Things to see, do and experience in Groningen
The most famous sight in Groningen is the Martinitoren (St. Martin’s Tower), which stands tall in the city centre at a height of nearly 100 metres. View the 15th-century pipe organs in the church, and climb the 200-plus steps of the Gothic bell tower for a spectacular view of the city and a peek inside at the bells within – one of which still features a WWII bullet hole.
The tall, yellow tower of the Groninger Museum is often the first thing visitors see when arriving in Groningen. The museum displays a collection of Dutch and international modern and contemporary art, as well as various artefacts relating to the history of the city. The Noordelijk Scheepvaartmuseum (Northern Maritime Museum) is a haven for sailing enthusiasts, offering a wide collection of art, instruments, drawings and more, detailing the Netherlands’ illustrious nautical history from the Middle Ages until the present day.
Close to the Martinikerk is the Prinsenhof. Built in the 15th century and originally the property of a religious community, it later became the residence of the Nassau viceroys. Today the Prinsenhof is open to the public as a hotel and grand café. Take a stroll through the gardens – complete with topiaries and beautiful flowers – for a few moments of peace and quiet in the middle of the city.
Der Aa-kerk, with its golden tower, is located opposite the Martinikerk at the other end of the Grote Market. It no longer operates as a church, and instead can be rented as an event venue. Surrounding the building is the Vismarkt, an open area in the city centre featuring historic buildings and an almost-daily market.
Family-friendly activities in Groningen
Bring the kids along to check out some comic books in the Dutch Comic Strip Museum (Het Nederlandse Stripmuseum), dedicated to this captivating art. Much of the museum is in Dutch, but there are English-speaking guides to help. Sportcentrum Kardinge is a huge multifunctional recreation area that offers space for all types of sports: swimming, skating, tennis, squash and even 'rollersoccer'. Special family days are held throughout the week. And just around the corner is Ballorig Groningen, an indoor playground for kids.
Though almost all Dutch cities are bicycle-friendly but Groningen takes it a step further, making a bike tour of the city safe for all ages. Some group bike tours have special packages for families with young children.
Shopping in Groningen
The city centre of Groningen is also the centre of shopping, with tons of quaint shops, exclusive boutiques, large chains and daily open-air markets. Visit the Kromme Elleboog (Bent Elbow), comprising two pedestrian-only streets, for luxury shopping.
How to get to Groningen
Travelling by train from Amsterdam Central Station requires a transfer in Almere; depending on departure, you may also have to transfer in Zwolle. There are, however, direct trains from Schiphol Airport and Station Amsterdam Zuid. Trains depart frequently, often every 30 minutes or less.
Looking for more excursions outside the city? Check out these other day trips from Amsterdam.