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 an 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 lit 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 located Laurens church, one of the few remaining buildings of this area.
These are the Best City Trips in Europe
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!
Note: Depot is still being built and can therefore only be visited from the outside. It’s set to open fall 2021.
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.
- Sweet Rebels
- Betje Krul Vintage
- Margootje Vintage
- Cheap Fashion
4. Walk the Street Art Route
Rotterdam and street art go hand-in-hand. This new ‘Capital of Cool’ has many hidden murals around the city that you can find by following the locations on Google Maps. you can do this by walking, renting a bicycle or using Felix, the electric scooter.
5. Cube Houses – A Must-Do in Rotterdam
Houses leaning 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 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.
6. Chill at the parks or beaches
Inside the city are a couple of great parks like ‘Het Park’ or ‘Kralingsebos’ where you can spend an afternoon relaxing in the grass. Inside ‘Het Park’ at the Euromast is a great looking little cafe named Parqiet with outdoor seating.
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.
Beaches near Rotterdam
For some beach time, take the metro line to Hoek van Holland, Ouddorp, or the Brouwersdam. The Brouwserdam and Ouddorp take longer to get to with public transport but are much quieter beaches.
Read about the: Ouddorp and Brouwersdam Beaches
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.
The first building you will notice is ‘De Rotterdam’. A 149-meter high tower completed in 2013. The shifted towers enhance wind stability and also its design. Nhow Hotel is situated inside, which is a great place to stay in Rotterdam.
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.
Products like nuts and tea were imported from Indonesia and stored into this former VOC warehouse. On its exterior, you can see names like Borneo and Java written on the building. Nowadays, there are food halls located inside.
Tip: Spending New Year in Rotterdam? The Erasmus Bridge is home to the great annual fireworks show.
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. 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.
Visiting in April or May? Don’t miss the Tulips in the Netherlands!
9. The Story of ‘Witte Huis’
One of the most underestimated things to do in Rotterdam is seeing ‘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 the Laurenschurch and Witte Huis after the bombing. Walk around the old harbor (Oudehaven) and have a delicious lunch at LOT&DAAN.
Did you know: Rotterdam is just 2.5 hours away from Paris? Read the full Paris City Trip Guide.
10. Walk the Luchtsingel
Located in the center of the city is a rather remarkable site. The ‘Luchtsingel’ is a bright-yellow elevated pedestrian bridge that connects Central Station to Rotterdam North.
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 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 for bus 489 at station Kralingse Zoom.
Waterbus tickets can be bought inside the bus. Check out the timetable here.
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.
Also read: Things to do in Amsterdam (City Trip Guide)
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.
Ticket prices range from 10 – 20 EUR.
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)
Hotels in Rotterdam (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.
Rent a car in the Netherlands through Sunny Cars. All insurances are already included in the price. Book your rental car here.
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.
Tip: A very affordable way is to buy a day pass that allows you to visit all the places within this Rotterdam city trip guide. (Find out more)
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.
- Hotel: 60 – 200 USD / night
- Hostel: 15 – 60 USD / night
- Food: 12 – 50 USD / day
- Entrance Fee: 10 – 30 USD
- Transport: 10 – 30 USD / day
- Drinking Water: Free from tap!
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Excellent post! Your blog about Rotterdam and the helpful City Trip guide have nudged me to apply for a Visa for Netherlands. I heard that most of the EU countries are relaxing travel restrictions and if tourists adhere to certain guidelines then they can easily enter the beautiful country in a hassle-free manner. I will be going through your post once I get my visa so that I can prepare a fun-filled Netherlands travel itinerary.