A climb up 251 steep and spiralling stone steps to the summit of this elegant, 96m-tall medieval tower (1482) rewards with grand views – and worrisome proximity to its giant bells, which ring every 15 minutes most days. Buy admission tokens at the tourist office across the street.

From the top terrace, another 54 steps wind up to the carillonneur's cabin where, twice a week, at noon on Tuesday and 11am on Saturday, the city's carillonneur (a professor at the university) performs a mesmerising one-hour concert. The current carillon was cast in 1662–63 and comprises 52 bells. Year-round, watch for occasional concerts on public holidays and during festivals.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Groningen attractions

1. Martinikerk

0.02 MILES

This huge 16th-century church commands the northeast corner of Grote Markt. The iconic church and its tower, Martinitoren, are among the few remnants of…

2. Nieuwe Markt

0.04 MILES

This dynamic city's most ambitious redevelopment project to date, the gleaming 'New Market' square is slated to become an A-lister hub for alfresco…

3. Forum Cultural Centre

0.05 MILES

Groningen's landmark cultural centre - home to the city's tourist office, library, five cinemas, exhibition spaces, the Nederlands Stripmuseum and a…

4. Grote Markt

0.05 MILES

The main square holds some gems, of which the Town Hall, dating from 1810, is the most dazzling. The string of cafes along the south side are perpetually…

5. Town Hall

0.08 MILES

The Town Hall is an eye-catching building on the Grote Markt. It was built in 1810.

6. Prinsentuin

0.15 MILES

Take a breather at the serene gardens of Prinsenhof, a 15th-century mansion-turned–luxury hotel with peaceful Renaissance-style gardens fragranced with…

7. Academiegebouw

0.18 MILES

The stunning, Dutch Renaissance Academiegebouw is the main building of the university, with a breathtaking, richly decorated exterior from 1909.

8. Aa-kerk

0.31 MILES

Located in the old harbour area, Aa-kerk was once a seaman's church dating to 1226. No longer a church, it is used as a concert and reception hall today.