The Netherlands has many Supermarket branches. The most popular is Albert Heijn, but there are many others including Jumbo, Aldi, Lidl, Digros, Plus and Hoogvliet. Check your local store for opening hours, but most of them are open in the evening, during the week. Some Albert Heijn and Jumbo shops also have a dry-cleaning service. Many supermarkets will provide free self-service coffee to their customers and most have a selection of fresh flowers on sale. You are also able to buy phone cards, upload OV chip cards, and use ATM machines.
Some supermarkets also offer home delivery services. You can also check their handy shopping apps.
Sligro is a huge wholesale supermarket with a varied selection of meats, vegetables and household items. In order to shop there you need to either have a Sligro loyalty card or show your Shell ID card at the reception to obtain a day pass.
Outpost has a document about shops offering discount for Shell employees. For more information go to Discounts for Shell employees in NL.
Opening hours in The Netherlands*
For expats coming from a 24/7 service location, adapting to the typical Dutch opening hours might be challenging.
|Days||Shops opening time||Department stores opening times|
|Monday||13:00 – 18:00||11:00 – 18:00|
|Tuesday||9:30 – 18:00||9:00 – 18:00|
|Wednesday||9:30 – 18:00||9:00 – 18:00|
|Thursday||9:30 – 21:00||9:00 – 21:00|
|Friday||9:30 – 18:00||9:00 – 18:00|
|Saturday||9:30 – 17:00||9:00 – 17:00|
|Sunday||12:00 (Only stores in City Centres)||12:00 – 17:00|
*Check your local store for opening hours
Restaurants in Assen and Groningen
In Groningen and Assen, there are many restaurants available, which vary from serving fish and chips, world themes to haute cuisine. A typical Dutch type of restaurant is the ‘Chinees-Indisch’ restaurant (sometimes abbreviated to Chin. Ind.), which serves Indonesian food, albeit adapted to Dutch taste. Not to be shunned at, some also serve great Cantonese or Szechuan food. Many of these restaurants have take-away or delivery services.
At the end of your stay you probably have your own top ten list of restaurants. To help you through your first days we are listing a few restaurants in the area, but it is always good to ask friends and colleagues for their favorite ones!
Please note: some restaurants will only serve dinner, opening their doors around 4 or 5 p.m. Check if your venue has a lunch menu.
Pizzeria Isolabella; Markt 3; 0592-311106;
Yume sushi; van Riebeeckstraat 5; 0592-318104;
De Kleine Heerlijkheid; Schuitendiep 42; 050-3131370;
Humphrey’s: Vismarkt 42; 050-3131981;
Imono; gelkingestraat 18-20; 05-3117087
Shopping in Assen and Groningen
Opening times for most shops are:
Mondays from 13.00 – 18.00 (some shops stay closed)
Tuesdays till Thursdays from 9.00 – 18.00
Fridays from 9.00 – 21.00 (late night shopping evenings)
Saturdays from 9.00 – 17.00
Sundays Assen has been granted Sunday opening – but most shops except the supermarkets stay shut!
Most supermarkets are open from 8.00 to 21.00 every day except on Sundays; (12:00 to 18:00).
Check out the opening times of different shops: www.openingstijden.nl.
Market days in Assen: Wednesday and Saturday.
Extra ‘late night shopping evenings’ (Koopavond) are organized before Sinterklaas (December 5) and Christmas. Occasionally there are ‘Koopzondagen’ (open Sundays). Check the local newspapers for dates.
Same as in Assen except for ‘Koopavond’ (Late night shopping), which takes place on Thursdays every week.
Some major supermarkets have longer opening hours like the Albert Heijn store in Helpman. Open from 8.00 – 22.00. The Jumbo supermarket in the Euroborg is open on Sundays.
Market days in Groningen: Tuesday, Thursday afternoon, Friday and Saturday.
There is a wide variety of shops in Assen and Groningen. In this guide, we will name some of them as a reference but if you’re looking for something specific you can always ask Outpost, neighbors or colleagues.
Food and Supermarkets
At most supermarkets, you can only take a shopping cart if you insert a coin (Euro 0.50, 1, or 2) or token to make sure that you will return the cart to the designated area. Tokens are often given as freebies so many people will have a few lying around soon. Lifehack: If you find yourself out of change you can use an ordinary house key (with a round bow). It will fit!
Supermarkets don’t provide plastic/paper bags to take your groceries home. You can buy plastic bags at the register. Or you can buy lined grocery bags or shopping crates which you can reuse. Some supermarkets will provide empty cardboard boxes for free behind the register.
Most supermarkets have discount cards that you get for free when registering. Albert Heijn has a bonus card. Without the card, you pay the full price for some products on sale. Ask for it at the service counter.
Vegetarian and Halal food
All supermarkets have a wide variety of vegetarian ingredients, as well as meat substitutes. Most restaurants have vegetarian dishes on their menus. Halal, gluten free and anti-allergenic food is widely available.
A selection of halal food shops in Assen:
Dikmen; Nobellaan 249
Taza Bazaar & slagerij; Rolderstraat 33a
Slagerij Saré, Rolderstraat 8
Halal food shops in Groningen:
Nazar Market Groningen; Nieuwe Ebbingestraat 137
Slagerij Al Fysal, Steentilstraat 9
International Supermarket Al Nour, Eikenlaan 45
Supermarkets offer a small but growing selection of organic food. The Ekoplaza supermarkets in Assen, Groningen and Haren are organic. You can also buy organic food at the market or order it online at www.ekonoom.nl. They deliver the ordered goods at your door.
International Food Stores
Toko Boemboe; Nobellaan 261; Assen
Toko Melati; Gedempte Zuiderdiep 126-128; Groningen
Amazing Oriental; Korreweg 51; Groningen
Ariola Delicatessen; Folkingestraat 54; Groningen
Basarz; Vismarkt 34; Groningen
Leuk & Lekker; Grote Kromme Elleboog 8, Groningen
Le Souk; Folkingestraat 21, Groningen
Dry Cleaning (Stomerij)
Some large supermarkets offer dry cleaning services, but you will also find specialized drycleaners scattered around town.
In town centres you will find many clothing shops. Department stores like Hema, H&M and C&A sell clothes for adults and children, but there are all kinds of shops in town specialized in (branded) women’s, men’s or children’s clothing.
A full range of household items can be found in Blokker, Hema and Action.
In the Netherlands, there are many possibilities of ordering a variety of products by mail order over the internet. A few to mention are: www.amazon.co.uk, UK based and a great one for books, CD’s, DVD’s etc. It provides you with a very efficient service. No import duty to be paid, only the postage. Be aware that for purchases from Amazon.com, which is based in the United States, you will have to pay import duty. www.bol.com, is based in the Netherlands. Books, DVD’s, CD’s, Electronics etc. www.wehkamp.nl is one of the most popular mail order shops in the Netherlands. You can buy almost anything there.
The largest Dutch buy-and-sell website is www.marktplaats.nl. People offer all kinds of items and services on this website. A Dutch Ebay branch is available too, but not very popular: www.ebay.nl. Cars, also from dealers, are offered online through marktplaats and on e.g. www.autoscout24.nl. A fast-growing auction site is www.catawiki.nl, on which you will find all sorts of collectibles, from arts, antiques and fossils to classic cars. By coincidence, they are headquartered in Assen.
If you buy clothes in a shop that have to be altered (e.g. pair of trousers is too long), the shop might offer to do the alterations for you or might recommend a tailor shop to you. You can find tailors under ‘kledingreparatie’ in the Yellow Pages.
The central library in Assen is located in De Nieuwe Kolk – the cultural building in the centre of Assen. Check www.dnk.nl – bibliotheek for opening hours. They have a small selection of English books.
In Groningen, the central library is located at the Oude Boteringestraat 18. Check www.groningenforum.nl/bibliotheek for opening hours and addresses of other branches in Groningen. You pay a yearly fee to become a member. Good selection Dutch, English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish books.
Tourist information for the North of the Netherlands
Assen is the charming capital of the province of Drenthe, historically a poor and little regarded area of heath and peat bog. However, in recent years fertilizers have improved the farming possibilities, gas has brought further prosperity and the area has become popular with holiday makers who appreciate the landscape with its wealth of heath, forest, lakes and cycling paths.
Groningen is the capital of the namesake province and has been an important European city for centuries. Its university was founded in 1614. Nowadays, it is a lively student city and host to lots of activities.
The two capitals are only 20 minutes apart by car or train, so it is easy to enjoy the rather different facilities and attractions of both.
The V.V.V. (National Dutch Tourist Office)
Each town in the country has its own V.V.V. office and they are great places to find maps, brochures, guidebooks, and general information on places of interest, sports, cultural activities, hotels and restaurants in the area.
Assen VVV office
Assen Tel.: 0592-243788
Groningen VVV office
Grote Markt 29
Groningen Tel.: 050-3139741
The helpful staff speaks good English and they have English brochures about the northern provinces.
For those who regularly visit museums it might be an idea to buy a Museumjaarkaart. This card provides free or reduced-price entry to over 400 museums throughout the Netherlands. The card can be bought at any time from the participating museums and at the VVV.
Some Highlights from Drenthe
Museums and Historic Monuments
Picturesque farmhouses dot the Drenthe landscape, usually with large thatched roofs covering both the living quarters with high windows at the front and the barn/stable behind. Some villages have kept their Saxon layout with the tree lined main square (Brink) in the middle.
There are many museums and interesting buildings in the area to be explored; the following selection is a small one.
Orvelte Museum Village
One entire village, Orvelte, has been preserved as an open-air museum. People still live and work there but some houses, shops and barns house exhibitions and demonstrations of traditional activities such as making clogs, flour, lace and cheese. www.orvelte.net
This open-air museum shows you the history of the veen (peat) workers. You can explore old farmhouses, a church, and a bakery, watch someone make clogs and generally get a good idea of what life was like in Drenthe in the past centuries. Usually they are closed during the winter apart from the indoor activities. www.veenpark.nl
In Anloo, the church on the village green is the oldest in the north of the Netherlands, with a nave dating back to the eleventh century. The church is open daily to visitors and there is a Sunday service at 10.30. On weekdays at 12.00 local school children ring the church bell.
In Hooghalen you will find a Memorial Centre in Transit Camp Westerbork, which tells the story of the deportation of Jews, Sinti and Roma from the Netherlands during the second world war. Most victims would never return.
The camp has a museum with a permanent exhibition about the history of the camp as well as changing exhibitions. More details on www.kampwesterbork.nl (also available in English and German).
Drenthe is particularly rich in hunebedden (dolmens). These are prehistoric burial monuments built of two rows of large upright stones roofed with capstones and, originally, covered in earth. The megaliths used were products of a glacier’s terminal moraine called the Hondsrug (dog’s back), which extends from Groningen to Emmen. There are 53 hunebedden in Drenthe and one in Groningen (in Noordlaren). The hunebedden are stone-age grave monuments. Most are attractively situated and interesting to see. They are listed on www.hunebeddenwijzer.nl. There are two fine examples in Rolde behind the church, while five small ones are grouped together near the hamlet of Bronneger. A complete one is situated in Loon. The biggest is in Borger, next to a museum devoted to the subject:
Nationaal Hunebedden Informatiecentrum
Bronnegerstraat 12, Borger Tel.: 0599 236374
Assen has some attractive nineteenth century and older houses. The archaeology section of the Drents museum is housed in the old provincial house. Exhibits include the oldest canoe in the world and the remains of a young girl preserved in the peat bogs. The seventeenth century Ontvangershuis, the elegant former residence of the general tax collector, is now the decorative arts part of the museum.
Brink 1 & 5, Assen Tel.: 0592 377773
The statue of a small boy called Bartje behind the garden of the Ontvangershuis commemorates Assen’s most famous son, the fictional hero of the Dutch novelist Anne de Vries.
The one thing that Assen is world famous for is the T.T. (Tourist Trophy), the Dutch Grand Prix motorcycle races held each year on the last Saturday in June on the racing circuit to the south of town. The races are the highlight of a multi-day festival in town, which includes the races, a fun-fair, lots of music and many demonstrations of everything that’s bike related. Street bands and entertainers set up around town and a carnival atmosphere prevails. You can get a flavor of this special event by walking around the town centre on the Thursday or Friday night when hordes of leather clad bikers from all over Europe mingle with the locals. Do not forget to go to the night ride, when a few thousand visitors do a parade lap on their bikes through town. Check with the T.T. office or the local paper for exact times or go to www.ttcircuit.com.
Some Highlights from Groningen
Museums and Historic Monuments
Groningen has a lot of preserved historic sites. At the VVV you can book a guided tour through the city and you will see interesting places. Groningen has two parks: Noorderplantsoen and Stadspark. Yearly there is an international festival in the Noorderplantsoen, called Noorderzon. www.noorderzon.nl
The Groninger Museum
The Groningen Museum building is rather unique and occupies a novel location, forming a bridge between the Central Station and the inner city. The museum often has contemporary exhibitions. www.groningermuseum.nl.
The Scheepsvaartmuseum (www.noordelijkscheepvaartmuseum.nl) shows the history of shipbuilding and shipping of the northern parts of the Netherlands from the Middle Ages until the present day.
Cartoon museum: a museum all about Dutch cartoons and comics. www.stripmuseum.nl.
A bit further afield in Groningen (province) you can find some country houses (Borgen). The Borgen served chiefly in a defensive role and date back to the seventeenth century. The buildings tend to be enclosed by moats, gardens and woods and are situated close to villages. Some have survived the ravages of time and are open to the public. Please check the website for opening times
Nationaal Rijtuigen Museum, Carriage Museum Nienoord
Nienoord 1, Leek Tel.: 0594 512260
Seal Sanctuary Pieterburen
This seal crèche in Pieterburen cares for sick and unhealthy seals that are found in the Netherlands and further afield. They also carry out research into seal behavior, pathogens and ecology. Very sick animals are cared for inside, whilst the healthier residents are contained in outdoor swimming pools. A film and information boards are provided (in Dutch) which explain the history of the centre and the work that is done there. The sanctuary is both educational and entertaining – a good attraction for children.
The Seal Sanctuary (Zeehondencrèche), Pieterburen
Hoofdstraat 94a, Pieterburen Tel.: 0595 526526
Near the German border stands the fortified town of Bourtange. The original seventeenth century fortifications in the traditional five-pointed star shape were dismantled in the last century but they have been fully rebuilt around the original buildings. In the summer months on Sundays there are special demonstrations including how to fire a canon. Also, once a year in summer, there is a re-enactment of an invasion of the castle with enthusiasts from all over Europe. Check with the VVV (or website) for exact dates.
- Lodewijkstraat 33
Bourtange Tel.: 0599 354600
The Wadden Sea
The Wadden Sea is a unique ecosystem on our planet. It is located between the north cost and the strip of islands North of the mainland. Here, the fresh water from the land meets the salt water from the ocean. During low tide parts of the sea fall dry. A way of enjoying this region is by mud walking, strolling through the mud on your way to an island. It is dangerous to go on a mud walk without a guide. There are 6 organizations that have mud-walking tours. They offer all kinds of tours on/over the Wadden Sea.
Since June 2009 the Wadden Sea is placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. This puts the Wadden Sea on the same footing as other world-famous natural wonders like the Grand Canyon in the USA and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
It is worthwhile to visit the Wadden Islands. Spending time on the beach, rent a bicycle or tandem and cycle around the island, fly kites on the beach, stroll through the small streets of the villages. Spending a day feels like a holiday. Schiermonnikoog and Ameland are easily done on a day trip. Texel, Vlieland and Terschelling take longer to travel to from Groningen or Assen. The ferry to Schiermonnikoog departs from the harbor of Lauwersoog. The ferry to Ameland leaves from Holwerd. More info on: www.wadden.nl and in the transport section of this guide.
Sports and Swimming in Assen and Groningen
There is an abundance of opportunities for sports and leisure in and around Assen/Groningen. In general, schools in the Netherlands do not provide sports clubs for children, although they offer Physical Education through their curriculum. Those wishing to play a sport must join a local club or facility.
About swimming… Due to the amount of open water in the Netherlands it is very important that children are taught how to swim in their early years. Swimming lessons are offered in several places and children can start around the age of 4. Some swimming clubs have waiting lists so try to sign up as early as possible. Check Google: ‘zwemles’ and ask around for other people’s experiences. The most common swim program is the A, B, C system. Note that children without grade A are requested to wear inflatable arm wings in recreational swimming facilities. It is not uncommon that young children with foreign swim certificates are still required to do so or prove their abilities to the life guard! Note that the presence of a life guard in a swimming pool, at the beach or in a lake does not remove responsibility for the wellbeing of their children from parents.
There are plenty opportunities to go swimming recreationally in the region.
De Bonte Wever
9405 BK ASSEN
9735 AA Groningen
Mr. Moddermanlaan 40
9712 GP Groningen
Zwembad de Parrel
9741 EW Groningen
De Papiermolen Openluchtbad (open air swimming pool)
9721 GR Groningen
Lemferdinge (open air swimming pool)
9765 AR Paterswolde
There are also quite a few lakes where one can enjoy swimming and other water activities. Check www.zwemwater.nl for more information (national overview, map based), and check www.drenthe.nl/natuurparken/zwemplassen for a comprehensive list of locations in Drenthe. Highlights are Zuidlaardermeer (Zuidlaren), Hoornseplas (Groningen) and ‘t Nije Hemelriek (Gasselte).
The NAM Sports Club OSV (Ontspanning en Sport Vereniging) offers a range of clubs and groups you may join. Check www.osvnam.nl (only some sections in English). Activities offered through the OSV include, among others: tennis, fitness, badminton, squash, rowing, sailing and arts ‘n crafts classes. To join a club, you need to apply for general membership of the OSV as well as membership for the specific club. Choose the clubs you would like to join and return the completed forms to the OSV secretary. You will receive a membership card from the office. OSV membership is for NAM/Shell employees and their immediate families only.
NAMbitious’ vision is to create a network for New Professionals in Shell/NAM. NAMbitious therefore organizes social and networking activities aimed at the on boarding and development of new professionals in NAM. Eight committee members come up with and organize different young professional events both work and socially related. Think of executive dinners, Lunch & Learns, conferences, engagements with other companies but also the BBQ, golf outing or the monthly drinks.