Getting to and Around Campus!

As you may or may not know, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is located in east-central Illinois (a few hours away from Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis) in the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana. Champaign-Urbana is a relatively large area to explore. If you’re coming to school here, exploring is a must. But first, you need to get here! This is a breakdown of how to get to school, how to make your way around, and how to head home again.

Getting to Campus (and Going Home!)

Your parents may have helped you move in, but getting home for a weekend or for fall break might mean saving your parents the hassle of coming to pick you up. Students commonly take the bus, take the train, or get a ride home from a friend. Assuming your friend with a car isn’t around, I’d advise:

The Bus

Inter-city buses are probably the most popular way to get on and off campus. Peoria Charter Coach and Suburban Express both run from campus to the Chicago suburbs, Chicago itself, and O’Hare International Airport. Greyhound also services Champaign and goes to Decatur, Springfield, St. Louis, Chicago, and a number of Chicago suburban stops as well. Buses pick up students all over campus and the Illinois Terminal in downtown Champaign. It’s a decent way to go to and from campus because most buses are equipped with wifi and bathrooms on board. However, it’s still not as convenient as getting a ride home from a friend, and the buses are sometimes victim to traffic or other delays.

  • Protips
    • Make sure to leave extra time if you’re going to the airport and have a plane to catch.
    • If you have a lot of dirty laundry, devote an entire suitcase to your laundry bag. Most buses don’t allow you to put a laundry bag in the luggage hold of the bus.
    • Make sure to buy bus tickets sooner rather than later if you’re looking to go home for a break or a long weekend—tickets will sell out fast!
    • If you’re living in a residence hall, bus companies like to flood mailboxes with coupons, which can make a big difference in cost. Look out for them! A round trip is anywhere from $25 to $55 depending on which bus company you take.

The Train

The Illinois Terminal in downtown Champaign includes an Amtrak station. The Amtrak takes you into Chicago’s Union Station and stops in Chicago suburbs like Homewood. It’s a relatively affordable option and often a quicker way to get home than the bus.

Maybe a Plane

Most people don’t even realize Champaign-Urbana has an airport, but we do! Willard Airport is a regional airport that flies to over 175 cities. I know someone who flew out of Willard into Washington, D.C. this past school year. It’s an option worth investigating if you’re an out-of-state student because it could save you that 3-hour bus trip to O’Hare.

Getting Around Campus

Now that you’ve arrived by plane, train, or automobile in C-U, there’s the matter of getting around. I think the transportation types people favor most are probably just walking or taking the bus, but I’m going to try and address just about everything I can think of.


Like I said before, this is a very popular way to get around. Sometimes foot traffic on campus gets a little bit like expressway traffic, especially on the Quad between classes. Our campus has sidewalks anywhere you could possibly need a sidewalk and crosswalks with walk buttons that talk to you (they’ll yell “Wait!” at you if the walk sign isn’t on, which can be a little jarring).

  • Protip
    • Be a good pedestrian! Pay attention to bikes and buses and cars. It’s easy to get into the mindset of “whatever, they’ll stop for me,” but accidents happen.


Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (CUMTD) is every Illinois student’s best friend. Busses run until about 3 a.m. during the school year (minus the occasional holiday) and start again around 7 a.m. Their routes cover campus and the C-U area. Students pay a small fee that allows us to simply show our i-cards (student IDs) to get on any bus. Busses with on-campus stops designated with a little orange and yellow “i” don’t require payment or an i-card, but off-campus stops do.

  • Protips
    • If you ever lose your i-card and receive a temporary i-card from your residence hall front desk, bus drivers won’t accept it and you’ll have to pay to ride the bus.
    • Get a bus app from your smartphone’s app store. Illinois students created bus apps with route information, maps, and live bus updates a few years ago, and they’re all available for free for you to choose from.


Having a car on campus is definitely not necessary because we have such good public transportation here, but if you do, it can be really convenient. However, it opens up the whole matter of parking. Parking is an important expense to consider, so think through whether it’s really worth it to have a car on campus (especially if you’re someone living in a residence hall).


We’re a pretty green campus, and we have a lot of bike paths. Oftentimes a sidewalk is split in half—half for cyclists and half for pedestrians. Something you might not be used to if you’re not from an urban area is abiding by vehicle laws on a bike. Be sure to read up on them if you plan on biking on campus. The police will pull you over and potentially ticket you if you break the law.

  • Protips
    • Pay attention to pedestrians! Bike/pedestrian accidents do happen.
    • Register your bike. It’s an easy, online process and can help deter theft, which leads me to my next point …
    • Get a good bike lock! U-locks are the kind I see most often.


Longboarding and skateboarding are probably more popular than rollerblading as ways to get to class. Some people even use scooters. A good rule of thumb is to just be careful and considerate if you’re taking a less conventional mode of transportation to class.


Hoverboards were recently banned from inside any university-owned facility. You’re allowed to ride them outside on university property, but you can’t bring them inside any buildings (so you can’t really ride your hoverboard to class). Just something to keep in mind.


Uber came to the university relatively recently, and there have always been taxis in the area. You can commonly catch regular taxis at the Illinois Terminal. I don’t find taxis to be a very common way to get around campus.

Race Cars

Sometimes near the Bardeen Quad (or the Engineering Quad, as it’s more commonly known), you can catch engineering students rolling race cars down the street. Race cars? Not such a common mode of transportation, but it would be cool if they were.

The bottom line is: You have a lot of transportation options, and you’ll find what works best for you!


Please note that comments close after 90 days.

Alex Lee

May 18, 2016, 7:43 pm

Dope tips!



May 19, 2016, 9:15 am

Thanks, Alex! Glad you enjoyed them. 🙂


Siwen Yue

May 19, 2016, 10:37 am

Hello Maggie:
My name is Siwen, I am currently a junior attending Oldfields School, an all girls private boarding school located in Sparks Glencoe Maryland.
Thank you for your providing these useful tips, I have been looking at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign during this past school year, and I am really interested in being a future community member. Now that I explored some more about the institution, I figured that despite of the enchanting campus and many prominent academic programs, transportation has also become one of the main factors that captivated me specifically. Therefore, I will be continnuing my investigation on the many aspect of the university 🙂



May 20, 2016, 9:14 am

Hi Siwen,
Thanks for reading! Glad my tips were helpful. I hope you continue to learn about Illinois and maybe even come for a visit someday soon!



May 31, 2016, 1:18 pm

Bazinga! Thanks for the info!


Derek Rowan

June 2, 2016, 6:35 pm

Can you post a little information about visiting and seeing your athletic facilities ( for any athletic minded incoming students) – particularly track & field facilities and where I could go to see on campus freshman dorms or residence accommodations? I would love to make it out this summer to see your campus, fingers crossed!


Brandon McCann

June 3, 2016, 5:18 am

Thank you for the information on the university of Illionis hopefully I can attend this school one day



June 3, 2016, 8:27 am

I like UICU,I want to know more about it.Thank you for the tips,they very useful to me.



June 3, 2016, 12:30 pm

Thank you Maggie i am a freshman in high school my sister went to go check out the school and ever since then the pictures she has shown me made me fall in love with the school and i asked her if it has the major i want to study which it does so that made me love it more so thank you for your tips they’re very useful.



June 3, 2016, 4:48 pm


No problem! That’s awesome you’ve already done your research on Illinois as a freshman. You’re more on top of things than I ever was!




June 3, 2016, 4:50 pm


Definitely continue browsing the admissions website ( and reading the other bloggers’ posts! There’s a lot of helpful info in both places. Glad my tips were helpful. 🙂




June 3, 2016, 4:51 pm


You’re very welcome! I hope you can, too!




June 3, 2016, 5:01 pm


If you come to visit, I believe campus recreation facilities like CRCE and the ARC are generally part of the tour (at least one is). The ARC is the bigger campus rec facility out of the two, but both are really nice and feature really nice tracks that lots of runners use. I’ve used both! Residence halls are also available to see as part of a campus visit. Basically, if you come to visit campus, be sure to go on a campus tour, and I’d also advise going on a housing tour!

Link to campus recreation’s website (for info on facilities and intramural sports):
Link for registering for a campus visit:
Link for housing tours to see residence halls:

Hope you make it to campus!


Abhijeet Malviya

June 3, 2016, 7:53 pm

Hello Maggie,
Thanks a lot!

I would like to schedule a visit in summer. Please advise on next step of action and any action points at my end.

Have a nice day!




June 6, 2016, 10:02 am

Hi Abhijeet,

You can schedule a visit for the summer online! If you’re coming to campus for a visit, I would also advise trying to take a housing tour to see inside residence halls because it’s nice to know a little bit more about where you could be living.

Link to the general visit page with info on tips for getting to campus/where to stay if you don’t live close to campus, self-guided tours, etc.:
Link for registering for a campus visit:
Link for housing tours to see residence halls:

Hope this helps! 🙂



June 7, 2016, 2:32 pm

Thanks for the information as a early grad of high school this is hellful.



June 8, 2016, 11:25 am


Happy this helped you! 🙂



Shimon Haber

July 8, 2016, 10:12 am

Hello Maggie…
I Love UICU.. Thanks for the info



July 8, 2016, 1:01 pm

Shimon, me too! You’re very welcome.


Adam Popper

July 26, 2016, 1:18 pm

Banning hoverdoards is the best thing that I read.


Guadalupe Maya

July 28, 2016, 12:29 pm

Hi Maggie, I’m coming in this fall as a freshman and I was curious as to when you started blogging for UIUC? I’m interested but I feel as though I should wait until I get more experience around campus, what are your views on this?

Thank you !



July 28, 2016, 3:31 pm

Hi Guadalupe,

I actually just started blogging this summer! I’m not exactly the norm for bloggers, just because I’m an intern for Admissions, and they decided to also have me blog as part of my internship. However, I think it’s definitely worth applying now to be a blogger if it’s something you’re interested in. It’s cool to document the freshman experience as it happens on the blog, which is something you’d be qualified to do. It never hurts to apply! The deadline is next Wednesday, August 3.

Maggie 🙂