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.

Most popular restaurants in Madison

$$$$
American
Excellent (485 reviews)
American
Excellent (262 reviews)
Seafood
Excellent (215 reviews)
Brazilian
Excellent (135 reviews)
American
Excellent (106 reviews)
Seafood
Excellent (94 reviews)

When to visit Madison

Madison in April
Estimated hotel price
$135
1 night at 3-star hotel
Madison in April
Estimated hotel price
$135
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.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Fahrenheit (°F)
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 (69,478 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (47,659 reviews)
Lufthansa
Good (28,397 reviews)
KLM
Good (3,805 reviews)
Delta
Good (30,733 reviews)
Air France
Good (4,361 reviews)
British Airways
Good (23,341 reviews)
Iberia
Good (6,159 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Excellent (11,528 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (25,043 reviews)
Alaska Airlines
Excellent (30,305 reviews)
Finnair
Good (3,874 reviews)
Spirit Airlines
Okay (63,082 reviews)
JetBlue
Excellent (20,172 reviews)
ITA Airways
Excellent (15 reviews)
Frontier
Okay (40,469 reviews)
Aeromexico
Good (9,965 reviews)
Aer Lingus
Good (6,169 reviews)
Copa Airlines
Good (12,983 reviews)
ANA
Excellent (4,703 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 neighborhoods 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

Hyatt Place Madison Downtown
Excellent (8.6, 360 reviews)
$135+
The Edgewater
Excellent (8.5, 327 reviews)
$293+
Hilton Madison Monona Terrace
Excellent (8.4, 475 reviews)
$173+
Sheraton Madison Hotel
Excellent (8.4, 292 reviews)
$156+
Holiday Inn Madison At The American Center
Excellent (8.3, 139 reviews)
$142+
AmericInn by Wyndham Madison West
Excellent (8.2, 923 reviews)
$76+
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
$12.00
A pair of jeans
$45.69
Single public transport ticket
$2.00
Cappuccino
$3.48
Other popular cities in Wisconsin