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24km (15 miles) S of Groningen

With all due respect to the capital of Drenthe province, Assen (pop. 64,000) is a pleasant enough town but contains little of historical importance or unmissable visitor interest. It is, though, a good base from which to make forays into Drenthe's rural tranquillity -- an ancient landscape in which life flourished long before the land on which most Dutch now live was reclaimed from the sea.

Getting There -- Up to three trains an hour run from Groningen to Assen station, a little way east of the center of town; the ride takes less than 20 minutes and costs 5€ ($8) one-way and 9€ ($14) for a day round-trip. By car, take A28/E232 south, or the parallel and more scenic N372.

Visitor Information -- VVV Assen, Marktstraat 8-10, 9401 JH Assen (tel. 0592/243-788; fax 0592/241-852; www.ditisassen.nl), is in the center of town.

Places of Interest

Just south of the center, the large Asserbos public park contains the remnants of an ancient oak forest, though only around one-tenth of the park's area is covered by original forest, the remainder having been planted in 1760. On the grounds is a children's farm.

Farther south, just outside of town, is Holland's national TT (Tourist Trophy) Circuit (www.tt-assen.com), where the annual Dutch grand prix motorcycle race takes place on the last Saturday in June. On preceding days, Assen's peaceable streets fill up with leather-clad bikers and fab-looking bikes from around Europe.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.