Groningen is the capital of the province with the same name, and the most important city in the north of the Netherlands. The city has a beautiful historical center, which was only partly destroyed (north side Grote Markt) when the city was bombed during the Second World War. On the Grote Markt there is the Martini Tower, the symbol of the city that its people lovingly call 'The Old Grey One'. Groningen is very much a student city, and it has the nightlife to match.
The city has over 180,000 inhabitants, one of five of whom is a student. This makes it a city with a young population.
Groningen is located in the north of the Netherlands, on the northern point of a low ridge, the Hondsrug. It is located at 60 kilometers from Leeuwarden, at 190 kilometers from Amsterdam and at 320 kilometers from Maastricht.
Historically, Groningen has been a commercial city and the economic center of the region. These days, business services are the most important, especially related to energy. The Gasunie has its headquarters in Groningen. Government and education provide many jobs in Groningen, like the Provincial Government, the University of Groningen, the University Medical Center and the Hanzehogeschool. The share of the food industry (sugar, tobacco and coffee) has decreased, although it continues to be important to the city's economy.
Ten kilometers to the south of the city lies the airport of Groningen Airport Eelde, a regional airfield with connections to holiday destinations in Southern Europe, often with a stop-over at Rotterdam, Eindhoven or Maastricht. There is one regular service to Aberdeen in Scotland. Furthermore, many private and business planes use the airport.
In Groningen, there are only buses. Almost all the lines at one point stop at the railway station. From there, they depart for surrounding towns and villages, including 'fast buses', the so-called Q-liners.
For a long tine, Groningen has been using a so-called traffic circulation plan. The city center is divided into four sectors that are not reachable by car from any of the other sectors. To get from one sector to another, people need to take the Diepenring ('diep' in the local dialect means canal). The idea was to ban traffic from the center, which was successful. You will meet more people on foot and bikes than in cars. Furthermore, many roads are one-way only.
To explore the center of the city, the best way is to park your car in one of the car parks that are located in the circle around the center. The municipal council encourages that: parking in the center is more expensive. The 12 car parks are indicated with 'P-route' signs. Along the highways to the south and east of the city there are five P+R areas. With the exception of P+R Zaanstraat, they are all free. You can then take the Citybus into the center of Groningen.
Groningen has a reasonable number of hotels. There is no 5 star hotel, but there are four 4 star hotels. To be sure you have a hotel room, we recommend booking in advance, especially if you want to stay in the city center.
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