13 Things To Do in Rotterdam
As the intro might suggest, Rotterdam is awesome! Hannah and I spent most of our teenage years at school there, and it has become one of our favorite places on earth. Besides shopping at the Koopgoot, find out about the popular Things To Do in Rotterdam.
Opened in 2014, the Markthal of Rotterdam has become a landmark for the city. Inside this 40-meter-high horseshoe-shaped market hall are plenty of food stalls and restaurants. The enormous glass facade on both sides keeps the cold out and, therefore, is also possible to visit in winter. Fruits, vegetables, and flowers sold at the market are displayed as artwork on the Markthal’s ceiling.
The outer ring is all apartments with a window looking down into the Markthal (how cool!). During the evening or sunset time, the Markthal’s inside will light up and make it incredibly picturesque from the outside square. If you like to capture it without people, visit before opening time at 10 AM.
Tip: Visit the nearby Laurens church, one of the few remaining buildings in this area.
2. Depot – A Giant Mirror
Depot is a new building part of the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum. It is the first depot in the world that offers access to 151,000 art objects! The building itself is a 40-meter-high building covered in mirrors that reflect the skyline of the city. An absolute must-see in Rotterdam!
3. Vintage Shopping
If you love vintage shopping, this should be your thing to do in Rotterdam. Throughout the entire city are small and large vintage shops that sell everything from clothing and accessories to shoes and even furniture items. This way of sustainable shopping is very popular, plus it is usually much more affordable. A few favorites are:
- Sweet Rebels
- Betje Krul Vintage
- Margootje Vintage
- Cheap Fashion
5. Cube Houses – A Must-Do in Rotterdam
Houses that lean against each other at a 45-degree angle, hovering above the street in the city center. This strange appearance, named the Yellow Cube Houses (Kubeswoningen), is the oldest (1977) and, therefore, the most iconic thing to do in Rotterdam.
Almost all houses are inhabited apart from one that is open to the public from 11 AM to 5 PM. Alternatively, you can also spend the night there at the Stayokay Hotel.
Luckily, the street is always accessible, so appreciating its exterior can be done at any hour of the day. Follow the street that goes under the houses and find patterns or new perspectives.
Weelde city beach
A holiday feeling in the middle of the city, Rotterdam’s Weelde city beach is the spot to visit when the sun’s out! Weelde is a collective of smaller businesses with a restaurant, bar, relaxing garden, a city beach, and soon a skatepark.
Getting there: Take the metro or tram to Marconiplein.
7. Old and New at Kop van Zuid
Cross the Erasmus bridge towards Kop van Zuid, where the contrast of Rotterdam’s old and new architecture is most visible.
Hotel New York
Possibly the most charming building of Rotterdam is this former office building of the ‘Holland-Amerika Lijn’ which was a shipping and passenger line between America and The Netherlands.
Later on, the building transformed into Hotel New York and a restaurant, with a terrace that overlooks the river.
8. Grote Markt at Blaak Rotterdam (The big market)
Twice a week, on Tuesday and Saturday, the local market is organized at the big square in front of the Markthal. Before the Markthal was built, this was the main market. You find over 250 stalls selling everything from cheese, nuts, fruits, and veggies to clothing, second-hand items, and gadgets. The market in Rotterdam is one of the biggest in the Netherlands.
9. The Story of ‘Witte Huis’
One of the most underestimated things to do in Rotterdam is to see ‘Witte Huis’ (White House) along with the ‘Spanjaardsburg’ and the ‘Oudehaven’. The story behind the white house is truly remarkable, as it was constructed in 1897 and was Europe’s first skyscraper at just 43 meters!
During the Second World War, the picturesque Spanjaardsburg (bridge) and Witte Huis were the only remains around the old harbor. See this photo from 1940, where you see Laurenschurch and Witte Huis after the bombing. Walk around the old harbor (Oudehaven) and have a delicious lunch at LOT&DAAN.
The 390-meter-long wooden structure was a project entirely funded by the community. Individuals were asked to buy a wooden plank for 25 EUR, and, in return, a person or company could have their name placed on the piece. The Luchtsingel is accessible 24/7 via multiple stairways located here.
11. The Windmills at Kinderdijk
Marked as one of the few UNESCO World Heritage sights in the Netherlands, the windmills of Kinderdijk are a truly beautiful sight. A calm river bank is flanked by 19 windmills on both riversides, which are all inhabited to preserve this unique way of living. The landscape is being prevented from flooding with the help of these windmills.
Entrance fee Kinderdijk
Kinderdijk itself is free to visit. Additionally, you can buy a ticket to have a look inside and learn about its history. (10 AM – 4 PM) Purchase an additional ticket for the riverboat tour.
How to get to Kinderdijk
The most fun way to visit Kinderdijk is by using the waterbus. Take a rented bike, too, so you can bike around at Kinderdijk. Another option would be taking the metro and switching to bus 489 at station Kralingse Zoom.
12. Delfshaven – Favorite Thing To Do in Rotterdam
Delfshaven in Rotterdam is a picturesque and historic area that has been pretty much untouched by the II World War bombs. If you’ve visited Amsterdam, you can probably recognize this building style in Delfshaven and get an idea of what all of Rotterdam used to look like.
Wander along the harbor surrounded by historical and crooked buildings which takes about 20 – 30 minutes. The best part about this thing to do in Rotterdam is that it’s fairly unknown. Arrive before 11 AM and you will barely see any other visitors.
13. Visit one of the many museums
If you’re into museums, this is your place. Rotterdam features many well-known museums like Boijmans Van Beuningen, the Kunsthal, and the Maritime Museum.
Best spots to eat in Rotterdam
Rotterdam is a very multi-cultural and international city and, therefore, a real paradise for food lovers. There are great restaurants, at any price or category, spread over the city, and some of them are very well decorated. These are our favorites, which are all in the middle price range (10 – 20 EUR):
- Backyard (Plant-based)
- Little V (Vietnamese)
- Sajoer (Juicebar)
- Speck (Pizza)
- LOT&DAAN (Lunch)
- Bazar (Middle Eastern)
- Umami (Sushi)
Where to Stay
Although the city is very walkable, it is useful to have a hotel in Rotterdam near public transport or in the city center. The best areas to stay in Rotterdam are North, Central, Delfshaven, and Kop van Zuid.
Getting to Rotterdam
Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam Central, and even Paris are all very well connected to Rotterdam. A direct, 30-minute high-speed train from the international airport takes you to Rotterdam Central, or you can take a 2.5-hour train ride from Paris! The only downside is that train tickets in the Netherlands are expensive at the moment, so do factor this in.
Transport in Rotterdam
Getting from A to B in Rotterdam is even easier than getting there. Renting a bike is a fun option since the city is designed around biking lanes. Other than that, use the water taxi, tram, metro or bus. Route planning plus live departure times are available via Google Maps.
Is Rotterdam Expensive?
In comparison to Amsterdam, Rotterdam is a much more affordable city. The prices of restaurants, accommodation, museums, and attractions are noticeably lower.