When people think of top universities, Africa rarely comes to mind. However, behind the news headlines lies a nation rich in history, natural beauty, and culture. The African way of life finds joy in simplicity. As such, the experiences a student can have in Africa are way beyond what can be found in the classroom, and costs beyond measure.

If you’re ready to go off the beaten path and immerse yourself in a different kind of lifestyle, Africa might be the adventure you’re looking for. Read on to find out some of the best cities to study in Africa.

Top Cities to Study in Africa

1. Cape Town

Cape Town is one of the three capital cities in the mega-country that is South Africa. Coincidentally the hometown of legendary human rights figure Nelson Mandela, the city serves as the seat of legislative and judiciary matters, and this impact is very much felt in the city’s ways of living post-Apartheid.

Cape Town boasts of impressive natural sceneries which bring in tourists from all over the world. It is home to the iconic Table mountain Cape Point and Boulders’ Beach, the city’s 360-degree beauty can make anyone feel they are literally on the edge of the world. Cape Town is also home to safe and secure safari adventures that allow you to mingle with Africa’s Big Five up close and personal.

Go on a culture trip and check out Cape Town’s Apartheid history in its museums. Hit the town with Cape Town’s culinary delights and wines. Or simply gaze at the natural beauty the city has to offer. Cape Town is also known to be among the best cities to study in Africa, with top-ranking universities such as:

  • University of Cape Town
  • University of the Western Cape
  • Stellenbosch University

2. Cairo

Cairo is the capital of Egypt and is the largest city in the Arab world. Cairo’s influence stretches from then until now. As the site of ancient greatness, Cairo serves as the gateway to Egypt. Everything that Egypt is much defined for can be found in this city, and the sights Cairo offers are long-standing institutions that have persisted for centuries. Visitors can gaze at the Giza pyramid complex which is a World Heritage Site in itself, accompanied by grand Islamic architecture. They can also admire the natural beauty along the iconic Nile River, or hop on a camel and get lost in the vast wilderness of the desert.

But Cairo is more than ancient pyramids and pharaohs. Today, the city serves as the political and economic center, housing the regional headquarters of many international businesses and organizations. It is also the place to be for the arts, with most of the country’s theaters and opera houses from this area. Because it contains so many areas of expertise, the capital is deemed the center for top education as well. International students will never be bored in this fast-paced city, with its top institutions as follows:

  • The American University in Cairo
  • Cairo University
  • Ain Shams University

3. Johannesburg

Johannesburg is yet another top city in Africa for international students to study in. While it’s not the capital, it might as well be. This fast-paced and progressive city in South Africa could rival African cities with its level of political and economic influence in the region. The city houses the highest court in South Africa – the Constitutional Court – as well as the biggest local companies and banks. The key to its glowing reputation lies in the mineral-rich Witwatersrand mountain range – a literal gold mine and the center of the gold and diamond trade.

The city is also oozing with culture and youthfulness, bringing Africa’s traditional culture into the modern age. Johannesburg’s wide variety of cultural venues keeps the youth lively and creative – through art galleries, theaters, jazz, and Afro-beat clubs, you name it. Its buzzing cafe scene, braai restos, and nightlife are sure to entertain any international student.

The best part? Johannesburg boasts of some of the best universities in South Africa, and the world, which are well familiar with international students. With an excellent education in and out of the classroom, you’ll be in good hands with these institutions:

  • University of Johannesburg
  • University of the Witwatersrand

4. Nairobi

Known as the Green City in the sun for its natural greenery against a warm sunny backdrop, Nairobi boasts of natural beauty on the onset. This Safari Capital of the World is famous for its wide expanse of wilderness preservations which give visitors insight into animals that are unique to the region. A visit to the Nairobi National Park, along with the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Giraffe Center in the surrounding areas is a must-see to truly appreciate Nairobi’s grandeur. Complement this with a dip in the Kenyan culture through watching traditional performances in the Bomas of Kenya, and students are sure to get a cultural immersion like no other.

As the capital of Kenya, Nairobi also stands as the center for Kenyan politics and business. It houses important government buildings, private corporations, and regional organizations such as the United Nations offices. The city is also a green space in itself – built with many parks and open spaces such as Uhuru Park and the Karura Forest Reserve. Check out Nairobi’s top universities to immerse yourself in these natural wonders:

  • University of Nairobi
  • United States International University
  • Strathmore University

5. Kampala

Kampala is the capital of Uganda and is also reported as one of the fastest-growing cities in the African region. This dark horse is steadily growing to become the best city to live in in the East African region.

Religion shapes a big part of the Ugandan way of life, and as such, Kampala’s famous haunts have to do with communal religious spaces. Be awed by the Uganda National Mosque and take its dizzying spiral staircase to the top. Or enter the majestic St. Mary’s Cathedral or the plethora of temples on offer. Shopping is also a favorite in this city as evidenced by the crowd favorite Owino Market and Nakasero Food Market, full of eats and other finds. For those that prefer culture and the arts, enter Kabaka’s Palace, the National Botanical Gardens, and the city’s many museums.

Known to be among the best cities to study in Africa, Kampala is home to excellent universities. Start your immersion today with these institutions:

  • Makerere University
  • Kampala International University
  • International University of East Africa


I hope that you found this article on the best cities to study in Africa informative and helpful. To know more information on studying abroad, check out the Available Programs for International Students.