Chicago is one of the most genuine of US cities. We advise three days to get to know the city, which is full of tourist attractions, and extraordinary places near Lake Michigan to explore. It is, however, an expensive city to travel, so you must program properly to spend as little as possible, in particular regarding accommodation, as cheap places are only a few and tend to run out easily.
– Book a hostel ahead of time; it will save you money, as there is limited cheap accommodation in the city;
– If you have a student card, Youth card or teacher card, take it; it provides great discounts in museums and monuments.
Access to the airport: There are several hypotheses to arrive at O’hare International Airport. The metro is the fastest, most economical and frequent option. The journey takes about 45 minutes and you must choose the blue line to get to the center. Then you can switch to the Loop, the central underground network that connects with the main areas of the city.
Within the city: There are several options for moving around you within the city, as the subway, bus or on foot.
Subway: Subway tickets must be purchased at vending machines at stations. Daily tickets or passes can be purchased. We opted to buy separate tickets, as we almost always walked. The Ventra Card – urban transport system of Chicago -has a cost of $5. If you just buy the ticket for a trip ($2.75), the 1-day Pass ($10) or the ticket to / from the airport Chicago O’Hare ($5 for the city center, $3 for the airport), it is not necessary to buy the Ventra card; just buy the Ventra ticket in automatic machine with exact money. The machine does not give change. There are still passes for 3 days ($20), 7 days ($33), and 30 days ($100). All passes entitle to use the buses and subway of Chicago.
Bus: Chicago has a simple bus system and useful for anyone who will spend a lot of time in the city. In the streets you can find bus stops looking for a yellow post with the numbers and itinerary of the bus at the top. The buses are operated by the same company that operates the subway and tickets and passes are also valid for buses. You must take care that the bus drivers do not give change in the payment of individual tickets ($2.75).
There are many hotels in the city but they are too expensive. Strangely, Chicago has only one HI hostel. The hostel is huge, overall very good, and is always full of foreign tourists and American students. It has a kitchen, with a great breakfast, the rooms are clean, large and the bathrooms are very good. The location is superb and from the kitchen window we have one of the best views of the Loop.
We stayed in a double room and paid about 90 USD / night. Not cheap, of course, but it’s Chicago! The big advantage is that you can walk to almost everywhere in town.
There are many restaurants and places to eat in Chicago and some pretty economical and characteristic. One of Chicago specialties are the Deep Pizzas, a kind of pizza-shaped pie. There are four well-known places in the city. We did not have time to try them all but from our experience we came to a verdict: nothing compares to pizza fat Lou Malnati’s. This place was the best where we ate, especially because the dough was super tasty. Another not-to-miss treat is the Gourmet Popcorn at Garrett’s. Whatever happens be sure to try it! We love popcorn with caramel, peanuts, cashews and chocolate, but all flavors are delicious. Do as we did, and ask for a package with a bit of each.
What to visit in town
Skydeck – Willis (Sear) Tower
360 Chicago – John Hancock Center
Boat trip on the canals and the lake
Soldier Field (football stadium)