Oldambt is a municipality in the east of the province of Groningen, in the Netherlands, bordering the East Frisia region of Germany. Oldambt used to be the granary of the Netherlands, and is currently known for its landscape with yellow fields of rapeseed, its canals and lakes, and in the north the Dollard bay coast. The main town of the region is Winschoten, nicknamed windmill city because of its three traditional windmills. Villages in the region include Scheemda and spa town Bad Nieuweschans.
The Oldambt is a region in the east of Groningen province, which used to be an administrative district from the Middle Ages to the 18th century. On the northern side of the region is the coast of the Dollard, a bay of the Wadden Sea. Large parts of the Oldambt were overflowed by the Dollard in the 15th and 16th centuries, drowning at least 20 villages. Starting from the 16th century, land has been reclaimed from the Dollard and the Oldambt region in its current form was created. The region, especially the reclaimed land, was very suitable for agricultural production, and the Oldambt became known as the granary of Groningen province, or even of the Netherlands. The farmers in Oldambt thrived, and this led to the construction of large farming estates, and the development of Winschoten (awarded city rights in 1825) as regional centre.
Nowadays, Oldambt is one of the weakest regions of the Netherlands economically, with a declining and ageing population. Part of the reason for this is the relatively remote location of the Oldambt in the Netherlands, in the northeastern corner of the country. Many of the younger generation therefore move to more central locations, such as the provincial capital Groningen city. The government has attempted to reverse this trend by the implementation of several projects, of which the Blauwestad project is the most notable example. Through this project, an 800 hectare lake has been created, aimed at improving opportunities for tourism, and increasing the draw of the region for wealthy citizens. Although the project has largely failed in attracting people to move to the region, it has benefitted tourism in the region, especially water sports.
In 2010, several municipalities in the region merged to become the municipality of Oldambt. The municipality has a population of about 38,000, and covers part of the historical region of Oldambt. In addition to this municipality, the historical region also covers the more western area, including the villages of Muntendam, Zuidbroek, and Noordbroek. This area is part of the new municipality Midden-Groningen (established in 2018). This article does not include these villages, and only focuses on the current municipality of Oldambt.
In Oldambt there is one tourist infomation centre (VVV), in the town centre of Winschoten. In addition, there are Tourist Information Points (TIPs) in several restaurants, hotels, campsites, and attractions throughout the region.
- 1 VVV Oldambt (Tourist Information Office), Meester D.U. Stikkerlaan 251, Winschoten (in the building of Cultuurhuis De Klinker), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Tue-Sat 11:00-17:00.
- Tourist Information Points (TIPs) in Blauwestad, Finsterwolde, Midwolda, Nieuwolda, Oostwold, Scheemda, Westerlee, and Winschoten.
The southern part of Oldambt is traversed by the east-west A7 motorway. From virtually all directions this motorway is the best option to enter the Oldambt region. From the western side, from the city of Groningen (and the nearest airport, Groningen Airport Eelde) it takes about 25 minutes to Oldambt, while from Amsterdam the drive takes 2 hours. On the eastern side, the A7 motorway crosses the border with Germany and then continues as the German A280 Autobahn, with a junction to the A31 Autobahn nearby (Oldenburg 1 hour, Bremen 1h 20m, Münster 1h 45m).
The Oldambt is along the railway from Groningen city to Leer (Ostfriesland) in Germany. There are three railway stations along this line within the Oldambt: from west to east Scheemda, Winschoten, and Bad Nieuweschans. The stations in Scheemda and Winschoten are served two times per hour by a train from Groningen (operated by Arriva). One of these two trains terminates in Winschoten, while the other continues to Bad Nieuweschans (hence served 1x/hour). The travel time from Groningen to Oldambt is approximately 30 minutes (Scheemda) to 48 minutes (Bad Nieuweschans).
The train service used to continue to Leer (Ostfriesland) in Germany. However, in 2015 a ship collided with the railway bridge between Bad Nieuweschans and Leer, making Bad Nieuweschans the current terminus. Reconstruction works on the bridge are planned to start no sooner than 2020, with completion set four years later. The hourly train service that terminates in Winschoten is currently supplemented by a replacement bus service Winschoten - Bad Nieuweschans - Weener - Leer. Coming from Germany to the Oldambt, you can therefore take a train to 'Leer (Ostfriesland)' station and transfer to the replacement bus to Bad Nieuweschans and Winschoten.
- Bus route 13 from Veendam: 1x per hour during daytime Mondays to Saturdays.
- Bus routes 14 and 75 from Stadskanaal: 1-2x per hour during daytime Mondays to Saturdays (route 14 via Vlagtwedde, route 75 via Nieuwe Pekela).
- Bus route 110 from Assen via Veendam: 1-2x per hour daily (from Assen it is faster to take a train via Groningen city).
- Bus route 119 from Delfzijl: 1x per hour daily.
The fastest way to get around in the Oldambt region is by car. In the southern part of the Oldambt there is an extensive road network, including the A7 motorway and several trunk roads. In the northern part, the population density is much lower and there are only some local roads. 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.
Apart from the train connection from Scheemda via Winschoten to Bad Nieuweschans, as described above, there are two bus routes that can be useful to get around in the Oldambt. Bus route 13 (direction Veendam) connects Winschoten to the vilages of Heiligerlee and Westerlee; and bus route 17 connects the stations of Winschoten and Scheemda via the villages Beerta, Finsterwolde, Oostwold, and Midwolda.
In the early 18th century, there were thirteen windmills in Winschoten alone, giving it the nickname Molenstad (windmill city). As a result of the industrial revolution and expansion of residential areas, the number of windmills has decreased. Nowadays, there are still three traditional windmills in Winschoten, and five more in the other villages of the Oldambt. Some of the most notable include:
- 1 Edens (De Volharding), Nassaustraat 14, Winschoten. Open for visits Saturday afternoons. The oldest windmill of Groningen province. The grist mill was built originally in 1763.
- 2 Berg, Grintweg 61, Winschoten. Large windmill built in 1854 for grain milling and barley peeling.
- 3 Dijkstra, Nassaustraat 63, Winschoten. The largest of Winschoten's three windmills, with six millstones, built in 1862.
- 4 Udema's molen, Ganzedijk 71, Finsterwolde. Open Sundays 13:00-17:00. Built in 1868.
- 5 De Dellen, Pastorieweg 2A, Nieuw Scheemda. Polder windmill built in 1855, that was used for drainage of the reclaimed land (polder). A modern pumping station has been built next to it, but the traditional windmill can still be operational in case of emergency.
- 1 Fontana Resort Bad Nieuweschans, Weg naar de Bron 3-9, Bad Nieuweschans, ☎ . (thermal baths daily 9:00-22:45). Complete welness resort: thermal baths with healing spring water, various sauna facilities, a steam bathhouse, relaxation areas, and a park. The resort is the reason for the prefix 'Bad' in the name of Bad Nieuweschans, to promote it as a spa town. The resort also includes a hotel and several restaurants.
- 2 Oostwold Airport, Polderweg 28, Oostwold, ☎ . General aviation airfield, with daily sightseeing flights. The airport is available for VFR flights and Schengen only. Sightseeing flights from €114 for 15 minutes (3 persons).
Outdoor recreation and water sports
- 3 Huninga's Watersport (Zeilschool & Bootverhuur Blauwestad), Strandweg 1, Midwolda (in the harbour/marina of Midwolda), ☎ . Sailing courses as well as rental of motorboats, electric boats, sailing boats, canoes, and kayaks.
- Pieter Dekker Rondvaarten (Blauwestad boat tours), Strandweg 1, Midwolda (in the harbour/marina of Midwolda), ☎ . Every Sunday at 13:30; additional tours by appointment. Boat tour on the Oldambtmeer lake (adults €9.50).
- 4 Welvoart (Blauwestad boat tours), Redersplein 8, Blauwestad (Azzurro restaurant), ☎ . Every Sunday at 15:00, additional tours in Summer. Boat tour on the Oldambtmeer lake.
There is a wide variety of more than 50 shops in the town centre of Winschoten, and a smaller selection of shops in Scheemda. In some of the other villages there are a few shops, mainly supermarkets.
General opening hours are 9:00 to 18:00 on weekdays, and 9:00 to 17:00 on Saturdays. In Winschoten, shops are open late on Friday evenings, until 21:00. Generally, shops are closed on Sundays, but several times per year in Winschoten Sunday afternoon shopping is organised. Supermarkets have wider opening hours, with most supermarkets in Winschotenand Scheemda open 8:00 to 21:00 Mondays to Saturdays, and 12:00/13:00 to 18:00 Sundays. Supermarkets in the other villages generaly have more limited opening hours (e.g. until 20:00 on weekdays, and closed on Sundays).
- 1 Landwinkel Oldiek, Hoofdweg West 26, Nieuwolda, ☎ . Tue-Fri 9:00-18:00, Sat 9:00-17:00. Products from Oldambt, including locally grown apples, pears, cherries, prunes, and grapes, as well as wines, juices, local cakes, and cheeses.
- 1 Steakhouse Desperado, Engelstilstraat 4, Winschoten, ☎ . Wed-Sun 17:00-22:00. Main courses about €20.
- 2 Restaurant de Parelvisser (Landgoed Westerlee), Hoofdweg 67, Westerlee, ☎ . Daily 18:00-21:30. Surprise 'flavours of Groningen' three- to six-course menus. Starting from €35 for three courses.
- 3 Smederij 1872, Hoofdstraat 59, Beerta, ☎ . Tue, Thu-Sun 15:00-24:00. Restaurant in a national monument building that used to be a smithy (smederij), with a waterfront terrace Main courses about €20.
- 1 New Royal York Hotel, Stationsweg 21, Winschoten (opposite Winschoten railway station), ☎ . (from €74 per night for a double room).
- 2 Hotel Landgoed Westerlee, Hoofdweg 67, Westerlee, ☎ . Resort with spa and sauna in a former lord farm (from €129 per night for a double room).
- 3 Fontana Wellnesshotel (Fontana Resort Bad Nieuweschans), Weg naar de bron 3-9, Bad Nieuweschans, ☎ . Four-star hotel as part of the Fontana spa and wellness resort. (from €169 per night for a double room, including spa access).
- 4 Hotel In den Stallen, Oostereinde 10, Winschoten, ☎ . (from €71 per night for a double room).
- 5 Hotel Victoria, Marktplein 6, Winschoten, ☎ . (from €69 per night for a double room).
Campsites and cottages
- 6 De Leeuwenborg, Pastorieweg 14, Nieuw Scheemda, ☎ . Campsite along the Termunterzijldiep canal, and rental of cottages. There is also an indoor playground and a miniature golf course.
- 7 Camping de Bouwte, Hoofdweg 20A, Midwolda, ☎ . Campsite and cottage rental. With a swimming lake.
- 8 Camping Meerland, Groeveweg 42, Oostwold, ☎ . Campsite, cottage, and appartment rental on an island in the middle of the Oldambtmeer lake.
- 9 Camping de Boscamp, Dok 1a, Nieuwolda, ☎ . Small campsite along the Termunterzijldiep canal
- 10 Kostverloren11, Kostverloren 11, Finsterwolde, ☎ . Campsite and bed & breakfast apartments in the vast and quiet north of the Oldambt.
- Bourtange — Star-shaped fort village, 20 km south of the Oldambt
- Leer — Town just across the border in East Frisia, Germany
- Groningen — The provincial capital, and the economic and cultural centre of the Northern Netherlands
|Routes through Oldambt|
|Groningen ← Midden-Groningen ←||W E||→ Leer → Bremen|