About the City of Madison

Madison is a beautiful mid-sized city of 255,000 residents that is consistently selected as one of the best places to live in the U.S. Madison is the capital of the state of Wisconsin, and is home to one of the most educated populaces in the United States, with almost 50% of residents above the age of 25 hold an undergraduate degree.

The campus spreads out along Lake Mendota, and encompasses wooded hills as well as lively city streets. Along the scenic lakeshores are peaceful places to study and explore while experiencing the beauty of Madison.


The city of Madison and the UW-Madison campus community are strongly committed to safety. Madison is regularly ranked one of the top 20 safest cities in America.

Entertainment and Cultural Events

Madison is home to a number of great museumsarts & music venues and festivalsunique local shoppingaward-winning restaurantssporting events, and so much more. Larger metropolitan areas of Milwaukee, Chicago, and Minneapolis are easily accessible by bus.

Outdoor Recreation

Madisonians are wild for outdoor recreational opportunities. Our city is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the United States, and many enthusiasts commute by bike all year around. From skiing and snowboarding in the winter to swimming, sailing, and hiking in the warmer months, Madison has what you are looking for to stay active outdoors.

The Hoofers Student Organization at UW-Madison can help you connect with other students with similar interests, or teach you a whole new skill.


Madison is located in a temperate climate zone and enjoys four distinct seasons. During the warmest months of June, July and August, high temperatures average 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 Celsius). Winters are cold with moderate snowfall. In the middle of winter, high temperatures average 25 degrees Fahrenheit (−4 Celsius) though temperatures can fall below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (−18 Celsius). Average annual snowfall is 44 inches (112 cm).

Where is Madison, Wisconsin?

Madison is the capital of the state of Wisconsin. We are located about a two hour drive northwest of Chicago, Illinois.

Traveling to and Around Madison

Flying in to Madison

There are two airports with easy access to Madison, Wisconsin.

MSN – Dane County Regional Airport in Madison, WI – A small airport located about 5 miles (8km) from UW-Madison. Taxi rides from the MSN airport to campus cost approximately $25 one way. There is a taxi waiting area outside of baggage claim.

ORD – Chicago O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, IL – While much further from UW-Madison, flights to this airport are often much less expensive. The Van Galder bus service offers daily buses between the airport and UW-Madison. Tickets can be purchased from the driver when you arrive, but please consult the bus schedule prior to booking your flight.

Getting to your Housing

Calling a taxi is the easiest way to traverse the city with luggage in tow. Madison is home to several official taxi services including Green Cab of MadisonMadison Taxi, and Union Cab. Additionally, you can use Uber or Lyft if you have those accounts set up.

If you request temporary housing through Madison Friends of International Students (MFIS), your housing volunteer may be able to pick you up.

Navigating Around Campus

While the campus is large, Madison is a very walkable, bikeable, and easy to navigate city and campus community.

Free City Bus Pass

The Associated Students of Madison (ASM) bus pass program provides free Madison Metro bus passes to all UW-Madison students paying segregated fees (including VISP). The free bus pass is good for unlimited rides on the local Madison Metro bus system anywhere in the city.