The Netherlands

The best things to do in Arcen, The Netherlands

Are you planning a visit to the southern part of the Netherlands? You might want to include the village of Arcen in your travel itinerary. Arcen is a village located in the province of Limburg and is famous for its historic castle and beautiful gardens. Arcen, The Netherlands is also an excellent base to explore the Maasduinen National Park.

This travel guide to Arcen will answer all your questions regarding the village of Arcen in the Netherlands. Questions like how to get to Arcen, what to do in Arcen and where to sleep in Arcen? I am sure that after reading this post, you will include Arcen in your Limburg travel itinerary. Enjoy!

Arcen, a tiny village in Limburg

Arcen is a village located in the province of Limburg, the southernmost of the 12 provinces of the Netherlands. This province is known for its vast landscapes, green forests and endless fields. Arcen is officially part of the municipality of Venlo and is pretty small, only 9.000 inhabitants, can you imagine!

Arcen is locked between the German border and the river Maas. This makes Arcen a popular tourist attraction for Dutch and German tourists. Arcen is very famous for its historic castle and beautiful gardens. Furthermore it’s also an excellent base to explore the Maasduinen National Park.

How to get to Arcen, the Netherlands?

The N271 is the main road in and out of Arcen, heading north to Gennep and Bergen (Limburg), and south to Venlo. If you’re relying on public transport, your best option is to head to Venlo first.

Arcen has no train station, but from Venlo bus line 83 in direction Nijmegen runs twice per hour, getting you to Arcen in 30 minutes. 

If you’re cycling, you’ll find that there are many routes from all directions. The area around Arcen is quite flat, making cycling easy, even for those less experienced.

And how to get around?

The centre of Arcen is small and the main attractions are only a five minutes walk from the centre. As a result, getting around on foot is the obvious choice for Arcen itself.

A bicycle is great to explore the natural surroundings like the Maasduinen National Park and to visit the Hertog Jan Brewery or the Arcen thermal baths.

What to do in Arcen, the Netherlands?

There are some really nice things to do in Arcen, the Netherlands. Examples are visiting the Arcen Castle Gardens, tasting local beer at the Hertog Jan Brewery, visiting a traditional distillery, enjoying the great view on the River Maas, or relaxing at the Arcen thermal baths. Read all the details below:

Learn about the rich history of Arcen

Just outside the centre of Arcen you can find a tower that’s a remnant of the fortifications of Arcen and dates from the fifteenth century. It is a so-called stair tower, which at the time was part of a much larger defensive tower. In addition to being a gatehouse, the tower also served as a toll tower. Next to the tower you can also find a canon and a beautiful view over the River Maas.

Visit ‘de IJsvogel’, a distillery located in a water mill in Arcen

In Arcen you can find a unique grain distillery called ‘de IJsvogel’. This traditional distillery distils its own alcohol from beer and wine. De IJsvogel is located in a restored working watermill and produces jenever (gin), bitters and regional products like asparagus liqueur, blueberry liqueur, fruit juice liqueur and mustard.

On a guided tour you can see the craftsmen, miller and stoker. In addition the distillery also organizes walks, workshops liqueur making and various tastings.

Go cycling in the Maasduinen National Park

In Limburg you can find plenty of vineyards, asparagus fields, heartlands, fens, river dunes, forests and a stunning national park: Maasduinen National Park (in Dutch: National Park De Maasduinen). It’s an elongated ridge of sand and about three kilometers wide and twenty kilometers long. Pretty big! You can find all kinds of different landscapes like forests, heathlands, fens, lakes and shifting sands.

Arcen is an excellent base to explore the Maasduinen National Park. Rent a bicycle at your accommodation or bring your own bicycle to explore the Maasduinen National Park by bicycle! It’s definitely worth it.

Visit Arcen Castle Gardens

Arcen is popular with Dutch tourists for its historic castle whose beautiful gardens are well known throughout the country. The baroque castle is pretty old. In the 17th century it was damaged and half of the property was lost and never rebuilt. The remaining parts were restored in the 1980s. When not rented out for weddings or other events, parts of the castle are open to visitors of the gardens. From the centre, it’s only a 5 minutes walk to the castle.

The real attraction of Arcen Castle Gardens are obviously the gardens. The castle’s garden is subdivided into a variety of styles, including a classic rose garden, Asian gardens and many ponds. As you wander through, you encounter gardens designed to resemble Japan, Italy, Thailand and more. There are woodland gardens and tropical gardens (inside an enormous greenhouse).

There is a small on-site zoo featuring ring-tailed lemurs, plenty of children’s activities, mini-golf and a restaurant. There’s also a gift shop.

Taste a beer at the Hertog Jan Brewery in Arcen

Outside the centre of Arcen you can find the Hertog Jan beer brewery. This well-known Dutch beer brewery offers guided tours (in Dutch) and tastings, which can be booked online. It’s a nice place to visit.

Relax at the Arcen thermal baths

Arcen has a thermal bath which is drawn from a natural source some 900 meter below the surface. The thermal bath is part of the holiday park and Bad Hotel, but you can visit the thermal bath also independently. Next to the several thermal baths (indoor and outdoor) you can also find some herb baths, a kneipp bath, saunas, and rest areas. For extra fees, a wide range of beauty and wellness arrangements are available, including massages, waxes and facial treatments.

The baths are really nice to visit. I even stayed a couple of nights at the Parkhotel Bad Arcen, so I could enjoy the baths for multiple days. It’s good for body and mind.

Take a look at the Town Hall

If you are interested in historic buildings you might want to take a look at the town hall in Arcen. This building is of a traditionalist 20th century design.

Enjoy the beautiful view on the river Maas in Arcen

In Arcen you can find some restaurants and brasseries by the water side. If you would like to take a break or just enjoy the beautiful view on the river Maas, just stop by at one of the businesses and enjoy the great view over the river.

Tip: try some Limburgse vlaai (a pie or tart consisting of a pastry and filling, traditionally associated with the provinces of Limburg).

Where to eat in Arcen, the Netherlands?

I enjoyed some Limburgse vlaai at one of the restaurants by the water side. It was truly amazing. The view was breathtaking and the vlaai was delicious. Below you can find an overview of high rated places to eat and drink in Arcen:

  • Clevers: unique location along the Maas River, well-known friendly service, and good quality of the ice cream products await you.
  • ‘T zoete Genot: located in the charming street of Arcen. This is the place to be. Very friendly service. Serves high tea and lunch dishes, as well as simple early dinner plates. Try the pancakes!
  • De Hertog Jan Proeverij: a nice venue to kick back. Great place after a tour through the brewery. Nice history in-house and great menu with acclaimed and awesome beers. Great interiors welling with crafter and history. Prices for food and small plates and starters are outrageous. The Hertog Jan beer served comes directly from the brewery.
  • Arcener bakhuys: a local bakery with a cafe inside. Has a good selection of teas and delicious pie and sausage rolls. Friendly staff. The shop is inviting and the bread smells delicious.
  • Brasserie Alt Arce: venue and outdoor terrace that serves a selection of simple lunch and dinner dishes, as well as snacks. It’s a lovely place that offers a great view on the river. The food gets somewhat mixed reviews.

Where to party in Arcen?

Arcen is not a party place. If you feel like partying, you better go to a different town like Venlo. Be aware that buses don’t ride all night.

Where to stay in Arcen, the Netherlands?

There are some great places to stay in or around Arcen:

Mid-Range Accommodation:

  • Hotel De Maasparel: friendly 3 star hotel in the centre of town. Rooms are not too modern, but they are well maintained, spacious and clean. The outdoor terraces are a nice place to linger. From €52, or €72 on weekends and holidays.
  • Holiday park Klein Vink Roompot: this holiday park has camping grounds, holiday homes and a few serviced hotel rooms (Parkhotel Bad Arcen). Especially suited for families staying more than a night. There’s a pool and playgrounds for kids. Midweeks (4 nights, bungalow) from €90. I have stayed at the Parkhotel Bad Arcen. The hotel offers direct access to the Arcen thermal baths, which hotel guests can make free daily use of. I really enjoyed this hotel. The rooms are large and the service is lovely.

Luxury Accommodation:

  • Hotel Arcen: located in the center of Arcen, this charming hotel offers modern rooms and is only a 5-minutes walk away from the Arcen Castle Gardens. From €200 on  weekends.
  • Private Apartment Pluijm: this apartment is located in the center and only 700 meters from the Castle Gardens of Arcen. The apartment has 1 bedroom, an equipped kitchen with a dishwasher and a fridge, a terrace, a washing machine and 1 bathroom with a shower. From € 170 on weekends.

I hope this information helps you prepare and enjoy a visit to Arcen, Limburg, the Netherlands. I am sure you will enjoy Arcen and the surroundings as much as I did. If you have been to Arcen and know any other good things to do, food to eat, hang out places or general advice to other travelers, please let me know in a comment! I would love to hear about it.

Author: Daphne

This article is part of the GPSmyCity iOS app. You can download it, read this article offline and obtain travel directions (by foot, car or bicycle) to the places mentioned in this article. Click here to download it.

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