How to rent a car or van
Located in the street Oosterhamrikkade 6 (as well as at the airport), Europcar offers cars and transporters (suitable for driver license B) at moderate rates for hours, days or weeks. Book in advance, if possible as most transporters are already reserved for the weekends:
the branch in the city
the branch at the airport
This is a local car rental agency, located in the street Koningsweg 27. Since the website is in Dutch only, please look for the word “verhuiswagens”, these are transporters suitable for moving furniture: stuur.nl. Their prices are most fitting for students.
Hertz is a global car and transporter rental and located in the street Laan Van De Vrijheid 280 A. For more information about prices and transporters, please click here
For moving by transporter from abroad to Groningen, we suggest using the services of Europcar and SIXT (unfortunately no branch in Groningen). Transporters rented from these agencies can often be returned locally and do not have to be driven back to its starting place.
General traveling tips
Avoid problems and read this before your trip
If you are an exchange student then you are probably going to be doing some travelling while you are here. While travelling is an exciting experience, it can often also be tedious and confusing. Take for instance the traveller who gets on the wrong train or bus, not to mention the added difficulty of the language barrier. I hope that this article can help you with some travelling tips and if not at least let you know that you’re not the only one who has experienced a travel blunder.
The first thing you should know is; if you are going to book your flight out of Amsterdam – do not book it for 10 o’clock in the morning. That is unless you like sleeping on the cold floor of Schipol Airport. If you do book a morning flight you run the risk of not being able to get the airport in time because in some cases the first train to leave Groningen is at 6:45 am. This ultimately means that as your train was coming in to Amsterdam your plane would be somewhere overhead.
As I am sure you would like to make your flight the other option is to catch the train that leaves the night before. That unfortunately means you will undoubtable end up sleeping on the floor of Schipol Airport. Of course there is the option of booking a hostel in Amsterdam but that is another added cost and hassle. It is much easier to just book your flight for later in the day, trust me!
Following on from that is the fact that The Netherlands is not a country that stays open 24 hours seven days a week. So keep in mind when travelling that shops close early and everything is closed on Sunday, even supermarkets. If you are catching transport on Sundays it is more limited and you will most likely have to make several connections. Whether you need to catch a train to Amsterdam or a bus to Bremen, check that it is running and when the first and last service runs.
While you are busy making memories on your incredible travels and visiting all the tourist attractions remember to take your Dutch student card with you. This is especially important if you don’t come from a European Union country. Because when armed with your Dutch student card you are a EU student meaning you can get in to most tourist attractions for free or at a discounted price. For example if you are in Paris, you can visit the Louvre for free. We all know that when something is free it is enjoyed that much more. So make use of that student card.
For most tourist attractions there is a huge line to get in to the building or to get a ticket. But there is always a lesser-known entrance or ticket booth and it pays to find it. I will once again use the Louvre to demonstrate this. There is permanently a mammoth line to enter the Louvre through the pyramid. To get around this you can go in through the entrances on either side of the archway. This means you will miss out on the long and painful line and you can still walk through the pyramid on the way out. Another way to beat the curse of the line is to book tickets online. This way you don’t have to spend all of your precious holiday time waiting in queues.
When arriving back from your incredible trip to some unknown exotic location keep in mind that trains from Schipol to Groningen often split in two. There is nothing that can bring you down from your travel high quicker than getting lost on your way home. It is important to find out if the train you are catching is going to split. You don’t want to be sitting in a carriage only to find out that the train split at the last station and you are heading to Leeuwarden while the other half of the train is heading to Groningen.
They announce the carriage you need to be in over the loudspeaker but unless you speak Dutch you won’t have the slightest clue what they are saying. So to be on the safe side make sure you ask the conductor, or a Dutch person on the train, if you are in the carriage going to Groningen. While I am sure Leeuwarden is a lovely town you probably do not want to end up there with your backpack full of dirty laundry and those post holiday blues.
On a final note, travelling is full of moments where you get to the airport 25 minutes before your plane leaves because the train isn’t running to the airport that morning or you packed one pair of socks for two-weeks. But at the end of the day that doesn’t matter because it is all about what you get see, who you meet and the thrill of travelling.
By Rose Cawley
Is there any way I can get an OV card?
Yes, you can apply for a student grant for foreign students here.
With a grant comes the option to apply for an student OV card.
What options are there to get to the Netherlands by plane?
Groningen has a small airport (website), but since they only offer very little numbers of flights to Greece, Spain and Turkey, it is recommended to use the International Airport or Amsterdam, called Schiphol. All the major airlines have branches in Schiphol so this will most likely be your #1 place of arrival in the Netherlands by plane.
The Airport of Eindhoven (website) offers ryanair flights at the usual lost cost, but with travelling with luggage, the price easily increases.
The Ryanair-Airport of Bremen (website) offers various destinations within Europe at a low cost, again the extra luggage will add to that. Getting from the airport of Bremen to the city of Groningen is really simple. The bus company Public Express offers direct connections 4x a day from the airport to the bus/train station in Groningen.
What do I need to know about traveling by train?
While there are numerous small rail companies in the Netherlands, the two most important ones you will need are ns.nl and Arriva , the latter also works as a bus company within the province of Groningen. Trains are generally very safe and reliable and operate on a frequent level. Tickets can be purchased online or at the train station itself. If you have Dutch friends, you can travel with them at a discount, because they often have the OV-Card, which allows them to take 3 additional people on their ticket with 40% discount per person! Really good and safes a lot of money! A trip between Amsterdam and Groningen only takes 2 ½ hours, and also the North of Belgium and the North-West of Germany are within only a few hours, so visiting these countries can easily be done in the weekend! Check out the website of the Deutsche Bahn for information about tickets and connections in Germany. The same for Belgium can be done here.
Can I get to the Netherlands by bus?
What are my options for transport within Groningen?
Groningen (and the whole of the Netherlands!) is a really flat country, so you can easily bike around the city. There are actually more bikes in this country than citizens! Everyone has a bicycle and the streets are very bike-friendly. There are numerous stores in the city centre where you can buy a bicycle and/or get it repaired, click here for a list of cycling shops and repair services.
Additionally, the police is selling bikes on each first Friday of the months, from 25-200€. Just go to the bike stand (where you can lock bikes away, next to the open library) on the street Oude Boteringstraat around 6am in the morning of the first Friday. You will then receive a number and a time when you have to return. With all the other people you will then be guided to the bike stand where 2nd hand bikes are being sold. For the money, you can find really good bikes and locks are also sold.
A word of advice;
In case you lock your bicycle in a place which is not meant to be locked at, it can happen that the police confiscates this bike and locks it up themselves. To make sure that the police took your bike, take the bus no. 7 to the bus stop Travertijnstraat (direction of bus Vinkenhuizen-Zuid) and check with the bicycle depot (directions), during 10.30am and 7pm on working days. In case they have your bike, you have to pay 25€ to get it back. In case they do not have it, please report the loss of your bike to the police (information to be found under “essentials”).
Places nearby the bus/train station where you are allowed to leave your bike:
NS stalling from 1pm on Friday till noon on Monday, free of charge
On the southern side of the train station (Driehovenstraat)
In the loose racks in the station area
Buses in the city of Groningen and its province are numerous and very reliable. You can get the #11 and the #15 to the Hanze Hogeschool every 10 minutes from the bus/train station for only 1,50€ per ticket. For all the other bus stops on the way to the Hanze Hogeschool as well as within the city please check out journeyplanner.9292.nl and just type in your current place in Groningen and your destination and you will receive detailed information regarding what buses to take. The Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (RuG) can best be approached by foot and bike, so for directions to the main building in the street Broerstraat 5, please consult Google Maps.
For buses operating in the province of Groningen you can find information on this website.
You can find taxis at many places in the city centre as well as near the bus/train station. In case you want to call a taxi from home or elsewhere, you can call +31 – (0)50 5777708 (Taxi Noord) or +31 – (0)50 5777703 (Taxi Direct Groningen). A map of all taxi companies can be found here.
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