You don't need a car to get around Chicago, thanks to a world-class public transit system, compact neighborhoods, and an easy-to-navigate grid layout in the downtown Loop area. Whether you’re keen to explore on foot, by train, or even via the city’s waterways, here are your options for making your way around the Windy City.
Ride the “L” Train
Chicago claims the second-largest public transit network in the US, made up of buses and the city’s signature elevated rail lines, plus underground and street-level trains. You can buy single-ride tickets directly from bus drivers or via vending machines at rail stations. If you're planning to ride frequently, save with a 1- or 3-day unlimited pass.
Hop On and Hop Off
If taking public transit seems daunting but you still want the flexibility to explore at your own pace, a hop-on-hop-off-bus tour is a user-friendly option. Multiple routes and dozens of stops can get you almost anywhere you want to go in Chicago, and you can learn about passing sights along the way through narration.
Catch a Water Taxi or Cruise
With many attractions along the Lake Michigan shoreline and the snaking Chicago River, Chicago can also be explored by water. Catch an affordable water taxi for a fun way to get between landmarks such as the Magnificent Mile, Chicago Riverwalk, and Chinatown. Architecture cruises are a popular way to learn about the city’s signature structures, while Lake Michigan cruises offer a new vantage point on the Chicago skyline, often with included dinner and drinks.
Take a Walk
Chicago is defined by its neighborhoods, so soak up local character on a stroll through walkable “villages” such as Wrigleyville, Hyde Park, Andersonville, Wicker Park, and River North. Walking tours can help you discover ethnic eateries, architectural gems, gangster history, and more.
Bike or Roll on a Segway
To cover more ground and fit in multiple neighborhoods, rent a bike or Segway and explore the city on two wheels. Guided tours can show you the best sightseeing routes, from the Lake Michigan shoreline to Loop landmarks or small-batch breweries.