Searching for the top things to do in Groningen, Netherlands? Keep reading for a complete guide on the top things to do, see, and experience in this stunning Dutch city.
When you think of the Netherlands, what comes to mind? Amsterdam, right? Well, did you know that nestled at the top of the Netherlands is Groningen, a city dubbed “Little Amsterdam”? With canals running through the city, its very own Red Light District, and people riding around on bikes, it feels like you’re in Amsterdam, but there are a few hundred thousand fewer people!
To break it down for you, Groningen is a university city situated in the north of the Netherlands near the German border. Students actually make up ¼ of the 200,000 population, which makes it a young and lively city with so much to see and experience.
This post covers the top things to do in Groningen and how to make the most of this charming town.
This is a guest post from Jasmine, the owner of the travel blog Kiwi Talks Travel.
(Disclaimer: Some links in this post may be affiliate links, meaning if you click on the link and make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you and you may even receive a small discount. See disclosure for more information.)
9 Best Things to do in Groningen
Explore The City By Bike
Groningen is an extremely bike-friendly city. No, really. Cars aren’t allowed in the city center, which makes it safe and easy for people on bikes to get around.
There are many places to rent bikes throughout the city, so you aren’t short on options! Just find a bike rental place and you can hop on a bike and explore in the most Dutch way possible. Biking in Groningen is much like biking in Amsterdam, so use this guide to brush up on the rules of the road.
Wander Through The Noorderplantsoen
What’s great about Groningen is that it feels like a city, but as soon as you step into the Noorderplantsoen, you feel worlds away.
Situated on the northern outskirts of the town centre, the Noorderplantsoen is a great place to spend the afternoon. Take a blanket, some snacks and drinks, and enjoy a picnic on the grass in summer, or wander through the snow-covered pathways in winter!
Climb The Martinitoren (Martini Tower)
If you’re looking for the best views in Groningen, then head to the Martinitoren. This marvelous structure is located in the famous Grote Markt and cannot be missed. The Martinitoren is a 96-meter tall tower, one of the highest in the Netherlands, and offers spectacular views over the town square and beyond.
It only costs a few euros for you to enter the tower and climb the stairs to the top! This is one of the top things to do in Groningen that should be on every visitor to do list.
Visit The Groninger Museum
One of the most unique and memorable buildings in all of Groningen has to be the Groninger Museum. This is a famous and lusted after museum and visiting it is one of the things to do in Groningen.
Located directly across from Groningen Central Station at the southern end of the city, the Groninger Museum is one of the most technologically advanced art galleries in the entire country!
The architecture of the building may be what draws you in. Still, once you step inside, you are greeted with phenomenal modern and contemporary art from local Groningen artists as well as international artists!
With free entry for students and only €7,50 for adults, the Groninger Museum definitely warrants a visit!
Wander Through The Markets
In the center of Groningen, you’ll find the Grote Markt (large market) in the town square, and a few hundred meters away, see the Vismarkt (fish market).
Every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday (9 am – 5 pm), both the Grote Markt and Vismarkt are filled with stands of vegetables, fruit, cheese, flowers, fish, and other groceries!
On Sundays (1 pm – 5 pm), the Grote Markt is more of a general market, selling everything from food to scarves! Strolling the market and looking at the various stalls selling local goods is one of the top things to do in Groningen.
See The Beautiful Reitdiephaven Houses
If you’re in a mood for a change of scenery, why not go for a bike ride to Reitdiephaven?
Located on the north-western outskirts of the city, Reitdiephaven is a marina lined with colourful houses.
On the weekends, you can wander through the markets, buy a stroopwafel, and marvel at the beautiful homes!
Where To Eat in Groningen
Since Groningen is a university town, you can expect to find a plethora of cute cafes and restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat!
Here are some of the best places to eat in Groningen:
- Buurman & Buurman – the place to fill yourself up on delicious pizza!
- El Santo – scrumptious Mexican-style tapas!
- De Uurwerker – a hidden bar/restaurant with a range of drinks and food on offer!
- De Pastafabriek – watch them make your favorite pasta dishes!
- Little Lovely Living – for over-the-top milkshakes and sweet treats!
- Vismarkt – pick up some fresh fish from the fish market!
- ‘t Pannekoekschip – for tasty Dutch pancakes!
Where To Drink in Groningen
Of course, being a town full of students, it’s full of bars that serve up delicious drinks, cocktails, and even shots! Heading to one of the drinking hot spots to sit and enjoy the atmosphere is one of the best things to do in Groningen.
- Mr Mofongo – get your gin, whiskey, or rum poured by a robot arm!
- Chupitos – with over 100 different shots to choose from, Chupitos is the place to be!
- De Uurwerker – go for dinner, stay for drinks, and watch the night come alive with a DJ booth and drinks flowing all night!
- De Drie Gezusters – right in the town centre you’ll find De Drie Gezusters (Three Sisters), where you can sit outside with a cold drink and watch the world go by!
- De Pintelier – head here for a quiet drink and choose from over 100 beers!
Day Trips from Groningen
Only a one-hour train ride from Groningen, vising Giethoorn (Venice of the Netherlands) is a perfect day trip option. As you’d expect, like Venice, Giethoorn is full of stunning canals and bridges (180 to be exact!).
The small village’s primary form of transport is along the canals, and many of the gorgeous houses you see in the photos can only be accessed via these canals. Giethoorn is one of the most picturesque places in the Netherlands, and since it’s so close to Groningen, there’s no excuse not to visit for a day trip! A quick trip over to Giethoorn is one of the most popular things to do in Groningen and something you do not want to miss.
A quick 30-minute train ride west takes you to Leeuwarden, a university town famous for its beautiful, historic architecture. One of the best ways to see and experience what this charming town has to offer is by wandering through it on foot!
Since it’s also a university town, you have an array of bars and restaurants to choose from! Grab a beer and a pizza and enjoy your time in Leeuwarden.
An advantage of Groningen being in a small country and near the German border is that it makes it easy to go on a border-cross day trip!
One of the closest German towns to Groningen is Bremen, which is only a two-hour bus ride from Groningen. You can opt to visit Leer, which is a German town on the border, which is only a one-hour train ride, but there isn’t much to see.
Taking a day trip Bremen, especially near Christmas is a must! Not only will you be in a different country, but you will also be able to experience real German Christmas markets, delicious German food, and maybe even see some snow!
How to get to Groningen
The best way to get to this city is by train. It’s a two-hour ride from Amsterdam that takes you right into the heart of Groningen. Even though it may be a small city compared to Amsterdam, Groningen is packed full of amazing sights to see, delicious food to eat, and exciting things to experience.
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Whether it’s sipping on a cold beer on a warm summer afternoon, riding through the town centre, or climbing the Martinitoren, the beautiful university city of Groningen has a lot to offer.
Often overlooked by Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Utrecht, Groningen has so much charm and is just waiting to be discovered. As you can see there are a ton of things to do in Groningen, all exciting and new!
Will you make it to Groningen on your next visit to the Netherlands?
This is a guest post from Jasmine, the owner of the travel blog Kiwi Talks Travel.
Jasmine is a travel blogger from New Zealand currently living in Australia. During her time at university, she moved to Groningen to study a semester of Journalism, and loved it! Living so far away from home opened up her eyes and made her even more passionate about travel. After returning home, she knew she wanted to put her two passions together; travel and writing, so she started her blog Kiwi Talks Travel, to help other travellers out there make the most of their experiences in New Zealand, Australia, and beyond! Follow her adventures on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook!
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