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While You're Here

How to make the most of your life in Madison

We’re excited for you to come explore this beautiful city! If you have any
questions about Madison, please get connected with us for help!


Getting to Madison

  • Whether you fly in from Chicago or Milwaukee, there are buses from those airports: Van Gelder Bus | Megabus
  • Purchase a single trip ticket, not a roundtrip ticket.
  • Once you’ve gotten to Madison, you can call a Taxi or use Uber or Lyft. See more about taxis below.
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Riding the Bus

  • Students can get a free bus pass.
  • You can buy 9 or 12 month bus passes.
  • Be at least 5 minutes early to your bus.
  • Track bus departures in the Transit Tracker.
  • Madison buses have bike racks to take your bike for free!
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Biking and Walking

  • Madison is one of the most bike and walking friendly cities in America!
  • If you don’t want to purchase your own bike, Madison has electric bicycles available at stations through Madison BCycle 
  • Bikes travel in the same direction as traffic and do not go on sidewalks. Bike lanes and bike paths are everywhere in the city.
  • Be safe and wear a helmet!
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Cars & Mopeds

  • You will need a license to drive a car or a moped in Madison.
  • Instead of buying a car, you can rent one daily or hourly with Zip Car. Be sure to check for the UW Madison discount.
  • You will be required to have car insurance if you own a car.
  • In America, cars and mopeds drive on the right side of the road.
  • Many students choose to get a scooter or moped because you won’t need to go a long distance in Madison.
  • Scooters and mopeds must be on streets.
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Taxis, Uber, & Lyft

  • There is one main taxi company: Madison Taxi.
  • You will need to call a cab – there aren’t enough to just hail one on the street.
  • You will also need to specify if you want a direct ride and do not want to share.
  • You can also hail a car from Uber or Lyft. These app-based companies may be more convenient, but will be more expensive than the taxi companies.
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The number of transportation options can be overwhelming. Let us help you find the right away around Madison.

Shopping & Groceries

Note that we do not endorse any particular retail store or brand. We are simply providing some options that are available in the Madison area.


International Grocery

There are several African, Asian, Halal, and Hispanic grocery stores. Popular options include JP Market and Midway Asian.


Largest selection of food in one place in Madison. Woodman’s offers delivery and pick-up.
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Trader Joe’s

Known for its unique selection and value, shop at Trader Joe’s (parking can be hard here!)
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Madison is known for being a food paradise with a large farmers’ market, cheese curds, and more!
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Sierra and T.J. Maxx

These stores are excellent options for clothing at a discounted price. They are especially good for winter clothing, coats, and boots.


Madison shopping is unique with many local shops and specialty stores.
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St. Vinny’s

Get secondhand clean clothes, furniture, and other household items that are sold at a lower price.
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Get secondhand clothes, households items, and other cheap things at Goodwill.
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Free Stuff!

You can often find free things on the street, by dumpsters, or by using Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and Nextdoor.

Finding your grocery store and other shops is one of the steps of making a place your home. Let us know how we can help you make that happen.

Medical Information

Insurance is extremely vital. A severe accident or injury can set you back financially by hundreds of thousands of dollars easily.


If you are having a life or death emergency, please call 911 immediately

University Health Services offers high-quality medical care to all UW–Madison students. Most fee-based services at UHS are covered at no cost for members of the UW–Madison Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP).
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Helpful Definitions

  • Deductible: The amount you have to pay first before the insurance company starts paying.
  • Co-insurance: How much you have to pay. If you need to pay 10% of the bill, the insurance company pays 90% of the bill.
  • Maximum Out of Pocket Expenses: The highest amount you can pay, usually in a year, before the insurance company starts paying.
  • Annual: one-year
  • In-Network: A group of hospitals and specific doctors (even of those hospitals) that have an agreement with an insurance company of how much they will be paid for exams, time in a hospital, and many other things. If it is not an emergency, the website allows you to look up who is “In-Network” or call the two Networks call center for help.  Always go to In-Network hospitals and doctors if nearby. Otherwise, you will pay more.
  • Out-of-Network: hospitals and specific doctors (even of those hospitals) that do NOT have an agreement with an insurance company (like SHIP). You will pay more money if you use this network. 

We are here to help! If you need assistance, please first get the appropriate medical care and then let us know how we can care for you.

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