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23 Best Things to do in Rotterdam, Netherlands

23 Best Things to do in Rotterdam, Netherlands

If you’re looking for things to do in Rotterdam, Netherlands, you’ve come to the right place! This lively city has something for everyone, from world-class museums and galleries to scenic parks and gardens, not to mention a thriving nightlife scene.

And of course, let’s not forget Rotterdam’s famous harbor – one of the busiest in Europe. Rotterdam is a city packed with history, culture, and plenty of nightlife. It’s also one of the most walkable cities in Europe.

What is Rotterdam Known For?

Rotterdam Cityscape

Rotterdam is known for its cutting-edge architecture, its vibrant nightlife scene, and its delicious food. It’s also a major maritime city, and it’s home to a number of excellent art galleries. So, whether you’re looking for a cultural experience or just a good time, Rotterdam is definitely the place to be.

Best Things to do in Rotterdam, Netherlands

Best Things to do in Rotterdam, Netherlands - Travel Guide
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Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, art aficionado, or shopaholic, you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained in Rotterdam. So without further ado, here are the best things to do in Rotterdam, Netherlands!

1. Visit the Cube Houses

Cube Houses Architecture

The cube houses in Rotterdam are one of the most iconic pieces of architecture in all of Europe and for good reason! These strange apartments are shaped likes cubes and tilted at an astonishing 45-degree angle.

Their bright yellow colors make them stand out amongst a sea of modern grey buildings in the area. They are a fun visit, and for a small fee, you can tour inside one of these apartment buildings and gawk at this modern marvel!

The cube houses were designed by Dutch architect Piet Blom in the 1970s. Stand in the middle of these apartments and you’ll feel surrounded by their pointed roofs. This was done on purpose since Blom wanted to design the apartments to give the same impression as a treetop rain forest!

The cube houses also form a pedestrian bridge, so you can safely walk across them, take pictures, and enjoy marveling at these fun houses.

Want to feel even more immersed in the cube houses?

You also have the option of spending a night in one of these cube houses as a hostel guest! Free breakfast and wi-fi included of course.

See Related: Best Places to Visit in the Netherlands

2. Walk on the Erasmus Bridge

Erasmus Bridge Scenery

The Erasmus Bridge, also known as the Erasmusburg, spans a whopping 802 meters, connecting both the North and South parts of Rotterdam and serving as one of the most important landmarks in the city!

The cable-style bridge is breathtaking, with a single 456-foot tall pylon that gives it the charming nickname the swan bridge.

This bridge can be cycled over and comes equipped with 2 cycle lanes and 2 sidewalks. This makes it the perfect bridge for you and a loved one to enjoy.

It’s one of the most iconic cable bridges in Europe, and you can stand here and watch the ships travel back and forth carrying passengers and cargo! Use the bridge to reach your destination and explore different areas of Rotterdam.

For even more fun, keep an eye out for events that are always taking place in and around the bridge. Take out your camera and snap pics with this engineering masterpiece!

See Related: Best Rotterdam Tours: Bike, Boat or Walk

3. Visit Historic Delfshaven

Delftshaven Homes and Skyline

Once you’ve crossed the Erasmus Bridge, you can stop by historic Delfshaven and take in the beautiful, rustic sights and sounds of this part of the city. Delfshaven is one of the last remaining untouched districts in Rotterdam.

Sadly, much of Rotterdam was destroyed during the 1940s during World War II. Bombings devastated the city, but one district remained free of the turmoil – Delfshaven.

You can take a trip down this sleepy harbor city during the day, or even on a night out on the town!

Historic Delftshaven Scenery

Visit the city brewery at De Pelgrim, which is the only brewery in Rotterdam where you can enjoy authentic, craft local beer. Delfshaven is also home to lots of historical buildings and picturesque windmills; don’t forget your camera!

If you’re on a date with a loved one, this is one of the best places to tour during your honeymoon, as its romantic harbor and rustic buildings create the perfect backdrop for any date night.

See Related: Best Day Trips from Amsterdam, Netherlands

4. Take a Day Trip to Kinderdijk

Kinderdijk Landscape

Can’t get enough of historic sites like Delfshaven?

You’ll be amazed at the sights and sounds of Kinderdijk! This site was classified as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1997 and for good reason.

It is home to waterways and still-standing windmills (19 of them to be exact) that showcase the beautiful engineering and control of the waters by the Dutch.

The windmills face each other and sit atop canals, surrounded by dikes and waterways. You can explore Kinderdijk through boat rides through the water, and discover how the Dutch have used this type of windmill technology to keep their feet dry for almost 700 years.

This is one of the most photographed areas in all of the Netherlands and is one of the most important to understand just how important water management and the effects of climate change are.

Two windmills are open every day for tours, as is the De Fabriek Auxillary Pumping Station. You can view films about Kinderdijk and its history here, as well as take a guided audio tour! There’s always something new to learn and explore here at Kinderdijk.

Among the tours you can join in visiting the windmill are the Kinderjjk small group tour, a private day trip, and a scenic bike tour.

See Related: Visiting Kinderdijk Windmills: What You NEED to Know 

5. Explore the Oude Haven in the Maritime District

Maritime District

The Oude Haven (Old Harbor) in the Maritime District is one of the best places to visit Rotterdam to truly understand its nautical history. While you explore the area, you’ll get a chance to gaze at the restored historic boats that make up the Old Harbor.

The maritime district is home to such landmarks as the Maritime Museum Rotterdam, which is one of the largest naval museums in Europe.

Oude Haven

You can interact with and explore a large array of nautical objects, from exhibitions and events to naval ships and cranes, the Maritime Museum is just one part of the Maritime District!

You can also find the Destroyed City monument nearby, which commemorates Rotterdam and the strength of her people during World War II. It is a mesmerizing and sobering sight to behold just behind the Maritime Museum.

Hungry?

Grab a bite at one of the many sidewalk cafes and eateries at the Old Harbor (Oude Haven), and sit back while taking in the sights and sounds of the city’s most historical nautical districts.

See Related: Best & Most Beautiful Cities in Europe to Visit

6. Go to the top of the Euromast

Euromast and Rotterdam Skyline

For truly spectacular and world-class views of Rotterdam, book a visit to the top of the Euromast!

Finished in 1960 and designed by Hugh Maaskant, the Euromast gives visitors stunning 360-degree views of Rotterdam. The platform sits 96 meters above ground, so visitors can take pictures, look at the sights, and also dine at the Euromast restaurant.

You can even book a stay at the Euromast hotel, giving you one of the most spectacular and unforgettable views for you and a loved one.

The Euromast is also accessible through an elevator, so you don’t have to worry about the journey all the way to the top.

However, if you’re looking for heart-pounding adventure, the Euromast also hosts sporting events such as BASE jumping, and even abseiling! If that’s your cup of a team make sure to book your reservations ahead of time as there are limited spots for daredevils.

If you’re interested you can book the tour of RotterdamHarbor Cruise with Euromast Entry Ticket.

See Related: Most Beautiful Villages in the Netherlands

7. Visit the Markthal Rotterdam

Markthal Rotterdam

The Markthal Rotterdam is also known as Market Hall. One of the best things to do in Rotterdam is to visit its many markets and restaurants while also taking in the sites of this architectural wonder.

The market is beautifully designed with colorful flowers along its interior wall, known as the Horn of Plenty by artist Arno Coenen.

Completed in 2014, it’s 11,000 square meters of markets selling fresh produce, meats, seafood, and so much more. From coffee to ice cream, personal care items, churros, dumplings, and more, there’s something for everyone’s taste here at Market Hall!

History buffs will also be delighted to see the De Tijdtrap under the stairwell of the Market Hall, which displays some of the most interesting and unique archeological finds during the construction of the Market Hall! This is a truly super place to unwind and discover the best of Rotterdam.

8. Take a Trip to Rotterdam Zoo

Monkey in Rotterdam Zoo

Looking for some things to do in Rotterdam with kids?

No family vacation is ever complete without something for the little ones to do!

Rotterdam Zoo is the perfect place for your children to explore the sights and sounds of the jungle and animals from around the world, all from the comfort of a beautifully designed zoo. The Rotterdam Zoo is home to hundreds of animals, events and activities, and daily tours.

The Rotterdam Zoo was voted the best zoo in Benelux from 2015 to 2018, and one visit here will show you why.

From daily feedings of the sea lions to rays, to shark feeding and even feeding polar bears, this is one zoo where children and adults alike will leave fascinated by the wonders of wildlife.

What are you waiting for? Get your admission tickets now.

See Related: Famous Buildings in Amsterdam to Visit

9. Visit the Depot Boijmans-van Beuningen

Depot Boijmans-van Beuningen Architecture

Art buffs can rejoice while touring the Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen in Rotterdam. This is the world’s first publicly accessible art storage facility, and it boasts over 150,000 collected pieces of art and other objects.

It is a notable attraction to see on an Art and Architecture Highlights Walking Tour. The unique, steel-like architecture of the building is sure to capture the imagination, as are the many different storage compartments located within the Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen.

There are even different climates located throughout the Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen to keep the art safe and intact.

If you’ve always been curious as to how this precious art is stored, maintained, and preserved, the Depot Boijmans-van Beuningen has all preservation activities in open view so you can satisfy your curiosity!

This is truly one of the best art collections in the world and one of the most important cultural landmarks in Rotterdam.

10. Take a Boat Tour of the Europort

Europort Scenery

Whether you want to take a water taxi or book a small boat tour through Europort, there are lots of options to explore one of Europe’s busiest ports.

A boat tour gives you a unique perspective of the port and lets you gaze at the awesomeness of the port. Take in the sights and sounds of the port and learn about the different industries here.

You can also request a boat tour and look for tours with snacks and drinks on board! All this while letting the captain take you on a cruise through the beautiful waterways of Rotterdam.

11. Sample some of Rotterdam’s famous Culinary Delights

Holding Dutch New Herring

Rotterdam is known for its delicious food, so be sure to sample some of the local cuisines! There are plenty of great restaurants to choose from, or you could visit one of the city’s many markets to find fresh produce and other goodies.

Dutch seafood is king here. Try the herring. Do it.

See Related: Best Spring Break Destinations For Families

12. Spend a day at one of Rotterdam’s beautiful Parks or Gardens

Rotterdam Garden Scenery

If you need a break from all the hustle and bustle of the city, head to one of Rotterdam’s parks or gardens. The Vroesenpark is a great option, as it’s one of the largest parks in the city.

Or, if you’re looking for something a bit more subdued, check out the Keukenhof Gardens which is more suited for a day trip away from the city. You might have heard of it – it’s only the largest flower garden in Europe!

See Related: Best Vacations for a Group of Friends

13. Go to a Performance at De Doelen Concert House

Performance in De Doelen
image by Management/TripAdvisor

De Doelen Concert House is a popular venue for classical music, jazz, and opera. This historic building is located in the center of Rotterdam and hosts some of the best acts in music today.

De Doelen has been around since 1881 when it opened as an opera house. Over time it expanded to include both concert halls and theatres, but its old-world grandeur still shines through with its marble staircases and high ceilings—an architectural delight that you won’t want to miss!

14. Wander Rotterdam’s Street Art on Witte de Withstraat

Witte de Withstraat Building

When you’re in Rotterdam, you’ll want to explore Witte de Withstraat. This street is known for its abundance of street art that includes works by some of the most famous street artists and muralists in the world today.

Street art is a form of public art that often takes over abandoned buildings and other areas not typically seen as canvases. It often has political undertones, but can also be beautiful and inspiring. Either way, it’s incredibly popular in the Benelux corner of the world.

See Related: Best Things to do in Alkmaar, Netherlands

15. Eat your way through the Food Hallen

Foodhallen

If your tummy is rumbling and grumbling, your first stop should be the Food Hallen (Food Hall). Located in the center of Rotterdam, this collection of food stalls, restaurants, and bars is open every day of the year, with a few exceptions for holidays.

You’ll find it in the Blaak area—just on your left if you’re coming from Rotterdam Central Station. The Food Hallen has become famous as one of Europe’s best places to get street food since its inception in 2014.

Its offerings range from sushi to Thai food to falafel sandwiches and much more; while some stalls offer traditional European items like Belgian waffles or French crepes, others are more creative—like Indian ice cream rolls or Peruvian ceviche served with potatoes instead of tortilla chips.

There are also plenty of places where you can grab drinks: for example, coffees at Coffee Collective or craft beers at De Hopduvel (which happens to be one of only two official beer gardens left in town). This is one of the best things to do in Rotterdam with friends before spending a night out on the town.

See Related: Best Warm Winter Destinations in Europe

16. Visit the SS Rotterdam

SS Rotterdam Architecture

The SS Rotterdam is a ship. It’s also a hotel, museum, and restaurant. But mostly it’s a ship—and one of the most beautiful ships you’ll ever see (not to mention one of the largest luxury cruise liners ever built).

Built-in 1957 for Holland America Line, it was retired from service in 2008 after being purchased by Carnival Corporation to be used as their private showpiece for their new cruise line called Holland America Line Private Collection.

In 2015, it was sold to KTS Capital Partners and became The Floating Hotel Rotterdam; the world’s first permanently moored floating hotel! The museum offers an exploration-guided tour that you should not miss.

17. Find some Peace and Quiet at the Arboretum Trompenburg

Arboretum Trompenburg
image by spruijt01/TripAdvisor

Arboretum Trompenburg is a great place to get some peace and quiet. With over 150 acres of grounds, it’s perfect for a leisurely stroll with your friends or family. You’ll love taking pictures here because of the beautiful scenery.

Arboretum Trompenburg is filled with different kinds of plants, so you’re bound to find something you like. Whether you’re a plant lover or just looking for a peaceful place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, Arboretum Trompenburg is definitely worth a visit.

See Related: Best Things to do in Leiden, Netherlands

18. Go for Brunch at Dapur Indonesia on Sundays

Set of Indonesian Food

Dapur Indonesia is a popular Indonesian restaurant in Rotterdam. They have a menu of authentic Indonesian dishes and a terrific brunch menu, which is available from 11 am to 3 pm on Sundays.

The brunch menu includes Indonesian dishes such as nasi goreng and mie goreng, but it also contains more westernized items like pancakes, French toast, and eggs benedict.

The food at Dapur Indonesia is tasty, but what makes this place so perfect for brunch is the atmosphere. It’s located in a beautiful old building that was once part of an industrial complex that includes the Het Scheepvaartmuseum (The Maritime Museum).

When you’re there on a Sunday morning with your friends or family members (especially if it’s sunny outside), you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into some kind of shabby-chic dreamland!

With its cute tables set with pretty plates & glasses and walls adorned with art pieces from around the world, it’s truly a one-of-a-kind experience that will keep you coming back even if only for their amazing food.

See Related: Hidden Gems of Bali: Find Undiscovered Locations to Explore

19. Get Your Art Fix at Rotterdam’s Art Museums

Chabot Museum Building
image by Ad from The Netherlands is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Rotterdam is home to a number of excellent art museums, including the Rotterdam Kunsthalle (Rotterdam Art Hall), Chabot Museum, and Netherlands Foto Museum (Netherlands Photo Museum).

The Rotterdam Kunsthalle is a modern but functional example of architecture, and also a modern art gallery. This stylish gallery opened in 1992 and offers a wide array of visual artists and cultures.

The Chabot Museum is another great option for art lovers, exhibiting the work of Dutch painting artist and sculptor Henk Chabot. The museum has been housed in a splendid white building since 1938.

And finally, visitors interested in photography should be sure to check out The Netherlands Foto Museum (Nelsefotomuseum).

This museum features an expansive set of historic photographs from a number of Dutch photographers. So whatever your interests, Rotterdam’s art museums are sure to have something for you.

See Related:

20. Admire the architecture of Hotel New York

Hotel New York, Building
image by Booking.com

Rotterdam is known for its cutting-edge architecture, so it’s definitely worth taking some time to admire the buildings in the city – but some buildings that harken back to Rotterdam’s glory days remain.

Hotel New York is a beautiful building located in the heart of Rotterdam that epitomizes this characteristic historic architecture. The hotel was built in 1901 and designed by J.J. Stankard.

The hotel has been through a lot over the years, including being used as a storage facility for art during World War II and serving as a squatters residence in the 1980s after falling into disuse.

Nowadays, it’s a luxury hotel that’s popular with both tourists and business travelers. Even if you’re not staying there, it’s worth admiring from the outside. The building is truly a work of art, and its location on the waterfront makes it even more special.

21. Check out the historic Van Nelle Fabriek Factory

Van Nelle Fabriek
image by F.Eveleens  is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Van Nelle Fabriek is an old factory that has been converted into a museum and event space. The Van Nelle Factory was once an effective plant that produced tea, tobacco, coffee, chewing gum, and rice. The antique industrial designs have survived and this has made it an attractive factory of the past.

The building is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its history and its antique appearance.

If you are an industrial architecture enthusiast, Van Nelle Fabriek is definitely worth a visit. You’ll be able to learn all about the factory’s history and see some of the incredible antique designs up close.

See Related: Best Things to do in Maastricht, Netherlands

22. Catch a performance at the Schouwburgplein Square

Schouwburgplein Square
image by corno.fulgur75 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Schouwburgplein square is the perfect place to experience the best of Rotterdam’s vibrant cultural scene.

Throughout the summer, the square plays host a variety of performances, ranging from music concerts to theater productions. It’s a great way to spend an evening, and it’s also a great way to experience the city’s vibrant cultural scene.

So whether you’re looking for a night of entertainment or a chance to learn more about the city’s rich history and culture, Schouwburgplein square is definitely the place to be.

23. Check out the Witte Huis

Witte Huis

The Witte Huis is located near the Old Harbor so you can’t miss it. The art nouveau architecture is one of the most interesting things about this white house. The Witte Huis was built in 1898 and is one of the oldest high-rise buildings in Europe.

The Witte Huis is currently being used as an office building, but it’s definitely worth admiring from the outside. The beautiful architecture is truly a sight to behold.

It’s declared a National Heritage Site in the Netherlands and makes for an excellent contrast of old with the backdrop of modern, iconic buildings in the background.

See Related: Best Places to Get Married in Europe

Coming from Amsterdam? Take a Free Tour of Rotterdam with I Amsterdam City Card!

The I Amsterdam City Card is your ticket to an unforgettable visit to Rotterdam! This card gives you free entrance to over 100 museums, as well as free public transport and discounts on food, drinks, and more.

To use the card you need to pre-book a time slot for your tour after you purchase the I Amsterdam Card, which can be done up to one month before your visit.

On the tour itself, you’ll get a headset so that you can listen to an audio guide in five different languages (English, French, German, Spanish and Dutch).

The tour lasts 60 minutes and is available every day from 9 am until 5 pm from April through October; from November through March it runs from 10 am until 4 pm.

Final Thoughts

Rotterdam Architecture and Skyline

Rotterdam is a city that has something to offer everyone. From the historic canals and winding streets to the modern architecture of its neighborhoods and buildings, there’s always something new to discover.

Whether it’s shopping at one of its many indoor markets, enjoying a meal at one of its restaurants or bars (or both!), exploring its museums or art galleries—or even just taking in some fresh air on one of its many rooftop gardens—there are plenty of ways for you to spend time here!

So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and get ready for an adventure in Rotterdam!

FAQs

Is Rotterdam worth visiting?

Yes, with its beautiful oceanside breeze, and bustling city life, Rotterdam is worth visiting with something for everyone. It’s a great city for a day trip or a weekend getaway as it offers a unique blend of history and modern architecture.

There are also plenty of things to do, ranging from visiting museums to taking a boat cruise through central Rotterdam.

What is the best time of year to visit Rotterdam?

The best time of year to visit Rotterdam is during the summer months. From May to September, the weather is warm and sunny, making it ideal for exploring the city. However, if you’re looking to avoid the crowds, September is a great time to visit as many tourists have left by then.

How long should I spend in Rotterdam?

Most people spend 1-2 days in Rotterdam, but it really depends on your interests. If you want to pack in a lot of activities, you may want to spend more time in the city. However, if you’re just looking to relax and take in the sights, 1-2 days should be enough.

What are some must-see attractions in Rotterdam?

Some of the must-see attractions in Rotterdam include the Erasmus Bridge, the Rotterdam Zoo, the Cube Houses, and the Maritime Museum. However, there are plenty of other great attractions, so be sure to explore the city and see what interests you.

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