To be honest, I don’t visit the north of The Netherlands very often. In fact, I had never been in Groningen before. As my mother and I were very pleased with our staycation in Amsterdam, we decided to do one last trip before the baby’s birth and take my sister on a weekend to Groningen. When we visited Groningen, stores and museums were still open, but restaurants were closed. We picked “The Student Hotel” for our stay, as this hotel has a trendy restaurant with a little menu that you could order all day. The amount of activities we could do in Groningen were limited, so we took the car to explore the area and we also visited Zoutkamp and world famous Giethoorn.
The Student Hotel
We were able to book rooms at The Student Hotel for as little as € 60 per room per night, which was a very good deal. The Student Hotel is located near the city center of Groningen and you will find parking garage Boterdiep just around the corner. We paid € 12 for a parking spot for the night which was very convenient as well. The Student Hotel is a hotel with quirky and modern design choices and the rooms were simple but well equipped. Everything was very clean and social distancing was practiced. The restaurant only had a limited menu, because of the low number of visitors but everything we ate was very good and affordable. We had breakfast for € 12,50 per person, which included pastries, freshly baked bread and eggs, cappuccino, juice and even lactose free yoghurt and granola. In the evening we had delicious burgers, which were also of great value. Overall, we really liked our stay and I will definitely think of The Student Hotel when I am booking another city trip, as you will find this chain in lots of cities in The Netherlands.
I found Groningen to be super charming, there are lots of cute alleyways and cobblestone streets and you will even find Amsterdam like canals. You must do a little walk at the canals at night as the boats are decorated with romantic lights. I think they are also decorated this way when it’s not Christmas season. Even though we didn’t do serious shopping, I was also impressed by the number of original and local stores you will find in the city center. I definitely want to go back when the restaurants are open again and the cherry blossoms are in full bloom!
I would have loved to visit the Groninger Museum, as the building looks super interesting but this was very hard to do because there was a popular Rolling Stones exhibition and the number of tickets was limited due to COVID. I therefore had to satisfy myself with a little photo shoot of the exterior of the building. Apparently, there is a beautiful staircase with colorful tiling, which I had now missed.
Just outside of Groningen city you will find Reitdiep. I had heard that the harbor of Reitdiep featured super colorful houses, but I didn’t expect to much of it knowing it was a new residential area. We accidentally passed it on our way to Zoutkamp and it looked great from the highway, so we did a little detour and parked our car near the colorful houses. We got super lucky with the weather as it was sunny and there was no wind, which created beautiful reflections of the houses in the water. If you also have a thing with colorful houses, definitely make a stop at Reitdiep!
Zoutkamp is a little village even more up north in Groningen. It is included on some lists with the prettiest villages in The Netherlands. In summer time it can get pretty touristy near the fisherman’s harbor, but in wintertime you can have this town all to yourself. I loved taking some pictures in this spot where it seemed like time has stood still. Besides the beautiful harbor it was also nice to have a little drive in Groningen and to see something of the countryside.
My sister had never been in Giethoorn before, so we made another pitstop on our road trip of the north. Giethoorn usually is extremely touristy all year long so I was very surprised that we were among only 15 visitors. I visited Giethoorn years ago and then it was full of Dutch and international tourists. The only thing you can do in Giethoorn during COVID is rent a boat, which I found way too cold in wintertime. I never expected myself to say this, but Giethoorn was less charming without tourists. The photo opportunities were great, but it just didn’t seem right. I missed restaurants and touristy shops being open and the little traffic jams with boats on the canals. Giethoorn is located in national park the Weerribben, which is a beautiful area and definitely worth a visit. You can do little hikes in this area or rent a boat when the weather is a little more warm.