Getting to Ithaca

Located in Upstate New York, Ithaca can be difficult to get to because it it so ulu (remote). We have compiled the most common ways to get to Ithaca.


Getting to Cornell for the First Time

Option 1: 

Fly from Singapore to NYC – typically such flights will arrive at John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK) or Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). Singapore Airlines now operates nonstop flights from Singapore to Newark (SQ 21/22). See section of Getting from New York to Ithaca.

Option 2:

Fly from Singapore to a location in North America then transfer to Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport (ITH). This airport is a 15 minutes drive to Cornell. From the airport, take an Uber/Lyft to your dorm.


  • The US does not allow ‘sterile transit.’ That means that as soon as you land in the US from a foreign country, you MUST clear immigration and customs. Make sure to give yourself enough time (at least 2 hours) for that transfer. Alternatively, take a flight that has a layover at an airport outside the US to avoid this, such as SQ (in Frankfurt), JAL/ANA (Narita), Cathay (HK), Qatar (Doha) or Emirates (Dubai) to get to NYC.

  • Open Return Ticket: Some students opt to buy an open return ticket, so they can set the date of their return when they settle down in Cornell. This can be useful for you, if you know that you are going to be flying back pretty soon (like in half a year). Most open tickets are valid six months to one year from the date of your outbound trip.

  • The other option is for you to buy a one-way ticket to Cornell, and then buy return tickets for each time you visit home. Doing this gives you more flexibility and convenience, since you may not know when exams end till much later in the semester.


Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

When you first reach the US, you will have to get through immigration and customs. The customs officer asks you several questions while flipping through your documents, taking your fingerprints and snapping a picture.


Remember to bring your:

  • Passport
  • F-1 or J-1 Visa (it should already be in your passport)
  • I-20 form, which you should have received in the mail from Cornell International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO).


  • Be sure to have your dorm address on hand, and be calm and confident. As long as your documents are in order, there should be no reason for you to be denied entry, so don’t be intimidated by the process.
  • Be sure to check CBP’s website for specific information regarding permitted foods.

As a general rule of thumb, do not bring:

  • fresh vegetables
  • plants
  • fruits
  • milk
  • meat
  • eggs (cooked or raw).

You can bring:

  • Powdered drinks
  • soup bases and sauces without meat by-products
  • crackers
  • biscuits
  • candy
  • seafood


Getting from New York to Ithaca


Ground Transportation from the Aiport

From JFK

Option 1) Bus

Take a NYC Airporter shuttle bus from JFK to the Port Authority bus terminal (about USD20)

Option 2) New York Subway/ Long Island Rail Road (LIRR)

Take the airport Skytrain to Jamaica Station for transfer to the subway or to the LIRR.

  • Subway (USD8): Purchase a Metrocard at Jamaica. 1.5 hours to Manhattan.
  • LIRR (USD13): Purchase a ticket at Jamaica. 1 hour to Penn Station.

From EWR

Option 1) Bus

Take the Newark Shuttle Express from EWR to one of three bus stops in Manhattan (about USD20)

Option 2) New Jersey Transit

Take the Newark Airtrain to Newark station for transfer to the NJ Transit (USD13).


The final destination is Penn Station New York.


Give yourself about 1 hour for this journey to Manhattan.

Option 3) Taxi/Uber/Lyft

The most hassle-free option will be to take a taxi/Uber/Lyft (about USD50-70). Depending on traffic, this journey will take you between 40 minutes to 1.5 hours).


    • Take note of the number of pieces of luggage you have to manage. By taking a taxi/Uber/Lyft, you minimize the hassle of dragging your bags in and out of trains, and up and down the stairs.
    • Immigration can take between 30 minutes to 2 hours. It is always better to give yourself greater allowance and flexibility in time. Rushing from one location to another will only add stress to the unfamiliarity that you’re facing. Besides, arriving early gives you the option of seeing what NYC has to offer.


    Bus Service from NYC Manhattan to Cornell

    Shortline/Coach USA

    USD46 one-way

    Where to buy: Online or Shortline bus counter on the first floor of NYC Port Authority Bus Terminal


    Where to Board: NYC Port Authority Bus Terminal


    Where to Disembark: Cornell’s North Campus, where freshmen housing is located.


    Pros & Cons:

    • Most convenient option for first-timers
    • Drops off at freshman housing area
    • Mid-range pricing.


    USD25-45 one way

    Where to buy: Online


    Where to board: See website


    Where to disembark: Drops off in Ithaca Commons (10min drive from Cornell)


    Pros & Cons:

    • Usually the cheapest option
    • Dropoff is usually downtown Ithaca Commons (need to take an Uber/Lyft to Cornell from the drop-off point, about USD8).

    Campus-2-Campus Bus (C2C)

    USD82.50 one way (student price)

    Where to buy: Online


    Where to board: See website, choose most convenient location in Manhattan for you


    Where to disembark: North Campus


    Pros & Cons:  

    • Most Comfortable
    • Faster
    • Cornell-operated
    • Most expensive
    • Must book weeks in advance

    Greyhound/Big Red Bullet

    These 2 bus companies do not stop on campus, but yet are as expensive as Shortline.


    Not recommended unless you have run out of options!


    Find out more here.


    Driving from NYC Manhattan to Cornell


    • Duration: 4 hours
    • Companies: Only Avis, Hertz, Budget, and Enterprise have offices in Ithaca. Check their websites for their respective rental prices.


    • Be sure that you know the driving laws in the States. If this is your first time driving in the US, or for such long distances, it is not advisable to drive to Ithaca alone.
    • Car rental companies usually apply a hefty underage surcharge for all renter below the age of 25. If it is not included in your online price quote, please be sure to check how much it will be when you pay at the counter.