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Canada: Destination Guides

The top cities in Canada for international students

Not sure which city you want to call home in Canada? Find out more about these top student cities and what they offer international students...

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An incredibly popular study destination for international students, Canada offers a high quality of life, spectacular landscapes and an excellent education system. But which cities are best for students? As the world’s second largest country, you have plenty of choice when it comes to the location. However, this might feel overwhelming. That’s why we’ve chosen to explore Canada’s top student cities using the QS Best Student Cities ranking in combination with the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Most Livable Cities ranking to help you refine your search and find out where you might want to live, work and study in Canada.



Consistently ranking within the top 10 best student cities in the world (QS Best Student Cities), Montreal is known for being bilingual, multicultural and friendly with a strong arts and culture scene. Located within the province of Quebec in the south-east of Canada, Montreal is the second largest city in the country.


With comparably low living costs and a busy calendar of events, festivals and activities, its no surprise that Montreal is such a popular choice for students. If you love the outdoors, Montreal also has over 2,000 acres of parks, giving you a break from the bustling atmosphere of the city streets.


Plus, Montreal is particularly diverse with 23 per cent of the population originating from outside the country. In fact, 55 per cent of the population is bilingual, speaking both English and French (Statistics Canada 2016). This multiculturalism makes Montreal a great place for international students looking to feel accepted and welcomed into their new community.


Do you know which degrees are most popular for international students in Canada?



The largest city in Canada, Toronto has a cosmopolitan, friendly and multicultural feel. Experience all four seasons throughout the year, from hot summer days on the beach to snow-filled winters perfect for skiing and tobogganing. Toronto regularly ranks as one of the world’s most livable cities (Economist Global Livability Index 2019), offering a wide range of entertainment to suit every individual such as festivals, food markets, shopping, art galleries, museums and so on.


Toronto also strikes the perfect balance between lively and peaceful with many areas of outstanding natural beauty. Home to several nature reserves, Lake Ontario and the world-renowned Niagara Falls, Toronto has it all. Plus, the city was voted the sixth safest in the world (Economist Intelligence Unit Safe Cities Index 2019) which should calm any nerves you may have about moving to a new place on your own.


Want to know why Canada is such a popular study destination?


Interested in Toronto for your studies? Check out the following Toronto-based institutions:



Also known as Hollywood North, Vancouver has made a name for itself within TV and film production following the likes of Los Angeles and New York. It is also one of the cleanest cities in the world and the birthplace of the environmental charity, Greenpeace.


Vancouver is another international Canadian city, welcoming people from all over the world. As with the other cities mentioned here, Vancouver is an incredibly welcoming place for international students. In fact, 27.7 per cent of the population is Chinese (World Population Review 2016).


This inclusive attitude is also championed by the universities which offer free transport for international students. This is a huge money saver to help with budgeting in Canada, enabling students to move around the city for free. You might also be interested to know that international students receive access to affordable healthcare in British Columbia with a monthly fee of CAD 75 per month.


Based in British Columbia on the south coast of Canada, Vancouver is home to both mountains and beaches. So, if you want the city life, long stretches of coastline and a mild climate, Vancouver should be high on your list. If you find that you’re craving some snow, you can just head up to the Rockies for hiking trails and skiing holidays.


Want to browse universities in Vancouver/British Columbia?



Find out more about the top universities in Canada.



The capital of Canada, Ottawa is a dynamic, diverse and youthful city with a vibrant culture. The Rideau canal runs right through the city, a UNESCO world heritage site, which in the winter transforms into one of the longest ice-skating rinks in the world.  


Ottawa is based in Ontario, bordering Quebec and just a two-hour drive from Montreal. The USA is also ideally located just an hour south from the city by car. What’s more, Ottawa offers a high quality of life and a relatively low cost of living. In fact, the city ranks as the 19th most livable in the world (Mercer 2019) based on crime, housing, healthcare and education.


This student-centric city is dominated by two large universities: University of Ottawa and Carleton University. In fact, Ottawa ranks 46th in the QS ranking (2018) of the most student-friendly cities in Canada. Plus, Ottawa is renowned for its tech industry which attracts many international students interested finding a graduate job in the fields of computer science, IT and technology.


Hopefully you’ve found out which city is best for you. If so, check out the universities listed above to see if they meet your needs.


Didn’t find what you were looking for? Use our course matcher tool today!


Make sure you also keep an eye on our latest news page for any updates.

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