The towns and places below can easily be visited on day trips from Groningen by car or bus, some by train, and others by bike or canoe if you have the time and energy for it.
20km (12 miles) N of Groningen
Warffum is typical of the "mound villages" constructed above flood level in past centuries. Before local people became expert at building dikes to hold back the water, they constructed mounds to provide places of safety for their families and livestock. Such a man-made mound, known as a terp (pl. terpen) in Friesland, and as a wierde (pl. wierden) or warft (pl. warften) in Groningen, often holds one of the oldest settlements in the area and looks like an island rising a little way above the surrounding polders.
There are local trains and buses from Groningen to Warffum; by car, go north on N361 to Winsum, and then north and east on N363.
Just outside the village, Openluchtmuseum Het Hoogeland, Schoolstraat 4 (tel. 0595/422-233; www.hethoogeland.com), is an open-air museum that holds fascinating relics from the mound settlements, medieval costumes, and other objects. It's open April to October Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm and Sunday from 1 to 5pm. Admission is 5€ ($8) for adults, 3.50€ ($5.60) for seniors, 2€ ($3.20) for children ages 6 to 11, and free for children 5 and under.
23km (14 miles) N of Groningen; 8km (5 miles) E of Warffum
A mound village with a 13th-century church that contains a beautiful organ from 1700, Uithuizen is worth a quick look just for itself. But the main reason for coming here is to visit the nearby Menkemaborg manor house. There are frequent trains and buses from Groningen; by car, take N46 north and then N999.
26km (16 miles) NE of Groningen; 19km (12 miles) SE of Uithuizen
The port town of Delfzijl (pop. 28,000) has a busy, colorful harbor and looks out across the Eems estuary to Germany. From here, seagoing vessels sail up the Eems Canal to Groningen.
There are frequent trains and buses from Groningen; by car, go northeast on N360. Tourist information is available from VVV Delfzijl, J. van den Kornputplein 1, Delfzil (tel. 0596/616-550).
In the town is the Muzeeaquarium, Zeebadweg 7 (tel. 0596/632-277; www.muzeeaquarium.nl). Here you find North Sea aquatic life, corals, shells, and a geological museum with fossils, minerals, and archaeological and maritime exhibits. The aquarium is open daily from 10am to 4:30pm (closed Jan 1, Apr 30, Dec 25 and 26). Admission is 4.50€ ($7.20) for adults, 4€ ($6.40) for seniors, 2.75€ ($4.40) for children ages 4 to 12, and free for children 3 and under.
East of Delfzijl, the shore of the Dollard, a wide bay rimmed by mud flats, is a great place to observe wading birds.
16km (10 miles) E of Groningen
This village is at the center of Groningen's natural gas field. Its star attraction is the lovely Fraeylemaborg estate. To get here by car from Groningen, take N360 toward Delfzijl, turn right onto N986 just outside the city, and then take N387. Bus no. 178 goes from Groningen bus station, a half-hour ride.
30km (19 miles) E of Groningen
The village of Heiligerlee is known to every Dutch schoolchild because one of the most famous battles in the country's history was fought here. On May 23, 1568, Count Louis of Nassau defeated a Spanish army in a battle that sparked the Eighty Years War, which in turn led to the formation of the free Republic of the Netherlands.
To get here from Groningen by car, take A7/E22 east to exit 46. Local trains and buses go from Groningen via nearby Scheemda.
A multimedia exhibit at the Museum Slag bij Heiligerlee (Battle of Heiligerlee Museum), Provincialeweg 55 (tel. 0597/418-199; www.slagbijheiligerlee.nl), takes you back to the famous battle of 1568 and the war that ensued. The museum is open April Tuesday to Sunday from 1 to 5pm; May to September Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm, Sunday from 1 to 5pm; and October Tuesday to Friday and Sunday from 1 to 5pm. Admission is 3.50€ ($5.60) for adults, 1.50€ ($2.40) for children ages 6 to 17, and free for children 5 and under.
Just across the road, in the former Van Bergen Bell Foundry from 1795, which cast more than 10,000 bells, ranging from the smallest of dinner bells to massive church and carillon bells, is the Klokkengieterijmuseum, Provincialeweg 46 (tel. 0597/418-199; www.klokkengieterijmuseum.nl). Exhibits explain the history of bell casting, and there are demonstrations (by appointment only) and carillon concerts. The museum is open April Tuesday to Sunday from 1 to 5pm; May to September Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm, Sunday from 1 to 5pm; and October Tuesday to Friday and Sunday from 1 to 5pm. Admission is 3.50€ ($5.60) for adults, 1.50€ ($2.40) for children ages 6 to 17, and free for children 5 and under.
Combined admission to both museums is 5€ ($8) for adults, 2.50€ ($4) for children ages 6 to 17, and free for children 5 and under.
14km (8 1/2 miles) SW of Groningen
Just northeast of this small town stands the wooded estate of Landgoed Nienoord (tel. 0594/512-604; www.nienoord-leek.nl). It's on the border of the Leekstermeer, a lake that offers swimming and sailing. At the heart of the estate, Kasteel Nienoord, a handsome manor house that was reconstructed in 1887 after fire and general deterioration had all but ruined the 1525 original, houses the Nationaal Rijtuigmuseum (National Carriage Museum), Nienord 1 (tel. 0594/512-260; www.rijtuigmuseum.nl). It holds a wonderful collection of antique horse-drawn carriages, stagecoaches, and sleighs; the uniforms and accessories of their drivers; and related paintings and prints. There's a restaurant on the premises. The museum is open April to October Tuesday to Friday from 10am to 5pm, and weekends from 1 to 5pm. Admission is 5€ ($8) for adults, 4€ ($6.40) for seniors, and free for children 18 and under.
Around the estate, you'll find several other attractions. Familiepark Nienoord, Nienoord 10 (tel. 0594/512-230; www.familieparknienoord.nl), is a park with rides and other activities for children. Swim both indoors and outdoors in a "subtropical pool" at Nienoord Zwemkasteel, Nienoord 12 (tel. 0594/517-500; www.zwemkasteelnienoord.nl).
6km (3 3/4 miles) S of Groningen
The premier attraction of Haren is its excellent botanical garden.
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.