Northeastern Netherlands

Some 25km northeast of Groningen, in the town of Uithuizen, is one of the Netherlands' most authentic manor houses. Originally a fortified castle dating from the 14th century, Menkemaborg received its present gentrified appearance – a moated estate of three houses surrounded by lavishly landscaped gardens – early in the 18th century, and it has barely been altered since. Inside, the rooms retain all the pomp and ceremony of 18th-century aristocratic life, complete with carved-oak mantelpieces, stately beds and fine china.

The gardens surrounding the mansion have been painstakingly restored to their symmetrical design of 1705 and replanted with herbs and flowers from the original plans. The garden in the northeast corner holds a unique sundial and there's a maze to the northwest – enter with some caution as it might take a while to find your way out.

There's a good-value cafe in the old estate farmhouse with tasty and filling soups and sandwiches.

Hourly Arriva trains run between Uithuizen and Groningen (€6.40, 35 minutes). The train station is a 1km walk west of Menkemaborg. National bike route LF10 passes right through.

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