Groningen

For other places with the same name, see Groningen (disambiguation).
Hoge der A, Groningen

Groningen is a lively university city in the Northern Netherlands. It's the capital of a province with the same name and home to about 201,000 inhabitants, making the city the largest in northern Netherlands and the seventh-largest in the Netherlands. Its large university with some 50,000 students gives the city a pleasant youthful atmosphere and plenty of things to do. Combined with the fine historic heritage, an excellent museum and good shopping opportunities, this is a prime destination in the north.

Understand

Archaeologists have found traces of habitation from the Neolithic and the later Iron Age. It is not quite clear if the area has been inhabited continuously since that time. However, it is certain that the city appeared in writing in the year 1040 as "Villa Cruoninga", apparently already a place of some significance. The city has a rich history, which can be seen clearly from the old Medieval buildings in the downtown area.

In the 13th century, when Groningen was an important trade centre, its inhabitants built a city wall to underline its authority. The city had a strong influence on the surrounding lands and made its dialect a common tongue. The most influential period of the city was the end of the 15th century, when the nearby province of Friesland was administered from Groningen. During those years, the Martini Tower was built, which loomed over the city at (then) 127 meters tall, making it the highest building in Europe at the time. The city's independence came to an end when it chose to join forces with the Spanish during the Eighty Years' War in 1594. It was later reconquered, joining the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands.

In 1614, the University of Groningen was founded, initially only for religious education. In the same period the city expanded rapidly and a new city wall was built. That same city wall was tested during the Third Anglo-Dutch War in 1672, when the city was attacked fiercely by the Bishop of Münster, Bernhard von Galen. The city walls resisted, an event which is celebrated with music and fireworks on 28 August (as "Groningens Ontzet" or "Bommen Berend").

Unfortunately, the city did not escape the devastation of World War II. In particular, the main square, Grote Markt, was largely destroyed in April 1945, during the Battle of Groningen, which lasted several days. However, the Martinitoren, its church, the Goudkantoor, and the city hall were not substantially damaged.

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 5 5 9 13 17 20 22 22 19 14 9 5
Nightly lows (°C) 0 -1 1 3 7 10 12 12 9 6 3 0
Precipitation (mm) 74 51 64 42 58 71 79 71 78 74 75 73
Sunshine (hrs/day) 2 3 4 6 7 6 7 6 5 4 2 2

Check the 7 day forecast of Groningen at

Climate

The temperate climate is pleasant in Groningen, without extremes due to its coastal climate. Due to its location in the north of the Netherlands, during winter the average temperatures of this city are slightly lower than the average of the rest of the Netherlands. Snow and freezing temperatures are common in the winter and 30 degrees Celsius in the summer is not exceptional. Most average daytime highs in summer are around 22°C.

Tourist Office

Get in

By train

Groningen Central Station

By Dutch standards, it's a fairly long way from the major destinations in the western Netherlands. But getting here is not hard. Groningen has three train stations, the central station (Station Groningen, often called 'Hoofdstation'), Groningen Europapark and Groningen Noord. All trains eventually arrive at the central station; only a few trains stop at the smaller stations. Tickets for all train journeys can be purchased at the trainstation or online at NS.nl.

There are two trains departing from Groningen Station to southern destinations like Amsterdam and Rotterdam every hour. One train terminates in The Hague and the other train terminates in Rotterdam. The train towards The Hague also calls at Amsterdam South Station and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport Station. Amsterdam Central Station can be reached with one change at Lelystad. Brussels and Paris can be reached with one change at Schiphol Airport Station. A regional line operated by Arriva runs west to Leeuwarden three times per hour. Some popular destinations include:

City Duration Price Transfer
Leeuwarden  0:35 € 10.00    Direct
Zwolle 0:57 € 17.70 Direct
Utrecht 1:55 € 24.60 Direct
Amsterdam 2:02 € 25.50 Direct
Arnhem 2:04 € 23.90 Zwolle
Schiphol Airport   2:11 € 25.70 Direct
Rotterdam 2:39 € 26.30 Direct
Eindhoven 2:56 € 26.30 Utrecht
Bremen 3:14 € 35.20 Leer
Brussels 3:52 - Schiphol

There is an hourly international connection that terminates in Leer Bahnhof (Germany) (1:14). Once over the border, you can change line to reach Emden, Bremen, Hamburg, Hanover, Münster and Cologne. Note that the train to Leer is very local (and therefore slow). 3 December 2015, a ship collided against the Friesenbrücke near Weener. The bridge is completely collapsed. Therefore, the next few years, buses are used between Winschoten and Leer. The timetable of the replacement buses can be found at the Arriva website.

Other small regional lines, all operated by Arriva two times per hour, run towards Uithuizen/Roodeschool, Appingedam/Delfzijl, Winschoten and Veendam.

By bus

The main bus station is right next to the central train station. At the bus station you can find a wide range of city buses and lines to virtually all large and small destinations in the region, as well direct buses to Emmeloord, via Heerenveen and Lemmer.

Bus towards Heerenveen
Park & Ride facility Hoogkerk

Flixbus is operating three domestic intercity buslines from Groningen. Line 821 runs to Hengelo and Enschede, line 822 runs to Apeldoorn and Eindhoven and line SKI12 (only in winter) runs to Zwolle, Arnhem and Nijmegen. This buslines leave at P+R Haren (near Postillion Hotel) and opposite the central trainstation, at the other side of the road. Booking in advance is cheaper.

International buses

There are several direct buslinks to Germany operated by German carriers. For example to Bremen, Oldenburg, Hamburg and Berlin (starting at €9, one-way) by Flixbus.

Groningen has a stop at the intercity busline Rotterdam - Hamburg - Copenhagen operated by Eurolines. Destinations in Belgium, France and England are reachable with one transit in Amsterdam. Destinations in Sweden with one transit in Copenhagen. Be aware that booking a domestic journey is not possible. Ecolines is operating a busline towards Warsaw and stops en route to Poland in some German cities like Bremen and Berlin.

All international buslines leave opposite the trainstation. Be aware that you need to book a day in advance to get the lowest fare.

By car

A myriad of roads lead to and from Groningen, making the city well reachable by car. The major highways are the A7 (west-east) and the A28 coming from the south. Several fine N-roads connect the city to nearby destinations, and are the way to go further north. The most notable ones are the N360 to Appingedam and Delfzijl, and the N361 north, direction of Winsum.

Driving in the old city, particularly within the central canal ring, is not the best option. Parts of town are car-free, there are many one way roads, parking is not always easy to find, and none of it is free.

There are several Park & Ride facilities around Groningen. On this facilities you can park your car for free and take a fast en frequent bus to Downtown for a small amount. One of the biggest facilities is on Sontweg, to the east of the city and near IKEA. It is clearly marked when driving on the ring road. Parking there is free, and for 2 euro (one way) or 5 euro return for 5 people, a regular bus service takes you right to Downtown. If you come from the direction of Assen (South), the Park & Ride facility Haren is your best option. From the West, from direction Drachten, P+R Hoogkerk is on your route. If you are coming from Germany you can park at "Kardinge". Follow the road to "Eemshaven" and take the exit "Kardinge". All P+R facilities are clearly marked on the highways.

By plane

Groningen is served by   Groningen Airport Eelde, (IATA: GRQ), Machlaan 14a Eelde,  +31 50 3097070. The airport of Groningen offers daily direct flights to and from London (Flybe), two flights per week to and from Gdansk (Wizz Air), and various other scheduled flights to selected cities and holiday destinations in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Canary Islands and Turkey.

The regular busline 2 runs 2x/hour from the city center (44 minutes) and central station (37 minutes) to the airport. €5 one way, tickets at the driver. A special shuttle bus runs to and from the airport starting at the Central Station, but only around the London and Gdansk flights. This bus takes about 15 minutes and costs €3 one way, tickets at the driver.

Get around

Like most cities in the Netherlands, Groningen's historic city center is surrounded by a canal, the diepenring. Most of the sights are within this area, and the Central Station is 50m outside it.

Within the diepenring, traffic is very restricted; Groningen's centre is designed to be as traffic-free as possible, and it is very difficult to drive and park within this area. Even resident parking permits are strictly rationed. However, the central area is compact and can be easily crossed on foot or with a bicycle.

Further out, Groningen has a loosely connected ring road, consisting of several N-roads forming a rather square ring shape around the centre. The city sprawls somewhat and crosses this ring in places, but most of the population live within this area.

By bike

Getting from any place in Groningen to the centre will take at most 20 minutes cycling. This makes the bike a fast, cheap and easy way to travel in Groningen. Don't get scared by the overwhelming amount of bicycles. The city houses tens of thousands of students, whose primary means of transportation is the bike. Be advised though; bicycle theft is pretty high. Most bikes have one lock, but it is best to use a good second lock (preferably a strong chain lock for least €30).

By bus

If you haven't got a bike the bus is the best option for distances you don't want to walk. All buses run through (or end on) Central station. Most buses have a stop at the Grote Markt. The major bus lines are listed below. Tickets are available by the driver (during off-peak periods you can buy a Eurokaartje, cost €2,00) or see the OV-chipkaart sections on the Netherlands page for other payment methods. Note that the Central Station is listed as bus stop "Hoofdstation" in and on buses and on bus stops.

Q-Link

Q-Link is a group of 5 bus services which are combinations of previous regional and city bus services. These buses are air conditioned and have a WiFi connection and run from city destinations to places just outside the region. One exception for line 15 which is a student express line to Zernike.

See

The tower of the Martinichurch has been the main landmark for the city for centuries

The city centre is both pleasant and interesting, with plenty of cultural heritage and a laid-back atmosphere. Together with the excellent Groninger Museum, it forms the main attraction for visitors.

Like many cities in The Netherlands, the centre is surrounded by a canal. Several historic canals have been "gedempt", or filled, however, and turned into streets. This is reflected in their names, and you'll likely find yourself strolling along the Gedempte Zuiderdiep. The heart of the city is formed around the two adjoining market squares, The Grote Markt (or Large Market) and the Vismarkt (or Fish Market). Standing tall on the edge of the Grote Markt is the Martini Tower, a true landmark for Groningen and one of its main attractions.

Architecture

Modern architecture: Kempkensberg
Groninger Museum
Building in the Chinese Garden The Hidden Empire Ming in the Hortus Haren

Severe battles left hundreds of buildings in ruins in 1945, but a good number or monuments remain. Strolling through the city centre you'll encounter former canal warehouses, the city hall, several churches, the former Gold Office and many other historic buildings. Over recent decades, the city has attempted to find a balance between modern architecture and historic grandeur: and with success. The latest initiative is a major renewal of the eastern side of the Grote Markt, for which the building is currently in progress and planned to be complete in 2017.

Typical Dutch architecture is Amsterdamse School, a style of architecture that arose from 1910 through about 1930 in Amsterdam. The Amsterdam School movement is part of international Expressionist architecture, sometimes linked to German Brick Expressionism. While Amsterdam has the most buildings in this style, Groningen also has some wonderful edifices. Sometimes Groningen is called the Northern capital of Amsterdamse School.   Vensterschool Stadspark at Parkweg in the lovely Grunobuurt district and   Bureau Gemeentewerken at Gedempte Zuiderdiep 96 are worth to walk along.

Groningen has a number of special architectural skyscrapers. The Kempkensberg is a 25-story high-rise building in the south of the city and is commonly called 'The Cruiseship' by locals. The Gasunie Building is one of the most famous buildings in Groningen and is considered to be a great example of ‘organic building’. It is situated on the edge of the Stadspark.

Museums

As in many cities in Europe, Groningen's museums are generally closed on Mondays.

Historic heritage

Most of the historic heritage can be found within the ring of canals. The most visited tourist attraction is without doubt the Martini Tower, but there is much more to see in Groningen: old canal warehouses, guesthouses, typical Dutch gabels and beautiful gardens. Probably the most characteristic streets of the city are the   Hoge and Lage der A streets. This two streets run along the A canal and are known for the dozens of national heritage sites, in particular the outstanding warehouses from the Middle Ages and a 17th century brewery named 'Batavia'.

Scattered trough the city centre are several late-medieval Guest Houses (Gasthuizen). During daylight hours these picturesque courtyards can be visited for free. Be mindful that the houses themselves are not open to the public and that the people living in them enjoy their quiet and privacy. Access is through gated doorways that will be unlocked during daylight hours and locked during the evening/night. The largest and oldest one is the courtyard of the   Pelstergasthuis, located in the Pelsterstraat, next to the Pelstergasthuis church. The Guest House consists of several courtyards connected through archways. In the Peperstraat, near the end on the left when viewed from the Poelestraat, is the   Pepergasthuis. The Peper Guest House was founded in 1405. Part of the medieval city wall is still visible from the courtyard. At the tourist information is a city walk available along many courtyards.

Old warehouses along the Hoge der Aa canal. In the background, the tower of the Aa-Kerk can be seen.
Houses in the Pepergasthuis.

The most important historic heritage not mentioned yet, is listed below:

The Academiegebouw is the main building of the University of Groningen, the third largest university of the Netherlands.
Historic houses at the Martinikerkhof.
The Prinsentuin is a lovely Renaissance-style garden and an excellent place to just sit down and relax for half an hour.

Parks & sculptures

Do

Cycling

Traffic lights with rain sensors to give quicker priority to cyclists on wet days, cycling highways and bike racks everywhere. Groningen is a cycling city par excellence. The inhabitants of Groningen possess an average of 1.4 bikes per person. Groningen is sometimes called world's best City for Cycling.

Bicycles are available for rent at a number of places around town, including a facility in the Central Station. Many hotels offer bike rental to their guests as well, usually for fees of roughly €10 or less per day. Bike maps are available at the touristinformation. Use the map to explore the city and the surrounding areas or follow a signposted cycle route using the Dutch cycle junction network.

There is also a possibility to discover the city's highlights with a 2,5 hours   guided bicycle tour. You have to book this tour in advance. Departure from May through October every Friday at 2.30PM and Saturday at 10.30AM.

Activities

Concerts & Theater

Stadsschouwburg Groningen
Eurosonic-Noorderslag 2011

Cinemas

Festivals and events

Buy

Grote Kromme Elleboog

Groningen is the regional centre for shopping, and offers a wide range of large and small stores, including all the large chains in the Netherlands and a good number of small speciality shops.

Opening Hours

With some exceptions, shops close at 6PM on Weekdays and Saturday and 5PM on Sunday. Thursday is "buying-evening", on this day a lot of shops are open until 9PM. In downtown almost all shops are open on Sundays, but not before noon. Supermarkets are generally open from 8AM to 10PM.

Downtown area

All streets within the central canal ring are low traffic due to restrictions - but watch out for cyclists, who don't often pay attention to pedestrian crossings. The Herestraat, the city's longest pedestrianised shopping street, runs south off the Grote Markt and contains most of the city's everyday shopping needs and 'standard' Dutch clothing stores and chains. This is where you'll find Hema, Blokker, C&A, Zara and so on. The Westerhaven, at the western edge of the centre, houses some big stores like Media Markt and Primark.

Other shopping streets extend out from the Grote Markt and the Vismarkt. This streets are often worth a look too. AKerkhof contains some (expensive) brand shops, for example Tommy Hilfiger, Hugo Boss and Marc O'Polo, but also houses some great food stores. For example 'Droppie', a store selling typical Dutch liquorice. The Zwanestraat and the Grote Kromme Elleboog contain a lot of specialty shops selling beer, herbs and spices, coffee, cooking utensils etc. Especially take a look at the Dille & Kamille shop and the gift store Truus & Bregje.

The most picturesque shopping street is called the Folkingestraat; it runs south from the Korenbeurs (the former corn exchange) at the end of the Vismarkt towards the museum bridge and the Central Station. It has a lot of little shops full of firsthand and secondhand little gifts, intercultural foods and great books. 'De Bourgondiër' is a specialty shop in the Folkingestraat selling local products like wine, typical Groninger sausages, mustard, cheese and candy.

The lovely Oude Kijk in 't Jatstraat has different characteristic shops including plenty of art galleries, a travel bookshop, two branches of a great coffee and tea chain, an excellent independent bakery, a particularly nice cafe, shops selling toys and games, and a few second-hand furniture and clothes shops.

Other noteworthy shopping streets in downtown are Oosterstraat, Oude Ebbingestraat and Zuiderdiep.

Outside the downtown area

Eat

Local specialties

The famous 'Groninger eierbal' looks like a Scotch Egg.

A typical 'Groninger' specialty is Groninger worst, a sausage made from raw minced pork which is then air dried. You can buy this sausage in every supermarket and butchery. When visiting a snackbar, you should try a eierbal. The eierbal is a ball-shaped croquette, filled with veal and a whole egg. The eierbal is seen as the Groninger variant of the Dutch croquette.

The Netherlands is known for her Cheese. Groningen has some typical Dutch cheese stores:

This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Under €15
Mid-range €15-25
Splurge Over €25

Restaurants

The Netherlands is not known for its cuisine, as it is simple and straightforward. A conventional Dutch meal consists of meat, potatoes and some type of vegetable on the side. The country's food culture is best described as rustic.

The centre of Groningen has many nice little cafes or restaurants where you can eat. Groningen is a real university city, so there are plenty of cafe-restaurants where you can eat for about €10.

Budget

Mid-range

The Feithhuis, a former gentleman's mansion, is nowadays a cafe-restaurant

Splurge

Drink

De Drie Gezusters

Groningen's reputation as university town is borne out in its nightlife, which is comprehensive, with numerous options for drinking and clubbing. There are also several places to play pool/billiards. Most bars have the standard Dutch beers, but more and more international, especially Belgian, beers are beginning to have a presence. Bars in the down town area do not have fixed closing hours. Theoretically they can stay open for 24 hours a day, which a few bars do.

The biggest nightlife area in Groningen is the Poelestraat area, located southwest of the Grote Markt. Here you'll find a lot of clubs and bars. The busiest nights are Thursday to Friday (studentnight) and Saturday to Sunday.

Big parties (usually with electronic music) in the whole Netherlands can be found listed on Partyflock (in Dutch).

Coffeeshops

The Netherlands is renowned for its liberal drug policy. Coffeeshops (in English, but written as one word; not to be confused with coffeehouses or cafes) are allowed to sell cannabis and hash for personal use (not more than 5 grams). While technically still illegal, mostly to comply with international treaties, personal use of (soft) drugs is regulated by the Ministry of Justice under an official policy of gedogen; literally this means to accept or tolerate, legally it is a doctrine of non-prosecution on the basis that action taken would be so highly irregular as to constitute selective prosecution.

Many coffeeshops offer a 'smoking lounge' where soft drugs may be used. Also note that despite the confusion on the subject, the country-wide smoking ban applies only to tobacco. However, since the Dutch commonly smoke tobacco mixed with their marijuana or hash, many coffeeshops, especially those unaccustomed to tourists, may require all smoking to be done in a separated smoking section or outdoors

Groningen has a few excellent coffeeshops, where you can buy and smoke cannabis products at a reasonable price. Note that alcohol is not served in any of the coffeeshops.

Red Light Districts

Prostitution in the Netherlands has been legal since 1988 if the prostitute consents. Window prostitution in Groningen takes place in the Nieuwstad area. This street is packed with over 100 windows. A common price is €50 per 15 minutes.

Sleep

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under 50
Mid-range 50 to 100
Splurge Over 100

As it is a fairly popular city trip destination among the Dutch, Groningen has plenty of choices for places to stay. There are no real top-end hotels however, so if you're out for luxury, you'll have to resort to some of the better mid-range places. Still, there are several very nice, historic hotels as well as a range of semi-modern and modern mid-range options. Travellers minding their budgets will find that accommodation here is relatively cheap.

Budget

Mid-range

Hampshire Plaza Hotel Façade
Apollo Hotel
Monumental Prinsenhof Hotel

Splurge

Cope

Hospitals

In case of medical emergency, Groningen is well-served by a wide variety of hospitals and other medical facilities. The University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) is the main hospital. It is one of the largest hospitals in the World, offering supraregional tertiary care to the northern part of the Netherlands. The medical center employs almost 17,000 people and numbers almost 1400 beds. The Martini Hospital is the second hospital, located in the south of the city.

Consulates

Go next


Routes through Groningen

Amsterdam Drachten  S  N  END
Utrecht Assen  S  N  END


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, March 18, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.