Chicago

Chicago, Illinois, is the 3rd largest city in the US and the economic center of the Midwest. The Windy City, as it is nicknamed, is famous for its architecture (its has a unique skyline of skyscrapers), its art & science museums and culture (Chicago was and is the frontscene for many Blues and Jazz bands). If the city has a history of violence (Al Capone’s Chicago mafia and rival gangs during the 70/80’s), there has been a steep decline in crime  since the 90’s. Still, the city has some run-down neighborhoods where violence is very common, and thieves commonly operate in the subway. Avoid as much as you can the red areas on the following map.

SAFETY INDEX

Warnings & Dangers

Mid Priority-96 OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM

Chicago is an overall safe city, but has some rough neighborhoods. With a rating of 69%, the US is ranked 51th out of 162 on the ranking of the safest and most dangerous countries.

Mid Priority-96 PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM

There is some pickpocket-related risk in Chicago. They teams of thieves working on Chicago’s public transport, such as on the Blue Line. A few simple precautions will minimize your chances of being pickpocketed.

Mid Priority-96 MUGGING RISK : HIGH

Chicago is a dangerous city regarding risks of mugging, some areas seen on the map are better avoided late at night, and it is recommended to travel in private cars rather than to walk at night.

Mid Priority-96 SCAMS RISK : LOW

There are nearly no scammers in Chicago. Be aware of homeless people tricking you, and people offering help with your luggage.

Mid Priority-96 TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM

There might be some risk while taking public transport in Chicago, and fake taxis can be an issue sometimes.

Mid Priority-96 NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW

There can be some occasional natural hazards such as strong blizzard in Chicago.

Mid Priority-96 TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM

Chicago has not recently been targeted by terrorist attacks, but it is best to stay alert.

Mid Priority-96 WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW

Chicago is generally very safe for women travelers.

Carte

WHAT TO DO?

Downtown

Chicago’s Downtown is city’s business district where national and international corporations are headquartered. Shopping centers, movie theatres, museums and beaches on the lake Michigan can be found in this area. The three areas that make up Downtown (The Loop, Near North and Near South) can get empty really fast after working hours, so try to avoid “shady” areas. Some beggars can have an aggressive behavior towards tourists, in that case just ignore them or enter a nearby store or restaurant.

North Side

Chicago’s North Side is an area of upscale neighborhoods like Lakeview, Boystown, Lincoln Park and Old Town, with a large choice of restaurants, bars and clubs. They are very safe areas compared to the rest of Chicago. Still, use the usual precautions and stick to crowded, well-lit areas.

South Side

Home to the University of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry and Chinatown, Chicago’s south side is a more popular area, great to find a jazz or blues bar. The Fuller Park area and nearby neighborhoods are among the most dangerous of the city and should be avoided by tourists, particularly at night.

West Side

The near west-side is a laid-back area which recently got gentrified. The area around Logan Square is very hip and has a lot of bars and concert venues.The neighborhoods of the “Far West Side” located after the West Avenue, are notably dangerous and have very few touristic attractions.

Useful Information

The US has one of the harshest entry policy, sometimes asking for an interview even for a tourist visa. Prepare to pay fees up to USD 160 for your application. Some countries like the ones from the EU or Australia have a visa waiver program (ESTA) which can be filled online. See https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en.html for more information. Strong custom regulations also apply (see the CPB website for more details), and the Travel Safety Administration can open your luggage without your presence. www.doyouneedvisa.com is a useful website that can help you know if you need a visa or not based on your nationality and the country you’re visiting.
The currency in the United States is the US Dollar. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted countrywide, and ATMs are found nearly in every city. The costs can vary widely between the states, but it is fair to assume a $100 budget per day on average, $150 if you rent a car and around $300 for top end accomodation. A 10% service tipping is customary in many sectors such as airport and hotel bag porters, bartenders , hotel maids, restaurant servers and taxi drivers.
The weather in the US varies greatly between the states : from the mediterranean weather of California to the Glaciers of Alaska or the subtropical Florida, each region has its best time to visit; although major cities can be visited all year round. This graph can be useful for finding the best time to travel.
The main international airports are in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Dallas, Denver and San Francisco. If you’re looking fore cheap flight deals, you can find some on JetRadar
As in any country, we advise travelers to get a travel insurance that covers not only medical problems but also theft and loss of personal items. Learn more on our travel insurance page