When you think of city trips and weekend getaways, it’s easy to just fall back on the classics: London, Berlin, Barcelona, Paris, and the like. But today, I have an unusual, but really exciting weekend destination for you – one that I can almost guarantee was not on your radar until now: Groningen in the Netherlands!
This past weekend, I was invited to join an international bloggers’ meetup, initiated by the two ladies behind the Groningen-based blog Not So Stuffy, to meet a bunch of fellow bloggers from London, Düsseldorf, Berlin, Gdansk, Hamburg, and Oldenburg and to experience the city of Groningen for a couple of days.
Fun fact: my parents just bought a summer house in the Northern part of Germany, about an hour and a half away from Groningen- so this was the perfect opportunity for me to scout out the city for future trips.
I really enjoyed the weekend – it’s always great to meet fellow bloggers, and to bounce around ideas. Plus, Groningen is a really fun city – 55,000 of its 200,000 inhabitants are students, which gives the city a great, fun vibe. The city center is relatively small and walkable, yet full of charm. I’ve collected some of my tips below, but there’ll be a separate foodie guide coming up later on!
How to get there
As of September 2016, getting to Groningen from Copenhagen could not be easier, as there’s now a new direct flight connection, operated by Adria Airways, 11 times per week. It takes just under an hour in a tiny plane until you touch down at Groningen Airport Eelde (which may be the smallest and most efficient airport I’ve ever traveled to/ from). The airport itself is located about 15km from the city. The trip takes about 25min by shuttle bus to the Central Station (€ 10).
Where to stay
I stayed at the Asgard Hotel, a smaller, boutique-style hotel. It’s located very centrally – about a 10min walk from the Central Station. Everything you need in the city center is in walking distance – about 10min to Folkingestraat and Vismarket, 15min to Grote Markt, and 15min to the university quarter. I walked everywhere during my stay.
The hotel itself is modern and minimalistic (the interior, like the entire city of Groningen, had a bit of a Scandi vibe to me), but has everything you need. I really liked the bed and mattress, and major bonus points for a large bathroom with floor heating! Breakfast can be booked at the hotel. Rates start at € 89 per night for a double room.
What to see
Groningen’s most famous landmark is the Martini Tower. You can climb up the narrow spiral staircase for a great view over the entire city.
Just behind the Martini Tower is the area of Martinikerkhof, a little, super cute and picturesque park that invites for a stroll. A short walk from there is the Prince’s Garden, Prinsentuin, a beautiful garden area with archways, roses, and little mazes.
At the center of Groningen is the Great Market, Grote Markt. This is also where all the shopping streets come together. Grote Markt is also one of the epicenters of Groningen’s nightlife, with many popular pubs and clubs scattered about.
Close to Grote Markt is Vismarkt, the fish market. On Saturday, I experienced the market stands selling fresh fish, produce, cheese, specialties, and street food. It’s definitely worth a visit!
Groningen used to be a popular destination for pilgrims, and there are many hostels from that time. One of them is Geertruidsgasthuis, which has been transformed from a place where religious travelers rested their heads to the cutest little residential area. It’s usually closed off to the public, but we were lucky to be let in with our walking tour guides. It’s absolutely beautiful, with quaint little houses and a lovely garden area. If you are able to, definitely check it out.
Where to shop
Groningen’s city center isn’t big, but that doesn’t mean there are no opportunities to get rid of some cold, hard cash! There are a couple of streets that I’d suggest you stroll along. The first of those is Folkingestraat, which used to be the Jewish quarter. Today, there are loads of cute little interior, decorations, and fashion stores and boutiques, along with some cute cafes and restaurants. At Cadeautje, you’ll find gifts and decor items; taste the typical Dutch pepernoten cookies at Van Delfs Pepernotenfabriek, and grab a coffee at BAQ Brood & Café.
If you continue your trajectory up Folkingestraat and across Vismarket, you’ll get to the university district and Oude Kijk in Het Jatstraat (yes, that’s a street name – say that three times fast!). Apart from some great coffee stores and lunch places (more on that in a separate post), you’ll find interior design stores Kastanje and Holtbar, as well as some second hand and antique stores.
South of Grote Markt, you’ll find Herestraat, where most of the high street fashion stores are located (think Zara, Vero Moda, Hunkemöller, and so on). Two streets to the East is Oosterstraat, which seemed to me to have more individual boutiques. There are a number of design and furniture stores – one that especially caught my eye is Little Lovely Living, which was chock-full with cute, girly accessories, posters, and other decoration items.
Where to party
For a night out with the students of Groningen, head to the area of Poelestraat and Peperstraat – this is where all the bars, night clubs, and hangouts are located. Try Het Concerthuis for a laid-back atmosphere – we had drinks here the first night for the bloggers meet-up. According to our walking tour guide, De Negende Spiegel is where the Dutch people dance on the tables, and Nachtcafé Warhol is the place to be after 2am.
Have you been to Groningen, or are you planning a trip? Let me know in the comments below!
Disclaimer: This trip was sponsored by Groningen City Marketing, Groningen Airport Eelde, and the Asgard Hotel. All opinions are my own.