Did you know that you can fly directly from London to Groningen? There is a direct flight from London Southend airport! But even if you’re in The Netherlands already, Groningen is just a 2-hour train ride away and a great destination for a weekend get away. Ready to explore? Don’t skip these 8 design hotspots in Groningen.
Shopping and having a coffee go hand in hand at Holtbar. It’s situated in one of the loveliest streets in Groningen city centre, close to the university: Oude Kijk in Het Jatstraat. Yes, have you tried to pronounce that? (It even took me two goes). Holtbar originates from the Danish word ‘holdbar’ which means durable, and yes Holtbar does have that Scandinavian feel. Beautiful wallpaper, cosy seats and lots of plants. You can buy jewellery, stationery, plants and crockery by upcoming designers or order some coffee and a piece of pie made from fruits from the owners garden.
Just across from Holtbar is No25. It really doesn’t matter when you visit this café, you can always order something tasty, from morning ‘til midnight. I liked coming here for breakfast, as the coffee, French toast and Dutch pancakes are simply amazing.
Oh my, a definite sign that I am getting old: most of the vintage clothes available at Stardust, I actually wore during the 90’s! Nevertheless, Stardust is probably the only shop in Groningen that sells high quality, authentic vintage clothes, mostly from the 80’s and 90’s. But the racks also hold remade outfits and fashion by young designers.
FOLK, at Folkingestraat 17, sells everything. From fashion and books to stationery and furniture. Tim and Anne are the owners of FOLK and everything they sell is designed or made by their friends, giving the shop that extra personal touch. But Tim also designs the lamps you see in the store, with label Tim Vinke Interior Design and Anne makes the Words from the Heart jewellery collection. If you can’t decide on what to buy, you can also order a slow coffee and have some chocolate while you ponder and browse the shop one more time.
Honestly, I wish there was a café like De Uurwerker in Utrecht. Originally, this café was meant as a work hotspots for the freelance and self-employed lot and if I would live close, I’d definitely settle here with my laptop, as the space for freelancers is so spacious and convenient. But since the location and atmosphere were so great and people reacted well to the place, the café has expanded and it’s a great place for lunch and drinks. There are lots of outdoor seats at the square in front.
Just outside the city centre, with a lovely view over the canal. The café is entirely decorated with its own design furniture (which is available online). From the time it opens, Flinders is full of locals meeting up for a chat. I liked it here for drinks and ordered a locally brewed craft beer Martinus.
An excellent laid back café where you can crawl in, to nurse a delicate head with some coffee, pancakes or a bloody Mary in the morning, meet up with friends in the afternoon for drinks and a tasting plate of snacks or stay until the wee hours after having burgers and cocktails.
Feel like desserts mid-morning or a grilled cheese sandwich at midnight? Better head over to Het Concerthuis. Like the name suggests, this is Groningen’s colourful concert venue, but it’s actually quite a great spot for drinks and a bite to eat. You can order everything off the menu, all day long. So no set times for serving breakfast, lunch or dinner. That’s why husband and I ordered a large middle-eastern tasting platter for our late lunch. If you happen to stumble in on Sunday afternoon, you can join the Hangover Brunch Buffet crowd, for €11 per person.
Stay at the Apollo Hotel
Apollo Hotel is a little outside the city centre, but perfect when you’re driving into town as there’s free parking in the area. The centre of Groningen is a 15-minute walk or 5-minute bus ride away. The hotel is pretty new, with spacious black and white rooms, thick carpets and comfy beds. Husband and I stayed in a suite with a really high ceiling and giant pop art prints on the wall. It was all really comfortable.
But what really gives the hotel a homey feel are the large sofas in the restaurant, surrounded by quirky lamps, pillows and other design elements. The bar area, with its high red stools and big plants, is a cosy place for a drink. In the morning this turns into the breakfast room which offers lots of local specialities, like sugar bread (sweet bread with big chunks of sugar inside) and Dutch bread toppers, such as hagelslag and muisjes, in cute little stoppers.
Plan your trip to Groningen, The Netherlands
- Like I said at the start of this article, you can fly directly from London to Groningen with Flybe. Return tickets sell from €60.
- If you’re in Amsterdam, or another Dutch destination, and travelling by train, check this website to plan your journey. It’s more or less 2 hours to Groningen from Amsterdam by train.
- Driving to Groningen? Avoid the city centre, as it’s very annoying to drive through. Park your car at the P+R parking spaces at the edge of the centre. Public transport will easily get you to the city centre from the parking spaces.
- Check out all must-sees and hidden gems in my city guide Groningen.
So, what do you say? Ready to give Groningen a chance?