The 5 most popular cities in Canada for international students

Updated on: Mar 15, 2024
The 5 most popular cities in Canada for international students
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Canada is home to around 650,000 international students, making it one of the world’s most popular places to study abroad. It’s easy to see why, as the Canadian education and immigration system makes it a very student-friendly country. 

You can work part-time while you study to ease the financial burden, and you can stick around to get a work permit after graduating! Speaking of which, check out these 6 high-paid part-time jobs in Canada for international students, and the top graduate employers in Canada. 

And while we’re here, you might be interested in: 

So if you’re set on studying in Canada, the big question is: whereabouts? It’s a big country after all! 

In this article, we’ll take you through the most popular places in Canada for international students. 

International students in Canada: Which provinces are most popular?

It’s surprisingly difficult to find reliable city-by-city figures for the international student population in Canada. However what is available is the provincial breakdown, so let’s take a look at that first:

Ontario, which is home to the major cities of Toronto and Ottawa, as well as the under-rated Kitchener and the Niagara Falls region, is easily the most popular province for international students. Indeed, just under 50% of all international students in Canada are based there.  

Next up is British Columbia, the province in which Vancouver is located. Around 20-25% of Canada’s international students are here. Though it’s not quite as popular as Ontario, it’s important to note that Ontario has three times the overall population! 

Then there’s the province of Quebec, home to around 15% of international students in Canada. Here you’ll find the famous Quebec City and Montreal (Where French supersedes English as the official language). 

Beyond these main hubs, it’s also worth noting that the far less densely populated provinces of Manitoba, just west of Ontario, and Nova Scotia, on the Atlantic coast in Canada’s southeast region, are also comparably popular with international students. It’s been reported that each province is home to somewhere in the region of 20,000 foreign students!

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The 5 most popular cities in Canada for international students

Now that we know the breakdown of international students in Canada by province, let’s take a look at the 5 most popular cities! 


Toronto is Canada's largest city and home to 6 million people, and it’s also the country’s most multicultural city, making it very friendly for international students. 

Job opportunities both while studying and post-graduation are exceptional, with Toronto being the home of many large companies. These include Cisco, ranked by Forbes as Canada’s best employer in 2021, as well as Coca-Cola, Google, Nike, and Apple.


Just under half of all Ottawans speak both English and French, making it a pretty cosmopolitan place! Maybe after spending so many years learning English to study abroad, you might end up learning French here too! 

Ottowa has a rich historical heritage, which you can easily see for yourself at attractions like Parliament Hill, the Canadian War Museum, Rideau Canal, Notre-Dame Basilica, and the National Gallery of Canada.
As for work opportunities after uni, there are some amazing companies based in Ottawa including the Bank of Canada, Shopify, Adobe Systems Canada, and Hydro Ottawa.


Located on the country’s west coast, Vancouver in British Columbia is considered to be one of the world’s most liveable cities. The urban landscape is amazing, while there’s also close access to both beaches and mountains – perfect for city slickers and nature lovers alike! It’s also just 45 minutes from the US border and the bustling city of Seattle, so you could easily pop down to the US for a weekend once you secure a visa. 

It also has excellent work opportunities with companies such as Canucks Sports and Entertainment, Fairchild Group, HSBC Bank Canada who have headquarters in the city.


Home to over 3 million people, the French & English-speaking city of Montreal is a great place to live. It ranked 6th in the QS Best Student Cities in 2019 and was the highest-ranked city in North America!

There’s plenty to do here, but culture and the arts are what Montreal is really known for. There are over 100 festivals per year, covering arts, music, and comedy. 

Quebec City 

One of Canada’s oldest and most historical cities, Quebec is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Old Quebec, which has preserved so much of centuries gone by. There’s also the beautiful old cobblestone square of Place Royale, the Terrasse Dufferin boardwalk along the oceanfront, and the stunningly beautiful waterfall at Parc de la Chute-Montmorency.

But it’s not all pretty buildings and history. When it comes to working opportunities after studying, there are some amazing companies here too, including Air Canada, the Canadian National Railway, L’Oreal Canada, Clarins Canada, and Pfizer Canada.

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