" /> Groningen as a weekend trip - nonsoloamore
Monday, 2 October, 2023

Read this in: German

After all, in the Netherlands one thinks of cities like Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Utrecht. But at least for me as a German, Groningen is a goal that’s just around the corner for me. Sometimes we travel across Europe, but not there, which is the most obvious. So I finally took the time to study this city.

Also, if you are not traveling by train, you should take a look at the beautiful train station in Groningen. Of course this is not as bombastic as his colleague in Amsterdam. But even this station premature the charm of yesteryear, especially the concourse.

To stare upwards is not only allowed in the concourse of the Groningen central station. You just can not take your eyes off the splendor of this ceiling, which reminds me of many an English mansion. This sight is especially beautifully rounded off by the Christmas tree during the Advent season. Here, however, I must confess that this tree is unfortunately a fake. Nevertheless, he looks very impressive and is also a popular photo opportunity.

The thing with the journey

Basically, you can drive from Oldenburg to Groningen within 1 1/2 hours by car. By train, though, it’s a bit more complicated. As the drawbridge over the Ems is currently defective, a rail replacement service is operating. I would therefore recommend you to book an IC ticket, because then you can drive from Leer with a fast bus directly to Groningen. This is much better than the rail traffic between Leer and Weener. If you do not come from northern Germany, you can simply drive an ICE or IC. From Munich you can fly to Groningen.


For us from the Northern Western Germany it is almost not worthwhile to spend the night in Groningen. So far, unfortunately, we have not found a hotel that has really convinced me in or near Groningen, but should I find one, then I’ll keep you up to date. We were several times since last October in Groningen and have stayed several times in hotels, sometimes right on the highway, sometimes in the city center, but so far, price / performance has never worked 100% with us. So if you really need to travel no more than 2-3 hours, you might consider making Groningen a day trip. Anyone who wants to stay longer or make a round trip anyway and anyway by car or train is on the lookout for overnight accommodation outside of Groningen.

Especially in the Advent season, it can be very pleasant to escape from the German Christmas market crowds in neighboring Groningen. Everything is festively decorated, but not overcrowded. And in bad weather, there are plenty of warm places where you can escape the cold or the rain. Groningen in the snow would of course be a nice experience, but unfortunately we have not been able to do it yet.

The city

The nice thing about Groningen is that it does not even come across as gigantic as some other European cities. While in Amsterdam I often easily spend more than 30,000 or even more in one day, everything in Groningen is so close to each other that it hardly requires the use of public transport. In addition, the city definitely scores with the fact that it is rarely as crowded as Amsterdam, for example. Once you arrive at Amsterdam Central Station and see the central bus station there, you really only think that this has little to do with a beautiful cityscape.

But once over the bridge and you find yourself in a cityscape, as you know it from many cities in the Netherlands. From here you can safely walk all attractions for tourists, if you do not wear stilettos. Because, like in Amsterdam, this is not so easy with high heels on cobblestones, my red boots, which are being repaired by the cobbler, can sing a song of.

Around the central station, Groningen looks amazingly urban, but at the latest a bridge later, one gets the feeling of a contemplative, Dutch city with brick buildings.

So unusually quiet

Often in the picture of the city center one feels strangely familiar here as in Amsterdam, but in a very positive way. While you only have to walk the streets of Amsterdam until about 10 o’clock as an early riser, Groningen is just too idyllic deserted and no loud cars or public transport. Groningen is usually accompanied by a great rest. Here are a few schoolchildren, there a rowing team, of course. But for downtown but deceptively quiet, no matter what time of day.

If you’re looking to take beautiful photos for Instagram or a blog to show off your outfits or yourself, then Groningen is definitely a good choice, because only rarely is the city overcrowded. You can always find quiet places and alleys to take beautiful pictures in peace. Only the weather should play. Especially during the last visit in December it was very windy and cold. But even then you will find indoor good photo locations. For this there will soon be a separate blog post.

A young city

Of course, Groningen, with its 200,000 inhabitants, is no world metropolis and therefore can not be compared to cities such as Paris or London, which are many times larger. Nevertheless, one notices the city that it is a very young city, because about 50,000 inhabitants of the city are students. This city itself is not as well known for a particular industry or merchandise such as Lübeck and the marzipan or Nuremberg and the gingerbread, Groningen is more of a stopover on trade routes and strategically well located, especially because of the waterway, which was once of great importance ,

In the Netherlands, bicycles are a must anyway. But all the more natural in a student-dominated city like Groningen. Who thinks that all bicycles are here at the main station, is wrong. This is just a small part of the bikes. Around the station there are several ways to park your bike. Some people in the Netherlands sometimes drive about 20 or 30 kilometers on the flat paths to work. Advantage for us tourists, if we arrive by train. Because so far I had only extremely rarely crowded trains in the Netherlands. And there is nothing in the way of a simple bike ride through the Netherlands. The Bike Hotels sector is already well developed in the Netherlands.

Caution on the bike path

Something really typical for the Netherlands are the many, many cyclists that you really have to watch out for in Groningen as well as in many other cities. Yes, there are also extensive bicycle lanes in German cities such as Göttingen, but in the Netherlands you have to be really hellish. You can not daydream for a second. Meanwhile, I got used to the cyclists, but for the first time it was very strange for me as a German, that the Netherlands put down everything that could get in the way and also cuss, if you can Carelessly taking a step on the street.

In many a street of Groningen there is a risk of confusion with Amsterdam. Only the density of mostly female people, who can be photographed here by their friends, is nowhere near as high as in Amsterdam, where you have to queuing at some places today for beautiful Graachten photos.

There is a lot of water around the city center. That gives a little feeling of Amsterdam, but only a little bit.

At Vismarkt

It may sound a bit strange, but if you want to get to know the Dutch, you have to go shopping as well. Directly at the Vismarkt, the fish market, where you almost do not pass in the Groningen city center. At the prices in the Dutch drugstore chain Etos you have to swallow first, but you are used to the prices of our drugstore chains in Germany. Since then it is hardly surprising that move in my current city Oldenburg Dutch day tourists unerringly in German drugstores and buy everything in Germany, what they need for home.

At Albert Heijn, in the grand, venerable building, you will find everything that is so special in the Dutch Church. Of course, you could also go to Lidl or Aldi. Yes, they are also available in the Netherlands, but usually a little further away. In the Albert Heijn but you have the best selection and also finds some vruchtenhagel, bagel slag, musjes or Dutch chocolate, which then like to cost in tourist shops 100% or more.

Every cat’s café has its own philosophy. Here in Groningen you will find only rescued cats and there are strict rules that all guests should follow.

It does not always have to be caressing cats. Even watching is a nice pastime in cloudy weather.

Cat café again

Of course, especially on our last trip in December had to be a pure coffee tour through the cafes of Groningen. The weather was just a cold, gray and sad mix of wind and drizzle. Yes, one would like to go to the snow in the next Advent. But here too Groningen showed its diversity. Some cafés seemed to have stopped in time and there was even a café just for hot chocolate. Our declared goal was the local cat cafe, which turned out to be planning intensive. It was Saturday, the café was full and we had to wait 2 hours in another café, which was loud and therefore annoying. But what does not make you all for a soothing coffee with cats and pats? Unfortunately the cats at the time of our visit were not in a fuss.

Especially in the cold half of the year you should perhaps be spontaneous for a Groningen. Because if the weather is bad, then it may be that you spend the entire time only in cafes.

Luckily, the worst 2 hours pass by with headphones and something on the ears. Then in the cat café it is still crowded full, but overall much more relaxed and with a small shop, ideal for cat lovers. Of course, the cats are not always in mussel mood and sleep a lot when the day is long. But in this café, a little booklet reveals which cat is tempted to cuddle up with you and which one may rather suffer less.

There are also a few exceptional shops in the city center of Groningen. So the store of Meringue Sisters is part of a larger bakery. In addition to meringue in motifs of the season you can also buy beautiful porcelain or cutlery for the perfect food photos. Here I have bought gifts for many of my relatives.


You do not go abroad to shop at stores that are located in any city in Germany. Fortunately, Groningen is truly a wonderful shopping city, with a number of smaller boutiques ranging from record shops and classic small shops for fashion to a small meringue shop or sweet theme shops to various niches with playful window decorations in addition to the typical touristic souvenir shops and cheese shops. Groningen invites those of you to a shopping trip, looking for the playful and special and are also willing to spend an afternoon criss-crossing the city center.

Many a North German will find the style of our neighbors not so different than in Bremen or in Leer. But Groningen is a bit more playful and overweighted by decor.

It’s not just all cheese in Holland – no, there are also other nice shops of all kinds in Groningen and since most speak German even better than English, you will also get little problems with a language barrier. But no worry for English speaking tourists – most have a great British English, too.

No city for one night

I have been to Groningen a few times now and have a similar feeling to this city as I did to Amsterdam. One is just not enough. You would like to experience this city in summer, travel again by bicycle … maybe just stop over here, if you go to Utrecht, Amsterdam or Zwolle or maybe even somewhere else. Anyway, I’ll come back and then talk again about what makes spring or summer a better time to travel. Or not. 2019 will show it.

The dark season is definitely a good opportunity to get to know Groningen at night. December is of course the best way to do it, because you get to see a little Christmassy glamor in the city center.

Groningen in the Advent season definitely has two sides. If you are looking for a wonderful christmas kitschoverload, you might be better off on a german christmas market. But it is nowhere near as crowded and overloaded and Dutch specialties as Christmas presents are also well received.

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