Chicago is known as one of the best cities in the world, a cultural base and America’s third largest city. It has plenty to do and see, but it also has some of the most expensive transportation options. However, it doesn’t have to be that way!
There are plenty of ways to get around without breaking your budget. Here are my favorites:
Find free or cheap parking
- Are you looking for free parking in Chicago? Look no further than residential areas. Most Chicagoans don’t have garages or driveways, so they often leave their cars on the street. This means there’s usually room for you to park on those streets.
- Another option is to park your car at a lot or garage for cheaper than what garages charge. For example, the cost of average monthly parking downtown chicago is $100–$300 per month, while monthly garage fees can range from $75–$400 depending on location.
- You can also find cheap street parking by avoiding restricted areas (e.g., fire hydrants and no-parking zones).
Buy a bike
If you’re looking for a cheap way to get around Chicago, consider renting or buying a bike. First, you can take your bike on the L-Trains for free. There are a few different ways to buy or rent a bike: you can rent bikes from any number of companies in the city or buy one at one of the shops around town. Bike rentals start at $8 an hour, including accessories like a helmet and a bike lock. Chicago has around 606 bike trails connecting you to many sights across the city.
Take the train
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is your best bet for getting around the city. It’s easy to understand, fast, and convenient. The CTA L-Train runs all day, every day—and it’s free! The L-trains have eight different lines, all with a corresponding color. Chicago has the second largest public transport system in America and is an incredibly convenient way to get around the city. The CTA trains run 24 hours a day on weekends and run between midnight and 5 a.m., Monday through Friday. You can use it to go downtown or visit one of the city’s many museums and parks.
With traffic congestion during rush hour, it can often be hard to get from point A to B driving on the roads. You’ll save money by using public transportation instead of renting a car or taking an Uber or Lyft because there are no parking fees or gas costs involved with taking transit in Chicago. Plus, you don’t have to worry about finding parking when arriving at your destination if there’s no place nearby!
Chicago streets are based on a grid system, making it easy to navigate on foot. Walking is a great way to get around the city in warmer months. Chicago has a pedway system of tunnels and bridges connecting popular sights by foot. It is roughly 1 mile to 8 blocks in Chicago, so it gives you a good idea of how far you can travel.
Take a boat ride
Chicago has two water taxi routes. Chicago water taxis run from March to December, and prices run from $6. Shoreline water taxis have a few lines that operate from May to September. These lines connect you to local sights and popular areas of the city.
Take the bus
Taking the bus is one of your best bets if you’re looking for the cheapest transportation option around Chicago. It’s only $2.25 per ride—less than half of what a ride on Lyft costs!
To take the bus, simply go online and find your closest bus stop by searching for “bus stop” or “route” in Google Maps. Once you’ve found it, click on it and get directions to walk there from wherever you happen to be standing. You can also look up schedules on Google Maps or call them (312-836-7000).
Once at a bus stop, ask someone nearby if they know which buses run along that route because sometimes they don’t post schedules at stops anymore; instead, they just show up when they feel like it! If someone doesn’t know where a particular bus goes, head back toward downtown so that one will eventually show up and tell us which way we should go next.
Take a Taxi
Taxis are easy to find in the windy city! You can either hail a cab on the street or call a local cab company. Fares start at $3.25 on the meter and are charged at around $2.25 a mile. Ridesharing services like Uber are usually cheaper than a taxi, so it is worth looking into this option.
There are more cheap options than you might think.
So you’re thinking about finding a new way to get around Chicago. Of course, you could rent a car or buy a bike, but neither of those options is particularly cost-effective. However, there are more cheap options than you might think!
- If you do enough research and find a parking spot near your destination, it’s possible to park for free in some areas of the city. That said, this is not always an option—even if it is, it will require effort.
- You can get your bike for as little as $200 at any number of places around Chicago (there are several shops near The Loop), but then sell it back once you’re done using it so that someone else can get the use out of it too!
We hope this list of cheap ways to get around Chicago inspires you to try something new! Even if you don’t use any of these methods regularly, we think it’s important to know your options. And remember: not all transportation is created equal—it’s good to have options when it comes time for your trip or commute.