Earth : Europe : Benelux : Netherlands : Northern Netherlands : Groningen (province)
Groningen is in The Netherlands. Groningen is the northernmost state in the Netherlands. It consist of merely one big city also called Groningen. Outside the city the countryside is very flat. It is not a spectacular region, but it is quite different from the rest of busy the Netherlands.
Groningen is one of the poorest regions in the Netherlands. Agriculture used to be one of themainstays. In the past peat was being dug. Although the capital city, Groningen itself, is actually more of an student city, with two large hospitals, a university, multiple higher education facillities and a few movie theaters. Many villages have not really grown in the last century giving them a nice charm. If you have a few days to spare, try to explore. Buy fresh fish, eat smoked eels in Bourtange, take a stroll along a large (9 meters tall) statue of Lenin in Tjuchem, which was imported from the former GDR on a whim of an eccentric businessman. The large presence of extremely exploitative landowners in the east of Groningen during the late 19th and early 20th century left a relatively strong communist movement. The area is therefore regarded as the last stronghold of the communist party in the Netherlands.
Apart from agriculture there is an unsightly industrial area near the city of Delfzijl. In 1959 one of the largest natural gas fields in Europe was discovered near the village of Slochteren.
Locals talk a Nether-Saxon dialect called Gronings. English is of course widely spoken, as well as German. Especially on markets and fairs, many buyers will be German. Groning is not "poorest" it is a vibrant University City, though surrounded by much agricultural land it is by no means "poor".
It is easiest to arrive in Groningen by train into the City of Groningen. Groningen city, although on the edge of the province, is a transport hub; lines running to the north of the province join the main rail network here.
Convenient services run the south of the country. Regular services run from Utrecht, Amsterdam and Schiphol, among other locations; some are direct and some require a change at Amersfoort. From Schiphol the journey is typically 2h 30m.
Note when boarding trains to Groningen that they often divide after Zwolle, with the front half going in one direction and the rear half in another. Check with the conductor or look at the destination sign on the outside of the carriage to confirm you're on the correct section for Groningen.
Long distance buses to Lelystad are also available. Also regular connections to Emmen and Assen. Publicexpress, a German bus company from Oldenburg, offers a daily direct connection to Oldenburg, Airport Bremen and Bremen Central.
There is an airport about 10km outside the city of Groningen, in Eelde. This airport is international but quite small. Other flight connections require a train journey; Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is the biggest and best connected airport, but Bremen and Eindhoven are a similar distance away by train (2-3 hours) and are well served by budget airlines. Train tickets for these locations are typically 30 EUR one way as of the time of writing (Feb 2007). Public Express offers regular bus service from Groningen to Bremen Airport for 17 euro one way (as of June 2008). This bus also stops in Oldenburg and Bremen for those who are interested in visiting these cities.
Best way to get around the province is by car or bike. As the province is quite spread out, take a car if you have not much time to spare. Buses and trains also cross the countryside. By train, bikes can be taken during off-peak hours for a € 5,- day ticket. Folding bikes can be taken without payment. Trains all originate in Groningen City and offer regular connections to Delfzijl, Roodeschool and Winschoten. Some buses in the country side require prior reservation ("bel bus"). Another option is the so called "treintaxi", a cab that operates as a mini-bus and connects trainstations with private addresses (even in nearby villages) for just a few euro.
When in Groningen province why not try:
There are a lot of fine restaurants scattered across the province:
Less expensive, but nice:
Groningen is famous for its nightlife. Nowhere in the Netherlands will the pubs stay open longer. Especially at the area to the southeast of the "Grote Markt", like the Poelestraat, the Oosterstraat en the Peperstraat, there are a lot of pubs that stay open 'till late. Dutch pubs, student pubs, Irish pubs, bars, coffeeshops, you name it, Groningen has it.
Try café Hooghoudt at the south border of the "Grote Markt". Hooghoudt is a local liquor brand (it produces vodka and traditional dutch liqours like "Jenever") and the café acts as a barrelhouse.
In whole, Groningen is a safe place to stay. There are only a few basic rules to follow: