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Buses from Madison to Chicago

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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 4 hours and 9 minutes, but the fastest FlixBus US bus can make the trip in 2 hours and 35 minutes.

Distance122 mi (197 km)
Shortest duration2h 35m
Cheapest price$0.99
Trips per day24
Most frequent serviceAmtrak Thruway
Bus lines4

Bus Trip Reviews from Wanderu Customers

Overall score for buses from Madison, WI to Chicago, IL

(Based on 25 ratings and reviews)

4.8

5.0

Diane

October 10, 2021- Couples trip

Amtrak Thruway

Pros: It was very comfortable and the two drivers were good, helpful and made us feel comfortable. Cons: Nothing. Tips: No. It was as expected.

Pros: It was very comfortable and the two drivers were good, helpful and made us feel comfortable. Cons: Nothing. Tips: No. It was as expected.

5.0

Luis

September 20, 2021- Business

Amtrak Thruway

Pros: Both drivers were very professional and helpful. Cons: Perhaps show some movies on the bus. Tips: Be there 15 minutes earlier and wait in line.

Pros: Both drivers were very professional and helpful. Cons: Perhaps show some movies on the bus. Tips: Be there 15 minutes earlier and wait in line.

5.0

Oliva

September 8, 2021- Vacation

Amtrak Thruway

Pros: Puntual staff. Cons: Mask enforcement. Tips: Wear your mask and respect other passengers.

Pros: Puntual staff. Cons: Mask enforcement. Tips: Wear your mask and respect other passengers.

5.0

Luis

August 25, 2021- Business

Amtrak Thruway

Pros: Both of the bus drivers were extremely friendly, professional and courteous. I had an excellent trip. Thank you for your service. Cons: Show a movie on trips longer than 3 hours. Tips: Clean up the bathroom after you use it. Thank you.

Pros: Both of the bus drivers were extremely friendly, professional and courteous. I had an excellent trip. Thank you for your service. Cons: Show a movie on trips longer than 3 hours. Tips: Clean up the bathroom after you use it. Thank you.

5.0

Esmeralda

August 24, 2021- Couples trip

Amtrak Thruway

Pros: The trip was fast! The bus actually arrived 20 minutes earlier than expected. The AC was also appreciated and the USB port charger was greatly needed. Everything was accommodated perfectly. Cons: Seatbelts could be more comfortable or adjustable for shorter passe...

Pros: The trip was fast! The bus actually arrived 20 minutes earlier than expected. The AC was also appreciated and the USB port charger was greatly needed. Everything was accommodated perfectly. Cons: Seatbelts could be more comfortable or adjustable for shorter passengers.

More

How much is a bus ticket from Madison to Chicago?

$28.14 is the average price of a bus ticket from Madison to Chicago. 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

$45$30$15OctNov

Over the next four weeks, the average ticket price of a bus from Madison to Chicago is expected to range from $27 to $33. If you are looking to travel to Chicago within the next week, you can find bus tickets starting from $27. The cheapest bus tickets in the next month are $27 and can be found on October 25, 2021.

Monthly average prices

$50$40$30$20$10NDJFMAMJJASO

The lowest bus ticket prices on this route can usually be found in June. That’s when the average price of a bus ticket is expected to be just $29 – the lowest of the year.

Alternatively, if you plan to travel from Madison to Chicago in November, expect to spend more on your bus trip, as the average ticket price may surge to $40 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 18 days in advance. By doing so, you can expect to save $3.25 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. 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 53m$30.00
FlixBus US22h 57m$8.78
Greyhound13h 50m$37.33
Jefferson Lines310h 42m$46.41
  • 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 $30. On average, there are 11 Amtrak Thruway bus trips on this route every day.

  • 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 1 bus trips from Madison to Chicago every day, with the average journey taking around 3 hours and 50 minutes to complete. Bus tickets for Greyhound trips to Chicago usually start from $31.

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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.

In addition, federal law requires all bus 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 bus.

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?

The bus takes an average of 4 hours and 9 minutes to cover the 122 miles from Madison to Chicago. However, the fastest bus only takes 2 hours and 35 minutes. In other words, you'll have plenty of time to rest and relax on the road. 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 buses are there each 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 $30.00.

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.

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?

Departure stations

Buses to Chicago leave from 5 stations in Madison.

Bus stations in Madison:

  • 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

Arrival 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.

Bus stations in Chicago:

  • Bus Station - 630 W Harrison St

  • Canal St

  • Dan Ryan Bus Station

Need a return trip from Chicago to Madison?

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