The magical Castle Muiderslot is more than 700 years old, making it one of the oldest and best-preserved castles in the Netherlands. Adding to its fairy-tale charm is its beautiful gardens, which is still used to grow vegetables and herbs. Between March and November, the garden is tended to by a team of volunteers who are only too happy to teach visitors about forgotten vegetables and herbs that can be used for medicine, dyes and decoration. Behind the castle you’ll find a plum orchard - a source of inspiration for Pieter Cornelisz Hooft (sometimes referred to as ‘the Dutch Shakespeare’) who was resident in Muiderslot castle in the 17th century.
Kasteel Museum Sypesteyn
The final heir to the Van Sypesteyn family, Henri van Sypesteyn (1857-1937) built this magnificent Castle-Museum to preserve his family’s 500-year lineage. Located in the middle of the Vecht region, Kasteel Museum Sypesteyn houses a fascinating art collection and exhibition on the Van Sypesteyn family, while the beautiful garden is perfect for a walk. Be sure to check opening times as the castle is closed during the winter months.
Tea Garden at Weesp
You’ll find this romantic tea garden located in one of Weesp’s former bastions. Built in 1674, the Bakkersschans bastion was once a part of the towns fortifications but has now been transformed into an oasis surrounded by lush greenery. Garden enthusiasts will love the tranquil atmosphere and can enjoy some Dutch delicacies in the adjoining restaurant, housed in a building that was once used to store munitions.
Just east of Amsterdam you’ll find the walled city of Naarden, part of Amsterdam’s historic defence line and one of Europe’s best-preserved fortified towns. After you’ve wandered through the city head out to the fortress itself and walk along the unique star-shaped moats and gorgeous green areas with small thickets. Just outside of Naarden you can find one of the oldest and most beautiful nature reserves of The Netherlands, the Naardermeer.
The Singer Sculpture Garden at the Singer Laren museumArt fans should take a trip to the Singer Laren Museum sculpture garden. Designed by renowned landscape architect Piet Oudolf — a leading figure of the ‘New Perennial’ movement who designed the gardens of New York’s iconic High Line — the free sculpture garden features work by contemporary Dutch artists including Guido Geelen, Maria Roosen and Famke van Wijk. Based around a theme of connection, the works meld culture and nature and are perfectly situated among seasonal fauna referencing art and time.
Geologisch Museum Hofland
Step back in time and explore the stone garden at the Geologisch Museum Hofland (Hofland Geological Museum) in Laren. It is said that around 150,000 years ago 70 tonnes of Scandinavian boulders arrived in what is now the Netherlands as the ice spread during the Ice Age. You’ll also find stones delivered to the area via the Rhine and Meuse rivers as well, with the origins of the stones as far afield as Eifel, Ardennes, Hunsrück and Vosges. Wander through the heathland to take in smaller stones, or simply sit back on one of the polished seating stones and enjoy some peace and quiet.
Ouderkerk aan de Amstel
As far as quaint villages go, Ouderkerk aan de Amstel offers a respite from the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam and is just a short bike ride away. This 12th century town is best reached by cycling along the picturesque Amstel river where stunning vistas await. Ouderkerk aan de Amstel is also home to the oldest Jewish cemetery in the Netherlands. This restful spot with tombstones and simple gardens was opened in 1614. Not strictly a garden (sorry folks), the nearby Ouderkerkerplas also offers beaches, a nature reserve and various walking and cycling paths to explore.