The Best Cities in The Netherlands for International Students

Although a small country, the Netherlands has one of the highest population densities in the world. Its population stands out through its openness to diversity and multiculturality, beside the fact that the Dutch are among the best English speakers in mainland Europe. To sum up, the Netherlands is the perfect country for international students. And in case you plan to spend your next academic years in this beautiful country, we’ve compiled a list of the best student cities you can settle in the Netherlands. 

Is Netherlands a good place to live as a student?

According to the statistics, the Netherlands welcomes approximately 90,000 international students each year. And to add to Holland’s high international profile, nearly 95% of the locals are fluent in English, making it easy to adapt quickly and make new friends. The other reason to pursue academics in the Netherlands is certainly the country’s world-class education offered in its prestigious universities. The country being in the top 6 in the world with the most reputable universities. And of course, many programs from these institutions are taught in English.

Find out more about this in our ranking of the top 10 universities in the Netherlands.

Moreover, foreign students with a student resident permit can work up to 16 hours to top up their budget. And for further incentives to strive for excellence in their studies, graduates from Dutch universities can stay in the country for one year to search for a job without any work permit. They are even allowed to start their own business in the Netherlands within 3 years of graduation. Learn more about these reasons why you should study in the Netherlands in our guide on the subject.

But for now, read further to find out which cities are best for an international student to live and study in the Netherlands. 

Which city is best for international students in Netherlands?

When talking about the best student cities in the Netherlands, Amsterdam seems an obvious choice. Hosting over 180 nationalities, the Dutch capital stands out for its canals, museums, picturesque landscape and for being a historic center in the country. The city is never out of things to do from art, to cuisine and sports. And for that to be possible, the city has a very efficient public transportation system.

For students, the University of Amsterdam is the second-best university in the Netherlands, and the largest university of the country. The institution also offers more than 200 programs in English, highlighting its international profile, and keeping Amsterdam in the top 100 student cities in the world.

Netherlands student cities - Amsterdam

Most international cities in the Netherlands

Here are other cities in the Netherlands which are the most popular among internationals – including students – to live in. 

The Hague: an international seaside town in the Netherlands

The Hague is the “should-be” capital city of the Netherlands, being the headquarters of many important international organizations as well as several embassies. The city is home to half a million population, with more than 30,000 foreign students from more than 146 countries. Moreover, The Hague is close to other big cities such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Leiden, making it a great place to settle in Holland.

The Hague

Among its best universities, there is The Hague University of Applied Sciences It’s the reference if you want to study business and management, finances, European studies and science in the Netherlands. The other high-profile university is Inholland University of Applied Sciences. Why The Hague is among the best student cities in the Netherlands has also to do with the fact that newly graduates from these universities easily find employment after their studies. 

Rotterdam: the second-biggest city in the Netherlands

Rotterdam hosts the largest seaport in Europe and is the second city in the Netherlands in terms of population. The city is also the most diverse in the Netherlands. It hosts people from many nationalities along with a large student community. Rotterdam, despite being a big city, boasts a lower cost of living, making it a great place for students. It’s also easier to find a student accommodation in Rotterdam than in other towns like Amsterdam.

Find out more about student accommodation in the Netherlands.

The city is also known for its university: the Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), one of the top 100 universities in the world. EUR traces its roots back to 1913 and offers various programs to students in the fields of health, culture, governance and finance. 

Maastricht: one of the best student cities in the southern pic of the Netherlands

Another cosmopolitan city in the far south of Netherlands, Maastricht borders Germany and Belgium. The city is located in a hilly part of Holland, which is different from the rest of the country that is generally flat. Maastricht also stands out with its medieval architecture and rich cultural environment. Another particularity of the city is that it has the second-highest number of national heritage buildings in the Netherlands, 1677 of them. It’s also the best place to settle in if you love art and outdoor activities.

The University of Maastricht is the 6th in the world for young universities. It’s also the most popular institution of higher education in the region, internationally-focused with 50% foreign students attending the university. 

Best student cities: Where do students live in Netherlands?

Here are the other cities that are popular among students in the Netherlands. 

Leiden: a busy student center in Holland

Leiden is located in the “Bulb Region”, the best place to settle in if you want to explore the characteristically Dutch tulip fields in springtime. It’s also one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, quite small but a vibrant student city thanks to Leiden University. The university is also the oldest in the country, since it came into existence in 1575! Leiden also stands out with its canals, museums and the numerous cultural activities it offers. 


Nijmegen: the oldest city in the Netherlands

Nijmegen, in the province of Gelderland, has its origins dating back to the Roman times. With more than 2,000 years of existence behind it, this ancient city is cozy yet vibrant with a large student population. This little town close to the German border has earned its place among the best student cities in the Netherlands, thanks to Radboud University. Being in the top 10 universities in Holland, it’s also one of the go-to places for business and economics studies in the country. 


Tilburg: the greenest city in the Netherlands

Tilburg is the wool capital of Holland and also the 6th largest city in the country. And for it to be in our list of the popular student cities in the Netherlands has to do within the university. In fact, Tilburg University offers 45 of its 70 study programs in English. Moreover, Tilburg is relatively cheap, a little quieter despite being a big city. It stands out for its numerous culture and art-related activities. And at last, with several parks and forests, it’s the greenest city in the Netherlands. 

Eindhoven: the Silicon Valley of the Netherlands

Eindhoven is jam-packed with energy, technology and innovation! It’s the perfect place to go if you crave for modernity while living in the Netherlands. Eindhoven is also home to the well-known brand “Philips” among other high-tech businesses. This technology hub has its best representative in Eindhoven University of Technology, ranking constantly in the top 200 globally. Moreover, Eindhoven is one of the best in the world for architecture studies. And last but not least, the university offers all its courses in English. 

Delft: a small city in southern Netherlands

A beautiful little city between The Hague and Rotterdam, Delft is a popular tourist location in the Netherlands. Being a true “postcard” city, with its beautiful canals, cobbled streets and Dutch houses. Delft is actually like the small-town version of Amsterdam. But what makes Delft one of the top student cities in the Netherlands is TU Delft, the oldest and largest public university of technology in the country. TU Delft is also among the top 15 engineering and technology universities in the world. 

Netherlands student cities - Delft

Utrecht: a small but vibrant city

Utrecht is another traditional Dutch city, with those characteristic picturesque canals. It’s a vibrant city in a quite central location, making it an important transport hub of the region. In other words, from Utrecht, you can go anywhere you want in the country in a reasonable amount of time. Moreover, this lively town in the Netherlands ranks among the top 15 cities in Europe for students. Utrecht University is one of the best and oldest in the country, with 12 Nobel Prize laureates among its former students. 

Groningen: a great student city in the north of the Netherlands

Groningen is a gem of a city, located in the north of the Netherlands. It’s also an extremely popular city to live as a student hosting the second-oldest university in the country. Groningen has grown to be in the top student cities in the Netherlands. And it has to do with the fact that a huge portion of the population of the city are students. Groningen University is the 5th best university in the Netherlands and welcomes students from more than 120 nationalities.

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