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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Bus Route Overview: Chicago to Madison

There are 43 intercity buses per day from Chicago to Madison. Traveling by bus from Chicago to Madison usually takes around 3 hours and 46 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$26.57
Trips per day48
Most frequent serviceCoach USA
Bus lines4

Bus Trip Reviews from Wanderu Customers

Average score for buses from Chicago to Madison

(Based on 41 ratings and reviews)




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?



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.



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.



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.



May 28, 2022- Visiting family

Amtrak Thruway

Pros: Everything. Tips: The bus is always on time so travelers should not delay otherwise they will miss their bus.

How much is a bus ticket from Chicago to Madison?

Bus tickets for a trip from Chicago to Madison cost $39.88 on average. Opting to take a bus is a wallet-friendly way to make this trip. If you book your trip ahead of time using Wanderu, you can easily find bus tickets at or below this price.

Average prices by travel date


Over the next four weeks, the average price of bus tickets from Chicago to Madison is expected to be between $39 and $41. The cheapest day to travel in the next month is November 29, 2023, when tickets are available for November 29, 2023. The cheapest bus tickets available in the next week start at just $39.

Monthly average prices

If you're planning on taking a bus from Chicago to Madison, you'll be happy to know that the cost stays pretty stable throughout the year. You can expect to pay around $39 for your ticket regardless of when you plan to travel.

Prices as travel date approaches


Most bus companies charge higher ticket prices closer to the date of travel, so it’s a good idea to buy your bus tickets as early as possible. To find the cheapest bus tickets, book your trip at least 8 days in advance. This way, you can save up to $3.56 on your bus ticket compared to booking 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 28 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 48m$40.06
Coach USA282h 43m$38.10
FlixBus US23h 33m$42.01
Greyhound35h 28m$46.99
  • 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 $39. On average, there are 11 Amtrak Thruway bus trips on this route every day.

  • Book Coach USA from Chicago to Madison from $38. There are 28 trips per day offered by Coach USA 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 . In Madison, Coach USA arrives at Phillips 66 and one 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 26 trips per day. A one way ticket costs for a weekend 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 2 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 3 bus trips from Chicago to Madison every day, with the average journey taking around 5 hours and 28 minutes to complete. Bus tickets for Greyhound trips to Madison usually start from $27.

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.

Our bus 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, bus 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.

Although masks are no longer required on public transportation, we stand behind CDC guidelines that encourage passengers to wear a mask over their nose and mouth while on the bus or in stations.

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.

The bus takes an average of 3 hours and 46 minutes to cover the 122 miles 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.

Tuesday is usually the day of the week when buses are busiest. If you are planning to travel on a Tuesday, you should make sure to book tickets well in advance as they may sell out.

On the other hand, Saturday is typically the least busy day for bus travel on this route. If you’re looking for a little extra space, a Saturday 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 43 scheduled buses that travel from Chicago to Madison every day, so you have a decent number of options to choose from. This includes 48 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 $39.00.

City Information


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.


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

  • Dan Ryan Bus Station

  • 350 S Illinois St

  • Louisville Bus Station

  • Greyhound: 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.

All bus stations in Madison:

  • University of Wisconsin - Gordon Center

  • Phillips 66

  • Dutch Mill Park & Ride Lot

  • University of Wisconsin - Gordon Center

  • Dutch Mill Park & Ride (West Lot)

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