The best city centre, the best university city and the most bicycle-friendly city: Groningen has it all. There are plenty of reasons for a lovely city trip to Groningen, and below are ten of them.
With 200,000 residents and over 55,000 students attending the University or college, Groningen is the youngest city in the Netherlands, with an average age of 36. This sense of vibrant youthfulness can be seen everywhere: in the lively outdoor cafés and entertainment areas, when listening to new upcoming bands in the Vera music venue, during summer days in the Noorderplantsoenpark and special festivals such as Paradigm. Groningen is a university city all over.
City of culture
There is a reason why Groningen is among the largest cultural cities in The Netherlands. Several large theatres, such as the Stadsschouwburg and the Grand Theatre, provide various groups with a stage. The Simplon and Vera music venues put Groningen pop music on the map. In January, talented bands take over the city centre during Eurosonic Noorderslag, and in August performing artists do the same in the Noorderplantsoen during Noorderzon. And then there is the magnificent Groninger Museum that featured David Bowie’s heritage in 2016.
Old and contemporary architecture
Groningen is a real city of architecture, which becomes apparent in the station hall of the main railway station, where a coffered ceiling of paper stucco, multicoloured templates and stained windows welcome you in style. Immediately opposite the station is the Groninger Museum, a work of art in itself which was created by Allessandro Mendini. The city also has other special architecture, such as the Martini Tower with Bentheimer sandstone, the Renaissance-style Goudkantoor (Gold Office), the centuries-old charming almshouses and much, much more.
In 1979 Frank Sinatra referred to New York as The City That Never Sleeps, but he would certainly reconsider that today. The Groningen pubs and clubs have no fixed closing times, so you can party until the sun comes up. In addition, the compact city centre ensures that you will be at a next pub in no time at all.
City of events
The busy events calendar ensures that city residents, students and tourists always have wonderful options for entertainment, both in the depths of winter and the height of summer. Events such as Noorderzon (performing arts), KEI-Week (student introduction), Kadepop (music), WinterWelVaart or Eurosonic Noorderslag (music festival) make Groningen a wonderful and lively city. And we are not prejudiced, because in 2015 Groningen was elected the Best Event City of The Netherlands.
Every day shopping
Groningen allows for shopping in charming shopping streets every day of the week. Be sure to visit the ‘Best 2014 shopping street’ (Folkingestraat), the ‘Best 2015 shop’ (Ariola) and numerous other culinary, fashion and furniture shops, which are also open on Sundays. A market takes place almost every day of the week, where regional produce is sold, in addition to other products. Delicious!
Worldwide, comparatively speaking people in Groningen make most use of their bike as a means of transport, which is shown by the figures. Over 145 kilometres of bicycle tracks in the city make Groningen the ultimate bicycle city in the Netherlands, as a result of which the city centre is almost entirely pedestrian and the air is clean. Cyclists also benefit from the traffic flows, which are set out in a way that cycling to a destination is quicker than driving by car.
The canals (referred to as diepen in Groningen dialect), which served as a means of water transport in the Hanseatic League era, now allow for plenty of water fun with options for canoeing, trips by pedal boat, supping or going on a cruise. Whatever you choose, exploring Groningen from the water is highly recommended, because the water allows for very special and entirely different city views.
The province of Groningen is just as special and versatile as the city. There are the Groningen estate houses – the magnificent country houses of noblemen from the centuries gone by – and the churches in Roman, late-Roman and Gothic styles. There is the scenic wilderness in and around the Lauwersmeer National Park and the Wadden World Heritage. In addition, there are the wierden (artificial dwelling hills) that characterise the Groningen countryside, and Bourtange, an ancient but still inhabited fortified town. In short, there always something fun to do in the province.
One hour from Southend, Copenhagen and Gdansk
The city of Groningen is easily accessible. The train or the national and international Flixbus network will take you to the magnificently renovated Groningen station hall in no time at all. The Groningen Airport Eelde is located a mere fifteen kilometres from the city for those who have to travel a bit further. If you’re from London, Gdansk or Copenhagen, flights to Groningen for a lovely city trip are short. You can book a flight here.
With everything Groningen has to offer, it is no surprise that there is such a thing as a ‘Groningen feel’. Be surprised and see it for yourself during a Groningen city trip.