If I say Groningen, most people would say “Where on earth is that?!” - which is a huge shame as Groningen is quite likely the most perfect weekend break destination you have never heard of.

To answer the question, Groningen is tucked away in very North, Northern Holland, near the Wadden Sea coast and around 40 miles from the German border.

And it is easy peasey to get to, with the flights from London Southend Airport with Flybe, operated by Stobart Air, taking off daily with prices starting from just £39.99 (www.flybe.com). You are in the air for just 60 minutes, so when you add how quick and easy it is to get through London Southend Airport (it is just 5-minutes to clear Security - yes, really) then getting to your weekend break in Holland is actually quicker than getting to the other side of London?!

The Dutch call Groningen ‘The metropolis of the North’ – and they are right. Its historic university helps give the city a young, buzzing feel, with a vibrant nightlife and bars that stay open until 5 in the morning. There’s culture aplenty, too, with a clutch of museums covering everything from high art to the more modern genres of comics and graphics.

And then there is the food. I know you’d usually think Italy or France for great gastronomic delights, but Holland is a land of hidden pleasures for the ardent foodie.

Head out of Groningen for the coast and in about 20-minutes you’ll come across ’t Kleine Oestertje at Oldenhove (sorry, no website, they don’t need one). This is one of the best seafood restaurants I’ve ever been too (and this is a bold claim, coming from Southend). It’s small, just 8 tables, with the Chef serving what’s fresh off the boats. We shared an amazing, fresh from the pan, seafood platter with simply but beautifully cooked mussels, oysters, octopus, langoustines, razor claims, squid, prawns (and about 10 other fish I cannot remember), a side of piping hot bread, homemade garlic mayonnaise and a glass of wine from the vineyard up the road and I was totally sold. And it is really reasonably priced at about €35 per person for a 3-course meal.

Also, in this area is Onder de Linde (www.onderdelinde.com), the only Michelin starred restaurant in the province. Here be dazzled by the tasting menu with matching wines – but be warned, the 5-course option has lots of ‘snacks’ between courses, so don’t have a big lunch ahead of coming! The smoked eel and then much later white chocolate with yuzu, mandarin, puffed rice and matcha ice cream were particular highlights.

If you are touring the region then make a point at stopping at Teafabrique in Houwerzijl (www.theefabriek.nl) which traces the history of the Dutch tea trade through a fascinating small museum. Do make sure you stop by the cafe for a bowl of the creamy Mustard Soup or a slice of poffert, a beautiful sponge cake made in a Bain Marie and served it with melted butter - both are local specialities.

Back in Groningen grab a bike and take a tour of the city that’s like a much smaller, less busy, and frankly much nicer Amsterdam. Climb the spectacular, 500-year old Martini Tower and enjoy the amazing views from almost 100 metres up, combine sightseeing with supping and take a beer tasting canal boat tower, then finish your day at Mr. Mofongo (www.mofongo.nl), surely one of the coolest wine bars on the planet with its own distillery on site and a robotic arm to mix your cocktail. What’s not to like?!

A 5-minute stroll from all the action will take you to the incredibly hip Student Hotel (www/thestudenthotel.com) that mixes student accommodation with a traditional B&B set up. A good night’s sleep, a short taxi ride and it’s back to the airport and home to Essex. With genuinely something for everyone, Groningen really is the perfect weekend break.