Destination

Europe in bloom

Bookmark these hidden horticultural gems for when we’re all on the move again.

With summer on the horizon, our gardens never looked so beautiful. From an urban park paradise to the secret garden of your dreams, it’s time to step outside and enjoy the best of nature in all her guises.

Panoramic gateway to the National Park Hoge Kempen: Connecterra, Belgium

The shady forests with a view of the moors make the Hoge Kempen National Park a true cycling paradise. Cycle along the quiet towpaths and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Many parts of the routes are also completely car-free. Occasionally you will come across a hill, but you do get a nice view as a reward.

The Hoge Kempen National Park is located right next to Maasmechelen Village.

https://www.connecterra.be/

Hillside retreat: Fürstengarten Marienberg, Würzburg, Germany

Rising 266 metres above the city of Würzburg, just 30 minutes from Wertheim Village, the Marienberg Fortress is home to the artistically arranged Princes’ Garden, which has been carefully restored to its early-eighteenth-century design. The trip up the hill is merited by the beautifully planned formal garden terrace with its fountain and two pavilions, but it is made truly unmissable by the exceptional view across the city, Marienberg’s vineyards and the valley of the River Main. It’s easy to drive the road up to the garden, but never again will a 20-minute hill hike earn you such a priceless reward!

schloesser.bayern.de

Historical gem: Kruidtuin Hortus Botanicus Leuven, Belgium

Heading east out of Brussels, just half an hour from the hub of Europe and 50 minutes from Maasmechelen Village, is the university city of Leuven and the oldest botanical garden in Belgium. Created in 1738 for students of medicine, the garden is famous for its diverse plant collection and a 450-square-metre greenhouse that cultivates aquatic, tropical and subtropical species.

visitleuven.be/en/botanical-garden

Fairy-tale forest: Castello di Grazzano Visconti, Emilia Romagna

For a garden that offers something for everyone, take a trip to discover the park surrounding the Castello di Grazzano Visconti in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. The castle’s grounds were designed around the turn of the twentieth century by Duke Giuseppe Visconti di Modrone and feature formal Italian gardens, shady wooded areas, fountains, a flowing stream and a picturesque children’s cottage, which was built for the Duke’s daughters. The 150,000 hectare park, situated just 40 minutes from Fidenza Village, is characterised by its architectural planting and beautiful forest areas, providing a perfect escape from the intense Italian sunshine.

grazzanovisconti.com

Weekend wandering: Powerscourt Estate Gardens, County Wicklow, Ireland

Nestled in the lush Irish countryside, the grounds of Powerscourt Estate are staggeringly picturesque, with endlessly pretty vistas providing a backdrop for a collection of formal, Italian and rose gardens. With more than 47 acres of terraces, lakes, secret hollows and even a waterfall to discover, you might need more than a day to explore.

powerscourt.com/gardens

It’s time to step outside and enjoy the best of nature in all her guises.

Village Life

The Bicester Village Shopping Collection

Hidden maze: Parc del Laberint d'Horta, Barcelona

To truly escape the city, you can’t miss the chance to literally lose yourself in a maze. Barcelona’s oldest conserved garden, Parc del Laberint d'Horta, is home to a beautifully preserved, neo-classical labyrinth that has been a favourite with visitors to the city for centuries. Situated on the edge of the city, the twists and turns of the more than 600-metre maze will reward intrepid explorers with a statue of Eros, the Greek god of love.

barcelona.cat