The city of Groningen is located in the middle of a varied natural landscape - by Dutch standards - with a combination of more wooded areas to the south and south west, and flat wide open countryside to the north and north east, and the Wadden islands just off the coast. Here we list some ideas, dependent on mode of transport, for a day out of town.
The tourist website for Groningen also provides an overview of highlights in the province.
On a sunny day a trip into the Groninger countryside is a wonderful day out. For suitable routes and destinations the following sites will help you to plan a trip:
- Free downloadable cycling routes on the Groningen cycling tourism page (Dutch only)
- Cycling routes on the Groninger Landscape association (Dutch only)
- Dutch cycling routes from the cycling bond
By car / bus / train
Lauwersmeer, mud-walking and the Wadden Islands
The Wadden Sea is a UNESCO heritage site and biosphere reserve. Visiting it is one of the highlights of the Northern Netherlands.
The most typical and well-known way to interact with the Wadden Sea is by walking the mud-flats (wadlopen), something which can be done from various points onland or from the islands. You can read more about the Wadden on the Visit Wadden website.
Another idea is to go on a sailing holiday with a skippered boat. An example of a ship leaving from Groningen to sail the Wadden Sea is the Willem Jacob. You can find out about the many other sailing holiday providers in the region with an online search using terms zeilvakantie and waddenzee. Although most sites are in Dutch, telephone enquiries in English will usually be possible.
The Wadden island Schiermonnikoog (Dutch and German only) is easily reachable by bus and ferry, with the trip from Groningen centre to the island taking two hours in total. You can book a ferry ticket online beforehand.
A little further away are the rest of the Wadden islands (waddeneilanden): Ameland, Vlieland, Texel and Terschelling. These are great destinations for a weekend away.
The German island Borkum (Dutch site only) is also reachable for a day trip from Groningen.
‘Borgen’ and ‘terpen’ in the province
The province of Groningen has a rich history, and apparently is home to the highest concentration of medieval churches in the world. These churches are typically built on raised areas in the landscape, known as terpen. Find out more about terpen on the Groningen tourist website.
Find out about the medieval churches in the province on the Groningen Kerken website. Some of the churches date back to the 11th century.
‘Borgen’ are small castles or estates which were built and occupied by local noblemen. Some of them date back as far as the 10th century.
Many of them are open all year round for visitors, but usually best reached by car. During summer you can visit castles in guided tours with Groninger Museum. Find an overview of the local castles on the Groningen tourism site.
There are also countless small museums in the province - a selection of which can be found on the English language museum page.
If the countryside or coastal areas are not your thing, you might consider a city trip. You can get to Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Den Haag, Arnhem, Utrecht, Bremen and Hamburg all within two to three hours of travel (by train or car). Maastricht, Antwerpen, Dusseldorf are around three to four hours away.
Enough to keep the weekends interesting all year round, we think!