If you were in the Netherlands this past week then you too fell victim to the stifling heatwave that caused us here in the lowlands such distress. I'm not even kidding - although I spend most of the year complaining, as God intended, about the cold rainy Dutch weather and how I wish I didn't have to wear at least three layers every day for 10 months a year, this week was too hot even for me. Biking through crowded Amsterdam intersections in thirty degrees Celsius blaring heat is about as fun as it sounds, i.e. not fun at all. Thirty degrees coupled with Dutch humidity makes getting away from the heavily populated Randstad region particularly attractive, and, luckily, the Netherlands offers a number of destinations that can provide respite from the Netherlands' bustling city areas. And although the southern provinces of Limburg and Noord-Brabant got the brunt of this week's tropical weather, they also have the advantage of being home to beautiful expanses of fields, medieval towns and cities, and wonderful castles and gardens. If you are looking for a day in the fresh country air but with sights and history to see, there is no place I can recommend better than Arcen Castle in the town of Arcen in the province of Limburg.
Arcen Castle itself is a medieval building that has in the past 20 years been restored to the conditions of its hey day - the 17th and 18th centuries. The furniture within the castle itself is authentic and luxurious - I highly recommend taking time to explore the Castle before heading out to the gardens.
The grounds of Arcen Castle are home to arguably the most beautiful gardens in the Netherlands. The Rose Garden in particular is so reminiscent of the extravagance of the Renaissance era, it's astounding. I guarantee you that you'll see more types of roses here than you would even at a flower market, not to mention other varieties of flowers, plants, fountains, waterfalls, and even statues. And the Rose Garden is only the beginning! There is also the Asian water garden, a beautifully decorated tropical greenhouse, and the Lommerrijk, or "shade gardens."
Moreover, the Arcen Castle Gardens are also home to some fantastic wildlife displays. During the tourist season, birds of prey demonstrations are held: trained buzzards, hawks and eagles fly over the crowd in all their splendor.
On your route around the park you will also find several pit stops to have a coffee, ice cream, or even a full meal. The views are guaranteed to be fantastic. There is also a slightly unexpected mini-golf course that you can either walk through or play your way through depending on your mood.
To get to Arcen Castle Gardens, you have the option of taking the 83 bus from Venlo or alternatively driving or biking there.
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