Groningen is the often forgotten city in the far north of the country, but actually one of the Netherland’s prettiest cities. It is also a very popular university city and because of that is the city with the youngest population in the country. In The Netherlands the Groningers (people from Groningen) are known for speaking a hard to understand local dialect and for being rigid. However, many a person has travelled up to the city of Groningen to be pleasantly surprised by the charm of its lively and historical centre. And contrary to Dutch prejudice Groningen according to EU research it is the city in Europe with the happiest habitants.
Locals like to say “never a dull moment in Groningen”. And when you go there you will find that this is true. In Groningen nightlife never stops, there is always something going on somewhere. The bars are lively and cosy. And, there are many. A bar you don’t want to miss is ‘De Wolthoorn’. This bar is a classic old Dutch bar, now nearly a hundred years old. To see concerts go to the Vera underground pop club.
Things to do and see in Utrecht
Enjoy local festivals
During the year there are several festivals taking place in Groningen. One of the festivals is the Maskerade. During this festival university students dress up as historic figures and parade through the city. And every last Saturday of the month there are classical piano concerts. In September there is the tasting festival during which visitors can try wines and food from famous local restaurants. The Noorderlicht photo festival alternates between the neighbouring province of Friesland and Groningen each year. And during the Noorderzon festival there are free dance, music, and literature events taking place. Apart from these there are many more festivals. If you would like to visit a local festival, check the events agenda at the nearest Tourist Information.
Go on a Hanseatic walking tour
Groningen used to be one of the hanseatic cities of the Netherlands. Hanseatic cities were part of the merchant Hanseatic League. This league was a collaboration between merchants from cities in Germany, Scandinavia, England, Poland, the Baltic States, Russia and the Netherlands. The league lasted from the 13th century until the 17th century. In Groningen you can go on a Hanseatic walking tour and learn everything about this chapter of the city’s history.
The Martini Tower
The main historical monument in Groningen is the Martini Tower. You can climb this tower nearly to the top. The Martini church was built in approximately 1230. And on the inside you can find frescos dating from the 13th century. Also nice to visit is the Prinsenhoftuin gardens in the centre of the city; here you can take romantic stroll through the rose gardens. Other interesting sights to visit in this city are the city fortification walls and the courts.
Visit Groningen Museum
If you like art and culture the Groningen Museum has a great wealth for you on offer. It is one of the Netherland’s best modern art museums. It hosts exhibitions of modern and contemporary art from local, national, and international artists. And not just the exhibitions are worth seeing also the building itself is true piece of artwork.
The fortress Bourtange
A must see place near the city of Groningen is the fortress Bourtange. This fort was built to protect and control the road from Germany to Groningen. The fort and village consist of an impressive structure of canals and walls. Nowadays this village has been restored in its authentic style and the houses are used as a museum to show what life in Groningen province was like in the 18th century.
The province of Groningen is also known for its Terps
The province of Groningen is also known for its Terps. Terps are hill-like constructions on which the Groningers used to build their houses. These small platforms were constructed to protect the houses from rising sea levels. In the past the sea was a continuous threat to the people. And at many occasions the Terps formed the only dry ground left in large regions. In the province of Groningen you will also find many estate houses. These used to be owned by notables, but later also served to offer protection to famers at times of flooding.
The Netherland’s famous seal centre of Pieterburen
While you’re staying in Groningen it is the perfect opportunity to visit The Netherland’s famous seal centre of Pieterburen. Here ill and injured seals are brought that are found around the Dutch coasts. In the Pieterburen centre they are rehabilitated to eventually return to their natural habitat. Other great trips you can make in the Lauwersmeer National Park. This natural park is perfect for hiking and water sports. From Lauwersoog you can also take the ferry to the island Schiermonnikoog.
Getting There and Around
To get around the city you can go by foot. You can also make use of the public transport, the bus services are good. Or, rent a bike, cycling is often the easiest and fastest way to get around. There are also organised bike tours that will help you get to know the city.
To get to Groningen you either fly to the small airport of Groningen, the only downside is that there aren’t many international charter flights going to this airport. Most likely your best option is a flight to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and from there a direct 2 hour train to Groningen. Another option is to rent a car at your arrival and also use the car to explore the surroundings of Groningen.