Top 5 Student Cities in Canada

Global Ed
If you are researching global ed in Canada, this one is for you. Life as an international student goes beyond university and assignments. It is also about immersing yourself into the local culture in a way that best suits your personality.

On that note, let us dive into the top five student cities in Canada.

The QS metric to choose the best student cities is based on several indicators such as university rankings, student mix, inclusivity, desirability, employer activity, affordability and student perspectives.

Canada Ranking World Ranking Cities
1 9 Montreal
2 13 Toronto
3 18 Vancouver
4 53 Ottawa
5 113 Quebec city

Source: QS Rankings, Best Student Cities, 2022

If you find yourself heading to one of these cities, here is a guide that will help.

Best cities in Canada for international students

Table of contents:


One of the best student cities in Canada? Montreal! An affordable city with pioneering educational institutions, Montreal sees an immense influx of international students each year. A well connected public transportation system, a safe atmosphere and a rich cultural scene make this city a haven for students. If you can learn some French, you can navigate through Montreal like a pro.

Student Friendly Neighbourhoods:

  • Downtown Districts, McGill Ghetto, or Concordia area if you want to be closer to the universities, Côte-des-Neiges if you study at the HEC or the University of Montreal
  • Hochelaga, if sports, athletics and/or fitness is your thing
  • Parc La Fontaine for the socialite in you
  • Milton Park for the shopaholic
  • Little Maghreb, if you are looking to save a few dollars

A word of advice

Do not be in a hurry to sign a lease for accommodation until you have actually seen the place. Plan your trip in such a way that you reach Montreal a week or two in advance, and stay in temporary accommodation as you search for a place that will become your home for the next couple of years.

Cheap Eats: Le Saint-Houblon near UQAM and University of Montreal, Pushap Restaurant on Rue Pare (if you want to satisfy your craving for Indian food), Boustan, Cinko, Wilensky’s Light Lunch where you get sandwiches for under $5

Local Culture: Montreal is home to one of the largest jazz festivals in the world. If you keep up with the local news, you will realise that there are year-round festivities and days dedicated to art, music, food, sports and comedies. The nightlife is vibrant, with budget-friendly bars. Safety-wise, Montreal is the 17th safest city in the world. The Notre-Dame Basilica, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Biodome are worth the visit.

Top Universities in Montreal

University of Montreal, McGill University, Concordia, HEC University.


A multicultural city with a population of over 3 million, Toronto attracts more students than any other city in Canada. Subways, streetcars and busses make travel simple and affordable. Students flock to this city as it leads in economic growth and employment opportunities. Located in the English side, language is certainly no barrier.

Student city in canada

Student Friendly Neighbourhoods in Toronto:

  • Seaton Village (Koreatown) if you are a student of the University of Toronto
  • York University Heights
  • Garden District, if your university is downtown
  • Bloorcourt
  • Baldwin Village, if you are looking to socialise regularly

Cheap Eats: Pattie’s Express on Elm Street, Frankie’s for “Toronto’s best burgers”, Square Boy, Mean Baos, El Furniture Warehouse, Melt Grilled Cheese, Rose City Kitchen

Local Culture: Toronto is the cultural hub of Canada with its diverse population and inclusive ethos. Art, music, fashion, theatre and food abound. Here are some things you can check out––The Distillery District, St Lawrence Market, Kensington Market, Evergreen Brickworks, Dundas Square and of course, Niagara Falls.

Top Universities in Toronto

University of Toronto, York University, Ryerson


Next on our list of the best cities for students in Canada is Vancouver. With its stunning natural beauty and supportive work environment, Vancouver ranks overall eighteenth in the list of top student cities, despite being one of the most expensive cities in Canada. The city is committed to a green and sustainable future while retaining its position as an innovation hub in the tech industry.

Top cities in Canada for international students

Student-Friendly Neighbourhoods: Main Street, UBC, Dunbar Southlands, Killarney

Cheap Eats: Viet Sub on Robinson Street, Jack’s Place at Army and Navy (you can get sandwiches for $1.75), Lucy’s which is open 24 hours, Wakwark burger truck, Laksa King, Warehouse on Granville Street

Local Culture: Besides the festivals (jazz festivals, fireworks competitions, mountain bike festivals and so on) and nightlife, you can visit Granville Island, Stanley Park, Grouse Mountain, Whytcliff Park and the suspension bridge at Lynn Canyon.

Top Universities in Vancouver

The University of British Columbia, University of Canada West, VCC, Emily Carr University, Columbia College, Simon Fraser University

Check out also why study in Canada.


Considered to be the safest and one of the most liveable cities in Canada, this cosmopolitan center welcomes international students with its top-notch universities, great employment opportunities, diverse communities and modern architecture. Check out these places if you are living in the nation’s capital city, and more reasons why this is one of the best city for students in Canada.

Best city in Canada for students


Student-Friendly Neighbourhoods:

  • Centre/ Lower Town, if you want to be in the thick of the action
  • Byward market for easy access to all amenities
  • Vanier and Sandy Hill, if you are looking for areas typically populated by students

Cheap Eats: Tavern on the Hill, Il Vicolo, Burgers n Fries Forever, The Green Door Restaurant (to satisfy the vegetarian in you), El Camino, Shawarma Palace,

Local Culture: The Winterlude, Maple Sugar Festival, Rideau Centre, the National Gallery, Gatineau Park and Omega Park will give you a feel of the local culture. You can also catch an ice hockey or a baseball game. Be warned, winters in Ottawa can be extreme. Be fully prepared with thermals and a choice to stay home on extremely cold nights.

Top Universities in Ottawa

University of Ottawa, Carleton, St Paul University


Soak in the beautiful architecture and European vibe as you step into Quebec. With its low unemployment rates, excellent education and economic lifestyle, Quebec is a student’s paradise. However, over 80% of students in Quebec speak French. You better pick up the language if you are headed there.

which city is best for students in Canada


Student-Friendly Neighbourhoods: Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivières, Laval

Cheap Eats: Bachir, La Fabrique Du Smoked Meat, William J Walter, Chez Gaston, Chocolato

Local Culture: Visit the Montmorency Falls, Walk down Dufferin Terrace and explore Old Quebec, spend some time at Musée Palace Royale, get your fill of poutine, explore Wendake,

Top Universities in Quebec

Laval University, University of Sherbrooke, University of Quebec (multiple campuses)

Living within a tight budget in Canada

Finance and budgeting can be a great source of stress for international students. But, there are ways for you to celebrate and enjoy your life abroad without being extravagant. All it takes is a little research.

Carry your student id with you wherever you go. Quite a few stores in Canada offer a student discount, even though it is not advertised. It is also worth considering student saving cards such as ISIC or SPC that will give you specialized discounts on shopping, travel and entertainment.

As you plan for your life and stay abroad, spend some time figuring out places near you that offer the best discounts for students. Check out this list for a comprehensive set of deals an international student can avail of in Canada.

Happy exploring the best cities in Canada for students!

Date added

Filed under:

Global Ed


No spam, just your favourite topics.

Choose Insight topics that you are interested in to subscribe for your personalized newsletter.

A world
of possibilities awaits.
Join the movement.
Find your perfect university,
in one of 40 countries all over the world
Prepare for the future,
whether at university, business or in employment
Secure your future,
through STEM courses
Connect with leading international companies
and unlock the potential of your team
Fill in the form, so we can contact
you and start our journey together.