A guide to the best student cities in the Netherlands in 2024

Student cities in the Netherlands: to an outsider, they can seem practically identical. But, once you get to know them, you realise that they each have their different characteristics.

It’s crucial to take these differences into account when you’re choosing where to study in this beautiful, flat country.

So, without further ado, here is our ultimate guide to the student cities of the Netherlands.πŸ‘‡

Why should I study in the Netherlands?

The Netherlands may be a small country, but it’s one of the most densely populated in the world. With that comes lots of different people and cities rich in culture and history.

The universities in the Netherlands are pretty top-notch β€” with most universities in the country ranking in the world’s top 400, with 7 in the top 150!

There are lots of student cities in the Netherlands. And, as the Dutch are among the best English speakers, outside of their native countries, it’s the perfect country for internationals.

Student life in the Netherlands

Most cities in the Netherlands have quite a large student population, and there is always lots to do for them.

READ MORE | Dutch sororities and fraternities: yep, they exist (and are echt bizarre)

Internationals-making-Dutch-friends-laughing-together-and-having-fun
Thanks to the large international student community in the Netherlands, it’s easy to find friends from all around the globe! Image: Freepik

What’s more, as the country is so small, you can travel easily from place to place within a few hours (although we have to admit that travelling can be quite expensive πŸ‘€).

Also, as they are so pro with speaking English, the Netherlands provides many courses solely in English, and tuition fees are low for EU students (€2000). So, where should I go, we hear you ask?

Where to study in the Netherlands?

Leiden

The best way to describe Leiden is your ‘home away from home.’ It’s is a small city, sandwiched between The Hague and Amsterdam (only 15 mins from the Hague and 30 to Amsterdam).

Leiden is known for its picturesque canals, some of which look identical to a view you’ll get in Amsterdam β€” it’s basically best described as a mix of Amsterdam and Delft.

photo-of-boat-cafe-in-leiden
Leiden is the place to be, especially when you’re on a boat! Image: Depositphotos

We have a massive soft spot for Leiden, as it’s the home of our lovely office. But besides that, it really is so homely and beautiful.

The student community is more tight-knit and makes up for a large part of Leiden, so it’s no wonder that it’s known for its countless student associations.

The city has the oldest university in the whole of the Netherlands (1575! 🀯), and it has taught tons of students over its many running years. Besides its social sciences and law courses, Leiden is also known for its artistic roots, as Leiden is also the birthplace of Rembrandt. πŸ–Ό

Groningen

This city in the north of the Netherlands is the largest city in the northern region, and is already bustling with lots of students. Of course, this makes it an incredibly popular place to live in as a student. πŸ‘©β€πŸŽ“

It’s equally as appealing to the eye (the city centre was actually voted the best in the country for a few years). The university is a landmark in itself and is the second oldest in the whole country.

Beautiful-old-street-canal-and-boats-in-Groningen-free-things
Who wouldn’t adore a view like this when commuting to class? Image: Unsplash

The city also has lots to discover and ranks high when it comes to places to study. PLUS, it also has great nightlife if you’re a party animal.

READ MORE | 11 cosy places to work or study in Groningen

The University of Groningen is the 6th best-ranked university in the Netherlands and 80th in the world.

It’s one of the oldest universities in the country (est. 1614) and is known for its female success: having hosted the first female lecturer and first female student β€” and even the first Dutch astronaut! πŸ’ͺ

Amsterdam

Amsterdam is an obvious choice, being the Dutch capital and all. It is much loved for its museums, canals, picturesque scenery and, of course, there are plenty of things to do.

Amsterdam actually has the 2nd highest-ranked university in the whole of the Netherlands (The University of Amsterdam), and it’s the country’s largest university.

READ MORE | Hoera! UvA and Utrecht University rank among top 100 scientific universities worldwide

It also ranked in the top 100 in the world for the best student cities. And yes, there are also plenty of courses taught in English (although this has been heavily criticised. πŸ‘€)

photo-of-amsterdam-canal-and-buildings
You can find loads of university buildings scattered around the capital! Image: Depositphotos

If going out is your thing, there is plenty of nightlife in Amsterdam, but entry to a lot of the clubs is pretty pricey (€10 – €15 β€” ouch for students).

If culture and history are more your thing, then you’re in luck. From the Anne Frank House to the Van Gogh Museum, there’s plenty to learn about here!

Rotterdam

Rotterdam, being the second biggest city in the Netherlands, is also bustling with lots of different people, from lots of different nationalities.

It has a large student community and is known for its large port, which is the biggest in all of Europe.

Rotterdam-cityscape-of-Erasmus-Bridge-at-sunset
You won’t find a skyline like this anywhere else in the Netherlands! Image: Freepik

If you appreciate modern architecture and design, then this is the city for you. It has a rich history, one which resulted in mass damage during WWII. 

As a result, Rotterdam used the city as a blank canvas to create an up-and-coming city vibe. It is the modern city of the Netherlands, and its architectural design is sublime.

READ MORE | 21 epic day trips from Rotterdam: the ultimate guide

It’s known for its multiculturalism, electronic music scene (the nights out are great) and its university: Erasmus University Rotterdam (72nd in the world β€” known for its business school).

Eindhoven

Eindhoven is another city which is really big on innovation, with lots to do. Home to the well-known brand “Philips”, the city is literally “lit up” with innovative spaces and buildings.

picture-of-eindhoven-city-centre-blue-skies-netherlands
Eindhoven is the perfect student city if you’re craving an innovative vibe. Image: Depositphotos

This city is a hub for technology and engineering, which is represented through the Eindhoven University of Technology, which ranks highly among the world’s universities.

Eindhoven itself is also a lovely city, with lots going on. The nightlife isn’t too shabby either, and there are plenty of places to explore.

There is even an international airport there (which usually has cheaper tickets than Schiphol), so it’s easy and cheap to get home if you’re a flyer!

Delft

Delft is a beautiful small city located between the Hague and Rotterdam. Its sports all of the picturesque canals, Dutch houses and cobbled streets that you could ask for.

For this reason, it is seen as a very scaled-down version of Amsterdam β€” minus the hoards of tourists. The city also has an incredibly rich history and is a true ‘postcard Dutch city.’

photo of delft houses in center with church
Delft looks straight out of a fairytale. πŸ§šβ€β™€οΈ Image: Unsplash

It’s also home to the country’s oldest and largest public technical university, founded in 1842. Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) is ranked 78th in the world.

If mathematics and computer sciences (and anything to do with technology) are your thing, then this is definitely a university to consider.

It is also one of the top universities for architecture. The campus is large, considering how small Delft is, and the university is extremely popular amongst international students.

The Hague AKA Den Haag

The Hague is often described as the ‘should-be’ capital of the Netherlands as it is home to the International Court of Justice, embassies and the government.

The Hague is a large city, close to Rotterdam, Leiden and Amsterdam β€” so it’s an ideal spot to get around Holland.

Look at that skyline! Image: Kevin Coellner/Supplied. You can check out all of Kevin’s photos of The Hague in our article here!

If you’re after a multicultural city, rich with history and culture, then this may be the city for you.

There are lots to do in the Hague, including (but not limited to), shopping, visiting the Binnenhof (home of the government), the Peace Palace and the Noordeinde Palace (home of the royal family).

Let’s not forget the beach nearby in Scheveningen β€” because who doesn’t love a good zwemmen day in the sea? πŸŠβ€β™€οΈ

The most popular institute in the Hague is the The Hague University of Applied Sciences. This is a hoogeschool rather than a university, so it offers hands-on profession-orientated programmes. If science and culture are your thing, then this might just be the place to be.

Besides that, Leiden University also has a campus in The Hague, and offers some of its courses from there.

Tilburg

Tilburg is another city with plenty going on in it. All year round, there are loads of events happening, especially in the summer, when festivals often take place within Tilburg.

Despite Tilburg being known as a less-popular place to live in the Netherlands for expats, it’s rapidly turning into the go-to place and is now especially popular with students.

Tilburg has a large student population, and there is always a lot to do within the university. The nightlife and cultural activities are affordable, and the city’s location puts you in an excellent place to travel (relatively cheaply too).

Utrecht

Utrecht is one of those underrated cities of the Netherlands. It’s another traditional picturesque Dutch city, with more of those canals that we all love. It is also a great place to shop, eat and have a drink on the terraces.

studying in the Netherlands
Utrecht has some awesome architecture. Image: Pixabay

It’s also in quite a central location, so it’s literally perfect if you want to go anywhere in the country in a reasonably short time.

Utrecht University is also an excellent research university, with many student societies and activities. It hosts one of the oldest universities in Europe (est. 1636) and is one of the largest universities in the Netherlands β€” so you can be sure that the student life will be in top form.

The nightlife is said to be good in Utrecht too, so that you can wind down with a drink (or ten πŸ˜‰) after a hard day of lectures.

Maastricht 

Maastricht is a beautiful city that is right in the tail of the far south. Since it borders Germany and Belgium, it’s easy to escape the Netherlands if you’d ever want to.

For this reason, Maastricht is very diverse, and when you visit, you can tell that it’s different to most other traditional Dutch cities.

photo of maastricht buildings in the city
A view of Maastricht from the river. Image: Unsplash

The region also is hilly, which is weird as hell, knowing that most of the Netherlands is completely flat. But before you panic: it’s still bike-friendly, so don’t worry!

In Maastricht is Maastricht University (duh), ranking 6th in the world for young universities. It is the most popular in the whole region, and more than half of the students are international students from around the world.

You can be sure that, if you go here, you will be amongst a diverse set of people.

Any other student cities in the Netherlands?

There are plenty of other places to go in the Netherlands for your studies. Here is a list of some of the other cities you can enjoy your studies in. There are just too many to choose from, eh?

Some others include:

  • Dordrecht β€” famous Da Vinci College, perfect for design lovers
  • Arnhem β€” lots of internationals, perfect for sciences
  • Wageningen β€” loads of English-speaking courses, perfect for internationals

And there are many other cities with universities, but the ones listed in the article are definitely the most popular ones.

The only issue now is actually getting a place β€” it certainly isn’t easy. You’re going to need this article for that. Good luck with your move! πŸ₯³

Do you know any other student cities in the Netherlands? Which is your favourite? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image:Pixabay
Emma Brown
Emma Brown
A familiar face at DutchRevew. Emma arrived in Holland in 2016 for a few weeks, fell in love with the place and never left. Here she rekindled her love of writing and travelling. Now you'll find her eating stroopwafels in the DutchReview office since 2017.

3 COMMENTS

  1. […] So, you’ve decided to go to a university in the Netherlands. That’s great! Maybe you’ve seen our articles on why student life or a study abroad programme in the Netherlands is the best, or maybe this is your first time considering it. Either way – you’re probably wondering where one should actually go study in the Netherlands as there are plenty of university cities in the Netherlands. […]

  2. Ooops? You guys forgot one of the highest ranking universities in (one of the oldest) city of the Netherlands? No Nijmegen? =0

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