Travel to Chicago

Flying to Chicago

American Airlines, British Airways, United and Virgin Atlantic operate direct flights from the UK to Chicago. The cheapest time to travel is usually between January and March, while fares tend to be at their highest in July and August.

Flight times

From London - 8 hours 45 minutes; New York - 2 hours 15 minutes; Los Angeles - 4 hours; Toronto - 1 hour 45 minutes; Sydney - 20 hours (including stopover).

City Airports: 
Telephone:+1 800 832 6352

Chicago Midway International Airport is situated 16km (10 miles) southwest of central Chicago.


ATMs are located throughout the terminal. Currency exchange is available in concourse A.


Items lost in the public areas of the airport are handled by the Midway Communication Center (tel: +1 773 838 0656).

Telephone:+1 800 832 6352

Chicago O’Hare International Airport is situated 29km (18 miles) northwest of Chicago.

Money:There are ATMs and bureau de change facilities within all of the airport terminals. Full-service banks can be found in Terminals 2 and 5.
Luggage:Luggage trolleys are situated in all terminals. Lost property desks (tel: +1 773 686 2385), staffed by the Chicago Police Department, are located on the upper levels of each terminal.

Travel by road


Chicago is as much the centre of the US road network as it is that for rail and air routes. The general rule for numbering on freeways and interstates is that odd numbers go north-south and even numbers go east-west over their whole length, although at any single, localised point it may seem different. Driving is on the right. Speed limits on different motorways can vary. The general maximum is 90kph (55mph), with some spots being 110kph (70mph). Town residential areas can be as slow as 30kph (20mph), with specifically posted limits near schools. It is also illegal to pass a yellow school bus when its red lights are flashing. Unless specified, it is permissible to turn right at a red light after making a complete stop.

The minimum driving age is 16 years, or 18 years for unsupervised driving. Visitors require a valid driving licence from their home country. Third party insurance is mandatory, although it is also highly recommended for drivers to have adequate travel medical insurance, as the cost of medical treatment in the USA is huge.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) (tel: +1 866 968 7222; can provide information and may offer reciprocal benefits to members of automobile clubs in other countries.

Emergency breakdown service:

AAA (tel: +1 800 222 4357).


Interstate 90 (I-90) runs due west to Seattle on the Pacific seaboard, while I-80 runs a parallel westward route, further south, to San Francisco. Its eastward stretch goes to New York. I-55 goes south to St Louis, then follows the Mississippi to New Orleans on the Gulf of Mexico. Making an arc on the west side of the city, about 16km (10 miles) from the Loop at its nearest point to Downtown, the I-294 is a toll road. Also, south of the city centre, the I-90 becomes the 'Chicago Skyway Toll' road, on its route to Indianapolis. The I-94 connects with Milwaukee and Minneapolis in the north, while the I-80 takes drivers west toward Omaha.

Driving times:

From New York - 13 hours; Detroit - 4 hours 30 minutes; Des Moines - 5 hours 30 minutes; Minneapolis - 7 hours.


The main bus station is located at 630 West Harrison Street, only two blocks from the CTA Blue Line's Clinton Station. Greyhound (tel: +1 800 231 2222; operates nationwide coach services from here. Indian Trails (tel: +1 800 292 3831; operates regional services between Chicago and Michigan destinations like Bay City, Saginaw and Flint.

Travel by rail


Union Station, 225 South Canal Street, is the hub of the national Amtrak network. Amtrak trains travel throughout the USA, but are notoriously slow and often subject to delays. If you have plenty of time on your hands, it can be a great way to travel though. The commuter service, Metra, also operates from here. 


Amtrak (tel: +1 800 872 7245; and the commuter service Metra (tel: +1 312 322 6777; operate from Chicago.

Chicago is a major stop on several Amtrak routes. The Californian Zephyr travels from Chicago to Emeryville (San Francisco) via Denver. The Capitol Limited connects Chicago with Washington, DC, while the Cardinal joins Chicago with New York. The Empire Builder stops at Milwaukee and St Paul/Minneapolis on its way to Seattle, and the Southwest Chief travels from Chicago to Los Angeles via Albuquerque. Other destinations with direct services from Chicago include New Orleans, San Antonio, Milwaukee and Indianapolis.

Journey times:

From Milwaukee - 1 hour 30 minutes; Detroit - 5 hours 30 minutes; New York - 19 hours; Emeryville (San Francisco) - 51 hours 40 minutes.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.