Tucked away in the country's far northeastern corner, this overtly agricultural province is a Pandora's box of pleasant surprises. At its heart lies capital city, Groningen, a handsome 14th-century Hanseatic city that has lost none of its charm over the centuries and turns heads today with its prestigious university, contemporary food scene, edgy nightlife and innovative pulse.

To the south, right by the country's border with Germany, stands one of the Netherland's best preserved fortifications. North of Groningen is Menkemaborg, an authentic manor house, beyond which flat countryside spills out towards the Wadden Sea. The mud flats in end-of-the-earth Hoogeland provide mountains of exciting thrills and spills for wadlopers in welly boots who flock here to pick their way across the muddy flats and bogs at low tide.