Groningen and Haarlem: interesting cities in Holland

Groningen – the city of students in the Netherlands

The city of Groningen is located in the north of Holland. It is relatively small town, but it is the largest administrative and cultural center of the Northern Netherlands. Tourists are attracted by the well-preserved ancient architecture and many places of interest. Groningen has its own interesting features: it is called the city of students, as well as the international capital of cyclists.

The City of Groningen


Groningen (Netherlands) was first mentioned in chronicles almost 1000 years ago. By the XIII century it was already a big trading city with impregnable fortress walls. The city has managed to preserve its ancient architecture to this day, despite the many wars it has endured.

Historical plan of Groningen, 1652

The historic center of the city has preserved many buildings from the XV-XVII centuries, including the famous University of Groningen, founded in 1614. More than 200 thousand alumni have graduated from this university, including two Nobel Prize winners, the first female professor in Holland, and the president of the Central European Bank. In Groningen every fourth inhabitant is now a student of the university.

Groningen is the seventh most populous city in the Netherlands, with about 193,000 people. It covers 83 km² and although it is far from the sea, there is no lack of sea. In summer, residents and visitors of Groningen have at their disposal a river, canal and lake where you can sunbathe on the beaches and ride on boats, canoes and pleasure boats.

The bicycle is the main transport system in Groningen

About 60% of vehicles on the streets of Groningen – bicycles, it is for the needs of cyclists adapted to the entire transport infrastructure of the city. Tourists who share Groningen’s love of this form of transport can rent a bicycle and experience all the advantages of this mode of transport.

Air temperature in Groningen

The climate, like the rest of Holland, Groningen is mild, with long hot summers and mostly “plus” winters. You can come here all year round, each season has its own advantages.

During the summer there are many different public events, the most popular of which is the music festival “Eurosonic”, gathering musicians and music lovers from all over Europe.

Attractions and entertainment

Groningen is a cozy city, full of atmosphere of old Holland, where you can get maximum pleasure just strolling through the old streets and resting in the shady squares, where lovingly manicured every meter of land. But it is not only the atmosphere and comfort that attracts you to Groningen, the sights are worthy of no less attention.

Groninger University Museum

Groningen University Museum

Among the attractions are many museums: the Groninger Museum, the North Sea Museum, the Tobacco Museum, the Potato Museum, the Graphics Museum, the Comics Museum, the Anthropology Museum, and the Groningen University Museum.

Among the attractions of Groningen and interesting natural sites – numerous parks, lake Paterswoldsemeer. Lovers of nature can fish, swim, go boating, have a picnic or a barbecue here. You can go on a tour to the working windmill on the lake and take part in the process of making bread.

Opposite the Groningen railway station on the bank of the canal stands the original buildings of the Groningen Museum. This architectural complex was built in 1994 by an international team of renowned architects. It consists of three pavilions: one in the form of a low silver cylinder, one in the form of a tall yellow parallelepiped, the third in the style of deconstructivism. From the museum across the canal there is a bridge for pedestrians and cyclists leading to the train station and the city center.

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Groninger Museum

Groninger Museum is an attraction that attracts not only by its unusual appearance but also by its content. It is one of the best art museums in Holland. In its bright spacious halls you can find paintings of the old Dutch school, but the overwhelming part of the exposition is modern art: paintings, graphics, sculptures and installations of artists from many countries of the world.

Paintings in the Groninger Museum

Modern art lovers will find a lot to interest them. But even those who are indifferent to modern art should not ignore this place, because in the Groninger Museum are constantly held art exhibitions on various topics.

  • Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10-17, Monday off.
  • Ticket price: 15 € for adults, free for children under 19 years.
  • Address: Museumeiland 1, 9711 ME Groningen, the Netherlands.
  • Official website:

In the center of Groningen there is another attraction, typical of Holland, where every scrap of land is highly valued and nurtured. It is Prinsenhof Gardens, a small garden at the former residence of the bishop, which has now become one of the best hotels in the city. In this hotel members of the Dutch royal family stay during their visits to Groningen.

Prinsenhof Gardens

According to the guests of Groningen, the Prinsenhof Garden is a true masterpiece of garden art. It is impeccably maintained and buried in flowers. Labyrinths of perfectly trimmed bushes, arched tunnels covered with evergreen climbers, plenty of rose bushes and beds of flowers in keeping with the season – all this delights and appeases.

Here you can relax in silence from the bustle of the city. Tables and chairs are placed directly on the ideally pruned green lawn. In the kiosk there you can buy coffee or herbal tea with Holland’s popular dessert – the famous apple pie with whipped cream. Often there are creative meetings with artists of the Netherlands, poetry evenings.

View of the Prinsenhof Gardens from above

Despite the small size and exclusivity of the garden, the rest in it is available to all. This is a favorite place for a pleasant pastime of the locals and visitors.

  • Working hours: Saturday-Sunday – 10-18.
  • Admission is free.
  • Address: Prinsenhof, Groningen, Netherlands.

One of the interesting sights of Groningen, recommended to visit all the guests of the Netherlands is Martinitoren. This tower is the bell tower of St. Martin’s Cathedral, located in the center of the market square. Its spire rises to a height of 97 meters and is the highest in the city. The record height, combined with the frequent storms and thunderstorms that characterize the area, played a cruel joke with the Martini Tower – it has been the target of lightning and fire three times since it was built.

Martinitoren Tower

The original version of the thirty-meter high tower was built of tuff in the 13th century, but soon after a lightning strike the structure burned down. A hundred and fifty years later, the Martinitoren was rebuilt, increasing its height by 15 meters, but it too did not last long, becoming a victim of lightning.

Thirty years later the Martin Tower was rebuilt, but a hundred and a half years later the structure was again damaged by fire. The culprits of the fire were residents celebrating the city’s liberation from the Spaniards. They had unintentionally caused a fire, and the upper part of the building burned down.

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View from the Martinitoren Tower

Only 100 years later, in the XVII century, the landmark was rebuilt in the form that survives to this day. At the base of the building is only 3 meters, stone stairs inside lead to a height of 60 meters, where you can see a magnificent panorama of the city. Like the Italian Tower of Pisa, the Martinitoren is inclined. The deviation from the vertical is 60 cm.

Bells in the Martinitoren tower

Climbing up, you can see the frescoes on the walls, preserved since the XVI century, and 62 unique ancient bells. Above the entrance door are portraits of three great Dutch men who lived in Groningen at different times – St. Martinus, the poet Bernlef and the medieval humanist Rudolf Agricola.

  • Opening hours: May to October 11-17, November to April 12-16.
  • Ticket price: 6 €, for children up to 12 years old 3,5 €.
  • Address: Martinikerkhof 1, 9712 JG Groningen, The Netherlands.

In the center of Groningen, surrounded by ancient streets with numerous cafes and souvenir stores, you will find one of the oldest attractions in Holland – the Aa Church. It attracts attention from afar with its pointed tower with a clock.

Der Aa-kerk church

The church gets its name from the river Aa, near where it was built. Originally it was a chapel in honor of Our Lady and the patron saint of fishermen St. Nicholas. In the middle of the XIII century it became one of the two central religious buildings of the city, which united the parishioners around itself.

Exhibition in the Church of Der Aa-kerk

Because of the devastation associated with wars, the events of the Reformation and natural disasters, the church Aa repeatedly changed its appearance. By the end of the 15th century Der Aa-kerk acquired the appearance in which this landmark exists today – a brick building in the Gothic style with lancet windows and a high turret.

The Aa church often hosts exhibitions, concerts and other events during which it is open to the public. There is an organ, which is still in working order, in the interior.

The address is Akerkhof 2, 9711 JB Groningen, Netherlands.


3* Hotel Schimmelpenninck Huys

Hotel Schimmelpenninck Huys

You can usually stay in Groningen easily, but if you want to save money during the summer months, you should book accommodation well in advance. Rates vary based on location and season.

The price for a double room in a 3* hotel starts from 75 € per day in summer and 80-100 € per day in a 4* hotel. Apartments in the suburbs can be found from 70 €/day for 4 people, in the city – about the price of a hotel room – 80-100 €/day for two people.


Dinner at Brasserie Groen

Brasserie Groen

The cuisine of the Netherlands is somewhat peculiar, you can try what national dishes are worth visiting the country here. In Groningen you can always find a place with both local and European cuisine. There are plenty of catering establishments in the city, with different cuisines and price levels.

  • The cheapest place for lunch is a fast-food place – 17-20 € for two people.
  • In a cheap restaurant a couple’s lunch will cost 30-40 €.
  • At a mid-priced restaurant – about 75 €.

How to get to Groningen from Amsterdam

Amsterdam Central Station

Amsterdam railway station

There is a train connection between Amsterdam and Groningen.

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Trains to Groningen depart from Amsterdam Central Station. To get to Groningen you can either take a direct train which runs once a day or change trains at Almere Centrum station, to which trains run at 0.5-1 hour intervals. Direct train travel time is 2 h 7 min, change to Almere Centrum station is 2 h 29 min. Tickets cost 27.9 € on weekdays during rush hours and are 40% cheaper at weekends and during off-peak hours, i.e. 16.74 €. You can buy tickets online on the website of the Dutch railroads – We have detailed information about the public transport in Amsterdam on this page.

Bus from station Sloterdijk


A trip by bus will cost about the same amount – 25 €. Once a day the bus number 44 leaves from Amsterdam Bus Station. And about 10 times a day runs the 075 route from the Amsterdam Sloterdijk stop, which can be reached from Amsterdam, Dam by streetcar 14, line 14. Travel time to Groningen is from 2 hours. 10 min to 2 hrs. 30 min. To find out the current fares and to buy a ticket, visit

Prices on the page are for August 2022.

The city of Groningen is worth visiting at least once and you’ll always remember it for its beauty and unique atmosphere, making you want to come here again.

The video: a walk through Groningen, its markets, streets and attractions, and useful information for travelers.

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This is where my friends live. Haarlem in the Netherlands and what’s good about it

Filed: Holland 2 990 0

Haarlem is more beautiful than Amsterdam! That’s all there is to know about this city Although no, not everything. It is in Haarlem that our friends Richard and Caroline live, it is from them that we contracted the heretical idea that Haarlem is better than Amsterdam, and it is from them that we stayed while traveling in Holland. So perhaps we know Haarlem better than other cities in the Netherlands. In today’s article, we will share that knowledge with you.

The city of Haarlem, Netherlands: attractions, photos and hotels, what to see and how to get there

Contents of the article

  • In a nutshell: What is Haarlem
  • The sights of Haarlem
  • Haarlem sights on the city map
  • Discover how to get from Amsterdam and other cities
  • Where to stay

Haarlem in a nutshell

In our ranking of the most beautiful cities in Holland, Haarlem is on the same (first) line with Delft. Haarlem has a population of 150,000 people and is located just 20 km west of Amsterdam. Sometimes this city is called Haarlem or Haarlem, and it is in honor of it that the famous New York neighborhood of Haarlem is named. Yes, the Dutch once lived there)

Like many small (by Russian standards, of course) cities in the Netherlands, Haarlem has preserved its medieval architecture and unique look. In Haarlem and its surroundings are preserved several old mills, on the beautiful and breathtaking square Grote Markt for many centuries on Saturdays the market bustles and the local canal Bakenessergracht considered the most beautiful in Holland. Regarded by whom, you might ask? The Haarlem people, of course!

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And in general, it seemed to us that Harlem residents (including our friends Richard and Caroline) not only love their city and are proud of it, but also look down on their noisy, bustling neighbor named Amsterdam. In Russia, of course, something like this is hard to imagine (“Residents of Mytishchi look down on Moscow,” how about that?). But for Holland this is very common and there is a lot to love and be proud of in Haarlem. This is not just a very beautiful city where a simple walk through the streets can give you an aesthetic pleasure: it’s full of interesting sights. We’ll tell you about them now.

On the photo: Haarlem, Netherlands.

Probably my favorite photo of Haarlem.

Haarlem’s main attractions.

During its thousands of years of history (the first record dates back to the tenth century) Haarlem acquired a lot of interesting places. Sightseeing in Haarlem is not lacking, here we will briefly tell you about 5 main of them, a link to a more detailed article is waiting for you below.

The main square Grote Markt

The small but very beautiful market square Grote Markt is not one, but a whole set of attractions! After all, several interesting historical buildings are located on this square at once. The most famous of them are the Church of St. Bavon, the Town Hall, the House of the City Guard and the Meat Market (former meat market, now a museum). As already mentioned, on Saturdays there is a food market where you can buy anything from cheeses and herring to fruits and vegetables.

Church of St. Bavon

Haarlem’s main church deserves a story of its own. This Gothic church was built in the XIV century, but was badly damaged by fire and was restored in the XV-XVI centuries, and in 1961 after another restoration it was restored to its original appearance. The height of the bell tower is 80 meters. The organ of the church of St. Bavon is considered the most beautiful in the world, and Mozart, Handel, and Mendelssohn played it.

Photo: Market square Grote Markt, Haarlem, Holland.

On Saturdays, the Grote Markt square near the Church of St. Bavon (pictured center) is bustling with market activity.

Amsterdam Gate

The Amsterdam (or West) Gate is the only one of Harlem’s twelve city wall gates still standing. Built in the 14th century, at that time the road from the capital to Haarlem ran through them.

Photo: Amsterdam Gate, Haarlem, the Netherlands.

It was from this gate that the good old Haarlem began.

Main Station

As in many European cities, the station in Haarlem is a real work of art. It was built in the early 20th century on the oldest railway line in the country, Amsterdam-Harlem. In 2004 several scenes from the movie “Ocean’s Twelve” were shot here.

Railway station in Haarlem, Netherlands.

In the Hollywood blockbuster Harlem station “played” the station of Amsterdam, where the characters of Brad Pitt and George Clooney were waiting for the train.

Adrian’s Mill

Local industrialist Adrian de Beuys, after whom the landmark is named, built the huge, beautiful mill in 1779. At various times cement, paint, snuff, and even (you won’t believe it!) grain was produced here, and in 1932 the mill burned down completely. At the beginning of the XXI century it was rebuilt according to historical drawings, and now it once again graces the banks of the Sparna River.

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In the photo: De Adriaan Mill, Haarlem, The Netherlands.

The 30-meter-high De Adriaan mill is also a great vantage point and provides a panoramic view of Haarlem.

Haarlem also has the most beautiful canal and the oldest museum in the Netherlands; the red light district and the brewery in the church! Read more in our article:

Map of Haarlem with sights

How to get to Haarlem from different cities in the Netherlands

As already mentioned, the distance between Haarlem and Amsterdam is only 20 km. And if the devil’s thirst for adventure took you to the capital of the Netherlands, you have to make the beautiful Haarlem happy at least for a day visit. It is easy to get to Haarlem from other cities. Here is a brief information about how to get to Haarlem from the main Dutch cities and the cost and travel time. Check the Dutch Railways website for train schedules and current prices.

1. How to get from Amsterdam to Haarlem

The most convenient way to get from Amsterdam to Haarlem is by train from Amsterdam Centraal Station. Travel time – 15-20 minutes, the ticket price – from 4.5 euros, the trains move one after another.

2. How to get from Eindhoven to Haarlem

There are no direct trains from Eindhoven to Haarlem. Change the train at the Amsterdam Centraal railway station (usually takes no more than 15 minutes). Ticket price – from 22 euros, travel time (including transfers) – on average 1 hour 45 minutes.

3. How to get from The Hague to Haarlem

There are a lot of direct trains from The Hague to Haarlem. The trip takes from 36 to 43 minutes, the price of a second-class ticket is 8.9 euros.

4. How to get from Haarlem to Leiden

Here too, everything is very simple and convenient: trains between Haarlem and Leiden Centraal stations run constantly, the journey takes about 20 minutes, the ticket costs from 6.2 euros.

Haarlem, Netherlands.

Haarlem is the same Holland that travelers dream about at night.

Haarlem, Holland.

The photo of Haarlem is a classic image of the Netherlands: boats, canals and low “triangular” houses.

In the photo: Haarlem, Holland.

No Dutch cottage is too small!

Where to stay in Haarlem

Hotels in Haarlem is a separate topic: when coming to Holland, many travelers (like us) prefer to stay here rather than in Amsterdam. Because it’s cheaper and the city is beautiful, and it’s also convenient to get to many beautiful places: The Hague, Leiden, Delft and that, what is it… Right, Amsterdam! The converse is also true: many of the tourists you meet on the streets of Haarlem stay in Amsterdam and come here for a day – to wander the beautiful streets and rest from the eternal bustle of the city of sins and crazy cyclists.

The Dutch (did you know?) reservation system has hundreds of hotels for every taste and budget in each of these cities. Take your pick, make your reservations, and have a great trip to visit old Holland!

Photo of Haarlem, Holland.

Even on weekends, when the streets are crowded, Haarlem remains a quiet, peaceful town. Compared to Amsterdam, of course.

When you return, don’t forget to share your impressions of your trip to this beautiful city. We look forward to hearing about Haarlem and the other beautiful cities in the Netherlands!

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