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Ireland: Destination Guides - Must read

The best student cities in Ireland

Take a tour around Ireland’s best student cities and find out what’s on offer.

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International students in Ireland have it good. With some of the best universities in the world, vibrant culture and great graduate prospects Ireland has become a top study abroad choice. Choosing where to study in Ireland involves a combination of factors, of which location is an important determinant. Ireland’s cities are each unique and offer different options for international students. We take you through the best student cities in Ireland to help you with your decision.




A world-renowned city, Dublin is the capital of Ireland. It is located on the east coast of the country and is the biggest city in the country. The city enjoys a top 50 student city rating by QS and is home to over two million people. Dublin began life almost 1,600 years ago, as first a Gaelic and then a Viking settlement. Students form a crucial part of the fabric of Dublin with over 120,000 studying at one of the four institutions in the city.


Dublin’s universities often feature in the rankings of some of the best in the world. Both Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin are ranked in the top 200 universities globally by the QS World University Rankings 2022. Established in 1975, Dublin City University is a more recent addition to the city’s higher education landscape. The university has a global top 500 ranking by QS and a place in the top 150 as per the Times Higher Education World Young University rankings.


There’s plenty for students to see and do in Dublin. The city has vibrant nightlife including, pubs, restaurants, cafes, and clubs. If you enjoy cultural attractions, there is Dublin Castle, the National Gallery, the Dublin Writer’s Museum, and not to forget the Guinness Storehouse. There is plenty of green space too. Dublin is home to Europe’s largest urban park in Phoenix Park and the national botanic gardens.  


Read more about the 10 things you should know before studying in Ireland.  




The second-largest city in Ireland, Cork is known for its natural harbour and medieval history. The city is on the southwest coast of Ireland and dates to the 6th century. Walking the city streets means you’ll likely be on top of a dried river channel, with many of the walkways built in this way. Cork is known for its hospitality with a 222,000 population very welcoming of students.


The city’s university is the world-renowned University College Cork, which is rated in the top 300 by QS and a top 350 university by Times Higher Education (THE). The university has over 4,000 international students enrolled as part of a student community of 22,000. Cork is home to several transport options, plenty of culinary variety, a range of activities and many places to visit.


You may want to pay a visit to Blarney Castle, home to the famous Blarney Stone. The stone is said to bestow the powers of charm and eloquence to those who touch it. You can also pass by St Colman’s Cathedral. The cathedral has 49 church bells which are the largest of their type in the UK and Ireland. If you enjoy the great outdoors, Cork has hiking and bike trails, sailing, kayaking and equestrian tours available. 


Discover the best universities in Ireland.




One of Ireland’s hidden gems Galway sits on the west coast of the country. It is a relatively small city with a population of just over 80,000 people. The city's size results in a strong sense of community and identity, with Galway, considered cosmopolitan in its outlook. The city lies alongside the River Corrib and is known for its attractive architecture and natural beauty. Galway also took the title of Europe’s capital of culture in 2020.


The city plays host to the University of Galway, which is ranked in the top 300 universities worldwide by QS and in the top 350 by THE. Galway offers 60 undergraduate programmes to its over 18,000 students. The university is also known for its sports centre and a large number of student clubs and societies.


If you did choose to call Galway your new home, you’ll have a packed calendar. The city hosts numerous festivals and events throughout the year, including the Galway Arts Festival. You could also pay a visit to Ireland’s smallest museum or travel offshore to the world-famous Aran islands. Don’t be surprised to hear the Irish language spoken widely in the city. Galway is home to the largest community of Irish speakers in the country.


Discover why it’s a good idea to study for a master’s degree in Ireland.




Located in the mid-west of Ireland lies the city of Limerick. It’s the third most populous city in Ireland and is known for its picturesque location along the Shannon and Abbey rivers. Limerick has a 1,200-year history that includes everything from Viking invasions to the war between King John and King William. You can still visit King John’s castle in the city, which is one of the best examples of Norman architecture in the world.


Awarded the title of Irish University of the Year in 2019 by the Sunday Times Good Universities Guide, the University of Limerick is the jewel in the crown of the city. Known for its research the university was ranked 35th by THE for the impact of its research. The institution has a small close-knit community of students, with 2,500 international students. The university campus is also considered one of the most beautiful in Ireland, if not the world.


Limerick has much to offer students from walking tours of the city to kayaking around the city. There is plenty to see, from the Coolwater Garden to the Terra Nova Fairy Garden. You won’t find it difficult to quench your thirst or grab a bite to eat, with some excellent pubs and restaurants on offer in the city.  


With your new knowledge of Irish cities, it’s time to investigate your study options in Ireland. You can further your research by reading about the top medical schools in Ireland and more about what’s on offer for students in the country.


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