Assen is a city in The Netherlands and is the capital of the province of Drenthe. Assen is the place to go for Dutch motorsports fans, as it is home to the TT Circuit where the annualy Dutch TT Race is held. For a weekend in June, this town turns into a bustling, crowded destination full of partying fans, when the Dutch TT, part of the worldwide MotoGP, is taking place. If you're not a motorcycle aficionado, this city is probably not a particularly interesting city for you, but with some 65,000 inhabitants it's a rather large town and a regional centre for shopping and services. If you do find yourself here, don't miss visiting the Drents Museum, which has a very nice collection on local and general history. Assen is also useful as a transport hub, since many buses to small villages commence their run here and the city is served by fast intercity trains.
The history of the capital of Drenthe can be traced back to at least 1258. Assen has been designated a city since 1809. After Coevorden, Assen became the second place in Drenthe with city rights, granted by King Louis Napoleon, who had big plans for the village. Around 1900 Assen began to play a more prominent industrial role. After the Second World War, Assen did not have more than 20,000 inhabitants. The Assen TT made the city more widely known. But it was not until the 1950s, with the development of an industrial core, did Assen begin to grow more quickly. The Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (Dutch Oil Company) established itself in the city and with that, a trend was set. Nowadays, Assen is a city with 65,000 inhabitants and part of the metropolitan area of Groningen. Although Assen is the capital of Drenthe, the city of Emmen is slightly bigger.
- 1 Assen Tourist Information Office, Marktstraat 8, ☏ . M-F 09:30-18:00, F 09:30-21:00, Sa 09:30-17:00, Su 13:00-17:00. The Assen Tourist Information Office (VVV) is in the city center. The Tourist Information Office shop provides information about the city and the province. Souvenirs, gift vouchers and bicycle maps are also for sale here.
By car or motorcycle
It's easy to get in here by car or motorcycle, as Assen lies on the A28 motorway from Utrecht towards Groningen. Furthermore, Assen is connected via provincial roads in every other direction, like the N33 to Veendam and the Eemshaven port (and towards Germany). Parking in the city centre is simple and not very expensive.
1 Assen station. is on the railway line between Zwolle and Groningen. Intercity trains run every half hour in each direction, connecting Assen to Groningen in the north and Zwolle, Amsterdam (and Schiphol Airport), Utrecht, Rotterdam and The Hague in southern and western direction. There's also a slightly slower Sprinter train connection twice per hour to Zwolle (via the smaller stations at Beilen, Hoogeveen and Meppel) and Groningen (via Haren and Groningen Europapark).
Many buses traverse the countryside, and Assen is a hub in this network. Most nearby destinations (both large and small) are connected via the city's bus station, which is located next to the railway station.
Assen is served by Groningen Airport Eelde, (GRQ IATA), Machlaan 14a Eelde, ☏ . The airport of Groningen is just 18 km away. The airport offers 11 weekly flights to and from Copenhagen Airport (Nordica), two flights per week to and from Gdansk (Wizz Air), and various other scheduled flights to selected cities and holiday destinations in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Canary Islands and Turkey. Head to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport for a much wider selection of destinations.
The regular bus line 50 runs twice per hour from the railway station to the De Punt bus station (in the municipality of Tynaarlo). From De Punt it is a 20-minute walk to the airport, or change to bus line 2 towards Groningen and get off in front of the terminal. This journey takes about 33 minutes and costs €5 one way, tickets at the driver.
It's an excellent place to cycle around and in. The LF9 and LF14 national cycle routes pass near to Assen.
The city centre of Assen is small enough to get around on foot.
Assen is the capital of the cycling province of Drenthe. It is a wonderful place to cycle. Hire a bicycle and travel around. Various companies provide tours of the area, some English speaking.
- Fietspoint Grootjans, Stationsplein 1, ☏ . This bike shop at the train station rents out bikes too.
- 1 Drents Museum, Brink 1, ☏ . Tu-Su 11:00-17:00. During public holidays also on Mondays. The Drents Museum is one of the best ways to spend your time in town, with good and varied historic collections in archaeology and arts. Highlights include several displays of bog bodies and what's believed to be the world's oldest boat, a prehistoric canoe built around 8000BC. It's art section has some excellent works and includes a Vincent van Gogh. €15 for adults.
- 2 Landgoed Overcingel, Oostersingel 27. A monumental mansion in the centre of town. It was built in 1778 and has beautiful English gardens.
- 3 TT Circuit Assen. Famous for motorsports fans in all the world, the TT circuit was built in 1955 and, although it used to be longer, the track is now 4,555 m long. The sports arena can host some 100,000 spectators, and in fact does when the DutchTT in running. Usually held in June, this is the largest single day sports event in the country, drawing visitors from far and wide. Check the websites for any upcoming events, as there are events some 250 days of the year. After the track was shortened, a large area of land became available to develop the circuit into a more full-fledged tourist attraction in Assen. Heavy investments are being made to create a large scale leisure park around the circuit, including shopping and amusement opportunities. From €10 for tickets to see a race.
There are enough restaurants to choose from, especially on and around the market square.
- 1 Touché Lunch en Diner, Markt 20, ☏ . This place has the looks and atmosphere of a simple bistro or pub, but its dishes are restaurant quality stuff. If you're not too picky, try the surprise menu. €33 for a menu.
- 2 De Gulle Gans, Markt 18, ☏ . Nice place with international style dishes. When in season, they sell a pretty good pan full of mussels. €25 for a menu.
- 3 Bella Italia, Markt 4-6. This Italian place gets a bit noisy when it's busy and the service is not the fastest around, but the pizzas and pastas are good. €15 for main course.
- 4 Restaurant New Delhi, Brink 23, ☏ . The most popular Indian restaurant in town, with friendly service and a very extensive menu. If you want to be sure of a table, it's best to call ahead.
As the provincial capital, Assen has the full range of common stores, including many large chain companies. The main shopping streets include the Forum, Gedempte Singel, the renovated Mercuriusplein, the Kleuvenstee, Koopmansplein and Kruisstraat. A large restructure plan for the city centre includes the establishment of a new, covered shopping mall called Cité Assen. Although the full centre plan is still being carried out, the shopping area has opened with several large stores including a supermarket and a large electronics store. Despite its wide choice of shops however, Assen is generally not considered the most "cosy" or fun shopping city around.
On Wednesday and Saturday there is a market. In 2008 this market won the award of "gezelligste markt" in the Netherlands. i.e. the most friendly and pleasant in the country.
- 1 Mercuriuscentrum, Mercuriusplein 96 (inbetween the Ceressplein and the Koopmansplein). Open-air shopping centre with 30 shops.
- 2 Triade, Triade. Partially covered shopping centre with 17 shops, including an Albert Heijn XL, a larger supermarket with a larger product range.
- 3 Cité, Kroonwerk. Shopping center with a Jumbo supermarket, a Lidl, a Media Markt.
The tourist office tries to market Assen as the regional place to be for a night out. It's not entirely true, but there are a number of pleasant bars in the town centre where you can enjoy a beer and a good conversation, and on a warm summer's night join the locals and kick back on one of the outdoor terraces. The Rolderstraat has a few bars, as well as a shisha lounge. Other good streets to start are the Nieuwe Huizen and the Brinkstraat. On weekends, many of the young people in Assen jump on a late night train to the more trendy university city Groningen, where bars and clubs are open 24/7 and which is a 15-minute train ride. They take the first train back in the morning. If you're not up for staying awake till daylight, there are a few clubs in town.
- 1 Hotel De Jonge (Best Western Hotel De Jonge), Brinkstraat 85, ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Although the interior is a bit outdated, this hotel offers spacious rooms with all the basic facilities right in the city centre. On weekends, rooms in the front can be a bit noisy. €110.
- 2 Hotel Assen (Van der Valk Assen), Balkenweg 1, ☏ . Check-in: 16:00, check-out: 11:00. Convenient location for a visit to the TT, with spacious, well-equipped rooms. It's outside of the city centre, though. €75.
- 3 De Bonte Wever, Stadsbroek 17, ☏ . This place is on the edge of Assen, near the Asserbos, but has good facilities including indoor and outdoor pools, an extensive spa, and bowling alley, most of them for free.
- 4 DroomHotel 't Heinenhoes, 't Loeg 4, Anderen, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Small, charming hotel in a small village some 10 km from Assen. It's run by a couple and has a great restaurant with a daily menu. They offer bike rental and upon request they'll arrange for flowers or chocolates in your room. €70/79 for a standard or deluxe double room.
Post Office points providing all basic postal services can be found in most supermarkets and several bookshops. They follow the host stores opening hours, which typically means till 18:00 for bookshop and 8pm for supermarkets. The most convenient examples in the city centre are:
- 2 Library, Weiersstraat 1C (De Nieuwe Kolk), ✉ email@example.com. M 13:00-18:00, Tu 10:00-20:00, W 10:00-18:00, Th 10:00-20:00, F 10:00-20:00, Sa 10:00-17:00, Su 13:00-17:00. The library has free internet and outlet for your computer.
- Bruna bookshop, Kruisstraat 7.
- Primera book shop, Triade 9.
- 3 Jumbo supermarket, Nijlandstraat 141, ☏ .
- Visit Groningen, a lively university city and the largest city in northern Netherlands.
- The star fort of Bourtange is less than an hour away by car.
- The nearby village of Westerbork is inseparably linked to the horrors of World War II, as the Germans ran a large transit camp just a few kilometres out of the village centre.
- Veenhuizen is a former penal colony, now it has museums, cafes, markets and its own brewerey, "Maallust"
- Norg and Roden are pleasant villages.
|Routes through Assen|
|Utrecht ← Westerbork ←||S N||→ Tynaarlo → Groningen|
|END ←||S N||→ Aa en Hunze → Appingedam|