There are so many great things to do in Groningen. And the city of Groningen is one of the most beautiful and offbeat places to visit in The Netherlands and one that you should definitely visit. That’s why you’ll find what to do and see in Groningen here. Including unusual and free things to do in Groningen, the best restaurants and best hotels in Groningen.
The city of Groningen is not popular with foreign tourists, but it’s very popular with foreign students. There are many reasons to visit the city of Groningen. Groningen is a city that is well-known within The Netherlands for its student population and for the fact that the city is very bustling. This makes the city of Groningen lively and the students are one of the reasons why Groningen has such a nice and welcoming atmosphere. And that makes Groningen one of the places you have to go to in The Netherlands. You will find tourists attractions here, but also some spectacular and hidden things you didn’t expect to see. In Groningen, you can find cute cafes, beautiful monumental buildings, stunning canals, great museums and so many other attractions and fun things to do. Discover one of the best cities to visit in The Netherlands.
Where is Groningen, The Netherlands, located?
As many people have not heard of Groningen, here’s a little introduction to one of the best places to visit in The Netherlands. The city Groningen is located in the province of Groningen in the North Eastern part of The Netherlands. Groningen is also the capital of the province of Groningen and currently houses around 202.000 people. This makes Groningen the biggest city of the Northern part of The Netherlands. The surrounding provinces are Friesland and Drenthe, but it also shares a border with Germany.
Because Groningen is not located in one of the two provinces of The Netherlands that make Holland, Groningen is not part of Holland. So if you’re looking for the best places to visit or things to do in Holland (meaning Zuid- and Noord- Holland), then Groningen is not part of this. For Holland, I would recommend you to have a look at itineraries for the Dutch cities of Delft, Hoorn and Alkmaar that are part of Holland..
Groningen is a city in The Netherlands that has many sights and points of interest. The province of Groningen has many places that would be great to visit. If you’re looking to spend more time in the province of Groningen, then I would say, have a look at this beautiful fortress of Bourtange. . This is one of the places you have to visit near the city of Groningen. Other things that you can do near Groningen is to visit Frisian cities and discover two provinces of The Netherlands instead of one. For now, let’s find out what there’s to do in Groningen, The Netherlands.
Where to stay in Groningen, The Netherlands
Here you will find the best accommodation options for the city of Groningen. Whether you’re looking for cheap hotels in Groningen city centre, a cheap youth hostel, a low budget hotel, or high-end hotels in Groningen, The Netherlands, you’ll find it here.
Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this part of the article. This means that when you book through one of my links, I will get a small amount of commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting me. Have a look at the full disclaimer here.
Bud Gett Hostels Groningen, click here for current prices and availability.
Hotel Schimmelpenninck Huys, click here for current prices and availability.
The Student Hotel Groningen, click here for current prices and availability.
B&B Pakhuis Emden, click here for current prices and availability.
Bed & Breakfast Sint Anthony Gasthuis, click here for the current prices and availability.
The Cannery, click here for current prices and availability.
Prinsenhof, click here for current prices and availability.
For more cheap and high- end accommodation in Groningen, The Netherlands, have a look here.
What to do in Groningen – Discover the best things to do in one day
Get the best breakfast of Groningen
We start 24 hours in Groningen with some great breakfast restaurants. Groningen is a bustling city with many great breakfast cafes. But these two are, in my opinion, some of the best restaurants for breakfast in Groningen.
At Feel Good they have, at the risk of sounding cliche, food that makes you feel good. They make great food from the freshest and locally grown products. You can also find very good vegan food in this place in Groningen. And Feel Good is opened 7 days a week. Monday – Friday 10:00 – 19:00. Saturday & Sunday 09:30 – 17:30.
Oude Kijk in ‘t Jatstraat 29, Groningen
At Wadapartja they have very unique, but tasty flavour combinations. You can find something for everyone here, whether they’re vegan, vegetarian or love a bit of meat. One thing is for sure and that is that you must eat at this great restaurant in Groningen. They’re opened 7 days a week. Sunday & Monday 11:00 – 18:00. Tuesday 09:00 – 18:00. Wednesday – Friday 09:00 – 22:00. Saturday 10:00 – 22:00/
Gedempte Zuiderdiep 39-4, Groningen
Self- guided walking or cycling tour along the most beautiful sights of Groningen
One of the cool and best things you have to do in Groningen is a walking or cycling tour. Groningen is an old city and the best way to completely discover Groningen is with a city tour. This way you’ll make the most out of your 24 hours in Groningen. From the Groningen fish market to visiting and climbing the must-see Martini church of Groningen. And from hidden gems to discovering the Groningen Prinsenhof gardens.
We start the self-guided tour in Groningen at one of the many courtyards (hofjes) in Groningen; Pelstergasthuis. The courtyards were mostly all created to house single women, some were specially made for poor or ‘mad’ people. Courtyards can be found all over The Netherlands and are some things you have to see. The courtyards of Groningen are some of the most beautiful monuments you will see on this tour. It seems so far away from the bustling city of Groningen when you’re sitting in a peaceful garden. Remember that you always close the door behind you when you enter or leave the courtyard, unless there’s no door. Be quiet when you’re visiting the courtyards and keep your trash with you.
After that, we head via the Pelsterstraat, Gedempte Zuiderdiep, Folkingestraat and Haddingestraat to the Vismarkt. Here you will find on many days of the week one of the biggest markets of Groningen. Now you will continue your free walking tour of Groningen via the Korenbeurs, Akerkhof and end up at the Der Aa Kerk (church). This church is one of the few big monuments that date back to the 1200s. It’s mindblowing that this piece of art exists for so long already. Nowadays the church is used as a meeting and event centre.
When you’re done with admiring the church it’s time to walk or cycle in the direction of the Brugstraat and you will see the Gotisch huis. This house is one of the oldest houses of Groningen and dates back to the 14th century. Now you will walk in the direction of the Noordelijk Scheepvaartmuseum, Hooge der A, Turftorenstraat, Vissersstraat, Noorderhaven, Hoekstraat and finally will end up in the Oude Kijk in’t Jatstraat. At number 6 you will also discover a very old building. It’s the oldest, still privately owned house of Groningen. Then you will go to the Zwanenstraat and stop at Oude Boteringestraat 24. This is another very old building and dates back to 1250.
After that, you will walk to the Academiegebouw, which is one of the buildings of the University of Groningen. Then via the Lopendediep, you will walk to some other courtyards. The Pieternellagasthuis is up first, then you will walk to the Sint Martinusgasthuis, followed by the Middengasthuis Kleine Rozenstraat. Via the Nieuwe Boteringestraat, you will visit another courtyard, namely Doopsgezind Gasthuis. Now you will continue to the next courtyard, which is the Remonstrants Gasthuis.
Then it’s time to walk via De Bovenkamer van Groningen (which is a restored water tower) to the Noorderplantsoen which is a park in Groningen. After that, you will walk via the Nieuwe Ebbingestraat to the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) which was built in 1660. You can visit this church on Saturday afternoon from 12:00 – 16:00, unless there are unforeseen circumstances such as funerals etc.
Now you will walk via the Marktstraat, Ossenmarkt, Spuisluizen, Hardewikerstraat and Turfsingel to the Prinsentuin. The Prinsentuin is one of my favourite spots of Groningen. It’s a renaissance garden that is located behind the Prinsenhof which is a building that dates back to the 11th century. While a garden might not sound so spectacular to you, you’ll think otherwise as soon as you visit the Prinsentuin in Groningen. In 1626 the Prinsentuin was made for the princes of Nassau. From April until October there’s a cute place that serves tea, cakes and more open as well. De Prinsentuin is one of the places you have to see in Groningen.
When you’re done with relaxing your calves in the Prinsentuin it’s time to head in the direction of the Stadsschouwburg. This is a beautiful theatre auditorium. Now you will walk via the Sintwalkburgstraat, Rode Weeshuisstraat to the Martini Kerk (church).
The Martini church is often opened for visitors, you can have a look at the schedule here. The green dates are the dates that the church is opened for tourists. They charge 1 euro per person when you want to visit the church, which goes into preserving the church. If you want to climb the Martini tower of Groningen, then you’d have to visit the tourist information office at the Grote Markt. A ticket to climb the tower of Groningen will cost you 3 euros. You can buy a ticket until 30 minutes before closing time. It’s possible that the tower is closed due to weather conditions. The view is to die for and on a clear day, you can even see the Wadden Islands and the Wadden Sea.
Opening times Martini tower in Groningen:
Monday 12:00 – 17:00
Tuesday – Saturday 11:00 – 17:00
Sunday 12:00 – 16:00
After discovering the most beautiful view of Groningen you will go via the Martinikerkhof to the Goudkantoor. This place used to be a spot where taxes were levied. Nowadays it’s turned into a restaurant. Now you will continue to the Stadhuis (city hall), Grote Markt, Poelestraat and Schuitendiep to end up at yet another hofje in Groningen, the Typografengasthuis. After visiting this courtyard on your walking or cycling tour through Groningen it’s time to visit one of the last courtyards on the list. The Geertruidsgasthuis. Then you will walk via the Peperstraat, Oosterstraat, Gelkingestraat, Steentilstraat, Redesingel to the last hofje on the list. The Sint Anthony Gasthuis. Now you will walk via the Heersingel to the Parklaan. This is located in the Oosterpoort neighbourhood where you can find plenty of nice cafes, bars and restaurants.
You can find a full map to this free walking route in Groningen here.
Shopping in Groningen
For the best shopping in Groningen people might say you have to visit the Herestraat, which is the biggest shopping street in Groningen. However, the streets and squares that surround the Herestraat are way better for shopping. Here you will find markets, unique boutiques and shops with regional products in Groningen. Visit the Vismarkt (there are almost every day markets here), Gelkingestraat, Stoeldraaierstraat, De Zwanestraat and Folkingestraat. De Zwanestraat and Folkingestraat are some of the highlights and best places to visit in Groningen, The Netherlands, the reason why is the fact that these streets were voted the best shopping streets of The Netherlands.
Other free or cheap things to do in Groningen
If there’s still time to spare before or after having lunch, you’d want to have a look at these things that you can do in Groningen. And the best part? It’s all either free or very cheap.
One thing you have to do when you have one day in Groningen is to visit the art academy Minerva for free art exhibitions. The future artists of The Netherlands get their education here. And there is an exhibit that constantly changes, which makes visiting Minerva always worth it. And a big bonus is that this is a free museum in Groningen. You walk past the reception onto the stairs and arrive in the exhibit room. As it’s a university it’s opened 5 days a week. From 08:00 -21:30.
Gedempte Zuiderdiep 158
9711 HN Groningen
Visiting the Universiteitsmuseum of Groningen is one of the cheap things you can do in Groningen. It cost 1,50 for students, the Museumcard gives you free entry or a normal admission fee is 3 euros. What I love about this museum in Groningen is that it has it’s not the biggest museum, but there’s a big and great informative collection of all sorts of things. On Monday the museum is closed. Tuesday- Sunday 13:00 – 17:00. This museum in Groningen is accessible for wheelchair users.
Oude Kijk in Het Jatstraat 7A,
9712 EA Groningen
One of the great things to do during spring or summer in Groningen is to visit the city beach, or stadsstrand as we call it in Dutch. During the beautiful weather, it seems like the entire city of Groningen flocks to this beach, but there is also always a spot left. Jump in the water to cool down and work on your tan while you do some people watching. You can find the city beach at DOT, Oosterhamrikkade 1013.
Bring the most important statues of Groningen a visit. While this might sound like a dull experience I can assure you it’s not. In Groningen, you can find over 300 statues of real and fake characters that played a part in the history of Groningen and its stories. That makes this one of Groningen’s best activities.
The first statue is the statue of Aletta Jacobs at the Harmonieplein. She was the first woman in The Netherlands that studied in a university in 1871. This made her one of the first women who stood up for equal rights between men and women. The next statue in Groningen is the Peerd van Ome Loeks at the Stationsplein. This statue refers to a song that many people of the city of Groningen know and it’s about the horse of uncle Loeks that died because he didn’t feed him.
The third is De Fluitist at the Waagplein. It’s said that the previous gold office of Groningen made such a big impression on the Italian Roberto Barni that he created the statue of a flautist. The flautist is on his way to an appointment but got distracted and intrigued by the beautiful building so he turns around to look at it again.
The fourth statue you have to see is one of Sint-Joris en de draak at the Martinikerkhof. This statue is a memorial which refers to the bombardments that heavily damaged the city of Groningen during the Second World War. This statue is the location on every 4th of May which is the day of the commemoration of the dead in The Netherlands. The last statue is officially called Landbouw en veeteelt. But many people from Groningen call the statue Blote Bet, which can be found at the Herebrug. It stands for cattle breeding and agriculture which is a big part of the history of the province of Groningen.
Become a Groninger and eat at de stadstribune. You might’ve spotted the big staircase at the Grote Markt. The people from Groningen call this de stadstribune and often sit here to eat or chill.
You’re in Groningen and wondering what place to visit when you want to see the skyline? Watch the best view of the skyline of Groningen from the Kardingerheuvel. While Groningen is very flat, just as the rest of The Netherlands, they decided to create a 120-meter high hill called the Kardingerheuvel. From here you can have one of the best views of the city of Groningen, after the Martini church tower.
Explore one of the most beautiful parks of Groningen. Park Groenestein is a small, but very beautiful and special forest that is located in the city of Groningen. In the middle of the forest, you will find Huis Groenestein. This manor house and park date back to 1685. However, the current manor house dates back to 1871 when an esquire ordered to expand this manor house in Groningen. The park is almost completely open to visitors, but the monumental building is private property. In this park in Groningen, you can find many bird species, hedgehogs, squirrels, bats and plenty of more animals. The fact that this park dates back to 1685 doesn’t make it a very new attraction in Groningen. But it makes it one of the best parks to visit when you’re doing some sightseeing in Groningen.
Discover the synagogue of Groningen at the Folkingestraat and get swept away into the Middle Eastern sentiment. While this synagogue isn’t old, it was built at the beginning of the 1900s and it incredibly stunning from the inside. You can visit the synagogue during the offseason on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from 13:00 – 17:00. From March it’s opened from Tuesday- Friday & Sunday from 13:00 – 17:00. The admission fee is 3 euros, if you’d want a tour as well the entry and tour together cost 5 euros.
Lastly, visit yet another park. The Martinikerkhof is a park that is located in the centre of Groningen and one that is very popular with different crowds. Grab some food in the supermarket and go for a picnic in this city park of Groningen.
Eat lunch at the best restaurants in Groningen
It’s lunchtime! But where should you eat in Groningen? Well, there are many great places. When you’re on a budget and like fried fish, then I would recommend you to eat kibbeling at the market of Groningen. At the Vismarkt you can eat some of the best kibbeling of Groningen. If you’re not into fish, but still love cheap and good food, then there are many more stalls that have some great food to offer. The market at the Vismarkt is held on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday.
Another great place to grab some good lunch in Groningen is Ariola. At Ariola, you can get the best Italian food. And although most of the products are meant to take home, you can also grab quite a lot of food that you can eat straight away. But one thing is certain, it’s all incredibly delicious. They’re opened 6 days a week and closed on Sundays.
Folkingestraat 54, Groningen
I can also recommend you to eat at Brownies & Downies and at one of the two cat cafes (poezencafes) in Groningen.
Buy regional snacks and souvenirs in Groningen
If you’re looking for traditional and typical Dutch food from the province of Groningen then you’re in for a treat. One of the best activities of Groningen is to buy some of the regional foods that they offer throughout the city.
Knol’s Koek is widely known within and outside of Groningen. This special kind of gingerbread (but different, this is the closest I get to explaining it) is absolutely delicious. Buy it here: Hoendiep 93, 9718 TE Groningen.
Eat an eierbal. An eierbal is a typical regional snack in the Northern part of The Netherlands. This eierbal consists of a combination of egg and ragout. For the best eierbal in The Netherlands, you have to visit Cafétaria De Koning in Groningen.
Buy the Groninger metworst. This typical regional Dutch sausage is very famous within the entire province of Groningen, and the rest of The Netherlands. You can get some of the best Groninger metworst at Slagerij Hofman.
Discover the beer from Groningen. There are many specialized beer and alcohol stores that you can visit in Groningen such as Just in Beer. Beers that I would recommend you to buy are Bax, Martinus, Grunnbier but there are plenty of more.
Discover the best museum of Groningen
The Groninger or Gronings museum is one of the things you have to see in Groningen. The museum is very beautiful and has plenty of great exhibitions that constantly change. One day you will find exhibitions about old painting, statues and more. And the next day you will find modern exhibitions that are related to the city or province of Groningen. That makes this museum in Groningen one of the top attractions and museums of Groningen.
Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 – 17:00
Have a look at the different admission fees for the Groninger Museum here.
The Groninger Museum is wheelchair and scooter friendly. There is also a special toilet in the museum and two invalid parking spots at de Ubbo Emmiussingel (street name). There are also wheelchairs available. If you want to use one of the wheelchairs you’d have to reserve one before you visit.
9711 ME Groningen
Eat the best dinner in these restaurants in Groningen
If you’re interested in eating pancakes on a pancake ship in Groningen, then you’ll adore this place. It’s a very quirky restaurant in Groningen and the pancakes are either sweet or savoury. You’ll find quite some kids here as well, but you won’t hear them that much as they’re busy eating the wonderful pancakes.
If you’re also annoyed by the amount of food that is wasted by supermarkets, restaurants and normal people, then you’ll definitely like the concept at Free Cafe. Especially when you’re looking for cheap eats or food in Groningen. The concept of Free Cafe is to waste less food and to cook a free vegetarian and vegan meal with it. At two times a week on two different locations dinner is prepared. Not only can you eat a free vegan and vegetarian dinner here in Groningen starting from 18:00, you can also help them cook, clean up or organize the leftover veggies. Everyone is welcome, so tourists as well. Have a look at more info here.
I can also recommend you to eat at the Pastafabriek for cheap but tasty pasta, Pool, Achterwerk and, last at De Uurwerker you can get the best pizza of Groningen.
Go for a drink in one of the best bars and pubs of Groningen
Mr. Mofongo is one of my favourite (cocktail) bars of Groningen and has its own distillery. But I didn’t even tell you the best part yet. There’s a robot that will bring you your drink. And Mr Mofongo was named the best cocktail bar of The Netherlands in 2017.
Oude Boteringestraat 26, Groningen
One of the best pubs or cafes of Groningen is the Belgisch Cafe De Pintelier. This Belgian beer cafe has 28 taps with 28 different kinds of beer. Besides that, this bar in Groningen is incredibly cosy and has such a nice atmosphere that it’s definitely worth a visit.
Kleine Kromme Elleboog 9, Groningen
Finish the evening with live music in Groningen
One great way to discover the city of Groningen is by exploring the Groninger nightlife. So what is there to do in Groningen at night? A lot of things. From the best clubs to the best live music places in Groningen. It’s all here.
One of the best places for live music in Groningen is Concertzaal Vera. This hall is very famous for housing legendary bands in their younger years. U2 and Nirvana have even performed here in their early days. So who knows, maybe you’ll see the next U2. Another great concert hall in Groningen is De Oosterpoort.
A very popular bar in Groningen is De Drie Gezusters, which is one of the biggest bars/clubs of Europe. It’s always busy, but the atmosphere is pretty cool. You’ll find a lot of students here as well.
Extra things to do in Groningen
Groningen is one of the Dutch cities in The Netherlands that is known for its (music) festivals. Especially during the spring and summer period, you’ll find plenty of free or paid festivals that you can visit in Groningen. Noorderzon, Reitdieppop and plenty of food truck festivals in Groningen can be visited for free. Kadepop and Zomerfolk are a few examples of paid music festivals in Groningen.
At brewery (Brouwerij) Martinus there are often guided tours. Here you can have a look at the behind the scenes of the brewery and discover how they brew the most popular alcoholic drink of The Netherlands. And you can do a tasting here as well as three glasses of beer are included. From Thursday until Sunday there are tours held through this brewery in Groningen. Thursday on 15:30, Friday & Saturday at 15:30 and 16:30, Sunday at 15:30. A guided tour costs 10 euros a person and has to be reserved here. I I know it’s in Dutch, but if you head down to the page you will see the reservation part. After you confirm the date and click through you will see something called ‘opmerkingen’. Here you can write that you’re English speaking so that they can be aware of the fact. There is also a restaurant at the brewery and the food there is really good as well. So if you’re searching for extra restaurant options in Groningen, then this is one of them.
How to get to Groningen by public transport
Amsterdam: If you’re looking at how to travel from Amsterdam to Groningen, then you can follow this route. From Amsterdam central railway station you can either take any intercity to Utrecht or to Almere Centrum. From both Utrecht Central railway station and Almere Centrum there are intercity trains headed to the Groningen central railway station. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend you to take a day trip from Amsterdam to Groningen as Groningen is quite far from Amsterdam. How far is Groningen from Amsterdam you ask? From Amsterdam Central Station to the Groningen train station will take you 2,5 hours, one way. 5 hours of travelling is, in my opinion, a bit much as the city has so much to explore. I would definitely recommend you to stay the night in Groningen as the city is really worth a longer visit than a few hours.
By now you have probably discovered that Groningen, The Netherlands, is one of the places to visit when you’re in my country. There are many fun things to do in The Netherlands and visiting Groningen and increasing the tourism in this beautiful city, is one of them. I hope the article and itinerary for how to spend one day in Groningen, The Netherlands, was useful for you. I’m certain that your trip to Groningen will be eventful with all these things there are to do. If you’re looking for other things to do in the Groningen province have a look at an article about the beautiful fortress of Bourtange here. If you’re interested in day trips that you can take from Groningen, I would recommend you to read this article. Again, I hope you liked this article on Groningen on this travel blog about The Netherlands. Share this post!!
5 thoughts on “What to do in Groningen, The Netherlands: Best things to do in one day”
Great post about Groningen! I’ve been once with a friend but we were so focused on shopping that I didn’t really get to enjoy the city. Hope to return one day!
Wow! A very detailed article. Definitely on my list now!
Hi Manon, great post about Groningen! We liked how you wrote about the activities in Groningen. There are indeed so many reasons to visit Groningen.
Really great post! Especially loved the walking tour. Used it on our recent trip 🙂
I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed this article and used it one your recent trip! Hope Groningen treated you well!
Have a lovely day,