Rotterdam, the Netherlands’ second largest city, and Europe’s biggest port. The city is known for its modern architecture which you can find throughout the city. It is also home to many festivals, offers a great nightlife, and has a lot of shops which are open 7 days a week!
The city, in the past, often skipped by tourist’s, only visiting Amsterdam and maybe Kinderdijk. Is now the fastest growing touristic city of Holland. And not without reason. Rotterdam is located only a hours drive from the main capital.
Enjoying this unique city with its crazy history is a must when visiting the Netherlands and in this post, I will explain why.
WHAT TO DO
Veerhaven – A charming neighborhood with the waterfront and some nice residential buildings looking over the water. “Veerhaven” (literally Ferry Harbour), a small harbor, now used for yachting, and lined with noble buildings.
Westerkade – Tourists do not normally come to this area of Rotterdam, although the location IS in the heart of the city. It’s a great pity! The walk along this side of the river is really nice. There tree-lined avenues, old boats and eventually a small marina – it is all so pretty and relaxing
Wilhelmina pier – Dramatic cityscape behind the cruise ship pier with some of Rotterdam’s most adventurous skyscrapers, and then the dramatic harbor water views.
Euromast Tower – Euromast is an observation tower offering 360-degree views of the city. Great value at less than €10 per person. Very nice bar and restaurant at the top, good value too considering the location. I liked the three stages of the visit. The restaurant, outdoor viewing platform higher up and the pod at the very top. This rotates and there’s a short commentary.
Kop van Zuid – Ships used to dock in this area for almost a hundred years. Now the port has moved towards the Northsea and the abandoned space has been ‘redeveloped’. Lots of modern buildings, most of them are office buildings, a new (and equally modern) theater, the emblematic Hotel New York (previously head office of the HAL- Holland America Line, from here the first immigrants headed via England to America) and the national photo museum are what Kop van Zuid is known about. It is a nice place to walk or bike and there are things to do, but I wouldn’t classify it as a tourist attraction unless you spend a few days in Rotterdam.
Diergaarde Blijdorp (Zoo) – This zoo is a fabulous place to visit. There are lots of different animals to check out and they looked well looked after (large enclosures and all are kept in the environment close to their natural). The zoo is very large so make sure u have comfortable shoes to wear. In 5 hours I could only see 2/3 of it. They have a massive tank with a ton of sharks, which is absolutely STUNNING and you must check it out
Delfshaven – This small part of Rotterdam takes you some hundred years back in history. There is an impressive windmill from the 18th century. There are some adorable small restaurants and a wonderful antique shop full of maritime treasures. My suggestion would be to get there in the morning, have a walk and then stop in one of the restaurants for lunch.
De Kuip – The most famous soccer stadium in The Netherlands. Great history and A beautiful pitch. A real stadium although quite old. You can visit the stadium by visiting a football match or book a stadium tour.
Cruise to Kinderdijk – Kinderdijk is a village known for its iconic 18th-century windmills. It is a must see when you are in Holland and it can be done from a boat from Rotterdam. It costs from € 17,50 for adults and children from € 12,50.
The city center, which was largely destroyed in a bombardment 1940. Therefore very few historic buildings remain in the center of Rotterdam. Nevertheless, there are still a few to be found.
Even before the reconstruction era, Rotterdam was known for its groundbreaking architecture.
The housing projects designed by Michiel Brinkman and J.J.P. Oud, the first gallery apartment building in the Netherlands (the Bergpolder flat) by Van Tijen, the Sonneveld House (now a museum home), and the Van Nelle Factory by Brinkman & Van der Vlugt turned Rotterdam into the cradle of Nieuwe Bouwen architecture. Since these projects, fortunately, survived the bombardment unscathed, they can still be viewed today. The Van Nelle Factory even made it onto the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2014.
Cube houses (Dutch: Kubuswoningen) are a set of innovative houses built in Rotterdam and Helmond in the Netherlands, designed by architect Piet Blom. He designed 39 identical cube houses in the late 1970s. They are unique and interesting and worth a look. At the tiny museum, you can actually tour one of the houses to see the efficiency of these single family dwellings.
Space is a premium so there are several items built into the walls and narrow staircases. If you go to the courtyard you will find shops filling the ground floor with the cube house residences upstairs.
WHERE TO SHOP
Rotterdam has many different places where you can spend some coin. Underneath are some of the best locations.
Van Oldenbarneveltstraat – Always wanted to shop in Paris? Well, now you can, sort of. On the van Oldenbarneveltstraat, you can find many exclusive fashion boutiques, luxurious shoe shops, and charming cafés. You’ll find lots of Danish, Swedish and French brands, but Rotterdam designers like Monique van Heist and Susan Bijl are also well represented. Everything in this street is the epitome of good taste.
Lijnbaan & Beurstraverse/Beursplein & Binnenwegplein – This is the vibrant commercial heart of the city and is bustling with activity seven days a week. On the Lijnbaan (the first pedestrian shopping area in Europe) and in the Beurstraverse – or ‘Koopgoot’ (‘Shopping Gutter’) as the locals call it – you can find all the leading retail chain stores in one place.
Coolsingel – On either side of the Coolsingel, the best-known street of Rotterdam, you’ll find all kinds of shops. From large department stores to major fashion brands.
Plaza & Kruiskade – Just a stone’s throw from Central Station you’ll find the High-End Fashion District where international fashion brands and luxury stores are situated. Well-known designers such as Hugo Boss, Antony Morato, Tommy Hilfiger, and Michael Kors have opened their stores here.
Nieuwe Binnenweg – One of the most acclaimed (shopping) streets of Rotterdam is the Nieuwe Binnenweg. A long string of small fashion and design shops, artisan bakeries, old-fashioned barbers, tasty delicatessens and fancy coffee bars leads you away from the city center.
LOCAL TREATS YOU SHOULD TRY
- Stroopwafels: A stroopwafel is a waffle made from two thin layers of baked dough with a caramel syrup filling in the middle (YUM).
- Poffertjes: Poffertjes are very small Dutch puffy pancakes about 5 cm (2 inches) wide that are mostly flat, but are puffed up a little bit. They are made from white wheat flour, butter, milk, eggs, yeast and salt and then typically covered in soft sugar and butter… (my Aussie friends who have tried these say “they are the best”!)
- Kroketten: The common English translation of kroket is croquette. A typical Dutch croquette is made of meat ragout (or salpicon) covered in breadcrumbs, and deep fried until golden and crispy.
- Pudding broodje: Is a sweet roll filled with a vanilla cream pudding and dusted with powdered sugar.
You can most of these delicious treats from the famous Markthal (English: Market Hall) In the pictures above you can see a stroopwafel bought at this market. The indoor Market Hall in Rotterdam is a fresh food and food market. From Dutch cheeses to candy and raw herring. It is also a must-visit because of its unique architecture.
Language: Dutch, though English is spoken pretty much city-wide
Nickname: Manhattan on the Maas
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +1
Electricity: Type C two-prong plug. Electrical power in the Netherlands and in most of Western Europe runs on a cycle of 50hz, and a voltage of 230 Volt, alternating current.
Currency: Euro (€). The currency in the Netherlands is the Euro (€, EUR), which is used in almost all countries within the European Union
Tipping: Like in most of Europe, tipping isn’t generally expected. However, it’s polite to leave extra change or round up.
Weather: Keep an eye on the weather report, as Mother Nature can be finicky in Amsterdam. Even in summer, there is a possibility that you might need a jacket.
Getting around: Rotterdam is a compact city and a walking is often the best way to get around the city, but if you travel further, Rotterdam offers an excellent public transport service. The metro in Rotterdam is the most efficient way to travel in Rotterdam because there’s a metro station nearby in most of the cases.
WORDS YOU SHOULD KNOW
English is pretty much everywhere in Rotterdam (as well as the rest of the Netherlands). It is however considered very polite to know a few words in the local language, no matter where you are in the world. So here are a few simple words that you can be useful for you.
- Hello/hi: Hallo/hoi
- Thank you: Dank je wel
- Bye: Dag/Doei
- Sorry: Sorry (same, but good to know)
- Good morning: Goede morgen
- Cheers: Proost
- Bon appétit: Eet smakelijk
The optimal mode of transport between Amsterdam and Rotterdam is public transport. Depending on where you are staying in Amsterdam you can take a bus to Amsterdam central and then a Dutch Railways (NS) train to Rotterdam.
Find the latest bus schedule on the Dutch travel advice site 9292. From Amsterdam Central Station, there are direct trains to Rotterdam Central Station.
PLANNING TO GO TO EUROPE SOON? THEN CHECK OUT SOME MORE TRAVEL GUIDES HERE:
- The Netherlands
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