Madison to Chicago buses

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Madison - Chicago Bus Schedule

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Journey Information

There are 16 intercity buses per day from Madison to Chicago. Traveling by bus from Madison to Chicago usually takes around 3 hours and 58 minutes, but the fastest FlixBus US bus can make the trip in 3 hours and 25 minutes.

Distance122 mi (197 km)
Shortest duration3h 25m
Cheapest price$30.99
Trips per day24
Most frequent serviceAmtrak Thruway
Bus lines4

Bus Trip Reviews from Wanderu Customers

Overall score for buses from Madison to Chicago

(Based on 41 ratings and reviews)

4.8

5.0

Jahaira

September 9, 2022- Solo travel

Amtrak Thruway

Pros: How comfortable I felt. Cons: Everything is good.

Pros: How comfortable I felt. Cons: Everything is good.

5.0

William

July 30, 2022- Vacation

Amtrak Thruway

Pros: I could catch on my sleep. Cons: Better plug to chareg phone, and wifi. Tips: Always arrive 20 mins earlier.

Pros: I could catch on my sleep. Cons: Better plug to chareg phone, and wifi. Tips: Always arrive 20 mins earlier.

5.0

Francesca

June 15, 2022- Solo travel

Amtrak Thruway

Pros: Traveling. Cons: Driving.

Pros: Traveling. Cons: Driving.

5.0

Debby

May 27, 2022- Solo travel

Amtrak Thruway

Price

Price

5.0

Eileen

December 29, 2021- Visiting family

Amtrak Thruway

Nothing

Nothing

How much is a bus ticket from Madison to Chicago?

The average price for a bus ticket to Chicago is $37.71, Traveling by bus on this route is one of the most affordable ways to hit the road from Madison. Wanderu ensures that you find great deals on bus tickets everytime, we search all of the best bus options to present you the lowest prices available from our partner carriers.

Average prices by travel date

$45$30$15SepOct

Over the next four weeks, the average ticket price of a bus from Madison to Chicago is expected to range from $37 to $40. If you are looking to travel to Chicago within the next week, you can find bus tickets starting from $38. The cheapest bus tickets in the next month are $37 and can be found on October 20, 2022.

Monthly average prices

$50$40$30$20$10ONDJFMAMJJAS

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 $32 – the lowest of the year.

Alternatively, if you plan to travel from Madison to Chicago in July, expect to spend more on your bus trip, as the average ticket price may surge to $35 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

$50$40$30$20$103020100

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 16 days in advance. By doing so, you can expect to save $3.40 on your bus ticket compared to booking at the last minute.

What bus companies travel from Madison to Chicago?

There are 4 bus lines from Madison to Chicago available for you to search and compare on Wanderu. With 11 daily trips, Amtrak Thruway 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 58m$39.00
FlixBus US23h 30m$37.13
Greyhound23h 41m$42.48
Jefferson Lines26h 16m$50.11
  • Amtrak Thruway

    Amtrak Thruway

    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 Madison to Chicago start at $39. On average, there are 11 Amtrak Thruway bus trips on this route every day.

  • FlixBus US

    FlixBus US

    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 Madison to Chicago, and the average ticket for this route costs only .

  • Greyhound

    Greyhound

    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 Madison to Chicago every day, with the average journey taking around 3 hours and 41 minutes to complete. Bus tickets for Greyhound trips to Chicago usually start from $34.

  • Jefferson Lines

    Jefferson Lines

    Jefferson Lines is a well-established intercity bus company with service to some of the Midwest’s top travel destinations. As one of the United States’ largest bus service providers, Jefferson Lines is beloved by students, commuters, and vacationers in America’s heartland. Travel with Jefferson Lines is comfortable thanks to reclining seats, individual climate controls, restrooms, and free WiFi. You can even check the status of your trip with their bus tracker tool. The carrier provides safe, affordable, and reliable service from Madison to Chicago with ticket prices as low as $41.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which bus carrier should you take from Madison to Chicago?

The cheapest bus carrier you can take from Madison to Chicago is Greyhound, which has an average ticket price of $24.40. That said, Greyhound also averages the longest travel time at 5 hours and 54 minutes. To arrive in Chicago sooner, consider traveling on a Megabus, with an average travel time of 3 hours and 43 minutes. Megabus tickets average a few dollars more than Greyhound, but may be worth it to save you almost two hours.

How do you get to the bus station from UW-Madison?

Bus carriers such as Megabus and Van Galder depart from Langdon Street just outside of the Memorial Union building on the east side of the UW-Madison campus. The Memorial Union is on the south shore of Lake Mendota, next to the Helen C. White Hall and across from the Wisconsin Historical Society.

How much longer does a bus take than a flight from Madison to Chicago?

The fastest you can expect to arrive in Chicago from Madison is about 3 hours, though the average time is closer to 3 hours and 45 minutes. Nonstop flights from Madison to Chicago take about an hour, but are far more expensive, averaging about $229. For comparison, bus tickets for this route average just $25.08.

Is it safe to travel by bus from Madison to Chicago during the COVID-19 pandemic?

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.

How long is the bus ride from Madison to Chicago?

The bus takes an average of 3 hours and 58 minutes to cover the 122 miles from Madison to Chicago. However, the fastest bus only takes 3 hours and 25 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.

What is the busiest day of the week to travel by bus?

Friday is the busiest travel day for buses as people head from Madison to Chicago for the weekend. If you are planning to travel on a Friday, 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.

When do the earliest and latest buses leave Madison?

The first bus leaves at 2:00am and the last bus leaves at 5:00pm. To see the times for all buses from Madison to Chicago, enter your specific travel dates in the search bar.

How many bus trips to Chicago are there per day?

There are 16 scheduled buses that travel from Madison to Chicago every day, so you have a decent number of options to choose from. This includes 24 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 Madison to Chicago; ticket prices start at $39.00.

City Information

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.

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.

Station Information

Where does the bus leave from in Madison?

Main departure station: University of Wisconsin - Gordon Center

Buses to Chicago leave from 5 stations in Madison.

All bus stations in Madison:

  • University of Wisconsin - Gordon Center

  • Dutch Mill Park & Ride Lot

  • University of Wisconsin

  • Phillips 66

  • Dutch Mill Park & Ride (West Lot)

Where does the bus arrive in Chicago?

Chicago, IL - Union Station - CHIUST-0

Image credit: Jeramey Jannene

Link to image attribution

Main arrival station: Union Station

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.

All bus stations in Chicago:

  • Union Station

  • Bus Station - 630 W Harrison St

  • Canal St

  • Dan Ryan Bus Station

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