Getting Around Chicago
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Fly to Chicago
The main entrance to Chicago is O'hare International Airport (ORD)—which happens to be one of the world's busiest airports, so you'll have no trouble finding flights with all major airlines. O'hare is about 19 miles from downtown, so you're likely looking at a 30 to 90 minute trip to and from the airport when you get there, depending on weather, traffic, and whatever medium of transport you choose. The same goes if you're flying into Midway Airport, Chicago's second major airport. Luckily, you have more than a few options to choose from:
- Shuttle services: Shuttle services will run to and from the airport to various points in the city, the usual ride will take you about 45 minutes to an hour and run you $30, $45 per person. You can schedule airport shuttles like Coach USA and Go Airport Express, but personally, you won't need to unless you're trying to catch a departing flight.
- Taxi & car: The average travel time to and from the airports by car will be around an hour from O'hare and 45 minutes from Midway. For more on car rentals, click here. Also, the old yellow cabs are always a good option too and will cost you about $40 to $45 from O'hare, and maybe a few dollars less from Midway. If you skip on both, there's always Uber.
- Train transport: Lastly, there's Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) trains, also called elevated or El trains. Although the travel time will be a sure 45 minutes, the trains will save you the uncertainty of bad traffic, and are the cheapest way to and from both airports, with rides starting at $2.25. For more info on routes and services, click here.
Getting Around Chicago
Given our already thorough coverage on airport transport, we'll say this: Chicago has a great fleet of buses and trains that will easily get you all over town. Those of you comfortable with traveling around big cities might want to look into apps like City Mapper and Transit App, offering real-time scheduling, various routes, and ways to get around the city with public transportation. For the less intrepid, Taxis and Uber will easily get you anywhere around the city.
In regards to renting a car, traffic in Chicago is often hectic and heavy, public parking is essentially impossible to find, and parking lots will cost you a kidney. Moreover, local drivers have little patience for lost tourists, so we'd recommend against renting a car unless you're traveling out of the city, or you just relish the torture of rush hour traffic.