Are you even googling this right now? Well, I’m happy you did, because if you weren’t sure of why to visit Groningen? We’ll give you ten reasons why you should visit Groningen (and skip Amsterdam).
I always get this response when I tell people I’m living in the Netherlands: ohhh, you live in Amsterdam? And then I have to explain to them that Amsterdam is not the Netherlands. It’s about 2 hours from Amsterdam and I have to say, it has its own charm and because it has one of the best Universities of the world there’s the charm of the canals and facades minus the maddening crowds. Go rent a bike and hit the “flat and easy” routes through the heart of the city. Clamber to the top of the Martini Tower, take a stroll around the Noorderplantsoen park and grab brunch at the one fo the cool spots to eat. See you soon?
1. It’s not that far from Amsterdam
The Netherlands is quite a small country, in fact: it’s on the 67st position of smallest countries in the world. It is so small you can drive from the North tot the South in just 4 hours. And that gives you already one reason why you should visit Groningen.
You know, tourism is making Amsterdam over crowded, just like lots of other cities in the world. The negative impact of mass tourism is in particular a major issue in Amsterdam, according to the Independent. And though it would make me cry if mass tourism happened in Groningen, i’d still want you to come visit us. Housing costs, public disorder and the character of neighbourhoods are all seen as concerns there in Amsterdam. Groningen is just a 2 hour train ride away from Amsterdam. And yes we also got the famous Wallen and Coffeeshops, but promise me you’ll come for something else here, yes?
2. It’s a University city
And University cities are the best! Many of my favourite cities are University cities, from Berkeley to Maastricht. The University of Groningen is the 6th-ranked university in the Netherlands and 90th in the world. We have one of the oldest universities in the world. Groningen is bustling with lots of students, making it an incredibly popular place to go as a student. We’ve got lots of places to study and we have a great nightlife, if you’re into that. Groningen is basically the best student city in the Netherlands because a lot of the population of the city are actually students. We have trendy coffee bars popping up, lots of local breweries and there’s a lot of diversity.
3. We’ve got one of the oldest Universities
I’ve told you we’ve got one of the oldest universities in the world, right? Our University is known for its female success: having the first female lecture and first female student – and also the first Dutch astronaut! Besides that cool history, the university is a landmark itself.
4. Our Groninger Museum is pretty famous
The Groninger Museum is just across the city centre and a must visit when in town, even when you’re not in to musea. The building itself is already a piece of art, built on top of water. There have been a lot of great exhibitions in the town of Groningen like the David Bowie exhibition.
Check out the website of the Groningen Museum (in English, jay!) for their current exhibitions.
5. We’ve got the 2nd tallest climbing wall of the world
I’ve probably stressed out enough that we’ve got the 2nd tallest climbing wall of the world. But hey, can’t hide what we have, right? In the district, Kardinge arises a climbing wall of a whopping 37 meters. This is comparable with a 10 story building! So yeah, it’s kinda huge. So if you’re the adventurous type, this climbing wall definitely deserves a spot on your must-visit list!
6. We’ve got canals too
It kinda sounds like I have to compare ourselves to Amsterdam and try to get you to visit Groningen because we have all that Amsterdam got. But actually I’m not. Groningen is very different from Amsterdam.
The Netherlands just has those alluring waterways. So just take a stroll around the canals and visit the harbors. You could also take a canal tour, which is basically the thing most tourists do (though, not hat crowded as in Amsterdam). If you’re more into canoeing or sup, you could hire those as well. The fun thing to see when taking a boat tour? See how the locals live in their water boats. Which reminds me: if you’re looking for a great place to stay at in Groningen? Check out these boats for rent in Groningen.
7. Explore our many coffee bars
We’ve got like major coffee bars in town. But the best one is Black & Bloom.Black & Bloom is the very first artisan espressobar in Groningen. They serve insanely good coffee (their words) from all over the world. So this place is a must go to for the coffee geaks! If you’re not really sure whether you’d want to visit this bar (they’re quite small, so it could be full), there are plenty of other choices to choose from when in town. In the same street (Oude Kijk in ‘t Jatstraat 32) where B&B is located, you’ll find Simon Lévelt Café, which also got some great coffee.
8. We’re the cycling capital of the Netherlands
Biking is a great way to stay active and reduce your carbon footprint. The Netherlands is known because of its cities. 61% of all trips in Groningen are made by bicycle. The history of Groningen as a bicycle city goes way back. In the 1970s, a left-wing council wanted to make a change. In the 60s, the number of cars was growing rapidly and clogging up our Dutch cities. Instead of tearing down neighborhoods and build motorways, Groningen restored neighborhoods and convert them into pleasant areas for people to live in. To sum it up: cars had to take the ring-road around the inner city, whereas cyclists could move freely on new cycle paths constructed to accommodate them. So get your bike and explore by bike, as the locals do!
9. We’re easy accessible
Groningen is located very close to the German border. It’s only two hours away from Bremen, and three hours from Hamburg. You can fly to Bremen of Amsterdam (and even Groningen airport, though destinations flying to us are strict). There are direct buses between Groningen and Bremen airport.
From Bremen Airport you can fly with Ryan Air to many destinations in Europe at a very low price.
10. We’re close to the island of the Netherlands
The Wadden can be found between the city Den Helder in the Netherlands and Esbjerg in Denmark. About fifty islands and islets protect the shallow Wadden Sea. The islands are perfect for watersports, cycling, and enjoying just island life.
Tips for Dutch speakers
- More about the Dutch Island Vlieland? Check out this Dutch blog about Vlieland on Lonedrifters.nl
- More about Groningen Province and you can read Dutch? Check out this blog from yourtravelguide.com about things to do in Groningen Province.
- Want to know the best hotspots in Groningen? Check out our hotspots tested (in Dutch)