Living in or visiting Groningen? Information and useful links for students, locals and tourists.
Information about Groningen
Groningen, the largest city in the North of the Netherlands, is the capital city of the province of the same name. The city is also known as the "Metropolis of the North" and as "Martinistad," referring to its landmark tower the Martinitoren. With a population of just 190.000, it's small compared to other major Dutch cities, but is extremely lively for its small size.
The first major settlement in Groningen traces back to the 3rd century AD. By the 13th century it had developed into an important centre of trade. The Martinitoren was built in the 15th century, and was the highest building in Europe at the time of its construction.
The University of Groningen was founded in the 17th century, and is the 2nd oldest university in the Netherlands after the University of Leiden. Groningen has the highest percentage of students by total population in the Netherlands, with the 50.000 students from the University of Groningen and the Hanze University of Applied Sciences comprising about 25 percent of the local population.
Groningen's compact city centre has been voted the best in the country multiple times. With a large pedestrianised zone filled with shops and cafes, it's a very cycling friendly city also easy to navigate by foot.
The city's nightlife revolves around its student population, and on a Thursday night you'll find the centre packed with revellers partying until the bars close, some as late as 7am.
Groningen has a very diverse cultural scene for such a small city. The Groninger Museum of modern and contemporary art, with its colourful and radically modernist architecture, is the city's most famous museum, as well as one of the highest regarded museums in the Netherlands. There are also several theatres staging performances on a regular basis.
Groningen is also known for its solid and tightly knit music scene, which is centred on the legendary venue Vera, although there are also many cafes that feature live music throughout the week. The city hosts the Eurosonic Festival, an annual showcase for hundreds of European and Dutch bands.
In general, Groningen manages to feel intimate without being exclusive, and has a laid back and spontaneous vibe that you won't find in many Dutch cities. A visit comes highly recommended!