Even though the province is so fond of the slogan “there’s nothing above Groningen,” a Dutch expression to indicate that you’ll find nothing better within the Dutch borders, travel-minded people quickly find out that this slogan cannot be taken too literally: there is a wealth of destinations available from Groningen, by plane, by car, and by train.
Depending on where you live, train or plane is the most convenient way into Groningen. And often, it’s a combination of the two. Most international students arrive at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS), and then take the train to Groningen. Every thirty minutes, there’s a direct train to Groningen from the airport; you can sit back, relax, or catch up on your sleep during the two-and-a-half hour train ride.
Students hailing from Germany, Belgium, or France often take the train exclusively; there are direct trains into the Netherlands from places like Berlin, Brussels, Antwerp, and Paris. Often you have to switch trains in either Utrecht or Amsterdam to get to Groningen—direct trains to Groningen leave from both these cities. Check www.ns.nl for detailed train information.
Well-known budget airline Ryanair flies from Bremen Airport, to destinations such as Morocco, the UK, Norway, Latvia, Estonia, Spain, Italy and Greece. A direct bus leaves from Groningen Central Station to Bremen Airport. The bus takes about two hours, but a return ticket only costs around 25 Euros. The airport bus is filled with holidaying people, so the party can already start on the bus—it is not uncommon to already meet your new holiday friend or even lover on the bus! And flight tickets already start at five Euros (to Sweden for example, ten Euros including taxes if you book early). There really is no cheaper way to explore Europe. Many students take trips, even during short breaks such as Easter.
Groningen also has its own airport open for passenger flights: Groningen Eelde Airport. From this airport, many charter flights leave to destinations such as Greece and Malaga in the summer, and to well-known ski resorts in Austria and Switzerland during the winter. If you’re not a fan of snow, you can also go to the Canary Islands during the winter to surprise everyone with your full-body tan when you return—as opposed to the very selective and infamous winter sports tan.
If you want to avoid the waiting lines and endless security checks at the airport, you can also decide to go on a trip by train. Dutch public transport is among the most developed systems in the world, and you can reach virtually every Dutch place—even the smallest villages—by train. The Dutch Railways (Nederlandse Spoorwegen, NS in short) offer a variety of international destinations in addition to domestic transport, from Switzerland to the UK. You can also take the Thalys to Paris, which will get you there in less than four hours and leaves you enough time for a romantic weekend.
Finally, you can always choose the ultimate freedom by renting a car, which leaves you unlimited opportunities in terms of destinations. AVIS and Europcar are the largest two rental companies in Groningen. Don’t forget to make a nice iPod playlist or CD before you leave by car, blasting your own music from the speakers is essential to a successful road trip! But beware, gas is expensive in the Netherlands, so you might want to head into Germany right away to save money.