Do you all know that awkward feeling when you lived in a city for quite a few months and still don’t know your surroundings? How much do you know about the young and vibrant student city in the north of the Netherlands? Friends or family visit you, but all you can talk about are your favorite bars and stores in the city center. Many people consider Groningen as their home or at least as their second home. I do see this beautiful city as my home as well. However, all I knew were a few facts which were not even interesting for me and for people who had the pleasure to visit me. I got to see a lot of fun places and in this article I will tell you how and with whom.
Do you know that there is something called VVV in Groningen? It is the tourist information office, located in the city center. The VVV offers city tours for everyone who is interested to get to know the city differently. You can explore the city tours in Dutch, German, French, English and the Groningen dialect for a small amount of money. The tour takes about 1.5 hours and believe me, it may sound like a long walk, but it is worth every minute and every place. It is not just a regular city tour, but also a fun activity to experience the largest city in the Northern Netherlands.
I will show you some sneak peak places you can explore with the VVV and the great tour guides. I did the tour by myself and I am beyond happy that I got to experience the past, present as well as future plans of the city. The VVV explains that learning about a city or region means visiting well-known and less familiar, as well as unexpected and surprising, spots and therefore, people get to know all the regional distinctions of Groningen.
The tour started at the Grote Markt as you can see on the picture. The city guide talks about some facts about the city. To give you a little peak, here are some facts: the Netherlands has 12 provinces. 200.000 people are enjoying the life in this beautiful city. Almost 55.000 are students who are studying at the Rijksuniversiteit and the Hanze Hogeschool. Every fourth person in this city is actually a student which is quite a high number. One more fun fact, Groningen has the biggest pub in Europe called “Drie Gezusters”. It has 17 small bars which are all really full of nooks and crannies.
The next stop is the Martinikerk – the landmark and the biggest building in Groningen. At the top there is a little piece of art and many people assume it is a horse, but it is actually a weathercock. You can go up and have a really breathtaking view. I hope you manage stairs safely since there is no elevator and there are several steps until you reach the top.
Do you want to visit the place where the king has his chamber when he visits? You will go to this place and you can even go through the gateway. Visitors can have a nice cup of coffee at the place where the king dines and sleeps.
Isn’t it amazing to see how peaceful a place can be inside the city? On the picture you can see the small palace where the king has his important discussions when he visits. Rather than that the province palest is used by the administration unit. People can come here to relax and walk through the Martinikerkhof. You can lionize the St. George memorial and listen to the exciting story of him fighting against the dragon. As well as the frightening cemetery story.
The city tour will provide you with many information you have never heard before. Even though I lived here for more than a year, I did not even know half of the facts and places. You will visit some historical monuments and buildings as well as peaceful and fun places.
There are many more interesting buildings or places you will visit, but I do not want to get the excitement out of this. If you want more information you can check out the page here. Next time you have a bit of time; you should definitely consider to experience the city from a whole new perspective.
By Alica Olsson, photos by her