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Compare train tickets from Chicago to San Francisco

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Chicago-San Francisco Train Timetable

Trip Summary

There are 4 daily trains from Chicago to San Francisco. Traveling by train from Chicago to San Francisco usually takes around 61 hours and 22 minutes, but the fastest Amtrak train can make the trip in 53 hours,

Distance1855 mi (2985 km)
Fastest train53h 0m
Lowest price€120.12
Most frequent serviceAmtrak
Train lines1

What is the price of a train ticket from Chicago to San Francisco?

In the last month, €188.98 was the average price of a train ticket from Chicago, IL to San Francisco, CA. Given how far apart Chicago and San Francisco are from each other, there's no getting around the fact that most train tickets are on the pricier side. You can expect to find tickets at that price or lower if you book your trip at least 29 days in advance. Otherwise, expect to pay around €94.22 more than that for a same-day booking.

Average prices by travel date

€305€203€102AugAug

Over the next 30 days, the average cost of a one-way train trip from Chicago to San Francisco will vary between €156 and €305. Planning a train trip to San Francisco within the upcoming week? The cheapest train ticket you can find from Chicago over the next 7 days is €194. Make sure to book your trip as soon as possible as train fares tend to go up as you get closer to your travel date.

Monthly average prices

€211€169€127€85€42SONDJFMAMJJA

If you are trying to decide when to travel from Chicago to San Francisco by train so you can score the best possible deal, your best bet would be to plan your trip for September. That’s when the average price for a train ticket is expected to be just €168 – the lowest of the year.

Alternatively, if you plan to travel from Chicago to San Francisco in December, expect to spend more on your train trip, as the average ticket price usually surges to €206 at that time of year. However, if you book your trip ahead of time, you have a high chance of scoring a ticket at a lower price.

Prices as travel date approaches

€296€237€178€118€593020100

If you want to score the best deal, you should plan to book your train trip online on Wanderu at least 29 days ahead of time. If you do that, your train ticket to San Francisco from Chicago will be about €94.22 cheaper compared to what you would pay if you book at the last minute.

Which train should you take from Chicago to San Francisco?

Amtrak is the one and only train line which connects Chicago, Illinois to San Francisco, California. However, there are 4 trains per day to choose from.

TrainDaily TripsAvg. TimeAvg. Price
Amtrak42d 13h 23m€237.37
  • Amtrak

    Amtrak

    Amtrak is the largest passenger railroad service in America, offering daily intercity trains to hundreds of destinations across the contiguous United States, as well as several cities in Canada. Every Amtrak train comes equipped with comfortable seats with extra legroom, as well as several four-seat areas with tables in the middle. In addition, each car has a freshly cleaned restroom, free WiFi and power outlets at every seat. There are also snack bars where you can purchase drinks or food during your journey. On average, there are 4 Amtrak trains from Chicago to San Francisco every day, as well as 4 trips on the weekends, with prices starting from €120.

    AMT-0AMT-1AMT-2AMT-3AMT-4AMT-5AMT-6AMT-7AMT-8AMT-9

Frequently Asked Questions

How many days does the California Zephyr take from Chicago to San Francisco?

Amtrak’s California Zephyr train from Chicago to San Francisco officially takes 51 hours and 20 minutes — over two days! As one of the most scenic train trips in North America, though, some riders extend the trip by buying tickets in segments and visiting beautiful locations and exciting cities along the way.

What are the most scenic Amtrak stretches between Chicago and San Francisco?

The most scenic stretches of the California Zephyr include a span over the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, as well as a trek through California’s Sierra Nevadas.

How many miles is it from Chicago to San Francisco?

The distance from Chicago to San Francisco covers 1,859 miles (2,991.8 kilometers). The driving distance is upwards of 2,120 miles (3,411.8 kilometers).

Is it safe to travel by train from Chicago to San Francisco during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Our train partners have implemented several different policies to keep you safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. From limiting vehicle capacity to enhancing cleaning protocols and upgrading air filters, train carriers are committed to maintaining a safe environment. For details on what each company is doing to ensure their fleet remains safe for travel, click here.

In addition, federal law requires all train passengers to wear a face covering for the entire duration of the trip. Please make sure you are wearing a face mask or you may not be allowed to board the train.

Please visit our COVID-19 Travel Guide for more information on all carrier policies and the latest travel advisories issued by every U.S. state, Canadian province, and European country.

Can you take a train all the way from Chicago to San Francisco?

While the train is the main method of transportation from Chicago to San Francisco, it will only take you part of the way there. Please note that part of your trip will be on a different vehicle, most commonly a bus or express shuttle.

How long is the train journey from Chicago to San Francisco?

The distance between Chicago and San Francisco is approximately 1855 miles, or 2985 kilometers. The average train journey between these two cities takes 61 hours and 22 minutes, although the absolute fastest you could get there is 53 hours,

Looking for ways to pass the time? Most trains are equipped with Wi-Fi, which means you can stream music, browse social media or get some work done during your ride. That said, in case your train has a spotty signal, or is among the few without Wi-Fi, we also recommend downloading TV shows and movies to your mobile device in advance of your trip. That way the ride will fly by whatever the Wi-Fi situation.

When are trains the most crowded?

Trains from Chicago to San Francisco are the most crowded on Wednesday. Tickets also tend to be more expensive then. If you are looking for a great deal on your train tickets or just want extra room to stretch out, consider traveling on Friday instead, as it tends to be the least crowded day of the week.

When are the first and last trains of the day?

The earliest train departs Chicago at 13:00 while the last train of the day leaves at 14:00. To see all scheduled departure times, use the search function on this page to get the full schedule for your specific travel dates.

Is there a direct train from Chicago to San Francisco?

There are 4 scheduled trains on most days. Unfortunately, none of them are direct connections, so you will need to disembark from your original train and board a connecting train during your journey. Don't forget to bring your carry-on luggage when you switch trains. In some instances, you may also be responsible for transferring your own checked baggage.

You can also take a train for your return trip from San Francisco to Chicago. If you're not not set on traveling by train, you could always take the bus from Chicago to San Francisco for €159.88.

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.

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.

San Francisco

Located in the heart of Northern California's Bay Area, San Francisco is a geographically small but culturally huge city known for its historic cable cars, active waterfront, and the eclectic mix of hippies and techies who call it home. While it might be one of the most expensive U.S. cities to live in, San Fran can actually be very cheap to visit, and there is no shortage of unique sights to see.

If the city's omnipresent fog (nicknamed "Karl the Fog" by locals) takes a break, the best views and Instagram photo ops of the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge are found in Golden Gate Park. Stroll through the oldest Chinatown in North America to find the perfect dim sum, or if you and your boo prefer a little Full House moment, try a romantic picnic at Alamo Square Park in front of the Victorian "Painted Ladies." After all, San Francisco is one of the best vacation destinations for couples.

Since the city is condensed onto a small peninsula, exploring by bike is an efficient and scenic way to get around. When you’re ready to travel beyond city limits, San Francisco is a convenient hub for trips throughout Northern California. It's actually the first stop on Wanderu's West Coast Wine Tour, with the next stop, obviously, in Napa Valley. Whether traveling by bus, train, or through either of the two nearby airports, San Francisco is a can't-miss destination.

Station Information

Where is the train station in Chicago?

Departure stations

The historic Chicago Union Station is the United States' third busiest train station and a hub for 15 Amtrak train lines with destinations throughout the country. The station also serves bus carriers like Greyhound, Indian Trails and Jefferson Lines, and offers connections to Metra commuter lines. Union Station is also just a quick walk to the nearest Chicago L lines. The current station was built in 1925, to replace the original one dating back to 1881, and today wows visitors with its impressive facade, massive columns, and opulent Great Hall. Located right in downtown and adjacent to the Chicago Loop, Union Station is equipped with many services and amenities, including phone charging stations, shops, and various food and drink options.

Where is the train station in San Francisco?

Arrival stations

San Francisco has one train station.

Need a return trip from San Francisco to Chicago?

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