Rotterdam is a modern, dynamic, and vibrant city that prides itself on its innovative architecture, multicultural diversity, and artistic flair. Rotterdam is the city of the future, where anything is possible.
Here are 11 must-see and do things in Rotterdam that will make your trip unforgettable.
Marvel at the Markthal
The Markthal is one of Rotterdam's most iconic landmarks. It is a huge horseshoe-shaped building with a colourful market hall, a residential complex, and an underground parking garage. The inside of the Markthal is decorated with a stunning mural of fruits, vegetables, and flowers, contrasting with the sleek exterior. You can find all kinds of delicious food and drinks at the market stalls, from fresh produce and cheese to exotic spices and sweets. The Markthal is also home to several restaurants, cafes, and shops, making it a perfect place to spend a few hours.
Explore the Cube Houses
Another architectural wonder of Rotterdam is the Cube Houses, a row of yellow, cube-shaped houses that tilt at a 45-degree angle. Designed by Piet Blom in the 1970s, the Cube Houses represent a forest, with each cube being a tree. The houses are built on hexagonal pylons, creating space underneath for a pedestrian area. You can visit one of the Cube Houses, open as a museum, and see how the residents live in these unconventional spaces. You can also book a night at the Stayokay hostel, which occupies several of the cubes, and experience the unique design for yourself.
Climb the Euromast
If you want to get a bird's eye view of Rotterdam, head to the Euromast, the tallest tower in the city. The Euromast is 185 meters high and has a rotating elevator that takes you to the top. From there, you can enjoy panoramic views of the city skyline, the harbour, and the surrounding area. You can also dine at the restaurant, drink at the bar, or even stay at the hotel, which has two suites at the top of the tower. For the thrill-seekers, you can abseil down from the Euromast.
Visit the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
The Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is one of the Netherlands' oldest and most prestigious museums. It has a rich and diverse collection of art, from medieval to contemporary, from paintings and sculptures to drawings and design. You can admire works by masters such as Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Monet, Dali, and Picasso, as well as by local artists such as Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Bruegel, and Piet Mondrian. The museum also has a beautiful garden, where you can relax and enjoy the sculptures and fountains. The museum is undergoing a significant renovation, but you can still visit the Depot, a new building that houses the museum's storage and restoration facilities. The Depot is a striking mirror-covered structure that reflects the city and the sky and offers access to over 150,000 art objects.
Stroll along the Erasmus Bridge
The Erasmus Bridge is another symbol of Rotterdam, connecting the northern and southern parts of the city over the Nieuwe Maas River. The bridge is a cable-stayed and bascule bridge, meaning that it can open to allow ships to pass through. The bridge has a graceful and elegant shape, resembling a swan, and at night, different colours illuminate the bridge. You can walk, bike, or drive across the bridge and enjoy the river and city views.
Discover the Delfshaven
If you want to see a glimpse of the old Rotterdam, visit the Delfshaven, a historic district that survived the bombing of World War II. The Delfshaven was once a separate town and a major port, where the Pilgrim Fathers departed for America in 1620. Today, the Delfshaven is a charming and picturesque area with old buildings, canals, windmills, and churches. You can also enjoy the cosy cafes, pubs, restaurants, and shops or visit the museums and galleries. The Delfshaven is a great place to experience the contrast between the old and the new Rotterdam.
Experience the Rotterdam Nightlife
Rotterdam is a city that never sleeps and has a vibrant and diverse nightlife scene. Whether looking for live music, dance clubs, bars, or theatres, you will find something to suit your taste and mood. Some of the best places to enjoy the Rotterdam nightlife are:
Witte de Withstraat: This is the most famous street for nightlife in Rotterdam, where you can find a variety of bars, cafes, restaurants, and galleries. You can also find some of the best clubs in the city, such as Toffler, BIRD, and WORM.
Oude Haven: This is the oldest harbour in Rotterdam and a romantic spot to have a drink or a bite. You can find some of the oldest pubs in the city, such as De Ballentent and De Oude Sluis, as well as some trendy spots, such as Stockholm and Mooii.
West-Kruiskade: This is the most multicultural street in Rotterdam, where you can find a mix of cuisines, cultures, and music. You can enjoy Asian, African, Caribbean, Turkish food, salsa, reggae, and hip-hop music. You can also visit the Kruisplein, where you can find the Rotterdamse Schouwburg, the main theatre in the city, and De Doelen, the concert hall and convention centre.
Shop at the Koopgoot
If you love shopping, you will love the Koopgoot, or the Shopping Gutter, a nickname for the Beurstraverse, an underground shopping street in the city centre. The Koopgoot is a pedestrian-only area with over 40 shops, ranging from fashion and beauty to electronics and books. You can find international and local brands like H&M, Zara, Apple, and Sissy-Boy. The Koopgoot is also a lively and fun place to find street performers, events, and festivals.
Learn at the Maritime Museum
Rotterdam has the largest and busiest European port and a long and rich maritime history. You can learn more about this at the Maritime Museum, which has a collection of over 850,000 objects related to the naval world, such as ships, models, paintings, maps, and uniforms. You can also see the historic ships and cranes at the museum harbour or visit the interactive exhibitions and activities for children and adults. The Maritime Museum is a great place to discover the past, present, and future of Rotterdam as a port city.
Relax at the Kralingse Bos
If you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, head to the Kralingse Bos, a large park and forest on the east side of Rotterdam. The Kralingse Bos is a green oasis where you can enjoy nature, sports, and recreation. You can walk, bike, or jog around the Kralingse Plas, a lake with a stunning skyline view. You can swim, sail, fish on the lake, or have a picnic or barbecue on the shore. The Kralingse Bos also has a golf course, a climbing park, a children's farm, and a playground. The Kralingse Bos is a perfect place to relax and recharge.
Admire the Street Art
Rotterdam is a city of art, and you can see it in museums and galleries and on the streets. Rotterdam has a vibrant and diverse street art scene where local and international artists express their creativity and talent on walls, buildings, and bridges. You can find all kinds of street art in Rotterdam, from graffiti and stickers to murals and sculptures. You can also learn more about the stories and meanings behind street art by joining a guided tour, such as Rewriters¹ or Rotterdam Street Art Museum. https://www.rotterdamstreetartmuseum.com/#page-section-2
You can also use the free app from Rewriters to explore the street art routes yourself. Street art is a way to discover the alternative and dynamic side of Rotterdam.
How to get here
Rotterdam is easy to reach by different modes of transport, such as plane, train, bus, or car. Here are some of the options:
Rotterdam Central Station is the main train station in the city and a hub for national and international trains. You can take a high-speed train from Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, or London or a regular train from other cities in the Netherlands or Europe. The train station is located in the city's heart and connects to the metro, tram, and bus networks.
Fly to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, about 60 kilometres away, and take a train, bus, or taxi to Rotterdam.