Rotterdam, the second largest city in the Netherlands, is jam packed with art, history, good food and amazing architecture. From trendy foodie hotspots, to monumental buildings and the world-famous harbour, a trip to this city and its sights will certainly keep you busy. So, if you’re not sure where to start, then discover 14 things to see and do in Rotterdam below:
1. Eat at the Markthal
Foodie heaven. The Rotterdam Markthal is a unique piece of architecture and popular gathering spot. The building serves as an office and residential complex and is also home to the Netherland’s first covered market. Not only can you buy fresh local produce here, but there are also many delicacies from all over the world to choose from. With over 100 food stands, countless bars, restaurants and shops, it’s best to visit the Markthal feeling a little hungry.
Culture vultures will enjoy the 40-metre-tall mural named “Hoorn des Overvloeds” (Horn of Plenty). The artwork covers the entire inner facade of the arch construction and features images of enlarged fruits, vegetables, fish, flowers and insects.
2. Admire the Cube Houses
One of the most iconic symbols of the city, the Cube Houses are well worth a visit. Designed by architect Piet Blom, the yellow houses are built at a 45-degree angle and are located in the Blaak district. The houses are inhabited, but there is one house that is open to the public. Named ‘The Show Cube’, the museum house offers visitors a glimpse into life in the Cube Houses and their design.
3. Visit the Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk
The Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk (St Lawrence Church) is the only remnant of the medieval city centre of Rotterdam and is therefore an important landmark in the city. The construction of this late Gothic church took place between 1449 and 1525. The church was severely damaged during the Second World War, but in 1952, the people of Rotterdam began to restore it to its former glory. The beautiful bronze doors designed by the famous Italian sculptor Giacomo Manzu, the copper choir screen, organs and the 17th-century tombs are a must see. And in the summer months, visitors can climb the stairs of the tower to admire the view.
4. Rent a bike
Rotterdam is perfect for cyclists and what better way to explore a city than by bike? With more than 600 kilometres of cycle paths, you can go almost anywhere in the city whilst incorporating the most popular sights. The port area is an ideal place to explore by bike (although it can be a bit windy), or if you prefer nature, there are many cycle routes around the outskirts of the city which incorporate the surrounding landscape.
5. Visit the harbour
Known worldwide as a port city, this place should not be missed during your trip to Rotterdam. The best way to explore the impressive harbour is on a cruise. During the cruise you can explore the large harbour at a relaxing pace, see the main sights, learn about the history of the port and admire the city skyline.
6. Cross the Erasmus Bridge
This 802-metre-long bridge has a 139-metre-high pylon and connects the north and south parts of the city. Almost 12,000 people cycle across the bridge every day, so if you’re exploring the city by bike, then cycling across this bridge is a must! The view of the harbour from the bridge has plenty to offer.
7. Admire the view from the Euromast
With a height of 185 metres, the Euromast is the highest publicly accessible building in the Netherlands. Architect Huig Maaskant designed the panorama tower for the first Floriade in 1960 and it has been a listed monument since 2010. A symbol of Rotterdam, it provides excellent views across the city and beyond. On a clear day you can even see Antwerp, 80 kilometres away.
8. Explore the historic Delfshaven district
Rotterdam is full of modern architecture, mostly because the bombings in the Second World War damaged a lot of the historic buildings. Yet some authentic parts of the city have survived and Delfshaven is one of them. This district has an impressive history. Not only is it the birthplace of the Dutch West India Company’s most famous commander, Piet Hein. But it is also, the point where the Pilgrim Fathers started their crossing to America in 1620. You can also find historic canal houses, authentic shops and cosy bars and restaurants in this district.
9. Visit the White House of Rotterdam
Another building that survived the bombings is The Witte Huis, or the White House as it’s commonly known in English. The building, in Art Nouveau style, is 43 metres high, making it the first high rise building in the Netherlands when it was built in 1898. On the roof of this national monument, you can enjoy a beautiful view of the city from the viewing platform.
10. Discover the city’s industrial heritage in the Van Nelle factory
The Van Nelle factory is one of ten Dutch monuments on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The building dates back to the 1920s and used to be a tobacco, coffee and tea factory. Today, the building is still in use by companies, but you can visit it with a guide.
11. Admire art in the Kunsthal
The Kunsthal is not only an architectural landmark, but it is also known for its wide range of temporary art exhibitions. It is located in the Museum Park where you can also find the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum, the Sonneveld House and the Natural History Museum.
12. Go for a walk at the Wilhelmina Pier
Looking for beautiful views of the Erasmus Bridge and the Rotterdam skyline? Then the Wilhelmina Pier is the perfect place for you. You can enjoy great panoramic views here, both during the day and at night. The pier is also home to the well-known Hotel New York, the New Luxor Theatre and the World Port Center.
13. Escape the hustle and bustle in the Kralingse Bos
The Kralingse Bos is a wooded park that surrounds the Kralingse Plas lake, and the entire area is about 200 hectares. It is the ideal location to escape the hustle and bustle and enjoy some greenery. A popular area during the summer for sport enthusiasts and families, visitors can enjoy walks in the forest, sail or go for a swim in the lake, or just relax on the sandy beach. There is also plenty to do for children, as there is a playground and a petting zoo.
14. A trip to Kinderdijk
If you’re staying in Rotterdam for several days, then take the opportunity to visit the windmills of Kinderdijk. Kinderdijk’s 19 windmills have been on the World Heritage List since 1997 and are set amongst beautiful Dutch landscape. Visitors can visit the three museum mills open to the public to discover more about their history and purpose.