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Chicago to Madison bus

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Helpful info about taking the bus from Chicago to Madison

  • You can fly, drive, or take a bus from Chicago to Madison. While flights technically have the shortest travel time, about an hour in the air, it all evens out once you consider getting through the departure and arrival airports. There is no direct train service to Madison, WI, so your best bet is ground transportation by car or bus.

    • Amtrak Thruway, FlixBus, and Greyhound provide bus service from Chicago to Madison. Badger Bus and Megabus do not currently serve this route from Chicago.

    • Depending on the carrier you choose, you might arrive at one of several stations in Madison. Some buses from Chicago arrive directly at the University of Wisconsin or UW-Gordon Center (which is also convenient for anyone going to downtown Madison).

    • Buses to Madison do not depart directly from Chicago O’Hare Airport. However, you can take public transit from the airport to downtown Chicago and transfer to an intercity bus heading to Madison. Take the Blue Line from O’Hare to the Clinton stop downtown, then walk to Union Station, where most buses to Madison depart.

    • The bus ride from Chicago to Madison takes between two and a half and three hours, but winter conditions can impact this travel time. In general, buses fare better in snowy conditions than planes do. The highways between Chicago and Madison are well-maintained during colder months, so buses often continue running even when flights are canceled.

    • The bus schedule between Chicago and Madison includes 20 trips every day, departing as early as 4:00am. On average, bus tickets for the route from Chicago to Madison cost $38.

Chicago - Madison Bus Schedule

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Journey Information

There are 38 intercity buses per day from Chicago to Madison. Traveling by bus from Chicago to Madison usually takes around 3 hours and 35 minutes, but the fastest Coach USA bus can make the trip in 2 hours and 35 minutes.

Distance122 mi (197 km)
Shortest duration2h 35m
Cheapest price$31.34
Trips per day46
Most frequent serviceCoach USA
Bus lines4

Bus Trip Reviews from Wanderu Customers

Overall score for buses from Chicago to Madison

(Based on 44 ratings and reviews)

4.7

4.0

James

April 2, 2024- Solo travel

Coach USA

Easy trip

4.0

Iryna

August 4, 2023- Solo travel

Amtrak Thruway

No clear indication on where the bus stop is at the union station in Chicago. Maybe add a sign “Amtrak transit buses” or something along the lines?

5.0

Wayne

July 18, 2023- Business

Amtrak Thruway

Pros: 1st driver was very nice and helpful. Cons: 2nd driver was rude and obnoxious to a female customer. At her destination the stowed luggage was not in the spot he expected and he got angry at her.

5.0

Sandeep

August 23, 2022- Solo travel

Amtrak Thruway

Pros: That it picked me up from right outside the airport and dropped at a very good location. Cons: Dont think anything need improvement. Tips: Have alight snack for the journey.

5.0

Michael

July 18, 2022- Visiting family

Amtrak Thruway

Pros: That The Drivers Drives The Vehicle The Right Way, Doesn’t Rush And Is Ver Cautious About Safety. Cons: The WiFi.

How much is a bus ticket from Chicago to Madison?

$50.83 is the average price of a bus ticket from Chicago to Madison. Taking a bus is an affordable way to make this trip. It’s easy to find a bus ticket at this price or lower when you use Wanderu to book your trip online in advance of your travel date.

Average prices by travel date

$61$41$20MayJun

Over the next four weeks, the average ticket price of a bus from Chicago to Madison is expected to range from $49 to $56. If you are looking to travel to Madison within the next week, you can find bus tickets starting from $50. The cheapest bus tickets in the next month are $49 and can be found on June 6, 2024.

Monthly average prices

$68$55$41$27$14JJASONDJFMAM

The lowest bus ticket prices on this route can usually be found in May. That’s when the average price of a bus ticket is expected to be just $52 – the lowest of the year.

Alternatively, if you plan to travel from Chicago to Madison in August, expect to spend more on your bus trip, as the average ticket price may surge to $57 at that time of year. However, if you book your trip ahead of time, you can still score a ticket at a lower price.

Prices as travel date approaches

$68$55$41$27$143020100

Most bus companies charge higher ticket prices the closer you book to the date of travel, so it’s a good idea to buy your bus tickets as early as possible. The best way to find cheap bus tickets is to book at least 14 days in advance. By doing so, you can expect to save C$10.13 on your bus ticket compared to booking at the last minute.

What bus companies travel from Chicago to Madison?

There are 4 bus lines from Chicago to Madison available for you to search and compare on Wanderu. With 27 daily trips, Coach USA usually has the most buses running on any given day. Here are some time and price comparisons for all the available options:

BusDaily TripsAvg. TimeAvg. Price
Amtrak Thruway113h 52m$55.50
Coach USA272h 43m$51.96
FlixBus US33h 42m$47.48
Greyhound24h 48m$53.50
  • Amtrak Thruway, also known as Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach, is a system of intercity passenger buses operated by Amtrak to connect train stations to areas that are not served by the carrier’s railroads. On the bus, passengers can enjoy comfortable reclining seats with leg rests and access to onboard restroom facilities. Amtrak Thruway bus tickets from Chicago to Madison start at $53. On average, there are 11 Amtrak Thruway bus trips on this route every day.

  • Book Coach USA from Chicago to Madison from $52. There are 27 Coach USA schedules from Chicago to Madison and you can expect on average to pay for a Coach USA ticket to Madison. In Chicago, Coach USA departs to Madison from Chicago O'Hare International Airport Multi-Modal Facility and no other station. In Madison, Coach USA arrives at University of Wisconsin - Gordon Center and 1 other station.

    An average trip on Coach USA from Chicago to Madison takes 2 hours and 43 minutes , while the fastest available Coach USA trip will get you to Madison in 2 hours and 35 minutes .

    On weekends, Coach USA offers 28 trips per day and you could expect to pay for a weekend getaway trip to Madison.

  • FlixBus US is the American branch of German bus company FlixBus, known for providing sustainable, affordable, and modern bus travel. The company offers cheap bus tickets to popular urban destinations throughout the United States. FlixBus US buses include many amenities, including comfortable seats, free WiFi, power outlets at every seat, and an online portal for free entertainment. On average, FlixBus US operates 3 trips per day from Chicago to Madison, and the average ticket for this route costs only .

  • Greyhound is the largest nationwide bus carrier in the United States, offering cheap, safe and reliable service across the country. Greyhound has become a household name, serving over 16 million passengers per year with daily trips to over 2,400 destinations. Greyhound performs about 2 bus trips from Chicago to Madison every day, with the average journey taking around 4 hours and 48 minutes to complete. Bus tickets for Greyhound trips to Madison usually start from $31.

Frequently Asked Questions

Amtrak will take you from Chicago to Madison, but there are no direct trains between the two cities (which means you’ll need to transfer). The trip will take you at least 4 hours. A bus can get you from Chicago to Madison in as few as 3 hours, and tickets start as low as $15. Train tickets from Chicago to Madison are usually at least $45.
Madison, Wisconsin, is a great day trip from Chicago. At least 30 buses run daily between the cities going each way, so you could arrive in Madison as early as 10:15 a.m. and leave to head back to Chicago as late as 11:15 p.m.

The bus takes an average of 3 hours and 35 minutes to cover the 197 kilometers from Chicago to Madison. However, the fastest bus only takes 2 hours and 35 minutes. It's the perfect amount of time to take a nap, get some work done, or watch a movie. Keep in mind that your actual bus may arrive earlier or later than scheduled, depending on whether there is more or less traffic than usual.

Because many passengers travel from Chicago to Madison at the beginning of the work week, Monday is usually the busiest day for buses. If you are planning to travel on a Monday, you should make sure to book tickets well in advance as they may sell out.

On the other hand, Thursday is typically the least busy day for bus travel on this route. If you’re looking for a little extra space, a Thursday ticket is the way to go.

The first bus leaves at 12:00am and the last bus leaves at 10:00pm. To see the times for all buses from Chicago to Madison, enter your specific travel dates in the search bar.

There are 38 scheduled buses that travel from Chicago to Madison every day, so you have a decent number of options to choose from. This includes 46 direct buses, where you can stay on the same bus without having to transfer to a connecting bus at any point during your trip.

Need more travel options? Consider taking the train from Chicago to Madison; ticket prices start at $53.19.

City Information

Chicago

Known for its innovative architecture, cultural contributions to jazz and house music, and of course that irresistible deep-dish pizza, the many sights and experiences in Chicago make it one of the best urban vacation destinations for millennials and a top destination in Illinois.

You can't beat the views of the city and Lake Michigan from the SkyDeck in the Willis Tower; at over 1,300 feet, this is the highest observation deck in the U.S. Snap that classic selfie with the Bean in Millennium Park, then wander the many museums in nearby Grant Park. Navy Pier is a popular tourist hotspot for its parks, restaurants, and attractions right on Lake Michigan, and baseball fans will find paradise in Wrigleyville, home to the Chicago Cubs' Wrigley Field and sports bars galore.

Chicago's enormous parks offer plentiful opportunities for outdoor activities in gorgeous urban settings. Many companies offer kayak rentals or boat tours on the Chicago River, with special tours running on Saint Patrick's Day, when the entire river is dyed green. When you’re ready to buy some souvenirs from your epic trip, hit the big brand stores on the Magnificent Mile, or shop local in neighborhoods like Andersonville and Wicker Park. And don't miss the chance to laugh until you cry at The Second City comedy theater, famous for launching the careers of comedians like Tina Fey and Stephen Colbert.

Chicago is one of the biggest transportation hubs in the Midwest, and provides easy access to nearby destinations ideal for day trips, as well as international travel from two airports. Thanks to plenty of bus and train stations throughout the city, getting to the Windy City is a breeze.

Madison

Consistently ranking high on the lists of the best places to live in the USA, Madison still maintains its quaint and idyllic small-town vibe despite being the capital city of Wisconsin. Sitting among the city’s most iconic and most popular landmarks is the Madison Memorial Union, which is located within the campus of the University of Madison. The building features a lakeview terrace filled with colorful chairs, allowing visitors to chill out and enjoy the sun. If you are interested in the history of the state or architecture as a whole, head over to the State Capitol building, which was built between 1906 and 1917. The building features lavish council chambers, which were modeled after the famous Doge’s Palace in Venice, along with other architectural highlights. If you wish to stay close to nature, the Olbrich Botanical garden, with its famous Thai Pavilion and Garden, will certainly be a great choice.

As a college city, Madison features numerous cutting-edge establishments that will make your mouth water. For some of the best dining views in town, head over to Graze, where you can also grab some of the best cheese curds in Madison. If you want to enjoy the best brunch in town, Sardine might have what you need.

The busiest bus/train station in Madison is located on Collins Ct. The city is served by the Dane County Regional Airport, 6 miles northeast of downtown.

Station Information

Where does the bus leave from in Chicago?

Main departure station: Chicago O'Hare International Airport Multi-Modal Facility

Buses to Madison leave from 7 stations in Chicago.

All bus stations in Chicago:

  • Chicago O'Hare International Airport Multi-Modal Facility

  • Chicago (Union Station), Illinois

  • Bus Station - 630 W Harrison St

  • 350 S Illinois St

  • Dan Ryan Bus Station

  • Greyhound: Bus Station

  • Louisville Bus Station

Where does the bus arrive in Madison?

Main arrival station: University of Wisconsin - Gordon Center

Buses arrive in Madison at 5 stations, depending on which bus line you are traveling with.

Bus stations in Madison:

  • University of Wisconsin - Gordon Center

  • Phillips 66

  • Dutch Mill Park & Ride Lot

  • Dutch Mill Park & Ride (West Lot)

  • University of Wisconsin - Gordon Center

Get around town with Moovit

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Need a return trip from Madison to Chicago?

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