Visiting and Getting Around

Ithaca is located in central New York at the southern tip of Cayuga Lake, approximately four hours north of New York City and south of Toronto.

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Cornell Visitor Information: directions, local hotels, and more

Tompkins County Visitor Information: directions, transportation, hotels, restaurants, and more

International Students and Scholars Office: Life in Ithaca Guide

Campus-to-Campus: Express bus service between Cornell's New York City and Ithaca campuses

Automobile Rental

A number of auto-rental businesses serve the Ithaca area, including Affordable Used Car Rental of Ithaca (273-1300); Autorental America; Avis (airport); Enterprise; Hertz (airport); and National.


Like most of the Northeastern United States, Ithaca has an invigorating four season climate. Summers can be warm, and Ithacans often spend time outdoors hiking, sailing, kayaking, biking, and swimming in the many local parks. In the fall and spring, the weather can be brisk with frequent rain.  Dressing in layers is preferred.  Winter can be cold with a fair amount of snow. Ithacans enjoy skiing – downhill and cross-country, skating, and sledding. A warm coat and snow boots are a necessity in the winter.

Tip:  Buy winter clothing in Ithaca. Stores in warmer climates often don’t have the right kind of clothing for our winters.


Getting Around


(607) 277-RIDE (607-277-7433)

Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT) operates 37 routes serving the Cornell campus, Ithaca, and the surrounding communities. Exact change is required for the $1.50 fare (including one transfer). Cornell's "Blue Light Bus" service offers free admittance for Cornell I.D. – holders on TCAT's night-time Routes 92, and 93, which serve the campus and its fringes. Frequent riders may purchase economical system-wide passes, available at supermarkets, City Hall, and Cornell's Willard Straight Hall, among other locations. Most TCAT buses are handicapped-accessible, and TCAT offers special paratransit services for people with disabilities (607-273-1878). All TCAT buses are equipped with two front-mounted bike racks, which give bicycling commuters more options.

Walking and Biking

Walking and biking are often the quickest, easiest, and healthiest ways to get around town and campus. Marked bike lanes and shared bike/motor vehicle lanes are marked on many area roads. Bike owners are required to register their bikes with Cornell (free online registration form). Cornell has a system of marked bike lanes (white bike and rider symbol) and shared paths (yellow bike and rider symbol). Cycling on all walkways with no symbol is prohibited by municipal law and university regulations. Dismount zones are marked in heavily trafficked pedestrian areas (red circle and slash over bike and rider). Commuter bike paths also connect the campus to certain eastern residential areas. Bikers are required by law to use headlights at night. 

Visit Big Red Bikes to take advantage of Cornell's student-run bike share system.

Owning a Car in Ithaca

For many students, the scarcity of parking and the traffic congestion on campus make owning a car in Ithaca more trouble than it's worth. Fortunately, Ithaca and Cornell have good public transit, and the most important locations are within walking and biking distance for those who live near campus. If you do bring an automobile, it must be registered and insured, either in New York or in your home state. International students seeking information on driving in the United States should contact the Department of Motor Vehicles (below).

301 Third St., Ithaca

(607) 273-7187

Information on registering a vehicle or obtaining a New York State driver's license.

  • Commuter and Parking Services

116 Maple Ave.

(607) 255-4600

Automobile owners are required to register their vehicles with the university. Registration is free, but does not bestow parking privileges. Most daytime parking on campus requires a permit, and parking regulations are strictly enforced. A variety of permits is available for purchase at Commuter and Parking Services, including permits for carpoolers. Visitors also can purchase daily permits from the information booths at campus entrances.

  • Parking at Cornell

Cornell Transportation Services

Parking at Cornell is challenging. Students should be aware of all parking regulations and get appropriate permits to park in all Cornell lots.

  • Parking in Ithaca Overnight parking on all major streets in the City of Ithaca is subject to "alternate side" rules: on odd-numbered days of the month, overnight parking is allowed only on the side of the street with odd-numbered house addresses; conversely, on even-numbered days, overnight parking is allowed only on the even side. The law is enforced November 1 through April 1 between 2 and 6 a.m. For instance, at the end of the day on March 3 – including the early morning hours of March 4 – car owners will want to make sure that they have parked on the odd side of the street. Cars parked on the wrong side of the street will be ticketed. Housing that includes off-street parking averts these complications; ask about this when looking for housing. Residents of Cornell graduate student housing can purchase parking permits valid at their residence's parking lot.

  • Ride-Sharing

You can find rides to and from campus using online communities and applications, such as AlterNetRides; Craigslist (Ithaca rideshare classifieds); iCarpool, an international carpool network; Ithaca Carshare; Uloop, an all-Cornell community; and ZimRide, a Cornell rideshare community.