Whether you’re studying languages and want to practice your skills, or simply want to immerse yourself in a new culture, Europe offers some of the best cities to study at on your year abroad. Why not meander down the cobbled streets of Barcelona, or head to Paris – the fashion capital of the world. Or if you’re a foodie, indulge in the pizzas and pastas of  Bologna or, if you’re a metal music lover, thrash it out at Helsinki. There’s a diverse range to choose from, so take your pick from these European hotspots boosting dynamic student communities.

10 Warsaw(Poland)

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Warsaw is an energetic capital, filled with parks, museums and countless amenities. Old meets young with Warsaw’s infamous old town and a thriving nightlife, perfect for student nights out. Furthermore, studying in Warsaw guarantees an excellent education on a budget, as Poland is a cheaper destination than many of its European neighbours. However, if you are planning to stay long-term, you might want to polish your Polish. Speaking a little of the local language is likely to increase your chances of getting part-time employment, while allowing you to fully immerse in the rich, yet underrated Polish culture.

9 Helsinki (Finland)

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Helsinki is a modern, dynamic capital, with so much on offer. It’s great for those who like heavy metal, with the Tuska festival in July, and famous Bar Bakkari. In terms of education, the University of Helsinki features in the top 50 universities in Europe, so your education will be in great hands. Also, their Bachelor of Science is taught in English, which is useful for those studying who don’t speak Finnish. Although Finnish is a notoriously difficult language, most Finns speak near- perfect English, so you’ll no doubt be able to get to know the locals. It’s slightly pricier than other European destinations though so it’s worth budgeting in advance.

8 Prague (Czech Republic)

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Prague is an astonishing city and this makes the Czech capital a sought after tourist destination. But it’s also a great place to live, with plenty of hidden gems. Prague is known for its baroque and gothic architecture, which makes a stroll through the city feel like a dream. Chances are that you’ll study at Univerzita Karlova (Known as Charles University in English), which is one of the oldest universities in Europe and a beautiful building to spend your time in. Living in Prague, you’ll also have access to the legendary Czech beers, which is no doubt high on many priorities.

7 Aachen (Germany)

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A great spot for the engineering students, Aachen is the home of the RWTH (North-Rhine Westphalia Technical University), which is one of the most prestigious universities for Science and Engineering in Germany. Although courses are taught in German, Aachen has an extensive international student community. Furthermore, a Civil Engineering student from the University of Sheffield, who did their year abroad in Aachen, claimed it was one of the best places to study for several reasons. These include significantly cheaper student accommodation options, plenty of Aldi’s and Lidl’s, a vibrant nightlife, and  free public transport. The latter means that it’s quite easy to take weekend trips to explore further afield, like Liege in Belgium and Maastricht in Holland.

6 Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain)

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Barcelona is a welcoming city, always open to new ideas and bursting with innovative spirit. The Catalan capital is an unmissable year abroad destination, thanks to its combination of busy city living with relaxed beach vibes. Even if you are shy or don’t know Spanish fluently, the massive student communities will play a significant role in finding your niche. Furthermore, Barcelona is significantly cheaper to study in, therefore, enjoying the beautiful local seaside, architecture and the unmatched nightlife won’t be an issue. Students who have studied abroad in Barcelona recommend the city to anyone studying Spanish and Catalan, as well as anyone looking for an unforgettable year of fun.

5 Copenaghen (Denmark)

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What list would it be complete without adding one of the best cities to live in? The Danish capital is well known for its quality of life, excellent education and rich culture, making Copenhagen an ever-growing  destination to study abroad. If you want the true Danish experience, grab a coffee in one of the many cafes and.. hygge (get cosy essentially). Bear in mind that although most courses are in English, knowing basic Danish would go a great way to make a difference. It’s also important to factor in the cost of living, which may be higher than in the UK.

4 Utrecht ( Netherlands)

Utrecht in the Netherlands is one of the best European cities to study abroad
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It’s no secret that the Netherlands are a popular place to study abroad, after all, the country is renowned for its academic excellence and quality of life. But if there’s a place that deserves to be on this list is Utrecht. This cosy and lovely Dutch city is home to the country’s most prestigious university, which explains the fact that 20% of its population are students.  It’s also close to the UK, meaning a trip home throughout the year shouldn’t set you back too much. Although, you’ll probably be too busy taking in the medieval historic centre, or tree-lined paths by the canal.

3 Paris (France)

The Eiffel Tower in Paris is a great place for students to go
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The city of love, fashion and culture, and let’s not forget Paris’ timeless charm. The European city isn’t just for romantics or fashion students, ranking in 9th place for best place to study in the QS Student Cities. It’s home to several prestigious universities, notably the Sorbonne University that is one of the oldest universities in Europe. However, it’s not cheap to live in Paris, but it’s rich culture and iconic streets more than make up for it.

2 Lisbon (Portugal)

Cable cars in Lisbon make it great for students to get around
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Although Lisbon definitely has a slower pace of life compared to other European capitals, it never fails to deliver on things to do.  From the lovely Carcavelos beach, exploring the narrow ancient streets in the Alfama neighbourhood, and trying the delicious Portuguese cuisine, Lisbon has you covered. It’s also a great place to live on a budget, with plenty of free, outdoor activities and cheaper prices on necessities.

1 Bologna( Italy)

Stunning architecture in Bologna, Italy.
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When you think of Italy, you usually think of Rome, Pisa or Venice. Bologna offers an authentic Italian experience but without the huge. influx of tourists. You can still enjoy the sumptuous combination of food (after all is the city where tortellini comes from), culture and art. Bologna is home to one of the oldest universities in Europe, as well as quaint, historic streets to inspire you as you study. Perfecto!


If you are planning to go on a year abroad, check our articles on the best tips for settling in to get you started. If you’re looking to do a postgraduate course overseas, check out where you can study you Masters degree abroad for free.