra system is a great way to get around Chicago. It offers convenient and affordable transportation options to the city’s suburbs and beyond. In addition to its Electric Line, which provides service from downtown to the far south side and suburbs, the North Central line is a great option for accessing north side neighborhoods. This line connects downtown with the Northwest line, which takes riders from downtown to the western suburbs and beyond. The Union Pacific Northwest line also offers convenient transportation to those living in western suburbs. These lines make it easy for residents to access popular destinations quickly and easily. Besides these lines, Metra also offers bus transportation through its BNSF line, which connects downtown with the western suburbs and beyond. With Metra’s diverse transportation options, passengers can choose the one that best suits their needs and lifestyle.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to get around chicago by train?

Getting around the city of Chicago by train is a great way to explore the city while keeping transportation costs to a minimum. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) train system offers single rides ranging from $2.25 to $5.00, depending on your destination. CTA also offers passes that allow unlimited rides for one day ($10) up to 30 days ($105). Seniors, students and those with disabilities may be eligible for reduced fares.

How much does it cost to get around chicago by car?

The cost of getting around chicago by car depends on several factors, including the type of car you’re driving, how much gas you use, and where you are going. On average, it can cost around $3-$5 per gallon of gas in Chicago depending on the area. Additionally, parking fees vary depending on the location with some areas being more expensive than others. Finally, toll roads and expressways also charge a fee for their services. All of these costs combined can add up quickly when driving in chicago, so it’s best to factor them into your budget when planning trips.

What are the benefits of biking in chicago?

Biking in Chicago has many benefits, making it one of the best ways to get around. Not only is biking fast and efficient, but it’s also cost effective since there are no fuel or parking costs associated with it.

The bike lanes in Chicago are well marked and easy to navigate, making cycling a safe way to commute around town. Cycling can also help reduce traffic congestion in busier areas of the city, which makes biking even more appealing.

Chicago, a city with a rich history and culture, is a place that one must visit at least once in a lifetime. It has something for everyone: history buffs, foodies, art and architecture aficionados, music lovers, and people who just want to have fun. While public transportation in Chicago isn’t as expansive as in other major metros, it’s still possible to get around using public transit or ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. We hope this guide helps you plan your trip to Chicago and makes your stay comfortable.