Madison travel guide

Madison Tourism | Madison Guide

You're Going to Love Madison

Wisconsin's capital is an intellectual center, a thriving foodie destination, and simply an appealing, relaxed, and enjoyable place to spend some time.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Madison

1. It's Food Heaven

Madison has become on of the finest gastronomic destinations in the lower 48, offering great farmers markets, microbreweries like Karben4, and superb restaurants like Harvest or L'Etoile.

2. The Gorgeous Lakefront Location

Madison is squeezed in between two beautiful lakes, where you can rent kayaks or canoes, take control of a sailing boat, or fish for northern pike or walleye until the sun sets.

3. There Are Some Excellent Museums

Madison isn't short on museums and galleries either. Standouts include the Chazen Museum of Art, with its Dutch Masters, and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

4. Tour the Wisconsin State Capitol

Wisconsin has a fascinating history, and you can find out all about it by taking tours of the elegant State Capitol building, with its iconic domed roof.

5. An Year-Round Festival Program

Madison hosts an endless parade of festivals, from the culinary delights of Taste of Madison to the WI Film Festival and the Atwood Music Festival.

Where to Eat in Madison

There are numerous elite restaurants in town, but highlights include the Old Fashioned, a down-to-earth tavern and restaurant; L'Etoile, a gourmet modern American eatery; and Harvest Restaurant, which specializes in using Wisconsin's fresh produce. Meals prices vary, but a good meal will cost around $25 per head.

When to visit Madison

Madison in January
Estimated hotel price
$158
1 night at 3-star hotel
Madison in January
Estimated hotel price
$158
1 night at 3-star hotel

Summer is the best time to visit Madison. It's festival season, the lakes are at their most inviting, and the town just feels laid-back and ready to welcome visitors.

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Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Celcius (°C)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Madison

Plane

Dane County Regional Airport (MSN) has connections to plenty of US cities. From there you can take Bus 20 into town for $2. Taxis will cost around $30.

Train

Amtrak's Empire Builder service stops at Columbus, just a few miles north of Madison.

Car

If you are coming from Chicago or Milwaukee, take I-90 to Madison. Those driving from the east or west can take I-80, then change in Chicago.

Bus

Bus services into Madison are provided by Greyhound, Megabus, Badger Bus, Van Galder, and Lamers.

Airlines serving Madison

United Airlines
Good (2,307 reviews)
Lufthansa
Good (1,045 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (3,755 reviews)
KLM
Good (259 reviews)
Air France
Good (271 reviews)
British Airways
Good (745 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (2,540 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (836 reviews)
Iberia
Good (529 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (456 reviews)
Finnair
Good (341 reviews)
Alaska Airlines
Excellent (1,611 reviews)
Spirit Airlines
Good (2,278 reviews)
JetBlue
Good (1,098 reviews)
ITA Airways
Good (25 reviews)
Aeromexico
Good (768 reviews)
Aer Lingus
Good (192 reviews)
Frontier
Good (1,479 reviews)
Southwest
Good (1,427 reviews)
Copa Airlines
Good (393 reviews)
Show more

Where to stay in Madison

Madison has some stunning lakefront accommodation options, and highlights include the Hilton Madison Monona Terrace Hotel and the Madison Concourse Hotel.

Popular neighbourhoods in Madison

Capitol - Madison's downtown center, Capitol is the place to go for historical attractions and museums like the Chazen or the Madison Children's Museum and also hosts the city's huge farmers market.

Greenbush - southwest of the city center, Greenbush hosts the Henry Vilas Zoo and is also a great place to rent boats for activities on Lake Monona.

Dudgeon-Monroe - one of the safest, most affluent parts of town, Dudgeon-Monroe is home to some of Madison's finest restaurants, including Pizza Brutta and Brasserie V.

Where to stay in popular areas of Madison

Most booked hotels in Madison

Residence Inn by Marriott Madison East
Excellent (8.4, Excellent reviews)
$236+
Comfort Inn & Suites Madison - Airport
Good (7.1, Good reviews)
$154+
Motel 6-Madison, Wi - East
Good (6.5, Good reviews)
$93+
Red Roof Inn Madison, WI
Okay (5.5, Okay reviews)
$96+
Rodeway Inn & Suites WI Madison-Northeast
Okay (5.4, Okay reviews)
$96+
Madison Plaza Hotel
Okay (4.8, Okay reviews)
$576+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Madison

Public Transportation

Madison's bus network covers the whole city pretty well, and with single tickets costing $2, it's a cheap way to get around.

Taxi

When you take taxis in Madison, expect to pay a meter drop of $4, followed by around $3 per mile.

Car

Local car rental outlets include Enterprise and Budget, and rates can be as low as $10 per day.

The Cost of Living in Madison

Shopping Streets

Madison has a few excellent family malls, including Hilldale and East Towne Mall, and you'll find plenty of independent stores around Capitol Square.

Groceries and Other

Supermarkets include Festival Foods and Trader Joe's, and you can expect to spend around $1.60 on 12 eggs, so it's a cheap place to shop.

Cheap meal
$17.41
A pair of jeans
$66.29
Single public transport ticket
$2.91
Cappuccino
$5.05
Other popular cities in Wisconsin