Traveling to Groningen by train
The city of Groningen has excellent connections to all major Dutch airports and railway stations. If you arrive at Schiphol, Amsterdam International Airport, the easiest way to travel to Groningen is by train. The underground train station is located near Schiphol Plaza near the luggage claim. The Dutch railway system is run by Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS), which you can recognise by its yellow and blue colours. Look out for the yellow signs saying ‘To the trains’.
Buy a train ticket to Groningen before boarding the train. Passengers travelling without a valid ticket will be fined. You can either buy a ticket from the ticket office or from a yellow and blue vending machine. You will find these machines in the luggage claim hall and at every entrance to the station. You need a credit card or a debit card with the Maestro logo to buy tickets from these machines. A first class ticket is about €43 and a second class ticket about €25.
There is a direct train every hour from Schiphol Airport to Groningen. Other connections mean changing trains at Amersfoort. This journey takes about 2,5 hours. Check the national railway timetable on the internet: www.ns.nl/ . You can also use the Journey planner for all Dutch public transport. Take a taxi to your accommodation at the front of the Groningen railway station.
Travelling to Groningen from Airport Bremen (Germany).
Off-Peak Discount Pass
Off-peak tickets are a lot cheaper than regular tickets. With the Off-Peak Discount Pass (voordeelurenkaart) you get a 40% discount on all off-peak train journeys (after 9 a.m. Monday to Friday and at the weekends). You can purchase this pass for €55 a year and a passport photo. With this pass you can take along three others also travelling at a discount of 40%.
Application forms are available at the NS ticket office or can be downloaded on the NS site (www.ns.nl). Allow up to three weeks for processing. If you wish to travel right now, take the completed form and a recent passport photo to the ticket office. If you pay for your pass in cash, you'll be given a temporary card. Your full pass will be sent to you later. You can also use this pass for your OV-chipkaart (see below).
As from 2010 the strippenkaart is no longer valid in some parts of the country. Gradually the OV-chipkaart, a new means of payment for the Dutch public transport system, is introduced everywhere. The OV-chipkaart is a smart card the size of a bank card, containing an invisible chip. You can load it with credit in euros and use it to travel almost anywhere within The Netherlands. You can use the OV-chipkaart in bus, tram and train. Visit the website to check where the OV-chipkaart is currently the only means of payment: www.ov-chipkaart.nl
Travelling by bus
Several bus lines connect the outer districts with the city centre and railway station. For travel by bus you need a strippenkaart, which is available at railway stations and at most supermarkets. A strippenkaart is a bus and tram ticket containing 15 sections (strippen). Each trip takes a certain number of sections, depending on the distance. Most one-way trips in the city take two sections, but some outer districts (e.g. Beijum and Lewenborg) require three. A strippenkaart is about €7.
Getting around by bike
The best way to travel in and around Groningen is the way the Dutch do – by bike! There is an extensive network of cycle lanes throughout the city and to many surrounding villages. It was recently estimated that Groningen has the greatest density of bicycles per person in the world after Beijing. The downside is that bikes are frequently stolen. Always lock your bike, and secure it safely. If you want to buy a second-hand bike, go to the bicycle garage at the main railway station or to a regular bicycle shop. Never buy one from someone in the street: it is probably stolen. If you are caught buying a stolen bike, you will be heavily fined.