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The monumental Grote Kerk

Emmen is the biggest city in the province of Drenthe, the Netherlands. Although Emmen is not a particularly interesting destination for travellers, it's well known in the Netherlands for its biggest attraction: the zoo.

The town consists of the main suburbs de Rietlanden, Bargeres, Delftlanden, Parc Sandur, Angelslo, Emmerhout, Emmermeer and Barger-Oosterveld. Some smaller suburbs are Noordbarge, Zuidbarge, Westenesch and Weerdinge. Noordbarge and Zuidbarge are the oldest suburbs, but they used to be independent villages.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

Well connected by road, the main highway passing by Emmen is the east-west A37 motorway. From the west, Emmen can be reached from Zwolle in 45 minutes, and from Amsterdam in about 2 hours. In the east, the A37 crosses the border with Germany and continues as B402 and easy connection with the A31 Autobahn. The nearest town in Germany is Meppen in the Western Plains (30 minutes). Another main road is the N34 expressway, from Emmen to the north (Groningen being 45 minutes away) and south (Coevorden 20 minutes). The N381 trunk road leads from Emmen to the northwest (Assen and Drachten).

By train[edit]

Emmen has two railway stations, Emmen railway station as the central station and Emmen Zuid railway station in the south of town. Both stations are served twice per hour by a regional train service from Zwolle, with Emmen station being the terminus. From most destinations in the Netherlands, such as Amsterdam or Schiphol Airport, you can board an intercity service to Zwolle and change trains there. From Amsterdam, the journey will take about 2½ hours.

  • 1 Emmen railway station (Station Emmen). Emmen railway station (Q800729) on Wikidata Emmen railway station on Wikipedia
  • 2 Emmen Zuid railway station (Station Emmen Zuid). Emmen Zuid railway station (Q2152781) on Wikidata Emmen Zuid railway station on Wikipedia

By bus[edit]

As there is only one railway into Emmen, from some destinations it is easier to get in by bus instead. You will find the main bus terminal across the street from the central train station. Some of the key bus routes are listed below.

Get around[edit]

Map of Emmen

You can rent a bicycle at the railway station. Next to the railway station is the busstation. Buses go from here to the suburbs, some surrounding villages and Groningen.

Most visitors will come here for the zoo, however, which is an easy 15 min. walk from the train station with directions provided along the way. If that's too far, you can take a bus to the Centrum or the stop at the Weerdingerstraat, from where it's about 100 m to the zoo entrance. Ask at the bus


Young giraffes in the zoo, the town's main attraction.
  • Wildlands Emmen (zoo), Raadhuisplein 99, 7811 AP Emmen, +31 591-850855, . 10:00-17:00, except 10:00-18:00 from 1st July - 31st August plus weekends in May and June. The main zoo in the Northern Netherlands, it replaced the previous Dierenpark Emmen which closed at the end of 2015. A completely new build, it looks like it was designed as a theme park: you can observe the camels very close up from what's supposed to be derailed train carriages in the middle of a desert for example, and there's also a small rollercoaster, river ride and '4D' ride. The latter is in Dutch only, but it's simple to work out that the guy who thinks he's the hero does not in fact do any of the work, and it's his assistant who is responsible for anything good that happens. The play facilities for children are extremely good, with an excellent indoor play area in one section (bring towels, because there is plenty of water to cross in boats or splash about in) and an equally good rope bridge route in the jungle area. Given the humidity there, you'll be glad you can go to an air-conditioned cafe to wait for them to tire themselves out. If you have children who like running about and are in the area long enough, an annual pass for age 3-17 is less than two individual visits, and they're very likely to want to go more than once / return on your next visit. For adults, you might want to take turns in taking them and the annual passes are not transferable between parents.The zoo does not have its own car parking, but parking is available in the area: see and the town's website. The zoo's website is in Dutch and German only, but Google Translate will handle everything except actually booking tickets, and labels on animal enclosures are also in English. From €22 (age 3-9) or €25 (age 10-64) online, a few Euro more on the door..
  • There are a number of monumental building in the city centre, including several churches. The most notable one is the Grote Kerk, with a Roman tower originating in the 12th century. The Pauluskerk seems a lot older than it actually is due to its design, but originates in 1949. It is nonetheless a national monument. The 1878 synagogue still has its original interiors, making it unique in the wide region. Also, two Saxon farm buildings remain in the city centre, one on the market square, now housing a café.


  • Football: FC Emmen were relegated in 2023 and now play soccer in Eerste Divisie, the Dutch second tier. Their home ground De Oude Meerdijk (capacity 8600) is in the business park 3 km east of town centre.


Emmen has one of the largest shopping malls of the northern part of the Netherlands and a pleasant city centre with a good range of shops. Many people from the region in fact prefer Emmen over Assen for a day of shopping, as it's considered more cosy.


Emmen has a lot of restaurants, including Mediterranean, Asian and European cuisine. Most restaurants are at de Hoofdstraat (main street) and the Weerdingerstraat.

  • Hotel Restaurant Ten Cate, Noordbargerstraat 44, +31 591 617600. Excellent food in a nice, art-style hotel and restaurant. One of the better places to eat in town.
  • Indianspices, Emmen have te biggest shopping mall of the northern part of the Netherlands., +31 591 619835. The place to go for a curry, as this Indian restaurant gets raving reviews. The service is friendly. Mains from €12.
  • Met Stroop Ofzo, Matissepassage 22, +31 591 53 10 68. Pancake restaurants are not only loved by kids. This place is popular with young and old alike and serves a wide variety of pancakes, but traditional Dutch poffertjes (fluffy, mini-pancakes) and wafers as well.
  • Grandcafé Markant, Marktplein 62, +31 591 646 045. The menu is nothing out of the ordinary, but the food is well-prepared and it's good quality for money. They serve a range of bistro style food, salades and sandwiches for lunch. Mains from €15.


In the mainstreet of Emmen (hoofdstraat) are multiple bars and restaurants. The Brasserie is probably the most popular bar. The most popular nightclub-like bar is de Zwetser.



  • FC Emmen is a professional football club playing at the highest division in the Netherlands. For most matches tickets are free purchasable at the stadium at matchday.
  • E&O is a professional handball club playing at the highest level in the Netherlands. E&O became Dutch national champions 5 times.



Go next[edit]

Emmen lies on the southernmost tip of a chain hills called the Hondsrug (Dog Ridge), an area with many forests that is popular with cyclists and ramblers alike. This part of the country is also well known for its "hunebedden" (dolmens), Stone Age burial chambers. Some of these lie within the built-up area of Emmen.

By contrast, to the south and east of Emmen lie the completely flat lands known as the peat colonies.

To the south-west lies the picturesque medieval city of Coevorden.

Routes through Emmen
HardenbergCoevorden  S  N  Borger-OdoornGroningen

This city travel guide to Emmen is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.

Emmen, Netherlands