Studying in Philadelphia: what to do and where to stay

Philadelphia – not just a delicious cheese spread, but one of the USA’s largest and most prosperous cities! A city with great significance in American history, most notably during the American Revolution, Philadelphia is home to many of the country’s 'firsts’ – the first hospital, library, zoo and stock exchange among others – and is the only World Heritage City in the United States. It is a popular study destination for American and international students due to the world class universities and thriving business presence in the city. There are nearly 300,000 students in the metropolitan area, so you’re sure to find some friends in this historic city.

What to do

When coming to a city like Philadelphia that is so jam packed with history, it is simply impossible not to drink it all in! Start off with a visit to the Liberty Bell – the classic symbol of American independence resides close by to its original home in Independence Hall, which is also worth a visit. A visit to the Eastern State Penitentiary or the National Museum of American Jewish History will certainly give you an insight into important parts of the country’s history. Tours of the city’s many monuments and museums to the Founding Fathers and American Independence are all worthwhile.

Philadelphia has more on offer than its own impressive history: it has the most public art of any city in the USA! The Magic Gardens, The Franklin Institute and the ‘Please Touch” Museum all offer an interactive, exciting experience. Art museums and galleries of high quality abound: check out the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the statue of Rocky opposite the steps made famous in the film. Buildings like City Hall, the Masonic Temple and Christ Church contrast with the newer skyscrapers and modern architecture to give a real image to Philadelphia and please lovers of all types of architecture!

Philadelphians are a sport loving bunch – with the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team being the oldest team in professional sports, it’s no surprise. The Eagles, 76ers and Flyers represent this proud sporting city in American Football, basketball and ice hockey respectively. To fit in like a true Philadelphia, catching a game live is an absolute must. If shopping is more your style, there’s something for all tastes. Rittenhouse Row is a popular stop for shoppers looking for big brands, while University City provides more trendy outlets as well as running and biking gear. Jewelers’ Row, East Passyunk and Northern Liberties all offer their own unique shopping experience – and all have a great selection of jewelry!


Philadelphia prides itself on its cuisine, which is known throughout the USA. A fusion of East Coast and Italian influences dominate the regional specialties, but increasing numbers of Asian restaurants are making themselves heard on the culinary scene. For the ultimate Philly classic – the cheesesteak – head to Pat’s King of Steaks or Geno’s Steaks for the real deal. Nowadays, Philly offers a mouthwatering selection – Asian, West African, Southern American, Mexican… You name it. As “America’s Best Sandwich City”, try a hoagie from Di Bruno Bros or a roast pork sandwich from Tony Luke’s. If meat and bread isn’t your thing, Maoz Falafel or Pho & Café Saigon might be worth a trip. And not forgetting – Philadelphians love a good beer, and they’ve got a lot on offer!

Where to stay

Philadelphia is home to an impressive host of universities – including the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania (‘UPenn’), Drexel University and Temple University. With over 80 institutions of higher education in the city, it is unsurprising that so many students flock to Philadelphia. As a result, there are many campuses dotted around the city, and the area you want to live in will depend on which campus or institution you attend.

University City is a popular area slap bang between Drexel University and UPenn. In West Philadelphia (born and raised – if you’re a Fresh Prince fan) you will find the heart of the student and academic community. Like most of the city, it’s very easily walkable and there’s plenty of stuff to do nearby for cheap. East Falls and Manayunk are popular with students of Philadelphia University and others – the former for its proximity to the great outdoors, the latter for its proximity to great bars. Center City will get you in the heart of everything going on in Philly – but it’ll cost a bit more and you’ll never find a parking space. Callowhill has a vibrant music and arts scene, with easy walkability to Chinatown and Center City – it also has a selection of high-rises and factory residences to choose from.

With tons of different accommodation to choose from, you can select the one that best suits you. Choosing cheaper forms of accommodation allows you to have extra money to spend on all the great stuff to do in Philadelphia!

Author: Roomlala