Located in the Northern side of the Netherlands, Groningen is regarded as one of the most important ancient cities. To understand what qualifies Groningen to referred to as an important ancient city, you just need to pay a visit to its down town area, which is dotted with very beautiful, medieval buildings that clearly belong to another age. Like many other cities in this region though, Groningen suffered quite a bit of devastation during the Second World War. It, however, seems to have managed to preserve quite a bit of its historical heritage, unlike a few other historical cities in the Netherlands whose historical centers were almost entirely ruined.
Groningen is a fairly large city today, with just under 200,000 people as at 2013: making it the largest city in the Northern region of the Netherlands. At one point, Groningen was host to the tallest building in Europe: that being the Martinitoren (Martini Tower). Groningen has evolved to be a university city, hosting two major universities whose students constitute almost a quarter of the population. Though the classification of Groningen as a university city is a fairly recent thing, it is worth noting that one of the universities in it is certainly not a new institution. Here, we are talking about the University of Groningen, which was started in the year 1614, and which is therefore a historical institution in its own right. As is to be expected of any university city, Groningen is a very lively place, full of youthful energy, vibrancy and enthusiasm — with what can only be termed as a remarkable nightlife. At yet another level, Groningen is an important center of arts, crafts and culture. It has obviously invested quite heavily in its hospitality industry, and besides having good hospitality facilities, its people (the natives and the students milling around) are also generally friendly.
Getting around Groningen
You can get around Groningen by water (on the canal), by bike, on foot or by bus.
There are parts of Groningen where vehicles are discouraged, meaning that those are parts of the Groningen city that you will probably have to explore either while riding on a bike, or simply on foot. The Groningen city center is one such place. Still getting from place to place shouldn’t be too hard, even on foot, especially if you are out exploring the major tourist attractions of Groningen as they are quite tightly packed in a compact area.
You can make a visit to the Groningen Central Station, or any of the other places where the relevant companies hire out bikes, and proceed to hire one. The design of the city is such that most places are very easily accessible on bike, while the cost of hiring a bike is very modest. There are, however, very many bikes moving around, so you need to be quite a good cyclist to avoid collisions. Ultimately though, cycling around Groningen, with so many other cyclists on your wings, can make for a panoramic experience that you may never quite get elsewhere.
You can get around Groningen by bus as well, with pretty much every key road having one or another bus line operating there.
Things to see and do in Groningen
In terms of things to see while in Groningen, we have things like the Aa-Kerk (one of those medieval churches that were very influential in their heyday) and the Old Catholic hospital known as Oude RKZ. We also have the displays at the Groninger Museum, the displays at the museum of water transport (Het Noordelijik Scheepvaartmuseum) and the displays at the Universiteitsmuseum.
In terms of things to do while in Groningen, you can go canoeing around the city, go shopping at the Grote Markt, climb what was once Europe’s tallest Building (the Martini Tower) or simply take a guided bicycle tour of Groningen and its environs.