Midden-Groningen (Dutch for Central Groningen) is a municipality in the province of Groningen, the Netherlands. The region consists of more than 20 towns and villages, of which the largest is Hoogezand. Midden-Groningen is located centrally in the province, bordered by the city of Groningen to the west and the Oldambt region to the east.
In 2018, the region has become one municipality under the name 'Midden-Groningen' (before it consisted of the three municipalities Hoogezand-Sappemeer, Slochteren, and Menterwolde). It is a mainly rural area. The largest town by far is Hoogezand, which has grown together with Sappemeer (together a population of about 30,000). Some of the other main villages (with more than 2,000 inhabitants) in the region include Slochteren, Siddeburen, Muntendam, and Zuidbroek.
The largest natural gas field in Europe, the Groningen gas field, is in Midden-Groningen, near Slochteren. As a result of the extraction of natural gas, earthquakes have been induced in the region, and in the Netherlands this region is therefore also known as 'the earthquake area'. The heaviest earthquake measured is a 3.6 Richter magnitude earthquake in 2012. The 'human-induced' earthquakes have resulted in public concern about safety, damage to houses, and decreasing house prices.
There is only one tourist information centre in Midden-Groningen, in the village of Slochteren, with limited opening hours. There is no longer a tourist information centre in the largest town, Hoogezand. The central tourist information office for Groningen province, on the Grote Markt square in Groningen city, has much wider opening hours.
The southern part of Midden-Groningen is traversed by the east-west A7 motorway. From the western side, from the city of Groningen, it takes about 10 minutes to reach Hoogezand, while from the nearest airport (Groningen Airport Eelde) it takes 20 minutes. From Amsterdam the drive takes 2 hours. On the eastern side, the A7 motorway leads to Winschoten (20 minutes) and the border crossing with Germany (Leer 35 minutes, Oldenburg 1 hour).
The eastern part of Midden-Groningen is traversed by the north-south N33 expressway. This road leads from Assen via Veendam to Midden-Groningen (the villages of Muntendam, Zuidbroek, and Siddeburen), and then further north to Appingedam/Delfzijl.
Midden-Groningen is along the railway from Groningen city to Leer (Ostfriesland) in Germany. There are five railway stations along this line within Midden-Groningen, from west to east: Kropswolde, Martenshoek, Hoogezand-Sappemeer, Sappemeer Oost, and Zuidbroek. All of these stations are served four times per hour in both directions. All westbound trains terminate at the main station of Groningen city, while the eastbound trains terminate in Bad Nieuweschans (1x/hour) or Winschoten (1x/hour), or turn south to Veendam (2x/hour). The train terminating in Bad Nieuweschans used to continue to Leer in Germany, but because of damage to a bridge the route has temporarily been shortened.
The trains are operated by Arriva. Travel times to Hoogezand-Sappemeer station are approximately 15 minutes from Groningen city (€3.50 one-way), 2hr 30min from Amsterdam Central Station (2 transfers, €25.70) and 2hr 30mim from Schiphol Airport (1 transfer, €26). From Leer (Ostfriesland) in Germany, the travel time is longer than usual because of the damaged bridge. Including the replacement bus service the trip takes 1hr 20min (€13).
It is easiest to get to (the southern part of) Midden-Groningen by train. However, from some destinations in the region (Groningen and Drenthe provinces), regional bus routes operated by Qbuzz can be used. To the more northern parts of the region (e.g. Slochteren and Siddeburen), bus routes 78 and 178 are the easiest way in from Groningen city.
- Bus route 13 (1x per hour) from Winschoten via Heiligerlee, Westerlee and Midden-Groningen (Meeden, Muntendam) to Veendam.
- Bus route 73 (1-2x per hour) from Groningen city via Midden-Groningen (Foxhol, Hoogezand, Kiel-Windeweer) and Stadskanaal, Musselkanaal, Ter Apel and Nieuw Weerdinge to Emmen.
- Bus route 78/178 (1x per hour) from Groningen city via Midden-Groningen (Harkstede, Scharmer, Kolham, Froombosch, Slochteren, Schildwolde, Hellum, Siddeburen, Steendam) to Appingedam.
- Bus route 174 (1x per hour) from Veendam to Midden-Groningen (Muntendam, Zuidbroek station).
The fastest way to get around in Midden-Groningen is by car. There is an extensive road network, with the key roads being the east-west connection A7 motorway, the north-south N33 expressway, and the N387 trunk road connecting Hoogezand and Siddeburen via Slochteren. However, the best way to get around is arguably by bicycle. The main towns and villages are clearly signposted with dedicated signposts for cyclists, and in many cases separate cycle paths are available.
The railway connects the five stations within Midden-Groningen, and the train is therefore a convenient option to travel from e.g. Hoogezand to Zuidbroek. Also the bus routes as mentioned above are useful to get around within the region. In addition, there is the so-called 'small-scale public transportation network', connecting several of the villages in the region with minibuses. However, there is no convenient public transport option from the towns and villages in the south along the railway line (e.g. Hoogezand) to the villages in the north of the region (e.g. Slochteren and Siddeburen). In that case, you should take a train to Groningen city, and then transfer to bus route 78/178.
Museums and landmarks
- 1 Fraeylemaborg (Museum Landgoed Fraeylemaborg), Hoofdweg 30, Slochteren, ☏ . Tu-F 10:00-17:00, Sa Su 11:00-17:00. A manor house and carriage house, with historic house museum and large gardens. The original stronghold originated from the 13th century, and most of the current building was built in the 16th century. The gardens behind the manor house have been mostly created in the 19th century, in English landscape style. Adults €7.
- 2 Veenborg Welgelegen, De Vosholen 60, Sappemeer, ☏ . Garden: daily 10:00-17:00. A villa ('borg') that was built by a prominent and wealthy citizen who was active in the business of peat ('veen') extraction in the 17th century. The villa cannot be visited (only rented for parties), but the garden is open for visitors.
- 3 National Bus Museum, Produktieweg 13, Hoogezand, ☏ . W Sa Su 13:00-17:00. Museum on buses and bus-related objects from the Netherlands, such as old uniforms, tickets, schedules, travel guides, and scale models. Adults €5.
- 4 North Netherlands Train & Tram Museum, Stationsstraat 5, Zuidbroek (in Zuidbroek railway station), ☏ . Sat/Sun 10:00-17:00. In the oldest railway station building in Groningen province, built in 1865, the museum shows the history of railways in the Northern Netherlands, showing historic uniforms, scale models, pictures, tools, etc. Adults €5.
Outdoor recreation and waters sports
- Schildmeer and Zuidlaardermeer lakes: At the Schildmeer lake in the north of Midden-Groningen, and the Zuidlaardermeer in the south at the border with Drenthe province (municipality of Tynaarlo), you can swim or sail. There is boat rental available by various companies at both lakes, see below, and also further down under 'Holiday parks and campsites'.
- 1 Watersportbedrijf De Rietzoom, Meerweg 60, Kropswolde, ☏ . During high season 10:00-23:00 daily. Boat rental Zuidlaardermeer lake. There is also a café/restaurant. e.g. motorboat €20 per hour.
- 2 Break Out Grunopark, Hoofdweg 163, Harkstede, ☏ . Daily from 9:00. Recreation park with '100 activities', including paintball, water skiing, wakeboarding, climbing, banana boat, highland games, escape rooms, and archery. There are also two restaurants in the park.
- 3 Ballorig Hoogezand (indoor play centre), Kees de Haanstraat 71, Hoogezand, ☏ . M-F 09:00-18:00, Sa Su 10:00-18:00. Indoor playground for children up to 12 years old. Children €7.50, parents free.
- 1 De Hooge Meren (Town centre Hoogezand), Gorecht-Oost, Hoogezand. There is a wide variety of about 100 shops in the town centre of Hoogezand, mostly in the indoor shopping centre 'De Hooge Meren'.
There are smaller selections of shops in Martenshoek, Sappemeer, and Siddeburen. In some of the other villages there are a few shops, mainly supermarkets. General opening hours are M-F 09:00 to 18:00, and Sa 09:00 to 17:00. In Hoogezand, shops are open late on Friday evenings, until 21:00. Generally, shops are closed on Sundays, but several times per year in Hoogezand Sunday afternoon shopping is organised. Supermarkets have wider opening hours, with most supermarkets open M-Sa 08:00 to 20:00. On Sundays only some supermarkets are open.
In almost all of the villages in Midden-Groningen there are one or more local restaurants (for example a bistro, steakhouse, or pizzeria). In Hoogezand and Sappemeer there is a much wider selection of restaurants, with amongst others Chinese, French, Dutch, Moroccan, and Italian cuisine. Below is a list of some of the recommended restaurants.
- 1 Restaurant De Gouden Zon, Noorderstraat 323, Sappemeer, ☏ . W-Su from 16:00. Dutch-style restaurant with a range of meat and fish dishes. Four-course dinner menu €28.50.
- 2 Pizzeria Ristorante Mamma Mia, Gorecht-Oost 72, Hoogezand, ☏ . Daily from 16:00. Popular Italian restaurant with pizzas and pastas, but also Italian meat and fish dishes. Pizzas €7-15; Main courses €15-25.
- 3 Paviljoen Boei 12, Roegeweg 3, Steendam, ☏ . Tu-Su from 11:00. Along the shores of the Schildmeer lake. Sandwiches, soups, and snacks for lunch. Meat and fish dishes for dinner. Main courses about €15-20.
- 4 De Vier Jaargetijden, Hoofdweg 126, Siddeburen, ☏ . Tu-Sa 11:45-21:00; Su 15:00-21:00. A variety of meat dishes. The specialty is satay (Indonesian-style pork, chicken, and fish skewers). Main courses €10-25.
In most of the villages there is at least a local café or bar that opens until late on weekends. For more serious nightlife you will have to go to the city of Groningen.
- 1 Hotel Faber, Meint Veningastraat 123, Hoogezand, ☏ . From €98 per night for a double room..
- 2 Hotel Martenshoek, Meint Veningastraat 10, Hoogezand, ☏ . From €65 per night for a double room.
- 3 Van der Valk Hotel Groningen - Zuidbroek A7, Burgemeester Omtaweg 4, Zuidbroek (along the A7 motorway, exit 43 Zuidbroek), ☏ . From €72 per night for a double room.
- 4 Hotel Hulsebos, Stationsstraat 4, Zuidbroek (opposite Zuidbroek railway station), ☏ . From €65 per night for a double room.
- 5 Hotel de Boer, Korte Groningerweg 47, Foxhol, ☏ . €74 per night for a double room.
Holiday parks and campsites
- 6 Villapark Schildmeer, Roegeweg 1, Steendam, ☏ . Holiday homes in a park along the shores of the Schildmeer lake.
- 7 De Otter (campsite & cottages), Roegeweg 9, Steendam (next to Villapark Schildmeer), ☏ . Campsite along the shores of the Schildmeer lake. Also caravan and cottage rental. There is a marina and rental of sailing boats, motorboats, canoes, and kayaks.
- 8 Camping Meerwijck (campsite & marina), Strandweg 2, Kropswolde, ☏ . Campsite, also with rental caravans and cottages, along the shores of the Zuidlaardermeer lake. There is an indoor swimming pool, a marina, and canoe/kayak rental.
- Oldambt — the region to the east of Midden-Groningen, known for its yellow rapeseed fields, 'windmill city' Winschoten, and spa town Bad Nieuweschans.
- Groningen — the provincial capital and the economic and cultural centre of the Northern Netherlands.
- Appingedam — just north of the Schildmeer lake, this town has a charming medieval town centre.
|Routes through Midden-Groningen|
|Amsterdam ← Groningen ←||W E||→ Oldambt → Bremen|
|Assen ← Veendam ←||S N||→ Appingedam|