5 things you must do when in Groningen

5 things you must do when in Groningen

Groningen is a gem of a city hidden in the far north of the Netherlands. And as they say “Er gaat niets boven Groningen”, there is nothing better (or above) Groningen, literally- it is that far north!

With around 54.000 students living there, the atmosphere surrounding this charming place is vibrant and lively. This Dutch city definitely caters to the young at heart, so on your next trip to this amazing city, don’t forget to do the following five things!

1. Climb the Martini Tower martini-tower-groningen.jpg

They say that if you get lost in Groningen, you can just look to the skies and you will see the Martini Tower and therefore be able to find your way back to the city. Well, just imagine your view of the city if you are at the top of this church tower.

Built more than 500 years ago, the Martini Tower is located in the heart of Groningen city and comes in at a whopping 97 metres tall. To get to the top, you’ll have to climb 260 steps, but it is all worth it for the spectacular view and photo opportunities you will get.

To gain access to the Tower, you will need to purchase a ticket at the tourist information centre just across the street. You can’t miss it, as the centre itself is a work of art, with a façade similar to that of the multi-coloured side of the Groninger Museum (across from the train station).

Climbing the Tower costs just a few euros and is worth every penny. You get a work out in and get to experience Groningen from another level, win-win!

2. Have a drink at Europe’s largest pub

After climbing the Tower, you are probably in need of some refreshments. So head on over to the Drie Gezusters, conveniently located just across from the Martini Tower on the Grote Markt. drie-gezusters-cafes-grote-markt-groningen.jpg

The pub has space for more than 3.700 people and has 20 bars under one roof. If that wasn’t spectacular enough, take a look at the interior! The pub itself has an old school charm, which is difficult to find nowadays amongst all the hipster cafes you see cropping up. It truly has a luxury feel to it, most likely due to its high ceilings and chandeliers.

There is even a heated terrace in front of the pub, so you can admire the city whilst having a drink and staying warm.

3. Go vintage shopping

Groningen is full of charismatic little streets and let me tell you, the vintage scene is booming. Take a stroll along Oude Kijk in ‘t Jatstraat, Steenstilstraat, Carolieweg, or practically any other street in Groningen and you are bound to find a vintage shop with surprising goodies. laiffotografie-allc-alittlelovelyliving-24.jpg

It’s not just the vintage you are bound to love, Groningen also has plenty of concept stores. Just shuffle on over to the Westerhaven area to visit Little Lovely Living for a milkshake that a unicorn would be proud of, mmm delicious!

4. See a film at DOT Groningen

If you’ve ventured a little ways out the city, you may have wondered what that spaceship-like building is being used for. Well, it’s multifunctional, but one thing is for sure, seeing a film there is an incredible experience. img_2616-hdr.jpg

And we not just talking regular 2D and 3D films, they also show planetarium performances in a stunning full-dome 360 degrees at the DOT Dome cinema. There are 234 luxury seats, so after a packed morning, what better way to spend the afternoon than chilling out in an extraordinary cinema.

And if you get peckish you can always pop over to the cafe on the ground floor for some snacks, lunch or even dinner. DOT is open seven days a week from 11.00am.

5. Picnic in Het Noorderplantsoen

Why not finish up your day with a picnic in the city park Het Noorderplantsoen. Within walking distance of the city, this park is the perfect place to sit and enjoy the sun, with a picnic of course.

Relax on the soft grass and watch the ducks swimming across one of the many lakes as you enjoy a picnic with friends. This is the perfect way to “go local”. You are sure to see many students doing the same. Be aware that if the sun is shining, it might be difficult to find the perfect spot, as practically the whole of Groningen flocks to the parks.

If you don’t have a picnic with you, don’t worry; there are a few supermarkets close to the park where you will be able to stock up on tasty treats. If you don’t fancy a picnic, there are also places to eat in and around the park, such as restaurant Zondag.

Bonus: Climb one of the tallest free-standing climbing objects in the world

If you are a climbing fanatic, then this is a definite must during your trip to Groningen. Considered the tallest freestanding climbing tower in Europe and quite possibly the world, Excalibur is 37 metres tall. Weighing 50 tons, the massive structure is kept in place by a metre-thick concrete slab and 36 beams, which are anchored nine metres into the ground.

It’s not just your bog-standard straight up straight down climbing wall either; it has an arch of 11 metres built into it to give you that real mountain climbing feel. Excalibur is for advanced climbers and you can even sleep at the summit. If you’re not experienced but you still want to have a go at climbing this beast, you can always book a climbing session with an instructor.

Image sources: Little Lovely Living & DOT Groningen

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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Aekam Parmar 16:53 | 20 May 2018

I have been in Groningen for couple of times but this DOT theatre is new to me. Added in list ?

deastman 12:45 | 24 May 2018

wow...i was planning on going to groningen this summer, sometime...but now that i read this? if these are THE five suggestions of what not to miss i think i'll save the train fare for something else...thanks.