A Day Trip From Amsterdam
Groningen is the capital city of the equally named province and is the largest city in the northern part of the Netherlands. It’s a typically historical Dutch city with beautiful buildings and, of course, canals. Despite lots of buildings being destroyed during WO II, there are still plenty historical buildings left to check out. From Amsterdam, Groningen is a little over 2 hours by train and it’s a lovely city to visit on a day trip. In this blog, we’re sharing all things to do during a one day trip to Groningen.
The most famous sightseeing spot in Groningen is the Martinitoren (Martini Tower). The Martinitoren is 96,8m, and with that it’s the tallest tower in Groningen. Construction of the tower started in 1469 and was finished in 1553 or 1554. In 1577, the tower caught fire and partially collapsed. Plans to restore the tower were immediately made, but because of the Eighty Years’ War, the restoration of the tower started much later, in 1627. Until 1921, the tower was used as a watchtower for fire watchers. Nowadays, it’s possible to climb the tower and enjoy the view over Groningen. Unfortunately, we didn’t climb the tower during our visit to Groningen, but it’s something we’d love to do next time!
Due to precautions taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, climbing the Martinitoren is currently only possible on a guided tour. Tours are held every hour and last 45 minutes. Reservations need to be made in advance. Check this website for more information.
Price: €6,– (adult)
The Martinitoren is attached to the Martinikerk (Martini Church), which is another famous sightseeing spot in Groningen. The Martinikerk is the oldest church in Groningen and parts of the church date from the first half of the 13th century. In the beginning of the 15th century, the church was expanded. Inside the church, you can look at the organs and the paintings on the vault and walls. The main organ is one of the largest baroque organs in the world. The oldest wall painting dates from 1250 and pictures Maria on Solomon’s throne. Currently, the church is often used by the University of Groningen for exams and official organisations. It’s also an official wedding location. On Sundays, church services are held.
Due to precautions taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, opening hours of the Martinikerk are currently limited to visitors. Reservations in advance are required. Check this website for more information.
Entrance fee: €1,50
Closed to visitors on Mondays, Fridays and weekends.
Martinikerkhof (Martini Graveyard) is a large square next to the Martinikerk. It’s a former graveyard and up until the 1970s, the square was used as a parking place. Nowadays, it looks more like a little park with lots of greenery. From the Martinikerkhof, you have a beautiful view of the Martinikerk and it’s the perfect spot to take a photo. Martinikerkhof is surrounded by historical buildings and it’s a lovely area to walk around.
Located at the Martinikerkhof is the Provinciehuis (House of the Province), which houses the administrative seat of the Province Groningen. The building dates from the beginning of the 20th century. It’s a beautiful building and worth taking a look at when you’re at the Martinikerkhof.
North of the Martinikerkhof, you can find the Gardepoort (literally translated: Whisk Gate) that leads to the Turfstraat. The gate dates from 1639 and we thought it looked so cute. We loved taking a photo of the gate from the Turfstraat.
Northwest of the Martinikerkhof, you can find the Sint Walburgstraat which is a small street filled with beautiful historical buildings. There’s nothing special in particular about these buildings, but we loved taking a photo of the pretty houses.
The A (yes, just the letter A) is a canal in Groningen and is also referred to as Aa. The A is a lovely area to walk around in, as it’s filled with beautiful buildings. The street on the east side of the canal is called “Hoge der A” and the street on the west side is called “Lage der A”. Back in the day, ships docked at Hoge der A during high tide and Lage der A during low tide. Nowadays, there’s no tide influence in the A anymore. It’s absolutely worth walking around this area and snapping the majestic canal buildings.
Other canals worth walking around in the city center of Groningen are Noorderhaven and Reitdiep.
Der Aa-kerk (The Aa Church) is located close to the A canal. It’s a medieval church built between 1425 and 1492. The tower of Der Aa-kerk is 76m tall. In 1710, the tower collapsed out of nowhere and a new tower was built in 1711. During the last renovation in 1982, the color scheme of the tower was changed from light grey and blue to ocher yellow. Currently, the church is used as a location for gatherings and events. No church services are held in Der Aa-kerk anymore.
De Korenbeurs (literally translated: Grain Exchange) used to be a place where grain was exchanged. It had this function until 1980. The building was built between 1862 and 1865 and was very modern for its time with a cast iron construction and lots of natural light. The natural light was important for approving the quality grain. Nowadays, the building houses an Albert Heijn supermarket. It’s a beautiful building and absolutely worth checking out. If you happen to be in Groningen during sunset, the square in front of the Korenbeurs is also the perfect place to watch the sunset. We didn’t expect to find such a great sunset spot in the middle of the city center, but you do have a good view of the sky.
The square in front of the Korenbeurs is called Vismarkt (Fish Market). The name refers to the fish market that used to and is still held there regularly. When we visited on a Sunday, there were two fish stalls on the square. At these fish stalls you can buy fresh fish and fried fish snacks. Typically Dutch fish snacks include “kibbeling” (fried white fish with herbs) and “broodje haring” (herring roll). It’s the perfect opportunity to try these snacks. We got a portion of kibbeling and it was the perfect snack after a day of sightseeing.
Reitdiephaven is a colorful harbor located outside the city center of Groningen. The colorful houses almost make it feel like you’re at a tropical location, such as Willemstad. Too bad we visited in January and it was very cold (the water in the harbor was frozen), so no tropical vibes for us. We visited Groningen by car and went to Reitdiephaven before going into the city center. If you’re not visiting by car, you can go here by bus which takes around half an hour from the city center of Groningen. We loved taking photos at this colorful spot, and if you’re into photos like this, it might be worth the detour. The colorful backdrop especially works well on Instagram.
Groningen is a lovely city to go shopping in. There is a good diversity of stores and the shopping area isn’t too big, which is perfect. We loved combining our sightseeing day with some shopping.
Getting around Groningen
All the sightseeing spots in Groningen are in the city center and it’s easy to get to them. Reitdiephaven is the only spot that isn’t in the city center but it’s well-connected by bus. If you’re staying in the city center, there’s no need to use the public transport.
How to get to Groningen
Groningen is easy to get to by train. If you’re staying in Amsterdam, you can take the train to Groningen, which takes 2 to 2,5 hours. From Amsterdam, you have to switch trains either at Almere Center or Schiphol Airport. Direct trains are leaving from Schiphol and take a little over 2 hours.
You can also visit Groningen by car. Both from Amsterdam and Schiphol the drive takes around 2 hours. You can also consider staying in Groningen and visit other interesting places in the North Netherlands.
We hope we’ve inspired you to visit Groningen during your stay in the Netherlands. Have you been to the Netherlands or is it on your bucket list? Let us know in the comments below!
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