Rotterdam, the Netherlands’ second-largest city, and Europe’s biggest port. The city is known for its modern architecture which you can find throughout. 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, was often skipped by tourists, only visiting Amsterdam and maybe Kinderdijk. It is now the fastest-growing touristic city of Holland. And not without reason. Rotterdam is located only an hour’s drive from the main capital and is therefore perfect to visit for one day!
Enjoying this unique city with its crazy history is a must when visiting the Netherlands and in this post, I will show you what to see and do when you are only for one day in Rotterdam!
ONE DAY IN ROTTERDAM | WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Underneath you can find just some of the things that you can see and do when you are in Rotterdam only for the day.
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. This is probably better to do when you have a bit more time on your hands. If you are only one day in Rotterdam, then I would suggest missing out on this tour.
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 is one of those locations. 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 are 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.
On either side of the Coolsingel, the best-known street in Rotterdam, you’ll find all kinds of shops. From large department stores to major fashion brands.
Plaza & Kruiskade are 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.
Lastly, Nieuwe Binnenweg is 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 DUTCH TREATS YOU SHOULD TRY
If you are in the Netherlands for the first time, then the one thing you HAVE to try is a Stroopwafel (See picture above) A stroopwafel is a waffle made from two thin layers of baked dough with a caramel syrup filling in the middle (YUM). Just a warning: Once you have one, you will always be wanting more! They are that good.
Secondly, Poffertjes are a must-try! 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”!)
Also incredibly delish are 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. Amazing when they are just out of the frying pan.
A Pudding Broodje is a sweet roll filled with a vanilla cream pudding and dusted with powdered sugar. Absolutely amazing if you are craving something sweet.
You also can’t leave the Netherlands without having to try some Dutch Cheese. The most famous cheese is probably Gouda Cheese, followed by Edam, Maasdam, Boerenkaas, Leyden and lesser-known cheeses.
You can most of these delicious treats from the famous Markthal (English: Market Hall) The indoor Market Hall in Rotterdam is fresh food and food market. From Dutch cheeses to candy and raw herring. It is also a must-visit because of its unique architecture.
BASIC INFORMATION ON ROTTERDAM
|LANGUAGE||Dutch, though English is spoken pretty much city-wide|
|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.|
|TIPPING||Like in most of Europe, tipping isn’t generally expected. However, it’s polite to leave extra change or round up.|
|NICKNAME||Manhattan on the Maas|
BEST TIME TO VISIT ROTTERDAM
In the Netherlands, you need to keep an eye on the weather report, as Mother Nature can be finicky in Holland. Even in summer, there is a possibility that you might need a jacket.
The best time to visit Rotterdam is in my opinion April to October. You have the best chance of pleasant weather during this time.
THE BEST WAY OF GETTING AROUND IN ROTTERDAM?
Rotterdam is a compact city and walking is often the best way to get around the city, but if you travel further, Rotterdam offers 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.
BEST PLACES TO EAT IN ROTTERDAM?
Underneath are a couple of amazing restaurants in Rotterdam. Recommended by my sister who lived in the city for many years.
One of her favorites is Bazar, a colorful Moroccan restaurant. You will not leave this place hungry. Advised is to book in advance, as they do fill up pretty quickly, especially on the weekends.
A great place to eat and sleep is Hotel New York Rotterdam. It is located in a stunning historic Holland Amerika Lijn building on the south bank of the Nieuwe Maas river.
BEST HOTELS IN ROTTERDAM
If one day in Rotterdam is not enough for you and you would like to book some accommodation, then I have some cool options listed for you below.
The SS Rotterdam is probably one of the coolest places you can stay in the city. It is a 4-star hotel in a former Holland-America line ship. It will not be the cheapest place to stay, but it is definitely a cool place with its art deco vibe.
Another cool place to stay is in the Cube houses. The perfect way to see the inside of one of the buildings as well as having a perfect and central location to stay at.
Lastly, STROOM Rotterdam is set inside a former electricity plant in picturesque Delfshaven. This pretty boutique hotel offers several accommodation options that are ideal for urban getaways.
Souvenirs to buy in Rotterdam
Underneath a couple of cool souvenir ideas on what to get in Rotterdam:
- Some Dutch Cheese from the Markethallen
- Dutch Sweet
- Custom Clogs
- Small windmill
DUCTH 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
GETTING TO ROTTERDAM
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.
Of course, you can also drive from Amsterdam to Rotterdam. It will take you less than 1 hour, depending on traffic. Do keep in mind that Amsterdam and Rotterdam are the two largest cities in the Netherlands, and there will be a lot of traffic. If you are not a confident driver, then I suggest not riving in this area in the Netherlands.
If you are planning to travel to the Netherlands then I hope you will also look into checking out Rotterdam. It is such a multi-cultural city, hope to many unique and beautiful buildings. That it is truly worth a day visit.
Thank you for reading my guide on one day in Rotterdam. If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment below.
Additional Netherlands Resources
- 2 days in Amsterdam
- First-timers guide to Amsterdam
- The best day trips out of Amsterdam
- Giethoorn | A unique village in the Netherlands
- The ultimate travel guide to the Netherlands
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