Amsterdam sign outside building

Student life in Amsterdam

What is it like to live in Amsterdam?

Amsterdam is a welcoming city and is home to more than 180 nationalities. Despite being the country’s largest city with around 800,000 inhabitants, it keeps a small town feel with cobbled streets and neighbourhoods that are easy and safe to explore.

Also a top-visited tourist destination and home to a friendly student community thanks to its three universities, Amsterdam is an inspiring city with so much to offer. 

Living in Amsterdam as a student

Life in Holland as a student is fun and varied. Amsterdam is a friendly city that is easy to get around on foot, by bicycle, or via public transport. There are many affordable things to do at the weekends, such as explore the canals, visit a free museum, or try some local food.

Student clubs

There are many things to get involved in at the International Study Centre. You could join the Student Committee, which is responsible for holding events and day trips for all students. Or you could take part in the ambassador programme, where you can feel part of a wider network and start building valuable skills for your CV. If you are living at The Student Hotel, you can also benefit from a gym membership and lots of fun activities.

Once you progress to your chosen university, you will have access to a wide range of clubs and extra-curricular activities.

Things for students to do in Amsterdam

There are plenty of things to do in Amsterdam on a student budget. The Amsterdam Public Ferry (departing near the Central Station) is free, and there are three different routes to other parts of the city. There are also beautiful parks, such as the Vondelpark, where you can relax with friends. If you’re interested in European history, you can see buildings built as long as 800 years ago in a walk through Amsterdam. You can also explore:

Amsterdam also hosts a range of events and festivals for culture, music, film, food and sport every year. These include:

  • The Light Festival - Every winter, Amsterdam's streets and canals are transformed with beautiful works of light art.
  • Christmas markets - Pretty festive markets selling everything from delicious hot food to clothing and art.
  • Tulip Day - On the third Saturday of January every year, Amsterdam's Dam Square is filled with approximately 200,000 tulips (Holland's beautiful national flower).
  • King's Day - A fun orange-themed festival celebrating the King's birthday.

Multicultural and English-speaking

Amsterdam is a popular tourist destination and English is widely spoken, with English menus, TV channels and friendly locals to help you get around. You'll have lots of opportunities to practise your English but around 95% of Dutch people speak English so you can easily ask for help and directions if you need to. 

Best for business

Amsterdam has joined London and Berlin to be among the top three European cities for startups, hosting festivals such as The Next Web Conference and being named the European Capital of Innovation 2016/17 by the European Commission. Zuidas is an emerging business district of Amsterdam and it’s already home to 700 businesses, including leading international names such as Google and ABN AMRO.

Why I chose Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a top 20 global city

(World’s Best Cities 2021)