Groningen is a lively student city in the Northern Netherlands. It is the capital of a province with the same name and home to about 203,000 inhabitants, making it the largest city in the north. A university town with some 50,000 students gives the city its famous vibe; a pleasant youthful atmosphere, some fine historic heritage and with plenty of things to do.
For the purposes of this guide, Groningen includes the nearby municipality of Haren.
In the 13th century, when the city 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 m 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, and joined the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands.
In 1614, the University of Groningen was founded for religious education. In the same period the city expanded rapidly and a new city wall was built. That 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").
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.
Nowadays the city of Groningen is nationally renowned for the university, the museum and its vibrant atmosphere. 50% of the citizens are below the age of 30, making this the youngest city in the country. For decades, the bicycle has played a central role in the lives of people in the city, and today accounts for no less than 60% of all traffic movement with more bikes than citizens.
ClimateThe 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 but rarely last more than a few days. 30°C in the summer is not exceptional. Most average daytime highs in summer are around 22°C.
phone: +31 50 3139741address: Grote Markt 29The Groningen Tourist Information Office is located in the city centre, on the Grote Markt, opposite the Martini tower. The Tourist Information Office shop provides information about the city and the province. Hotel reservations can be made, and souvenirs and gift vouchers are also for sale here.
- The Tourist Information Wall at Groningen Airport Eelde provides information flyers about the city and its surrounding area in Dutch, English, German and Polish.
Groningen is served by
Groningen is also easily reached by direct train (2.5 h) from Schiphol Airport, which has far more direct connections than Groningen Airport.
To travel between the airport to the city:
- Bus 9 runs twice per hour between the airport and city. The journey to the center takes approximately 40 minutes. €5 one way, tickets can be purchased at the driver, or use the OV-chipkaart. Not all line 9 buses go to the airport, but this is clearly stated on the digital rollsigns.
- Bus 100 is a special shuttle bus to and from the airport starting at the Central Station, but only around the Copenhagen, Brussels, Munich, London and Gdansk flights. Beside Central Station, bus 100 also stops at the main down town places and hotels (including Hampshire Plaza Hotel in the southern part of the city), and the academic UMCG Hospital. This bus trip takes about 20 minutes from the Central Station and costs €5 one way, tickets at the driver.
- Taxis are not always available at the airport. If you wish to travel by taxi, book in advance. A taxi to the city will cost you €25-30.
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 Almere. 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:
|Schiphol Airport||2:11||€ 25.80||Direct|
|Brussels South||3:50||Price varies||Schiphol|
Train service between Leer (Germany) and Groningen is replaced by a bus service until around 2020 due to a ship crashing into a bridge on the rail line in 2016. You can either take a direct bus (55 min, every 2 hours), or take a bus to Weener then a train to Groningen (1hr 30min, every hour).
Commuter trains, all operated by Arriva twice per hour, run towards Uithuizen/Roodeschool, Appingedam/Delfzijl, Winschoten and Veendam.
Flixbus operates a couple of domestic intercity bus lines from Groningen. Line 821 runs to Hengelo and Enschede and line 822 runs to Apeldoorn, Arnhem, Nijmegen and Eindhoven. These bus lines leave at P+R Haren (near Postillion Hotel) and opposite the central train station, at the other side of the road. Booking in advance is cheaper. The buses are in most cases cheaper and faster than making the same journey by train.
International busesThere are several direct buslinks to Germany and Belgium operated by German carriers. For example to Bremen, Oldenburg, Hamburg, Berlin, Antwerp, Brussels and Leuven (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 require a change in Copenhagen. It is not possible to book a domestic journey. Ecolines operates a bus line towards Warsaw and stops en route to Poland in some German cities like Bremen and Berlin.
All international bus lines leave opposite the train station. Book a day in advance to get the lowest fare.
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. At these facilities you can park your car for free and take a fast and 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 (one way) or €5 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.
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 50 m outside it, and the museum built in 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.
Cycling is the best way to travel around. Getting from any place in Groningen to the centre will take at most 20 minutes. This makes the bike a fast, cheap and easy way to travel in Groningen. Don't get scared by the overwhelming number of bicycles. The city houses tens of thousands of students, whose primary means of transportation is the bike. 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).
If you don't have 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 square (central downtown). The major bus lines are listed below. Tickets are available from the driver (during off-peak periods you can buy a Eurokaartje, cost €2.50) or use the OV-chipkaart for payment. The Central Station is listed as bus stop "Hoofdstation" in and on buses and on bus stops.
Q-LinkQ-Link is a group of 5 bus services which are air conditioned, 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.
- Line 1 runs from the Central Station to the Zernike/Zuidhorn, via Grote Markt, Noorderplantsoen and Paddepoel.
- Line 3 runs from Lewenborg to Leek via Kardinge, Grote Markt, Central Station and P+R Hoogkerk.
- Line 4 runs from Beijum to Roden via Kardinge, Grote Markt, Central Station and P+R Hoogkerk.
- Line 5 runs from station Europapark to Annen via UMCG Hospital, Grote Markt, Central Station, P+R Haren and Zuidlaren. Sometimes this bus terminates at P+R Haren, so make sure Zuidlaren and Annen are mentioned if you travel this way.
- Line 6 runs from P+R Haren to Ten Boer/Delfzijl via Central Station, Zuiderdiep, UMCG Hospital and Ruischerbrug.
- Line 15 is a student express service from Central Station to college campus Zernike. It is located just north of Paddepoel and line 15 runs via Rembrandt van Rijnstraat and Paddepoel. These buses are very crowded in the morning to Zernike, and in the afternoon back to the Central Station. This route does not run in weekends.
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 Great 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.
Typical Dutch architecture is the 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, and sometimes called the northern capital of Amsterdamse School. at Parkweg in the lovely Grunobuurt district and at Gedempte Zuiderdiep 96 are worth walking along.
There are 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 considered to be a great example of an ‘organic building’, situated on the edge of the Stadspark.
Infoversumaddress: Vrydemalaan 2The Infoversum was built as the only full-dome 3D theatre in the Netherlands, before it was turned in a modern restaurant. It's located near the city beach.
Wall House IIThe Wall House II is a building in the south of the city located on the banks of Hoornsemeer lake. The building is one of the few realised designs to which the renowned American architect John Hejduk owes his fame. The building is a structure of reinforced concrete for the wall and columns, with a steel-framed corridor, wood stud walls, and a stucco exterior. Organised around a central axis of horizontal and vertical planes.
Reitdiep colourful housesYou may know these Scandinavian looking colourful terraced houses from Pinterest or Instragram. Built at the waterside they create a wonderful composition. Take Q-Link 11 to bus stop P+R Reitdiep.
As in many cities in Europe, Groningen's museums are generally closed on Mondays.
phone: +31 50 366 6555address: Museumeiland 1Opposite train/bus station. Spectacular architecture. Hosts state-of-the-art contemporary art in the world. Named one of the five most progressive modern/contemporary art collections in the world, this museum's changing exhibitions regularly attract visitors from all over the country.
phone: +31 50 312 2202address: Brugstraat 24The northern museum of water transport. Shows the history and role of transport over water until the 1970s. The museum is situated in the oldest residential building remaining in the city. Not accessible with a wheelchair or rollator.
phone: +31 50 363 5798address: Oude Kijk in 't Jatstraat 7AA strange and wonderful little museum located just off Oude Kijk in 't Jatstraat. Temporary exhibitions, often of a technological bent, are held on the first floor; upstairs (past an elaborate stained-glass window in the stairwell) is an eclectic collection in the Victorian style, with everything from anatomical specimens and taxidermied animals to early scientific instruments.
phone: +31 50-3178470address: Westerhaven 71The Dutch cartoon museum (strip = cartoon) shows many cartoons made by Dutch cartoonists. It's also suitable to visit with children (not least because there's a McDonald's next-door with a play area), but also because they can learn how to draw cartoons by themselves.
address: Ulgersmaweg 51The Museum Canadian Allied Forces depicts the history of the liberation of the north of the Netherlands in 1945 by the Canadians, with a particular emphasis on the liberation of the city of Groningen.
address: Sint Jansstraat 2GR-ID is a museum about graphical industry, art and design. The museum collection is mainly drawn from the province of Groningen and has been put together over a course of several decades.
address: Kerklaan 34, HarenEveryone with an interest in gardens, flowers and plants, should visit the Hortus Haren. It is without a doubt one of the most impressive botanical gardens in the Netherlands. Hortus Haren was established in the 17th century and is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the country. There are over with 15 colourful gardens.
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 gables and beautiful gardens. Probably the most characteristic streets of the city are the . These 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. The houses are not open to the public: 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 , 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 . 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 through many courtyards.
address: AkerkhofThis beautiful medieval church with its remarkable yellow-painted tower stands tall above the neighbouring Korenbeurs. Established between 1425 and 1492, the church's tower was repeatedly destroyed and replaced, with the current one originating in 1711. The building is no longer used for religious services but is open for visitors and regularly houses expositions.
Academiegebouwaddress: Broerstraat 5The Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, the University of Groningen, is the second-oldest university in the Netherlands and one of three State Universities of the Netherlands. It was established in 1614. While the university has its share of modern buildings in town and out, the Academiegebouw is an old and attractive building with a tower and worth strolling past. Although it is not intended, the building is accessible for the public. The interior of the building is magnificent, especially the stained glass, the entrance hall and the murals in the Aula and Senaatskamer (Senate room).
Gold Officeaddress: Waagplein 1This beautifully decorated building on the edge of the Grote Markt is hard to miss. It was built in 1635 as the office for the city receiver. The words Date Caesari quae sunt Caesaris, Latin for "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's", still remind of this early function of the building. Later, between 1814 and 1887, it served as a gold office in the sense that this was the place where gold and silver works were authenticated and marked as real. Today, it's a café.
MartinikerkhofThe Martinikerkhof used to be a cemetery, but since 1828 it is no longer in use. The cemetery has been transformed into a beautiful square, an oasis of peace. Prominent on the Martinikerkhof is the Martini Church. On the east side of the square stands the 'Provinciehuis', the seat of the provincial government. The front of this beautiful building was built in the end of the 20th century, while the rear of the building dates back to the Middle Ages. At that time the building was used as a Latin School. The north side of the square is marked by nice old houses and the Prinsenhof. At the square stands the Saint George and the Dragon Memorial (Sint Joris en de Draak Monument), the official provincial Second World War memorial. The memorial has been made in remembrance of the whole loss and suffering in the city of Groningen.
address: Grote MarktOne of the most important hotspots in Groningen refers to Saint Martin of Tours, the patron saint of the Bishopric of Utrecht. Locals call the tower d' Olle Grieze which means 'the old grey one' and is related to its colour. Tickets are available in the VVV (tourist information) shop just over the road. There is a wide view over the city from the top of the tower. It was built as a cruciform church in the 13th century, and was extended in the 15th and 16th centuries. Much of the wall and roof paintwork has been preserved. Of particular note is a 16th-century depiction of the life of Jesus Christ.
phone: +31 505257601This is an old Roman Catholic hospital outside the city centre, now housing an art house cinema and commune. It's located just south of the city centre, in Helpman. The hospital itself was abandoned in 1978, after which it was squatted. Until 1986, the Oude RKZ was the largest squat in the Netherlands and possibly in the whole of Europe. In 1986 the government allowed the squat to be legalized. Nowadays it is a vibrant place where 250 people from all ages find a place to live and to share what is important. The former squat has cheap folk kitchens on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. There are also 2 bars, a cinema, yoga and capoeira sessions and many other things. Being a motor for the Dutch alternative and artist scene, the Oude RKZ is a well known place to many people from all over Europe. If you want to eat at the folk kitchen it's best to call on the same day to reserve a meal. Meals are served at 18:30.
Prinsenhof & Prinsentuinaddress: Martinikerkhof 23, entrance of the public gardens at the corner of Turfsingel and KattenhageJust a short walk from the Grote Markt, the lovely Renaissanse gardens of the Prinsenhof can be a remarkably peaceful place to relax for a little while. It has a rose garden a herb garden and The Prinsenhof building originates in the 15th century and was originally a wealthy mansion for the city's bishop or "stadtholder", and later was used as a military hospital. Now, a restaurant has been opened within the building. The renaissance style gardens are open for public. This garden consists of a rose garden, a herb garden and a part with berceaus. The entrance of the garden is remarkable because of a beautiful sundial on the wall above it. When the weather is nice, volunteers run a small tea house there.
address: Radesingel 4St Joseph's Cathedral is the cathedral church of the diocese of Groningen-Leeuwarden. The Neo-Gothic church was built from 1885 to 1887 and consecrated on May 25, 1887. Local nickname for the tower is "drunk's tower", because there is from every direction always two clocks to be seen.
SynagogueThe synagogue was built after the oriental design of the New Synagogue in Berlin and has a beautiful moorish style interior. Shortly after World War II the Jewish community was forced to sell the synagogue since only 7% of the Jewish community of Groningen survived the war. In 1981 the building was renovated and rehabilitated.
Parks & sculptures
Jewish MemorialThe Jewish Memorial commemorates the more than 3000 Jewish inhabitants of Groningen who were deported and murdered during the Second World War. It is made by Eduard Waskowsky out of six hands each having their own expression. The 7th hand is missing, because Waskowsky died during the making of the memorial.
NoorderplantsoenRemains of the old citywalls, transformed into a public park. The earth ramparts were incorporated in the park architecture and the moats were turned into ponds. The architecture is of an English garden style, characterized by meandering paths and serpentine ponds, inspired by wild nature. On a sunny day, this is the place to relax after a hard day's work for a lot of students.
StadsparkThe Stadspark is an approximately 140 hectare park on the southwest side of the city in the Stadsparkwijk. The park was created at the beginning of the twentieth century, designed by landscape architect Leonard Springer.
CyclingGroningen is a cycling city par excellence. The inhabitants of Groningen possess an average of 1.4 bikes per person. The bike usage is even more as in Amsterdam or Copenhagen. So, Groningen is called world's best city for cycling. 40 years ago the local government made a radical choice to ban the car from the centre of the city to increase livability in the city. Since then, cycling has evolved into the new normal. Some cycling features:
- Bikes everywhere
- A bunch of guarded bike stalls across the city
- Free way for cyclist with the many cycling lanes
- Priority on roundabouts
- shared space with pedestrians on narrow places (hardly without any accidents)
- Traffic lights with rain sensors to give quicker priority to cyclists on wet days
- Traffic lights on green for every direction for bikes
Bicycles are available for rent at a number of places around town like , (only e-bikes), and (carrier bikes!). Bikes are also available at the Central Station. Many hotels offer bike rental to their guests, usually for fees of roughly €10 or less per day. Renting an electric bike is a little more expensive, but a lot of fun and very interesting for longer trips outside the city. 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 2½-hour . You have to book this tour in advance. Departure from May through October every Friday at 14:30 and Saturday at 10:30.
Paterswoldsemeer lakeLocals love to spend their leisure time at Paterswoldsemeer south of the city, and cool down on hot days. On windy days sailors and surfers find their way to the lake. It is also popular with cyclists and joggers. There are beaches, marinas, boat rentals, restaurants, and accommodations. Rental sail boats and canoes are available at the is the place to be if you want to rent a boat or canoe. , at the northwestern corner of the lake, is a lovely location for a drink with lakeview. At the adjacent water skiing club you can take introductory waterskiing lessons or have a fun ride on the banana. Call ahead to find out what's available. Restaurants include , and .
- (Ebbingekwartier) is a real hotspot and a must-visit during sunny days. The location is superb, located just adjacent to the centre of the city. So take a dive after a hard day shopping and have a drink at the bar of DOT.
- Noorderplantsoen (mentioned in the "see" section) is the perfect place to relax after a hard day's work. On a sunny day, join the students which gather on the grass or take a seat on the stairs at the fountains.
- Hoornseplas lake is the perfect place to visit on a hot day with children. They can play at one of the two beaches or clamber on one of the biggest publicly accessible playgrounds of Europe.
address: Stationsweg 1012Take a one-hour tour through the old channels of Groningen aboard the "Wonderlaand" or "Goldenraand". The boat will take you around the historical centre. 2-5 trips a day, depending on the season.
CanoeingFrom 1 April to 1 Oct you can hire a canoe and paddle around the centre. It's a round trip that gives you a totally different view of Groningen since you are lower than the streets and you can pass very close along the many house boats in the city. Some bridges have a secret 'roof' that can only be seen when you pass under the bridge. A tour around the centre takes about 1 – 2 hours, depending on how fit you are, how many stops you take for photo shootings, and water battles.
Friday fun skateEvery Friday from mid April until mid September skaters gather in Groningen to skate together. The group is accompanied by a rolling music boombox. The tours are quite easy to ride, though total beginners might find it a bit scary to have so many others around themselves. Each week another tour is chosen. It's possible to get an sms service to know if the Friday Fun Skate takes place or not. Length: 18 - 23 km. The start and finish of the tour are always at the southern entrance of the Noorderplantsoen park.
address: Bieskemaar 10Pitch and putt is an amateur sport similar to golf but where the hole length is typically less than 70 m (80 yard). The Pitch and Putt course in Groningen has 18 holes and is perfect for everyone, even young children. You do not need a golf license. €12-16. After your little golfexperience, you should take a look at the nearby Kardingerbult: a human made hill with a nice view over the city.
address: Bieskemaar 3Groningen's best kept secret: indoor and outdoor climbing gym featuring "Excalibur". The tallest and probably the most exciting climbing wall in Europe, with an impressive height of 37 meters and 11 meters of overhang. About €10 for a day pass, €11-15 for an introductory climbing course.
Concerts & theater
StadsschouwburgThe Stadsschouwburg is the main theater of Groningen. The Neo-Renaissance building dates from 1883. The theatre offers a wide range of dance, opera and cabaret.
MartiniplazaMartiniplaza is a modern multifunctional building. It is used as an exhibition complex, theater and sports arena.
Vera underground pop clubWhere Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, the White Stripes and many others performed. Internationally Vera is probably the best-known stage for alternative music in Groningen, and it is one of the most appreciated music venues in the Netherlands. Check the concert posters which are designed by local artist - free to take at the concert itself.
SimplonSimplon is an internationally renowned venue with an impressive history, especially in punk music. Every week on Thursday the club is dedicated to local (young) talent.
address: Gedempte Zuiderdiep 78Nice cinema in the city center. All popular movies are shown here. 9 screens, capacity: 1700 guests.
address: Boumaboulavard 53Huge cinema (10 screens) in the Euroborg Stadium. Outside the city center, but easily reachable with Q-Link line 5 towards Europapark.
address: Hereplein 73Repertory cinema. Lots of English and French classic movies.
RKZ BioscoopArt house cinema based in the old Roman Catholic hospital. The cinema is being run by people who live in the old hospital's commune.
Festivals and events
- Every year in January: 'Eurosonic-Noorderslag', European's biggest showcase festival, Where dozens of bands from all over the world perform on various stages spread throughout the city.
- Every year on Good Friday: 'Bloemenjaarmarkt', the biggest flower market of Northern Netherlands, which attracts more than 100,000 visitors each year. Among the visitors are a lot of Germans.
- Every year on April 26: 'Koningsdag' (kingsday), a holiday celebrating the birth of King Willem-Alexander. Many events in the city, including a lot of vrijmarkten ("free markets") at which the Dutch sell their used items. The night before Kingsday is called Koningsnacht ("kingsnight"): many young people celebrate in the streets and squares throughout the night.
- Every year on May 5: 'Bevrijdingsfestival' (Liberation Festival), together with many other festivals throughout the country.
- Every year in August: 'Paradigm Festival', one of the most innovative electronic music festivals in the country, organized by Paradigm050 (which was chosen as best underground electro-house club in the Netherlands)
- Every year in August: 'Noorderzon Festival', a festival focused on music, visual arts and performance arts.
- Every two years in September/October: 'Noorderlicht' a photography festival.
- Every year in autumn: 'Jonge Harten', a nine-day theater festival that takes place in almost all theaters in Groningen. It is a festival to discover. Including a lot of young creators, visual physical theater, performance, dance, music and a captivating festival heart.
Groningen is the largest place to go for shopping in the region, and offers a wide range of large and small stores, including international and national chains a good number of small speciality shops.
With some exceptions, shops close at 18:00 on weekdays and Saturday and Sunday at 17:00. Thursday is "buying-evening", on this day a lot of shops are open until 21:00. In downtown almost all shops are open on Sundays, but not before noon. Supermarkets are generally open from 08:00-21:00.
Downtown areaAll 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 higher-end 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 wheat 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. Have a look into oriental supermarket Le Souk.
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. Place for the best cake in town.
Other noteworthy shopping streets in downtown are Oosterstraat, Oude Ebbingestraat and Zuiderdiep.
For fair & eco fashion have a look at Koko Toko at Oosterstraat, Schone Zaken at Nieuwe Ebbingestraat and Diezijner at Zwanestraat. Vintage lovers go to Stardust at Carolieweg, Recessie and Kroy Classic Wear at Oude Kijk in 't Jatstraat; for vintage furniture have a look at Verroest at Donkersgang.
Outside the downtown area
Winkelcentrum PaddepoelShopping Centre Paddepoel has more than 80 shops and lies a few kilometers northwest of the city center. The mall offers a broad range of retail stores, mostly chains. Not open on Sundays, except for the last Sunday of every month.
SontpleinSouthwest of downtown lies Sontplein. This square is home to some big stores like electronics store Media Markt, sports chain Intersport, and the 3rd largest Ikea in Europe with 42,000 m².
MarketsBoth main squares are filled with market stalls during the week markets on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. You'll find food, street food, fashion and other stalls on the markets. Vis Markt square is named after the fish that were sold on the spot during the centuries and still you can find many fish selling stalls today. Try the typical Dutch fish street food like kibbeling, haring and lekkerbekjes.
Local product and market for foodies Ommelander Markt settles on Harmonieplein square every second Saturday of the month. Local food producers sell their ware at the market such as cheese, meat, honey, fruit and vegetables.
Klein Berlijn is the annual market for vintage fashion and other stuff. Grote Markt square will be covered in vintage treasures. Also good food and coffee.
The large free Flea market at Koningsdag is an institution in Groningen. Many people are selling their second hand or hand-made goods during the Dutch national holiday. It is a large market and the vibe is superb. The market's location is the Singels between the central railway station and the city centre.
The Netherlands is known for its cheese. Groningen has some typical Dutch cheese stores:
address: Oosterstraat 61Van der Ley is one of the best cheese stores in the world. Look for local organic varieties, such as green pesto cheese or farmers crumblecheese (boerenbrokkelkaas).
address: Astraat 5
Groningen continues the 'simple and straightforward' cuisine that the Netherlands is known for. Nevertheless the centre of Groningen has many nice little cafes or restaurants where you can eat. As befits a real university city, there are plenty of cafe-restaurants where you can eat for about €10.
phone: +31 50 3182226address: Akerkhof 22Three different main courses each day (one meat, one fish, one veg.) for €6.50 or €7.50 per course. Many customers eat here several times per week.
phone: +31 50 3133102address: Vismarkt 1In case of emergency! If you've left it too late before heading out for food and the restaurants have closed their kitchens, you can get all your deep-fried nutritional needs met at the FEBO automat.
phone: +31 502-041-099address: Rodeweg 6This fairly new Italian place claims to bake the best pizzas in town, and many of their customers agree. The selection is small, but the ingredients are fresh and the Italian pizzas are baked in a traditional wood oven.
phone: +31 50 3180622address: Oude Boteringestraat 9For big and great lunch-salads (less than €10) and nice hamburgers.
phone: +31 50 3120045address: Schuitendiep 1017Unashamedly touristy, the Pannekoekschip ("pancake ship") is an old sailing ship that's been turned into a pancake restaurant, serving huge and delicious Dutch pancakes.
phone: +31 50 7601880address: Poelestraat 16International pizza/pasta chain. The terrace on the third floor offers a nice view.
address: Nieuwe Boteringestraat 9Vegetarian and vegan hotspot.
address: Uurwerkersplein 1Vibrant restaurant and bar, nice interior and tasteful pizzas. The square in front is shared with De Pintelier bar and crowded on warm nights.
address: Nieuweweg 2/Schuitendiep 54Modern design cafe/restaurant that offers organic food. The restaurant is furnished with design from the own Flinders furniture design line.
address: Damsterdiep 15Libanese food and mezze. Also vegetarian.
address: Gedempte Zuiderdiep 39-41Restaurant serving all kind of dished made from local products. The chef likes to give the recipes local character. Also vegan and vegetarian.
address: Poelestraat 30Indie-styled restaurant and bar. Food-sharing is the credo here and lovely place for alternative drinks.
NEWS CafeElegant urban restaurant and cafe on a premier location. Also great place for a drink.
phone: +31 50 3112126address: Steentilstraat 38Tuscan cuisine. Great food and atmosphere. Weekly specials offer an excellent and reasonably priced 3- or 4-course menu. Make a reservation if you plan to eat after 18:00 as it can get busy.
phone: +31 50 310511address: Blekerstraat 22-24A nice little restaurant that is 5 minutes away from the Fishmarket (vismarkt). Great food, for a nice price. Prices vary from €9.50 for the dish of the day to €16 for the house specialty, Moroccan style marinated tenderloin. Main courses come with fries, a salad and depending on your dish, warm veggies.
address: Langestraat 66Restaurant located in the former gas factory from 1854. The restaurant serves all kinds of foods and has a large selection of vegetarian and vegan food. The restyle of the building is extraordinary.
address: Oostersingel 112Restaurant for good and affordable Indian food. Also take away.
address: Grote Markt 21-BTeppanyaki restaurant on the corner of the Grote Markt - though if you want showmanship with your dinner, Fujiyama is the place to go.
phone: +31-61-970-1739address: Gedempte Zuiderdiep 59This place calls itself an "organic, vegan, salad bar". And while sustainability is clearly the focal point of this popular lunch place, you'll find more than just salads here. Think burgers, wraps, soups and sweet pastries - and a daily changing menu, based on seasonal produce. Dinner is only available on Thursdays.
address: Vismarkt 42Simple, but nice restaurant. Nationwide restaurant chain. Average price 3 courses à la carte €18.
address: Nieuwe Boteringestraat 62This tatty-looking small Indian restaurant has an all-Indian staff, but you can only pay with cash and there is no English menu. The food is stunningly good, well worth a visit.
phone: +31 50 3144266address: Oude Boteringestraat 26Fusion-style restaurant with very good dishes for a reasonable price. May get crowded in the summer and during midterms and endterms since the University's library is around the corner. Also a nice place to have drink later at night.
address: Zwanestraat 28Main courses including bowl of salad, baked potatoes, vegetables from €10.50. Really good!
address: Veemarktstraat 94Restaurant for nice Indian food at the southern side of the city's centre. Also take away.
phone: +31 50 3144360address: Grote Kruisstraat 73This small restaurant serves one meat or fish dish and one vegetarian dish and both dishes change every day. It is located next to the Noorderplantsoen, which makes it a good spot in the summer.
phone: +31 50 3145141address: Zuiderkerkstraat 7Excellent food and wine but quite pricey; a good place to treat yourself.
address: Kleine Leliestraat 33Restaurant in a picturesque part of the city with a neighborhood vibe. The chef cooks with mainly local and sustainable products.
phone: +31 50 3135335address: Martinikerkhof 10Close to the Martini tower and Grote Markt, this cafe-restaurant is sited in a historic building, and serves excellent locally sourced food.
phone: +31-50-318-0275address: Koninginnelaan 45A restaurant in a living room setting. The restaurant serves food (also vegetarian) from local origin. According locals one of the best in town. Located just outside the city centre.
phone: +31 50 3127603address: A-kerkstraat 24Great fish and vegetarian dishes. Famous for the cheese fondue.
address: Oude kijk in 't Jatstraat 47Louis XV is a French-international styled restaurant. The restaurant includes a wine bar with continuous wine tasting.
phone: +31 50-280-1108address: W.A. Scholtenstraat 39This restaurant on the edge of the city centre offers a fine French dining experience. They operate on a table d’hôte-principle, which means that there's no menu to choose from - the chef decides what the fixed 5-course menu for the day is. The dishes rely heavily on seasonal and local ingredients. If you have any dietary restrictions or if you're a vegetarian, make sure to book ahead and inform the restaurant so they can take your wishes into account. There's a pleasant outdoor terrace too.
address: Herestraat 96Cosy restaurant which serves luxurious food based on the French cuisine.
The largest 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.
Some of the biggest electronic music parties in the Netherlands can be found here and are listed on Partyflock (in Dutch).
For a drinkThis is a list with bars which are excellent for a drink during the day and during the evening. You'll find most bars and cafes around Grote Markt square, Gedempte Zuiderdiep and Poelestraat. Don't forget however to have a look for bars in the other streets.
De Pintelieraddress: Kleine Kromme Elleboog 9Traditional Belgian pub serving more than 80 kinds of beer and whisk(e)y.
Cafe de Kofferaddress: Nieuwe Blekerstraat 1Another "speciaalbier" pub. Lots of bottled beers, and a few on tap. Most are Belgian or Dutch, but there are also a few American and British beers on the menu - a real rarity around here.
Der Witzaddress: Grote Markt 47A 'Brown Café' located on the Grote Markt in a very small building. Serving many kinds of beer.
Het Kasteeladdress: Peperstraat 25A compact international student hangout on Peperstraat. Sells Jäger and other shots for €1 and 13-beer 'zwaards' ('a sword') for €10.
Huis de Beursaddress: A-Kerkhof Zuid Zijde 4On the southwestern corner of Vismarkt. Has made a come-back and is very trendy now. Live piano music in the evening. The first Dutch socialist party was founded here.
address: Grote Markt 39On the Grote Markt. Possibly the largest bar in the Netherlands as well as in Europe. Many bars connected in a mazelike fashion; has several façades on the Grote Markt that look like separate bars, but don't let that deceive you.
address: Martinikerkhof 2In a corner of the Grote Markt, next to the Martinitoren. Family style. Nice terrace in summertime.
O'Cealleighsaddress: Gedempte Kattendiep 13An Irish pub on Gedempte Kattendiep. Small pub, but good atmosphere; the place people go to play a bit of Irish folk of an evening.
address: Oosterstraat 65Aussie pub in Groningen and the meeting place for internationals Groningen. Mostly international staff.
address: Oosterstraat 67Irish pub next to The Pacific. Great place to watch football. Every Wednesday live jam sessions.
NEWS CafeElegant urban cafe and restaurant on a premier location. Also great place for dinner.
address: Oude Boteringestraat 26Next to dining a bar which brings the Groningen drinking scene into the 21st century. Mr. Mofongo introduced the gin wall and gin robot storing its own distilled spirits. On the roof is a greenhouse bar for street food and there is wine bar. Absolute hotspot.
address: Kleine Rozenstraat 64Lovely neighborhood cafe and bar. Nice vibe and local feeling. Many locals come to here for a drink.
address: Gedempte Zuiderdiep 73One of the many bars at Gedempte Zuiderdiep opposite the cinema. Quite popular bar, also with students.
address: Haddingestraat 27Groningen's best and only Italian-styled enoteca (wine bar) in Groningen.
address: Oosterstraat 53Wine bar and gastronomy in a cellar.
NightlifeNightlife in Groningen is as important as life during the day. The city never sleeps and no venue has to close early. Venues ranges from life music podiums which originate from the underground scene, clubs, night cafes, and a fully grown-up electrohouse/techno scene.
address: Gelkingestraat 1One of the biggest clubs in Groningen. On Thursday's it's packed with students (10 beers for €10). Plays great dance music in weekends and serves fine cocktails.
Vera underground pop clubWhere Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, the White Stripes and many others performed. Internationally Vera is probably the best-known stage for alternative music in Groningen, and it is one of the most appreciated music venues in the Netherlands. Check the concert posters which are designed by local artists - free to take at the concert itself.
SimplonSimplon is an internationally renowned venue with an impressive history, especially in punk music. Every week on Thursday the club is dedicated to local (young) talent.
address: Poelestraat 53-55Popular nightclub. Every Thursday stu-dance, every Friday Funky Friday and every Saturday night Mashup club mixes.
address: Grote Markt 41Beach club right in the middle of Groningen - very popular among students.
address: Papengang 6Quite alternative venue with its roots in the 1970s/1980s underground scene. Good vibe though. Best to go after 2 am.
address: Peperstraat 8-2Venue which originates from the 60s/70s art scene. Now a popular art pop club. Many internationals meet here.
address: peperstraat 4-6One of many student bars and clubs in this area.
Gay nightlifeGroningen is unfortunately not gay capital when it concerns gay clubs. However, the normal nightlife scene is quite gay-friendly and open minded, especially the clubs with roots in the alto scene.
Luckily there are LQBT+ bars and clubs in the city. And there are bars and clubs in which many LGBT+ people to drink and for a party. You'll find them in this list.
address: Oosterstraat 7aPremier Gay bar and gay club Galaxy. Most LGBT+ people come to this place.
address: Pottebakkersrijge 2Gay bar ideal to go for a beer and to meet other people.
address: Gelkingestraat 13'Normal' bar in which many LGBT+ people meet. Home bar for gay student fraternity Ganymedes.
Many gay people meet as well in VERA and night cafe Warhol.
Electrohouse & techno sceneOther than its size of it suggests, there is a mature electrohouse and techno scene in Groningen. Groningen was quite alternative in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. This has resulted that the unofficial underground capital of the Netherlands provides residence to a few great internationally renown music venues.
Paradigm050King of the rave clubs in Groningen. Paradigm invites many famous international artists to play in the venue. It's known for their loodsraves, Sunday afternoon collectives, Vrijdag Middag Collectief, and Paradigm invites.
address: Oosterstraat 13aIntimate techno/house/funk club down town Groningen. Every Friday and Saturday doors will open for a new night of quality music.
address: Peperstraat 11A popular club with electro music lovers.
KopjeKTechno house collective which dwells across the city and settles for rave nights on special locations. Concepts are Like I Care (LIC) in pyjamas or in the pool, Warehouse, Festival, Tanzen auf den Boot, etc.
CoffeeshopsGroningen has a few excellent coffeeshops, where you can buy and smoke cannabis products at a reasonable price. Alcohol is not served in any of the coffeeshops.
phone: +31 50 313 2410address: Papengang 3A cozy café with a nice selection of weed located in a small alley right next to the bar street Peperstraat. Inside a pool table, computers for surfing and big TV screens. Upstairs there's a bar called de Zolder ("the Attic") where you can smoke. There are reggae concerts on Tuesday nights.
Metamorphosephone: +31 50 314 4460address: Oude Boteringestraat 53Nice little alternative shop, with mostly organic stuff. They serve a large variety of fresh tea.
Oasisaddress: Meeuwerderweg 60Only open till 19:00 and not on Sundays. Good marijuana, but is quite expensive. Nice café area makes up for it. Also a couple of tables outside during the summer time.
address: Gedempte Zuiderdiep 63Great stuff on Zuiderdiep, opposite the Pathé cinema. Inside there's a smoking room but no real hangout space.
De Medleyaddress: Gedempte Zuiderdiep 64A good pick up coffee shop. Can't smoke inside or stay there, but it's quite cheap. Joints for €3, also many kinds of hash (like Maroc and Afghan) for about €5-6 & weed/wiet: powerplant, sneeuwwitje (snow white), Afgaan (Afghan) €6, 10 or 20.
Red light districtsWindow prostitution in Groningen takes place in the Nieuwstad area, with over a 100 windows in the street. A typical price is €50 for 15 minutes.
phone: +31 50 5251624address: Campinglaan 6, 9727 KH GroningenOpen from March to October, this camping ground is in the Stadspark, a large, wooded park just outside the ring road. If you're carrying a tent, this can be a nice budget alternative. Reception closes for lunch. Bring your own toilet paper. Free Wi-Fi around reception area only. On-site restaurant/cafe.
phone: +31 50 3135221address: Boterdiep 73This youth hostel has been around for a long time and remains a popular budget pick. Bunk-beds starting at €18.50. Rooms for up to 6 people are available, too.
phone: +31 683695965address: Energieweg 10The only container hostel in the country. Environmentally responsible, offering breakfast and bike rentals.
phone: +31 50 5256867address: Oude Badweg 1 EelderwoldeThe 'Scandinavian Village' by the Paterswoldsemeer lake offers nice cabins in Scandinavian style. The cabins will provide you with a terrace, kitchen with a refrigerator, kitchenware and bathroom.
phone: +31 50 7630070address: Laan van de Vrijheid 91In the La Liberté high-rise building, nice views.
phone: +31 50 5886558address: Rademarkt 3-3aIts decoration is inspired by Dutch painter Piet Mondrian and beds are made when you arrive.
phone: +31 50 588 6565address: Gedempte Kattendiep 25This large hotel has simple but modern rooms and a nice rooftop terrace. It can be a little bit noisy at times, but overall this place gives good value for money. Rooms come in different types, with the more expensive ones being quite a bit more spacious. The staff is helpful and there are facilities like a sauna and Turkish steam bath. The hotel rents out bikes for €5.
phone: +31 50 3175510address: Oude Boteringestraat 74Housed in a monumental 1634 building. Although equipped with all the modern day facilities you'd expect, it manages to retain its historic atmosphere. The only downside is that there's no space for an elevator, but the staff is very helpful, the breakfast very good and the lounge quite inviting. It has bikes for rent. Car parking in the direct surroundings can be expensive.
phone: +31 50 3127041address: Grote MarktThis hotel is facing the Grote Markt. This place has been receiving visitors for some 200 years and the decorations clearly intend to maintain the characteristic feel, but all modern facilities are in place. The only downsides are the steep stairs to the entrance and - as with many places in the city centre - you'll have to park your car in one of the public garages.
phone: +31 50 3175510address: Gedempte Zuiderdiep 8Guests have been accommodated in this building since 1871. It's a bit dated and the rooms are small and simple, there's a nice bar downstairs and the prices are quite reasonable too. It has triple rooms, if you're a party of three. Private parking is available but costs €12.50 and should be reserved in advance, as it is sometimes full.
phone: +31 50 3181222address: Oude Boteringestraat 43This four-star hotel in the city centre is decorated with a historic touch. Some of the rooms are a bit outdated but the staff is friendly and will park your bike in the nearby public garage, although the parking fees are fairly high.
phone: +31 50 3175510address: Boterdiep 111Three houses have been transformed into a hotel. In each house there are three rooms. Every room has a different theme. It's staffed by people who otherwise have few chances on the labour market and often have been on income support for a long time. At the hotel the can (re)experience what it's like to have a job and acquire the job skills. However, this place is more than a social business initiative. It's also a pleasant hotel at 5 minute walk from the old centre. Several rooms have shared bathrooms.
phone: +31 50 3176550address: Martinikerkhof 23Prinsenhof Groningen offers a grand café, a hotel and an à-la-carte restaurant.
- The small town of Appingedam with her medieval town centre is well worth exploring, and it is famous for the "hanging kitchens".
- The star fort of Bourtange is another good choice and is less than an hour away by car.
- Explore the historical region Middag-Humsterland by car or bicycle. The region is one of the oldest cultural landscapes of Western Europe and known for the villages built on wierdes (artificial hills) to shelter themselves and their stock from the high tide.
- Visit the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen.
- Catch a bus to Lauwersoog, only to hop on a ferry to the island Schiermonnikoog. This small island is a popular day- or weekendtrip destination.
- Take the train to Uithuizen and visit the Menkemaborg, a particular kind of castle and one of the oldest and best kept examples of its kind in the region.
- Visit the Drentsche Aa National Park and take a walk in the valley of the small river the Drentsche Aa, trough the wide heathlands or the diverse forests. The famous dolmen sites are also here.