With its prominent education system and quality education, Switzerland is one of the most preferred countries in Europe to seek a study program. The high number of international students and intense cultural diversity, Switzerland’s critical position in world politics and humanitarianism, the natural wonders, astonishing landscapes of the Alps, a multilingual environment, and a unique mixture of European cultures living together are only some of the main reasons why studying in Switzerland can be a good choice.

Switzerland is a relatively small country with about 8.8 million people, yet its society consists of many distinctive communities with their own cultures. Each city or region in Switzerland can be considerably different in language, governing, living standards, and culture. In this article, we provided the most student-friendly and advantageous cities in Switzerland for pursuing education. Read more to learn about the top five cities in Switzerland for international students.

Top Cities to Study in Switzerland for International Students

1. Zurich

Zurich is one of the biggest cities in the German side of Switzerland. Known as the capital of banking and finance, Zurich is globally recognized as an ideal student city for various reasons. Firstly, Zurich is home to ETH Zurich, one of the top ten global universities. International students living in Zurich often call the city to be a blend of rich city life and astonishing nature. There is no doubt that students in Zurich will be offered high standards of living.

The official language spoken in Zurich is German, yet considering that Switzerland has six official languages in total, we can confidently say that international students won’t have serious issues with the language barrier since many speak and understand English. The cost of living in Zurich is, however, a little higher compared to other European cities, with an approximate amount of EUR 2,500 per month. The cost of accommodation varies depending on the residence; a shared room at a university costs EUR 500/month, while for single-room apartments, the rent is about EUR 900/month.

2. Lausanne

Lausanne, a historical city on the French side of Switzerland, is the second most popular city for international students. Being the fourth-largest city in the country, Lausanne is preferred for its rich culture, breathtaking nature, available social activities, and, most importantly, quality education. Lausanne is home to Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), the second top university in Switzerland after ETH Zurich.

Lausanne has an international student population at its prestigious universities, and besides studying, students have various options to spend quality time, such as winter sports, cycling, mountaineering, gastronomy, visiting vineyards, and so on. The fees at public universities are usually very affordable, about EUR 770 per semester plus service fees. However, just like in other cities in Switzerland, the monthly cost of living can be higher. About EUR 2,000 per month is expected for international students to spend during their stay, including accommodation costs of EUR 900, food for EUR 600, and other expenses for EUR 250.

3. Geneva

Geneva is a very special city in Europe and the most crowded city in the French side of Switzerland. The city of international diplomacy and science, Geneva has much to offer to international students, particularly for law, science, and technology studies. The headquarters of the United Nations and the Red Cross provide great motivation for law and political science studies, and being home to CERN makes Geneva an ideal city to pursue research on science and technology. Besides its political and research stance, Geneva is also a beautiful city that covers Lake Geneva and lies at the gateway to the Alps.

International students in Geneva can enjoy their time and benefit from numerous academic and career opportunities during their program; the city is a great option for all degrees on their terms. The University of Geneva is the largest and top university in the city, with about 19,000 students. The cost of living, like in many cities in Switzerland, can be higher, with an approximate amount of EUR 1,500/month for students choosing university housing and EUR 2,000/month for students residing in an apartment. Food costs about EUR 500/month, public transportation costs EUR 45/month, and student-related expenses can cover EUR 100/month.

4. Bern

The capital of Switzerland, Bern, is a bilingual city with two official languages: French and German. Bern’s most prestigious university, the University of Bern, is one of the largest universities in Switzerland, with more than 19,000 students. Covered by hills and mountains, Bern has one of the world’s heritage sites by UNESCO, the Old City of Berne.

When coming to Bern to study, international students must consider how much money they can and should spend to continue their education. Once again, Switzerland has high living costs, yet in return, students can enjoy their high standards of living and safety. Public universities have small tuition fees, about EUR 750 per semester. However, the monthly cost of living in Bern can be higher. An average monthly cost is EUR 1,600, including room rentals ranging from EUR 400 to 700, food for EUR 500, and other living expenses for EUR 200.

5. Basel

Basel is the third most crowded city in Switzerland with an official language of German. Studying in Basel can be a culturally, intellectually, and historically enlightening experience for international students, especially when studying at the University of Basel, the oldest university in Basel. For centuries, Basel was a city of humanitarianism, and its great thinkers included Erasmus Rotterdam, Friedrich Nietzche, and Carl Jung.

The monthly cost of living in Basel for international students is approximately EUR 1,600, including accommodation costs of EUR 400 to 700, food costs of EUR 500, and student expenses of EUR 100.


We can all agree that studying in Switzerland will broaden your horizons with its unique culture, history, nature and society. With many world-class universities and innovative research opportunities, Switzerland can be the right choice for you when studying abroad.

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We hope that you found this article on the best cities in Switzerland for international students informative and helpful. Make sure to also check out the Switzerland Page for more educational resources and opportunities, and sample these Open Courses in Europe to learn more about studying abroad.

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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