The US state of Wisconsin is famous for its gigantic blue lakes, breathtaking waterfalls, and majestic forests. Join us on an unforgettable journey to the Badger State.

Wisconsin facts

Capital: Madison
Area 169,639 km²
Population about 5.8 million
Location: Northern USA
Nickname: The Badger State
State animal: American badger
Time zone: Central: UTC−6/−5

Wisconsin: Location & Population

The US state of Wisconsin in the north of the USA is neighbor to Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and the Great Lakes of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan.

Despite its northern to northeastern location, Wisconsin is officially assigned to the Midwest of the USA, which is split into two divisions. Wisconsin belongs to the East North Central division.

30% of Wisconsin's total population lives in the southeastern metropolitan region around Milwaukee, also called "Metro Milwaukee" or "Greater Milwaukee." The area covers five counties, including Milwaukee, Racine, Waukesha, and West Alles.

Approximately 97% of the people in Wisconsin are American citizens, and around 5% were born outside the United States. This is a relatively low percentage compared to the rest of the United States, where the national immigrant population averages about 14%. The most represented immigrant group in Wisconsin is Mexicans, but there are also many Southeast Asian and Chinese immigrants.

Almost half of Wisconsin's residents are descendants of German immigrants. Therefore, Wisconsin has city names such as Berlin, New Berlin, Kiel, New Holstein, and Rhinelander. German is also a commonly spoken language in the Badger State.

Wisconsin is also home to eleven Native American nations. These include the Chippewa, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, and Oneida.

The biggest cities in Wisconsin

Although Wisconsin is best known for its scenery, farms, and dairy industry, a few vibrant cities also shine in the Badger State. The largest in Wisconsin are:

City Population
Milwaukee 590,000
Madison 260,000
Green Bay 105,000
Kenosha 100,000
Racine 77,000


Of these five most prominent cities in Wisconsin, Madison is the only one not on Lake Michigan but a bit further inland.

Climate and nature in Wisconsin

Wisconsin has a continental climate with warm summers and cold winters. The proximity to the Great Lakes moderates the summer heat somewhat, while inland, there are regular high summers with over 30 °C.

Winters in Wisconsin are usually icy and windy. Temperatures as low as -25 °C and a lot of snow are not uncommon, and the never-ending coastal wind adds to the fun.

There are often significant temperature differences between day and night. That's why you should always have a set of warm clothes with you, even in summer, if you want to stay outside for a longer time.

Wisconsin's natural beauty is dominated by the Great Lakes and countless rivers and waterfalls that rush between centuries-old forests, along rugged cliffs, or through rustic wetlands.

While hiking, paddling or being on a road trip in Wisconsin, you can look forward to beautiful coasts, mysterious caves, plenty of silence, and exciting wildlife with deer, bears, moose, wolves, and cougars.

Best time to visit Wisconsin

Because of its continental climate, Wisconsin is a uniquely beautiful and exciting destination in any season.

Wisconsin in summer

Whitewater rafting or paddling trips, extensive hikes along the coasts and in shady forests, and a road trip with open car windows are only enjoyable in summer. The landscape in Wisconsin is made for this, with its lakes, rivers, waterfalls, and beautiful driving trails and paddling routes. So grab a backpack and a ride (or float), and let's go!

Wisconsin in winter

In winter, there's plenty to do both indoors and outdoors in Wisconsin. If you like skiing, snowmobiling, or sledding, you're guaranteed not to be bored during the cold, snowy winters. Ice fishing and ice caving are also high on the list here. Plus, there are winter festivals all over the state with lots of activities.

How to get to Wisconsin

When you fly to Wisconsin, you have a choice of airports. Among the most important are:

  • Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport
  • Dane County Regional Airport (Truax Field)
  • Appleton International Airport
  • Green Bay–Austin Straubel International Airport
  • Central Wisconsin Airport

When booking your Wisconsin flight, don't be surprised if the cheap flights go to "Wausau" instead of Milwaukee. It’s the Central Wisconsin Airport (CWA) and not the tiny charter and military airport Wausau Downtown Airport.

From Europe, you'll land in Wausau after a 16- to 18-hour trip with Delta, Air France, KLM, or United, paying between €700 and €900. Travelers from Asia or Africa pay at least €1000 for their flight and are more likely to land in Madison.

Wisconsin travel authorization

If you do not yet have a Green Card and are not a US citizen, you will need an ESTA or US visa to travel to Wisconsin.

ESTA – visa-free to the USA

With an ESTA, you can stay 90 days visa-free in the USA. Apply online now!

Wisconsin airport transfer

There are several transfer options available to you when you land in Wisconsin:


Several cab companies are waiting to take you and your luggage to your first accommodation at the Central Wisconsin Airport and the airports in Milwaukee and Madison.

Shuttle bus

In Milwaukee, you can take advantage of an airport shuttle service that offers convenient door-to-door service to hotels and anywhere else in southeastern Wisconsin. There are also Coach Bus services that take you to a wide variety of Wisconsin cities. In Madison, many hotels have their own airport shuttles.

Public Transportation

In Milwaukee, you can take the GreenLine or MCTS Route 80 from the airport to various locations within the Greater Milwaukee region. In Madison, Line 20 of the Madison Metro Transit System runs to take you from the airport to the city.

Other options

Lyft and Uber ride services will get you where you need to go at Central Wisconsin Airport as well as in Milwaukee and Madison. You might also want to take a Greyhound bus for longer distances, which you can board right at the airport, at least in Milwaukee.

State parks and natural wonders in Wisconsin

Your tours and hikes in the state of Wisconsin - no matter where you are - will always lead you to the nearest lake or river. Fishing and boating, swimming and paddling, or long walks along shores and cliffs are all part of the daily fun. Here are the most beautiful places in Wisconsin:

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

This natural beauty is worth a boat trip! Whether alone with a kayak or on a guided tour: the 22 Apostle Islands want to be explored on land and water. Here, you'll see whimsical rock formations and mysterious caves, paddle through crystal clear waters, and watch bald eagles fly. Tip: Book a sunset cruise to experience the full-color spectacle, and don't miss the Sea Caves of Devil's Island!

High Cliff State Park

Hike, bike, swim, horseback ride, or just enjoy the rushing waterfalls: at High Cliff State Park, you can lose yourself for days in a unique natural landscape with breathtaking views. The hiking trails will take you through the amazing scenery on different levels of difficulty. The park is also a great place to camp. Tip: Come here in Indian Summer and climb the Observation Tower to be enchanted by all the colors of the forests.

Copper Falls State Park

All roads lead to the waterfall. At least that's how it feels on a hike through Copper Falls State Park. This spectacular whitewater park will impress you with its rushing floods, breathtaking cliffs, canyons, and perfect photo and viewpoints. For a day trip by car, make sure to bring plenty of supplies and swimming gear, as there is a beautiful swimming lake in the park! Tip: Be sure to visit Red Granite Falls, and don't forget the bug spray.

Harrington Beach State Park

When it's not high tide at Harrington Beach State Park, this place is a dreamy oasis of relaxation on the water. You can camp, barbecue, hike, and swim in the pretty natural setting with the wide beach near the legendary Lake Michigan. Tip: In high season, a shuttle runs from the campground to Quarry Lake Trail and South Beach.

Devil’s Lake State Park

Devil's Lake is located northwest of Madison. The unique thing about this lake surrounded by hiking trails is the breathtaking mountain and rock scenery. Do you have a head for heights? Then climb up to the surreal "Balanced Rock" on the lake's eastern shore. You might be surprised that this upright rock hasn't crashed into the depths yet. East of the lake starts the legendary Ice Age National Scenic Trail, a nearly 2,000 km hiking trail that traces the edge of an ice age glacier from 12,000 years ago.

Top 10 sightseeing highlights in Wisconsin

The following places in Wisconsin are must-sees and should be on your travel list:

  • Milwaukee Art Museum
  • Kalahari Resorts Dells
  • Devil’s Lake State Park
  • Milwaukee Public Museum
  • House of the Rock
  • Peninsula State Park
  • Wisconsin State Capitol
  • Harley Davidson Museum
  • Witches Gulch
  • Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Wisconsin city trips

Most of the hustle and bustle in Wisconsin takes place around the Milwaukee metropolitan area and in Madison. However, there are two other city highlights worth checking out. Here are the most exciting cities in Wisconsin:

City highlights Milwaukee

Known for its culture, parks, baseball, and beer, the metropolis of Milwaukee towers over the shores of Lake Michigan. Stroll along the Riverwalk and take in the breathtaking views of the lake before jumping into the city life.

Don't miss the following sights when you're in Milwaukee:

  • Harley Davidson Museum
  • Milwaukee Art Museum
  • American Family Field (Baseballstadion)
  • Lakefront Brewery
  • Pabst Mansion

City highlights Wisconsin Dells

The small town of Wisconsin Dells is world-famous for having more water parks per capita than any other place in the world. The planet’s biggest, fastest and wildest water rides and slides line up here, and the surrounding area of the parks is pretty spectacular as well, with its safari flair and many shows.

Check out these attractions when you're in Wisconsin Dells: :

  • Noah’s Ark Water Park
  • Wisconsin Deer Park
  • Witches Gulch
  • Kalahari Indoor Waterpark
  • Timbavati Wildlife Park

City highlights Madison

The university town of Madison is best known for its distinctive skyline, as it is home to the Wisconsin State Capitol. You'll find little stores, bars, parks, restaurants, and breweries on all sides of the city's swarmed center.

These are the places you should see in Madison:

  • Olbrich Botanical Gardens
  • Memorial Union Terrace
  • Madison Farmer’s Market
  • Capitol Square
  • State Street & Downtown Madison

City highlights Green Bay

The city of Green Bay has achieved world fame as the hometown of the NFL American football team "Green Bay Packers." But, when you're not in the mood for sports, you can keep yourself busy in Green Bay's beautiful gardens, amusement parks, or great museums.

These are the places you should see in Green Bay: :

  • Bay Beach Amusement Park
  • National Railroad Museum
  • Green Bay Botanical Garden
  • Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame

Road trip in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, a road trip quickly turns into a boat trip because there's water just everywhere. But don't let that stop you from enjoying the stretches in between your visits to lakes, rivers, and waterfalls.

In addition to the Great Lakes coastline, we recommend a drive along the Great River Road, which stretches 400 kilometers along the Mississippi River on Wisconsin's western border, through nature preserves, and beautiful small towns.

Instagram hotspots in Wisconsin

Wisconsin is a US state of overwhelming beauty! Your fans and followers will be blown away! Here are our top 5 Instagram hotspots in Wisconsin:

  • Door County
  • The old haunted mansions in Graham
  • Wisconsin Dells
  • Meyers Beach
  • Sturgeon Bay

Food highlights in Wisconsin

Known as "America's Dairyland," Wisconsin is virtually the cheese counter of the USA. It also produces other dairy products on a grand scale.

Try the following dishes on your Wisconsin vacation:

  • Blue moon ice cream - Smurf-blue, marshmallow-sweet ice cream
  • Cheese curds - Deep-fried cheddar chunks
  • Beer cheese soup - A soup made with melted cheese, bacon, jalapenos, cream, and beer
  • Kringle - Rolled yeast dough cookie with butter flakes
  • Frozen Custard - Frozen pudding with lots of egg yolk and butterfat

Wisconsin fun facts

We bet you didn't know these things about the state of Wisconsin:

  • Wisconsin residents are jokingly called "cheeseheads." The term was actually meant as a snarky name among football fans, but Wisconsonians have made it their own and now even wear Swiss-cheese-look hats to games.
  • Wisconsin produces all the ginseng in the United States and hosts an international ginseng festival every year.
  • Sheboygan in eastern Wisconsin is known as the "Bratwurst Capital of the World." Each year, the city hosts the "Bratwurst Days," which includes a large bratwurst eating contest.
  • Ever since several people saw UFOs in the skies of Belleville in 1987, the small town near Madison has hosted an annual UFO festival.

Moving to Wisconsin

If you're thinking about moving to Wisconsin, you've made the right choice. The beautiful Badger State is truly a gem for nature lovers. This is what life in Wisconsin looks like:

Working in Wisconsin

The most important industry in Wisconsin is agriculture, but new employees are also needed constantly in manufacturing, healthcare, IT, and the financial sector.

Some of the most exciting employers in Wisconsin are Kohler Company (plumbing products), Harley Davidson, bicycle manufacturer Trek, mail-order company Lands' End, and engine manufacturer Briggs / Stratton.

In addition to Harley Davidson, other Fortune 500 companies (the 500 largest companies in the United States by revenue) are located in Milwaukee. These include Johnson Controls, Northwestern Mutual, Manpower Inc., and Rockwell Automation.

Living in Wisconsin

What "Wisconsonians" like about living in the metropolitan area around Milwaukee is its proximity to Lake Michigan and Chicago. The rich arts and culture scene also makes life in the coastal cities in Wisconsin very attractive. However, it is also more expensive than the rest of the state. While the more rural areas away from the coasts offer a comparatively inexpensive life, Madison's centrally-located capital city digs deep into its residents' pockets. However, they are compensated with a breathtakingly beautiful natural setting of lakes and marshes surrounding their city.

Wisconsin has so many "Happy Places" that all residents can complain about is the harsh winters.

The sales tax in Wisconsin is in the middle range at 5%.

Going to Wisconsin with a Green Card

Only with a Green Card can you live and work in the USA without any restrictions. To get the US immigrant visa, you can enter the Green Card Lottery, which is much easier than getting a Green Card through an employer, for example.

So our tip: Take part in the annual lottery of the US government! Every year, 55,000 Green Cards are given away to US immigrants from all over the world. Sign up now - it's just a few clicks!

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