Groningen is in the very north of The Netherlands, and pretty far away from anywhere. But that’s just the perfect excuse to go. It’s a lovely trip from Amsterdam and Groningen is a lively and bustling student city with lots going on. It’s one of the most fun cities in The Netherlands.
- By air
Yes, you can easily get to Groningen by air! Flybe offers daily flights from Groningen from London Southend airport. You can book your return ticket from €60.
- By train
From Amsterdam, it takes you 2 hours to get to Groningen by train. You only have to switch trains in Almere. From Utrecht, there is a direct train to Groningen, which will take a little under 2 hours. You can use this website to plan your train journey.
- By car
I really don’t recommend driving in the city centre of Groningen. A big chunk of the city centre is a pedestrian zone and most of the streets are one-way, making driving a rather frustrating experience. Plus, parking isn’t exactly cheap. So, if you are driving to Groningen park your car at one of the P+R parking spaces just outside the city centre. From those parking spaces, it’s easy, cheap and fast getting into town. Or opt for a hotel with parking space.
Plan your trip
The Student Hotel
Looking for a fun and hip accommodation in Groningen, without breaking the bank? Look no further than The Student Hotel. The hotel is just a few minutes walk away from Groningen city centre and all its lovely sights. The rooms are spacious and the hotel has loads of cosy nooks for coffee or drinks, which you can get in the excellent bar.
Want to wake up overlooking a typical Dutch landscape, with a windmill? B&B Molenstreek offers self-catering accommodation, about ten minutes from Groningen city centre. It’s the perfect accommodation if you’re going to Groningen by car. You’ll have a small cottage with a kitchen, dining table and a small garden all to yourself. As an added bonus, you’re allowed to take a couple of bikes (for free) to explore Groningen.
If you’re more into staying at Airbnb, I can highly recommend staying at Room27, a lovely and luxurious apartment in the heart of Groningen. The apartment has some quirky details and lovely vintage furniture. And you’ll have a fully equipped kitchen at your disposal. The apartment is located in the heart of the city centre, near many restaurants and bars.
Can you believe that Groningen is over 2000 years old, yet one of the youngest cities in The Netherlands? It obtained city rights in the 11th century, which is a lot later than most other big cities in The Netherlands. Still, the first traces of a settlement date back to 300 BC. The location of Groningen was always a strategic one and was, therefore, the scene of many battles and sieges throughout the centuries. Nowadays, Groningen is one of the most sprawling student cities in The Netherlands.
Discover Groningen by bike
If you haven’t visited Groningen before, it’s an excellent plan to join this guided bike tour and discover the city by bike. The guide will take you to famous sights like Oosterpark and Prinsenhof but also the most beautiful hidden courtyards of Groningen. If you’d rather explore at your own pace, simply rent a bike.
Possibly the best museum in the north of The Netherlands. I visited Groninger Museum during the David Bowie exhibit and was blown away by the premises, the eye-catching structure of the museum and the collection. The museum can be found across from the train station on three islands in the canal and has a mix of international art, local artists and groundbreaking temporary exhibits to enjoy.
The maritime museum of the north, Noordelijk Scheepvaartmuseum, is another must-see in Groningen. The museum is set in a 16th-century distillery and gives you a great peek into the lives of seamen and their ships throughout the centuries.
This Synagogue is one of the last working synagogues in The Netherlands and worth a visit. The century-old building is heavily decorated in Moorish ornaments and the wooden ceiling will take your breath away. For a tour in English, contact the synagogue.
The Martini church and tower can’t be missed during your visit to Groningen. Climbing the 251 steps of the 96-meter tower will grant you some excellent views over the city centre and the enormous bells. You can buy a ticket at the Tourist Information. But also visit the church itself to admire its light decor and beautifully dark wooden pulpit.
The courtyards of Groningen are a must-see during your visit, as they are such a less-obvious thing. Centuries ago they were a refuge for the poor and sick, though now they’re quiet hideaways. You can find the courtyards of Groningen hidden away near Heiligen Geestgasthuis, Pieternellagasthuis and Aafien Olthofsgasthuis. Or simply follow this self-guided walk to discover them.
Not five minutes away from the Martini Church in the heart of town is Prinsenhof. One of the sights in Groningen I like best. Royals used to stay here when they had business in the north nowadays it’s a hotel and a wonderful spot for afternoon tea. The courtyard sports a very beautiful garden, which is really worth a visit.
A part of Groningen looks a little like Copenhagen, and that’s reason enough to go and take a look. The neighbourhood is outside the city centre, but if you have a rental bike, it’s easy enough to go visit. The colourful houses, built along and around a small harbour are beautiful to look at and the water is a beloved place for various species of birds to feed and breed.
Like the name suggests, Het Concerthuis is a music venue, but also very popular for lunch, dinner and drinks. You can order whatever you like off the menu. So if you’re in the mood for desserts at noon: go for it. The beer list is also rather impressive.
Pernikkel, just outside the city centre, is an excellent place to start or end the day, and everything in between. The menu is very reasonably priced and the atmosphere at Pernikkel is relaxed and creative.
Just a few minutes outside the city centre, with a lovely view of 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.
After admiring the colourful houses of Reitdiep, you’ve deserved a drink and brewery Baxbier is just the place for it. When the sun’s out there is no better spot than one of the tables along the water. Sign up for a tour of the brewery and taste some of their limited editions.