Groningen is a city in the Netherlands with 190,000 inhabitants and is the capital of the northern province of Groningen. Groningen was founded around 950 A.D. at the site of a Roman camp and has a rich history, which can clearly be seen from the old medieval buildings in the down town 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 these 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 later switched sides, 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").
The city did not escape the devastation of World War II. In particular, the main square, Grote Markt, was largely destroyed in April 1945, at the Battle of Groningen. However, the Martinitoren, its church, the Goudkantoor, and the city hall were not damaged. The battle there lasted several days.
The airport of Groningen (IATA: GRQ) is connected by Ryanair to some European airports, e.g. Girona airport (twice weekly). Also Flybe runs a connection from London Southend six days a week. In summer, more flights are available, though most of them are charters. City bus 2 serves the airport (50 minutes to town, single tickets available from the driver). Locals say that it takes about 20-30 minutes from airport to city center.
Groningen has three train stations, the central station (Station Groningen), Groningen Europapark and Groningen Noord. All trains eventually arrive at the central station; only a few trains stop at the smaller stations.
There is an hourly NS-train between Groningen and Schiphol (2h)/Den Haag (2h30m), and an hourly train between Groningen and Utrecht (2h)/Rotterdam (2h40m). These trains alternate; if you need the other destination, just cross the platform in Zwolle. Amsterdam Centraal can be reached with one change (2h20m) in either Lelystad or Amersfoort. A regional line runs west to Leeuwarden, which takes 50 minutes by slow train (twice an hour), or 35 minutes by fast train (once an hour). Other regional lines (all operated by Arriva) run to Delfzijl and Roodeschool. The entire tracks take about 40 minutes and all stop in Groningen Noord as well.
There is an hourly international connection that terminates in Leer Bahnhof (Germany). Once over the border, you can change line to reach Bremen, Hamburg and Hanover. Note that the train to Leer is very local and takes about 1h15m to travel between the two stations. Tickets can be bought in the ticket distribution machines or at the Arriva desk at the main station of Groningen.
Since 2013, this route can also be part of an "Europa-Spezial". Booking must be made at least three days in advance, price from 19,- (depends on distance in Germany, 19,- is possible just past Bremen). However, this route is only available offline and at DB ticket machines (as of June 2013) - the price won't show up online!
Driving in the old city, particularly within the central canal ring, is not the best option; parking is not always easy to find, and none of it is free.
There are several Park & Ride facilities; once of the biggest 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 1,50 euro a regular bus service takes you right to (and from) the Grote Markt, the heart of the city.
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.
Getting from any place in Groningen to the centre will take at most 20 minutes by bike. 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 so use a good lock (preferably two).
Bicycles are available for rent at a number of places around town, including a facility in the Central Station.
If you haven't got a bike the bus is the best option for distances you don't want to walk. All buses, which are operated by Qbuzz (www.qbuzz.nl), 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) or see the OV-chipkaart sections on the Netherlands page for other payment methods.
Line 3 runs from Vinkhuizen to Lewenborg via Kraneweg, Westerhaven, the Aa-Kerk, the Central Station, the Grote Markt, UMCG (hospital), JC Kapteijnlaan and Kardinge
Line 6 runs from Hoornsemeer to Beijum via the Martini hospital, Paterswoldseweg, the Central Station, the Grote Markt, UMCG (hospital), JC Kapteijnlaan and Kardinge
Line 11 runs from Central Station to Zernike via Grote Markt, the northern train station (Station Noord) and Paddepoel
Line 15 runs from the Central Station to Zernike via the Aa-Kerk and the Noorderplantsoen and Paddepoel.
Line 20 runs from the Central Station to Europapark (and Stadium Euroborg, the Groningen FC soccer stadium)
Line 1/2 runs from the Central Station to the Korreweg/Indische buurt, Selwerd and Station Noord (northern train station).
Line 8 runs from Central station via UMCG (hospital) to the Oosterpark.
Like most cities in The Netherlands, Groningen's city centre is surrounded by a canal. And like most cities in Europe, Groningen's museums are generally closed on Mondays. With those points in mind, here are some of the interesting sights:
The Groninger Museum. Just opposite train/bus station. Spectacular architecture. Hosts state of the art of contemporary art in the world. One of the five most progressive modern/contemporary art collections in the world.
Het Noordelijk Scheepvaartmuseum. The northern museum of water transport. Shows the history and role of transport over water until the 1970s.
Synagogue. The synagogue was built after the oriental design of the New Synagogue in Berlin. Shortly after WWII the Jewish community was forced to sell the synagogue since only a mere 7% of the entire Jewish community of Groningen survived the war. In 1981 the building was renovated and rehabilitated.
The Universiteitsmuseum is a 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.
The Aa-kerk. Beautiful church built in the middle ages.
The 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, both in and out of town, the Academiegebouw is an old and attractive building with a tower and worth strolling past.
The Grote Markt (great market) and the Vismarkt (fish market) are two large market squares in the center of the city.
There are several late-medieval Guest Houses (Gasthuizen) scattered through the city centre within the ring of canals. During daylight hours these 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. Visitors are welcome in the courtyards. Access is through gated doorways that will be unlocked during daylight hours and locked during the evening/night. The largest one is in the Pelsterstraat, next to the church and consists of several courtyards connected through archways. Another one is located behind the Vroom and Dreesman shopping centre in the Rode Weeshuisstraat (Red Orphanage Street). In the Peperstraat, near the end on the left when viewed from the Poelestraat, is the Peperstraat Guest House. Part of the medieval city wall is still visible from the courtyard. The St. Anthony Guesthouse is located opposite the police headquarters on the Rademarkt just south of Zuiderdiep.
The Old Roman Catholic Hospital or ORKZ when it was still in service
Oude RKZ, Old Roman Catholic Hospital. This is an old Roman Catholic hospital in the South of the city, 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 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 hrs and the number for the reservations is +31505257601.
Take a guided bike tour: the best way to discover Groningen.
Climb the Martini tower for a nice view over the city. It's one of the most famous sites in Groningen. Its name has nothing to do with the drink, by the way but refers to Saint Martinus. Though 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.
Take a canal cruisearound the historical center.
Like many Dutch cities, Groningen has beautiful canals around the centre. From the 1st of April until the 1st of Oktober it's possible to 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 (or if you're standing at the right side when the bridge opens vertically). 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.* 't Peddeltje kanoverhuur, Oosterbrug (coming from the centre it's on the right side of the bridge, walk to the middle of the bridge and then down the stairs), ☎ 050-3130661, . 11:00 - 19:00. € 8 - 20. edit - GPS: N53° 12' 49.4274" E 6° 34' 25.215"
Walk in het Noorderplantsoen on a sunny day, this is the place to relax after a hard day's work for a lot of students.
Visit the Noorderzon open-air theatrefestival in the second half of August, art, comedy, dance and theatre in the Noorderplantsoen.
See a band at Vera underground pop club, where Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, the White Stripes and many others performed.
Visit the annual Eurosonic  and/or Noorderslag  music festivals, where dozens of bands from all over the world perform on various stages spread throughout the city.
The Dutch cartoon museum or 'Het Nederlands Stripmuseum' as it is called in Dutch (funny fact: strip = cartoon) has opened in 2004 and shows many cartoons made by Dutch cartoonists. It's also suitable to visit with children (not least because there's a McDonalds next-door with a play area), but also because they can learn how to draw cartoons by themselves. Het Nederlands Stripmuseum, Westerhaven 71, ☎ 050-3178470 (email@example.com), . +/- € 7.-. (N 53° 12' 57.351,E 6° 33' 24.015)edit
Friday Fun Skate, (the start and finish of the tour are always at the oval pool in the Noorderplantsoen park), . gathering from 19:45, departure at 20:00. Every 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. GPS: N 53° 13' 25.1364" E 6° 33' 19.6128"costs: free. edit
Take a free bus-ride on the National Day of Architecture organised on Saturday around 21st of June by GRAS-platfrom. Buses leave from Stadsschouwburg on Turfsingel from 11AM. on. Buses will take you to some highlights of newest architecture.
The Herestraat, the city's 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, de Bijenkorf, and so on.
Other shopping streets (Oosterstraat, A-kerkhof / Brugstraat, Folkingestraat, Stoeldraaierstraat / Oude Kijk in 't Jatstraat) extend out from the Grote Markt and the Vismarkt. Their side streets (Zwanestraat, Grote Kromme Elleboog) are often worth a look too. 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 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.
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. It used also to have the best home made chocolate shop in town. However, that's now moved round the corner to...
... Grote Kromme Elleboog, which also has shops selling beer, herbs and spices, coffee, cooking utensils etc.
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.
De Balk, Thomassen Thuessinklaan 7. Got a prize for "Best Eetcafe".
De Zevende Hemel (Seventh Heaven), Zuiderkerkstraat 7 (north of the centre, near the Nieuwe Kerk). Excellent food and wine but quite pricey; a good place to go treat yourself.edit
Eeterie De Globe, A-Kerkhof 22, 3 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.
Eetcafé 't Koetshuys, Blekerstraat 22-24, ☎ +31(0)50 310511, . 17:00 till 21:30. A nice little restaurant at only 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.edit
FEBO, Vismarkt 1 (On the corner of the Vismarkt), ☎ +31 (0)50-313-3102, . Opening hours vary; min. 1pm - midnight (Sun.), max. 11:30am - 7am (Sat.). In 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.€1.50 - €2.70. edit
Fuji-Tei, Poelestraat 39-41 (200m down Poelestraat from the Grote Markt), ☎ +31(0)50-318-9696, . 14:00-23:00 Mon-Sun. Respectable, tasty Japanese and Korean food. The all-you-can-eat deals are excellent value for money. Fuji-Tei is somewhat cheaper than its sister restaurant Fujiyama, a teppanyaki restaurant on the corner of the Grote Markt - though if you want showmanship with your dinner, Fujiyama is the place to go.edit
Humphrey's, Vismarkt 42, . avg. price 3 courses à la carte €18.
Land van Kokanje on Oude Boteringestraat for big and great lunch-salads (less than €10).
Mr. Mofongo's, Oude Boteringestraat 26 (from Grote Markt walk towards the western end en turn right into Oude Boteringestraat. Mr Mofongo's is on the left hand side after aproximately 150 meters.), ☎ +3150 3144266, . 11 am-10pm. Fusion-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.edit
PUUR! (Natural Food), Folkingestraat 13, ☎ 050-3116175 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . A hip café that offers amazing food and drinks. On sunny day, you can sit outside in the back garden. It gets quite crowded on Saturdays.edit
Spring's, Grote Markt 30/33, . avg. price 3 courses à la carte €15.
't Feithhuis, Martinikerkhof 10, ☎ +31(0)50-313-5335, . 10.30AM-10.30PM. Close to the Martini tower and Grote Markt, this cafe-restaurant is sited in a historic building, and serves excellent locally sourced food.Dinner around €40 per head including drinks. edit
't Pannekoekschip, Schuitendiep 1017 (It's a masted sailing ship moored on the inner side of the Schuitendiep canal - you can't miss it), ☎ +31(0)50-312-0045, . 12:00-21:00 Mon-Sun. Unashamedly touristy, the Pannekoekschip ("pancake ship") is an old sailing ship that's been turned into a pancake restaurant, serving huge and delicious Dutch pancakes.€8.50 - €13 for a savoury or sweet pancake. edit
Thai Jasmine, Schuitendiep 78 (On the outer side of the Schuitendiep canal, roughly opposite the Pannekoekschip), ☎ +31(0)50-312-3416. Kitchen open 17:00-22:00 Mon-Sun. A fantastic, authentic little Thai restaurant just outside the inner canal ring. Often very full, but you can often wait at the bar until a table becomes available.edit
Ugly Duck, Zwanestraat 28, . Main courses including bowl of salad, baked potatoes, vegetables from €10.50. Really good!
Lambik, Grote Kruisstraat 73, This small restaurant serves one meat dish 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.
De Kleine Moghul, Nieuwe Boteringestraat 62, . This tatty-looking small Indian restaurant has an all-indian staff, you can only pay cash and there is no English menu. The food is stunningly good, well worth a visit.
Vroom & Dreesmann department store , Grote Markt 21, has a cafeteria "La Place" on the top floor with an outdoor terrace.
The Free Cafe, Friesestraatweg 137a, . The Free Cafe is a socially engaged community art project which combines large-scale cooperative generosity, creativity and eco friendly work methods to build pathways around the financial system, to relieve the pressure of social status and make people smile. The Cafe is created for free so that it can serve meals for free. Housed inside an old greenhouse and built entirely from upcycled and recycled materials, The Free Cafe is a fresh and unique experience. Come in and enjoy some freshly baked sour dough bread with vegetable soup and fresh mint tea- for free. $Free. edit
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.
Big parties (usually with electronic music) in the whole Netherlands can be found listed on Partyflock (in Dutch).
De Pintelier, traditional Belgian pub serving a plethora of kinds of beer and whisk(e)y. Located at the Kleine Kromme Elleboog 9, and open daily from 3pm, closing at 2am Sun - Thurs and at 3am Fri and Sat.
Cafe de Koffer, another "speciaalbier" pub, at Nieuwe Blekerstraat 1. Lots of bottled beers, as well as 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. Open daily from 4pm to 3am.
Der Witz, a German pub located on the Grote Markt in a very small building. Serving many kinds of beer.
De Spieghel, jazz pub in the Peperstraat with free and usually good live performances at most evenings starting around eleven o'clock. From Sunday until Wednesday performances are on the second level, which is a smaller, cosier bar and it gives you a more intimate performance. From Thursday until Saturday all performances are downstairs, which is a larger bar with a stage and the performances tend to be bigger (larger band). Relaxed atmosphere any evening. Guests who are at the bar downstairs may even choose the upcoming music from the jukebox.
Het Kasteel, a compact international student hangout on Peperstraat. Sells Jäger and other shots for 1€ and 13-beer 'zwaardje' ('a sword') for 10€.
D'Ouwe Brandweer, on Zuiderdiep opposite Pathe-cinema.
Huis de Beurs, on corner of Vismarkt. Has made a come-back and is very trendy now. Live piano music in the evening. The first Dutch socialst party was founded here.
Cafe Atlantis, on O.K. i.h. Jatstraat opposite Faculty of Law. Dark, narrow place, mainly men, for playing chess and other games. Drinks very cheap.
De Prinsentuin In summertime there is a nice terrace in a rose garden.
De Drie Gezusters, (Three Sisters). On the Grote Markt, . Possibly the largest bar in the Netherlands as well as in Europe. Many bars connected in a mazelike fashion; has several facades on the Grote Markt that look like separate bars, but don't let that deceive you.
De Kosterij, in a corner of the Grote Markt, next to the Martinitoren, . Family style. Nice terrace in summertime.
Wolthoorn & Co. Turftorenstraat 6. Voted best pub in the Netherlands for several years.
Het Feithhuis, next to the Martini Tower, . "Liberal" atmosphere. A good place to have lunch.
El Rubio, in Zwanestraat. Owner "Joop" only likes male gay guests.
Newscafe, on Tussen de Markten. Nice terrace in the summer, good coffee, quite trendy.
Vera, self-proclaimed club for the international pop underground and indeed there are good concerts and parties, check out their site . Nirvana played here before they were big, still the pride of Groningen. Local high school crowd doesn't bother to turn up until 3 AM for parties at Saturday nights. Entrance €1/month.
Simplon, a bit outside the center at the Boterdiep, this ex-squat is now a podium for sometimes alternative concerts. Also electronic music like house, dubstep and drum'n'bass. Hosts e.g. a very popular monthly event called Technootjes and international DJs. Again, check their website  for what's happening.
O'Cealleighs, an irish pub on Kattendiep. Small pub, but good atmosphere; the place people go to play a bit of Irish folk of an evening.
De Zolder (The Attic), Papengang 3A. Cosy stoner hang-out up a flight of stairs with reggae music and pool table.
De Kar (The Cart), Peperstraat 15. Bar with mirrored dancefloor. Great place to have a beer and dance to cool alternative tunes. Tends to be either empty or completely crowded.
Shadrak Experience the grat atmosphere. Student night on Thursday 10 beer for 10euros and tequila shots for 2euros. One of the clubs which is open till the morning! Peperstraat 19.
Kokomo Beachclub, Gelkingestraat (Corner of the Grote Markt), . One 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. edit
Groningen also has a few excellent coffeeshops, where you can buy and smoke cannabis products at a reasonable price. NB! Alcohol is not served in any of the coffeeshops and ironically smoking only cigarettes is frowned upon as the Netherlands has introduced the smoking ban some years ago even though quite a few bars are increasingly ignoring this ban.
The Glory, It is closed.
Dees, Papengang 3, . A 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.
Metamorphose, Oude Boteringestraat. Nice and little alternative shop, with mostly biological stuff. They serve a large variety of fresh tea.
Driemaster, , Nieuweweg. Has the same owner as Dees.
Dr. Anders, a pick-up coffeeshops Gelkingestraat near Grote Markt (the main square).
Upper 10, Steentilstraat. You can get very nice stuff here but the place itself is a bit shady.
Oasis, on Meeuwwerderweg (only open till 7PM and not on Sundays) - which has good marijuana but is quite expensive. Nice café area makes up for it. Also a couple of tables outside during the summer time.
De Vliegende Hollander,Great stuff on Zuiderdiep opposite the Pathé cinema, . Inside there's a smoking room but no real hangout space.
Medley, (on Zuiderdiep next to Pathé cinema just opposite to Vliegende Hollander). A good cheap coffee shop, where at least Dutch & Arabic are spoken by the staff. I managed with English too just enough to get what I needed. This is just a pick up coffee shop. Can't smoke inside or stay there but it's quite cheap. Joints for €3,00 also many kinds of hash (maroc, afgan..)for about €5-€6 & weed/wiet: powerplant, sneeuwwitje (snow white), afgaan (afghan) 6, 10 or 20 dollars in my pocket.edit
The Clown on Folkingestraat (a nice shopping street between Zuiderdiep and Vismarkt).
The Happy Damsterdiep 5. Same owner as the Upper 10. Good quality but the place is a bit shady & it looks like all local criminals hang out here.
Stee in Stad, Boterdiep 111, . editA special hotel; three houses have been transformed into a hotel. In each house there are three rooms. Every room has a different theme. Prices start at €69 for a single, €95 for a double.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!