Groningen and the Wadden Area
The Groningen Wadden coast extends over a length of 34 kilometres between the Lauwersmeer Lake and the Eemshaven. The elongated tidal area outside the dykes with salt marshes and Wadden plains are famous because of the extensive numbers of Wadden and water birds during the migrating season and winter, and it also impressively shows how nature, plants and animals constantly adjust to the alternating countryside in an area with both fresh and salt water.
The coastal region inside the dykes is characterised by openness, tranquillity and space which is all but lost in other regions. The open polder landscape with its vast fields, former seawalls, historic farms and ancient terp (artificial hillock) villages is perfect for an expedition on foot or by bike. The area has a rich cultural-historical heritage that includes the typical Groningen estate houses and a surprising number of inspiring locations.
Attractions, culture and nature in the Groningen coastal area
Zoutkamp, former seaport
The former seaport of Zoutkamp is known for its shrimp fishing. For centuries, Zoutkamp both suffered and benefited from its prominent location at the Lauwerszee inland sea. After the storm disaster in 1953 and the Christmas flood in 1954, in 1969 the Lauwerszee was closed off from the Wadden Sea. Out of necessity, the fishing harbour was relocated to Lauwersoog.
After fishing disappeared from the harbours of Zoutkamp, the village developed into a tourist attraction. Zoutkamp still permeates the atmosphere of those days, with its historic sluices, the friendly outdoor cafés with a view of the harbour, the fishing museum and the delicious fish served at various places, such as at the Palingrokerij (eel smokehouse). Once a year, the entire former Zoutkamp fleet sets out to the harbours during the traditional 'Vlaggetjesdagen' (the day before the Dutch herring fleet puts out to sea) during Whitsuntide. During the Whitsun celebrations, the fleet celebrates the opening of the season.
National Park Lauwersmeer and Lauwersoog
The Lauwersmeer developed after the Lauwerzee was closed off from the Wadden Sea in 1969. The closing-off turned the lake into a fresh-water environment where water, plants, animals and people came together in a special way. In 1999, the Lauwersmeer area was proclaimed National Park. The bird-watching cabin at the Jaap Deensgat (popular among bird lovers) is the perfect place to spot birds. In addition to well-known water birds, see special species such as white-tailed eagle, peregrine or kingfisher. A flamingo has even been spotted here too.
Due to the closing-off of the Lauwersmeer, the village of Lauwersoog developed into a charming tourist village with plenty of recreational options. There is a campsite, sailing school, waterbuses and numerous restaurants. The Booze Wijf near the museum harbour is among the best known ones: in addition to a restaurant, it also includes an indoor playground and information post of the Lauwersmeer National Park.
Natuurschool Lauwersoog (Nature School)
The Natuurschool takes children and adults out into the Wadden Area for nature excursions and experiences. The scenic areas, which include the Wadden Sea, the Lauwersmeer and the beaches and dunes of the North Sea, form the backdrop for various activities, such as walking across the mud flats, trawler fishing and a seal expedition.
Pieterburen seal sanctuary
Sick and weak seals are taken in and cared for in the seal sanctuary of Lenie 't Hart in Pieterburen. See the seals and have a look in the crèche kitchen to see what they are fed. The visitor centre features an exhibition and a film about seals, and guided tours are given. There is an educational children's corner and a sandpit for the youngest visitors.
Noordkust Pieterburen country estate
The Noordkust country estate is the starting point for gathering information, education and excursions. The basic assumptions in the centre are surprise, explore and do! Themes include the various biotopes at the northern coast and the importance of the Wadden Sea as a filling station during bird migration. There is a 'wet area' where children can perform tests and investigate plants and animals under a microscope. The multifunctional cinema features a new and informative film about the northern coast. A new footpath and bicycle path is laid out from Buitenplaats Noordkust to the Wadden dyke, which is also used for covered wagon trips by the Het Groninger Landschap.
In the northernmost tip on the mainland of the province of Groningen is the village of Noordpolderzijl, which has the smallest open harbour in the Netherlands. The tides have free reign here and it is only possible to sail out of the harbour during high tide. Noordpolderzijl is a true oasis of tranquillity and space where you can forget your daily worries and enjoy the panoramic views of the Wadden area with the West Frisian islands of Schiermonnikoog, Rottumeroog, Rottumerplaat and the German island of Borkum in the distance.
The 't Zielhoes living room café is located in the former lockkeeper's house at the foot of the seawall. This is a lovely nostalgic place to warm up next to the round iron stove after a walk across the mud flats, or to spend some time sitting outside and enjoy the salty sea air.
Crossing the mud flats
Go where land and sea meet
No recreational activity could possibly be more characteristic for the Wadden Sea region than walking across the mudflats. Explore the soil of the Wadden Sea while doing a hike. Two times a day - in the hours around low tide - the Wadden Sea stands clear of water, during which you can truly experience what it is like to go for a walk on the seabed. Professional guides take you on an exploratory expedition from the mainland to one of the islands. These hikes provide a wonderful opportunity for hikers to enjoy a ramble between natural elements.
Cycling and hiking
Get on your bike or put on your walking shoes and let all of your senses come to life. Smell, feel and experience the Wadden Area with its friendly ancient villages along the dyke with their historic churches, typical farms and traditional harbours. Enjoy the grand horizon and panoramic views. Allow yourself the occasional break, sit down on a dyke while the flood comes in or a flock of birds fly by.
Source: Marketing Groningen