The Netherlands is a country which is often famous for its pouring rain, endless flat surfaces and picturesque villages with windmills overlooking farmlands and small waters. This might sound slightly boring, but it is actually endearingly beautiful. This will become most evident in the quiet, northern provinces of Drenthe, Groningen and Friesland.
What better way to reach those than to fly straight into them, arriving at the Groningen Airport? There is none. But from then on, we really do advise you to get a cheap car rental Groningen, because these provinces are rather stretched out. First, we would like to tell you what you can expect from this northern airport before diving into all the amazing and fun things you can see and do in the northern Netherlands.
Airport of the North
Groningen Airport, or Groningen Airport Eelde in full, is a commercial airport close to the village of Eelde. Hence the name of course. It is about ten kilometers south of the city of Groningen and sizes up to be the fifth largest airport in the Netherlands. It uses a single runway for all of its flights, which go all over Europe. When your destination is in the north of the Netherlands, this airport is your best bet to get there quickly. Especially if you choose a car rental in Groningen to continue your journey!
History Groningen Airport
During the Dutch aviation boom in the early 20th century, when many areas decided it was time to create commercial airports, plans were made for one in the north as well. Multiple plans failed however, usually because the ground was too soft in the designated areas. In 1930 however, pilot and former steward Hayo Hindriks submitted an initiative for an airport due south of Eelde which became a success. The airport was officially opened in 1931 by the major. In his speech he predicted that this airport would become the main airport in the north, and right he was.
Guinness book of world records
Groningen airport even played a role in an attempt for the Guinness book of world records. On December 17th in 2003, Dutchman Frank Versteegh tried to land his aircraft at every single airport in the Netherlands, which comes to a total of 25. The attempt was made in honor of a 100 years of aviation in the Netherlands. Over 40.000 people watched his efforts. The attempt was successful and the record still stands to this day.
The north of the Netherlands
Not to be confused with the province in which the capital Amsterdam is located, North Holland, the northern Netherlands actually consist of three different provinces and represents the north and north-northeast of the country. These provinces are distinctly different from the rest of the country due to their calm and easy-going way of life, surroundings and customs. The three provinces we mean here are Drenthe, Friesland and of course Groningen. When taking off from Groningen Airport, you could use public transport. This is however far less convenient than a cheap car rental Groningen, because the sights and activities are spread all over the countryside. We will tell you all about the places to go, sights to see and activities to do when you plan on going this way.
Activity is key
The Dutch around these areas love outdoor activities. They really do. The flat yet beautiful countryside lends itself perfectly for bike rides and long hikes, but there are some particular activities that deserve a special mention as well.
Yes, mudflat hiking! The provinces of Friesland and Groningen have long coastlines on their northern edge, which lend themselves perfectly for hikes across the mudflats. During low tide these are exposed due to the retreating sea, so you can quite easily hike over them. A guide is advised though, for the incoming tide or certain area’s could catch unknowing hikers off guard. Apart from that it is perfectly safe, so strap on your rubber boots and get hiking.
The Dutch love their ice skating, and their ice skating temple stands in Friesland. Thialf is the name of the ice skating stadium which often hosts European and World Cup competitions for ice skaters. Every winter, the entire population of the country also has their fingers cross for the so called 11 city ride. This is an ice skating competition on natural ice, which brings the competitors past 11 different villages in the northern Netherlands. For all of these waters to freeze, a harsh winter is required. Hence, the last time this competition was held was back in 1997. Predictions are that when it happens again, the entire country will be watching, making it the largest and most viewed Dutch sporting event in history. We’re sharpening our skates as we speak.
You might have noticed this by now, but the Dutch love most things which involve water. Whether it be frozen or fluid, it doesn’t really matter. This is due to the long relation the Dutch have had with water. Fighting it, enjoying it and using it to speed up economical progress. One of the best ways to enjoy the Dutch waters is by sailing, which you can do easily in the northern provinces. Especially in Friesland, where there are lots of lakes and the village of Sneek hosts the annual Sneekweek. Many youngsters from all over the country visit the village during that week for days filled with sailing, sun and parties. Sounds fun? It is!
Places to visit
Now that you know where you will arrive and what kind of activities you can do during your stay, you might also be interested in places to go for good old fashioned sightseeing, tasty food and nice atmospheres. Luckily, we’ve got you covered. Below you will find a selection of sights that will make you love the northern provinces like we all do. All easily accessible with your car rental in Groningen.
The provincial capital of Drenthe has a lot in store, with one thing in particular. If you are a fan of motorsports, you will definitely want to visit the famous Dutch TT Circuit. Often there will be MotoGP events and races, so check their schedule if you want to witness one of those. If you’re less about loud motorcycles and more about history, the Drents Museum is a very fine place to go and see the collection of local and general history.
The fortified town of Bourtange was erected during the 80 year war between the Dutch and the Spanish, in which the Dutch fought for their independence. The city of Groningen sided with the Spanish and was supplied from Germany via a route through the Bourtange swamp. The Dutch resistance erected a measure to block the supply route, which grew into the fortified town of Bourtange. The historical center has been beautifully restored and is very much worth the visit. The town has a distinct shape, much like a five pointed star, surrounded by water. Making it easy to defend back then and fun to see now. Your car rental Groningen should easily take you here, so there is no excuse to miss out on this town!
A nice and cozy harbor town on the seaside in the province of Groningen. It actually serves as the most important port on the northern shore of the Netherlands and is quickly reached with your Groningen rental car. A fun event here, which is held every five years, is DelfSail. During this event, hundreds of different ships sail past the harbor of Delfzijl. Simply drive your car rental Groningen here and enjoy the festivities! From small ships to big ones, young and old, every single ship is welcomed. Seeing the water filled with all these ships is an amazing sight and definitely worth the trip. Add the performances by famous artists to that and you’ll have the time of your life.
Yes, Groningen! It is the largest city of the northern provinces and also the capital of the identically named province. Groningen is a lively city with many amazing sights and activities. Over a third of its population consists of students from all over the country and as such it has a thriving nightlife scene. Each year the Eurosonic Noorderslag festival is held in the city. During that week, many upcoming bands perform and the entire Dutch music industry comes to see them. They use the event to search for new talent and choose who they would like to host on their festivals and in their clubs during the rest of the year. Enjoy the bands in all the different venues and comfortably drive your Groningen rental car home afterwards. Perfect for music lovers.
This charming harbor town is famous for its beautiful lighthouse that used to guide ships past the dangerous coast during storms and darkness. Due to modernized techniques and ships, the lighthouse no longer serves that purpose. Now, it is a symbol of the towns history in fishing and trade. A little out of the way perhaps, but surely worth driving to in your car rental from Groningen!
The provincial capital of Friesland, which is filled with both modern and historic culture. If you love museums, architecture and all other forms of culture, make sure to visit this town and get your fill. Simply cruise down in your car rental from Groningen and visit the Fries Museum, the Museumhaven, the Sint Bonifatius church or AquaZoo Friesland. There’s so much to do here, you will never want to leave again.
In the province of Drenthe lies the small village of Westerbork. Not very noteworthy by itself, but known for being the location of a transit camp for deportees during the second World War. The sad reality is that many thousands of people who were deported from the Netherlands during the war all came through here, before they were put on trains to concentration camps like Auschwitz. Even though the camp was broken down after the war, many parts such as the old barracks have been restored and some of the old railroad tracks are still on the ground. Next to these remnants is also a museum dedicated to this history, so that we may never forget the atrocities which happened during the war. Not the happiest of places, but interesting and worthwhile nonetheless.
The West Frisian Islands
Generally known among the Dutch as the mudflat islands, these are a chain of islands alongside the northern coast of the Netherlands. Most of these, except for the largest ones, belong to the province of Friesland. There are ferries which can take you and your cheap rental car Groningen here, so they are quite easy to reach. Enjoy the stunning nature and salty sea smell which these tiny islands offer, but make sure to leave nothing more than your footprints.
Time to take off!
Are you ready for your trip to the northern part of Holland? Be sure to book your car rental Groningen before you go and you will be ready to visit all the different sights the area has to offer. You can easily do this on our website. If you need any help with that, we will be here for you. We hope you have an amazing time!