Usually known for chocolates and luxury watches, it may come as a surprise to many that Belgium is more accurately known as a political and economic powerhouse. Through the years, Belgium has borne witness to battlegrounds, world wars, and treaty signings. Now it is home to regional organizations such as the Benelux Economic Union, the European Union, the World Trade Organization, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. This makes the country a prime destination for those pursuing careers in international relations or developmental work.

Moreover, as a nation, Belgium demonstrates how different cultural groups can coexist in harmony. Created as an alliance between the French Walloons and the Dutch Flanders, Belgium is rich in cultural diversity. The country boasts of well-maintained Gothic churches and castles and highly urbanized districts side by side. Belgium also has a stunning arts and music scene interspersed with must-see festivals which make up its folk culture of today.

A high-income economy with excellent standards of living, Belgium is an easy and safe choice for international students looking for a wider worldview. Education has always been a key priority for the country, with various university towns established precisely for this purpose. Check out some of the best cities in Belgium to study in for international students.

Top Cities to Study in Belgium for International Students

1. Brussels

Brussels is a dynamic city that can meet the needs of any traveler. As the capital of Belgium, the city is the seat of government, commerce, and culture. This is not only true for Belgium but also for entire organizations – the EU and NATO are headquartered in this unassuming city. With two official languages, Brussels is accommodating to both French and Dutch speakers, with many adopting the English language as well.

Apart from its political influence, Brussels exercises great cultural influence as well. It is the home of UNESCO World Heritage sites like the Grand Palace, the tongue-in-cheek symbol of Belgium the Manneken Pis, and Museums of Art and History. It is also a well-known gastronomical destination – gorge on Belgian waffles and chocolates to your heart’s delight with the city’s many bakeries and chocolatiers. Most importantly, Brussels is one of the best cities in Belgium to study in for international students. Enjoy a uniquely Belgian education in the capital of Belgium through the following institutions:

  • The Université libre de Bruxelles
  • Université Catholique de Louvain (Brussels Campus)
  • Vrije Universiteit Brussel

2. Antwerp

Antwerp is a port city that grew into its own. Located 40 kilometers north of Brussels, this maritime city is also known as the unofficial center of the Flanders region. Antwerp is home to one of the biggest ports in the world, the second-largest in Europe, and among the top 20 worldwide. It also serves as a hub for the diamond trade – its diamond district is responsible for shining and processing more than 85% of the world’s diamonds. Aside from literal diamonds, the city’s key jewels remain to be its excellently preserved landmarks. Enjoy strolling through churches, government buildings, and botanical gardens in their original splendor.

Antwerp is also central for learning in various disciplines in the arts. Fashion designers look to Antwerp as the headquarters for the ​​Royal Academy of Fine Arts, while musicians participate in the local Cultuurmarkt van Vlaanderen music festival to get seen and heard. Antwerp also pioneered Tomorrowland – a days-long music festival that showcases electronic dance music and other forward-looking music formats. A destination where both the old and new collide, students can look forward to a comprehensive education in Antwerp through the following institutions:

  • The University of Antwerp
  • Antwerp International Business School

3. Leuven

Located a little way outside Brussels, Leuven is in the Dutch side of the country and the capital of the Flemish Brabant province.

Leuven is an excellent city in Belgium to study in, primarily because it is a university city. Since 1425, it has accommodated hundreds of students which brings forth the city’s bustling energy during the school year. Students can enjoy walking the streets with fellow schoolmates, ending the day with the city’s buzzing nightlife. Weekend activities are also not a problem – students can spend their time walking the city’s shopping districts and learning about the country’s history and other industries. Aside from education, Leuven remains a cultural and industrial center – being home to artisan industries such as beer brewing, leather manufacturing, and sawmilling. The city houses the headquarters of the world’s number one beer brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Get lost in a city that is made for students through these excellent universities:

  • Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
  • Leuven University College

4. Ghent

Ghent is a port city in the Dutch region of Belgium. Given its location, Ghent has inevitably become a center of trade, focusing on textiles and manufacturing. Later on, the city has diversified in its pursuits – from modern banking to horticulture. This makes the city a prime destination for a variety of academic specializations.

However, despite modern pursuits, Ghent’s heritage plays a big role in its identity. Across all cities, this city has the most churches and monasteries in its original state, such as the seventh-century abbey of St. Bavo. This environment is inviting to design enthusiasts in its appreciation of medieval architecture. It also promotes a car-free city center and is proud of its Vrijdagmarkt (“Friday Market”), and its iconic Ghent festival – a ten-day-long event promoting music and the arts.

Check out the top universities in the city as follows:

  • Ghent University
  • Artevelde University College Ghent

5. Liège

Located in the eastern portion of Belgium, Liège plays a central role in the French Walloon region as the center for industry and culture. Trade used to center around gunsmithing and arms making, and later on progressed to new technologies such as aerospace and biotechnology, as well as multi-channel logistics. The city’s expertise in such niche industries is reflected in their specialist courses and institutions, coupled with innovative teaching methods and an educational authority that focuses on specialist teachings.

But more than academic pursuits, Liège boasts of many classic sights for the student traveler. Delight in the city’s most iconic spots – the old palaces of the Prince-Bishops of Liège and St. Lambert’s Cathedral. Students can also catch Liège’s yearly festivals, Christmas Markets, jazz, and other music concerts which will surely brighten their student experience. Liège is surely one of the best cities in Belgium to study in, especially through these universities:

  • University of Liège
  • Haute École Libre Mosane
  • École Supérieure des Arts Saint-Luc de Liège


I hope that you found this article on the best cities to study in Belgium for international students informative and helpful. Make sure to also check out the Available Programs in Europe!

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