Rotterdam Travel Guide
Hoi friends! Rotterdam is a dynamic and diverse city packed with modern architecture and a rich history. Although it is often overlooked in favor of its more well-known neighbor, Amsterdam, Rotterdam is certainly worth the trip. Here are my travel tips for exploring and getting to know this awesome city.
THINGS TO DO IN ROTTERDAM
Enjoy the Innovative Architecture: Rotterdam is well known for its architecture with such landmark buildings such as the Cube houses and Markthal. With its excellent public transport system and free walking tours, it is easy to see a lot of Rotterdam’s most famous buildings in an afternoon. Other notable buildings include the Sonneveld House, Luchtsingel Bridge, and Pauluskerk.
Immerse Yourself in Modern Art: Rotterdam’s Museumpark is home to a bevy of museums including the Kunsthal Rotterdam, Chabot Museum, and The New Institute. In addition to its museums, Rotterdam also has a free sculpture trail that runs along the Westersingel canal. Be sure to check out the infamous Santa Claus sculpture fondly referred to as the “buttplug Gnome.”
Shop Local: Rotterdam’s creative scene is on the come up with plenty of boutiques and galleries to explore. Check out Groos (the Dutch word for pride) for the best products from local designers and artists. The shop Voorlopig is a fun mix of items in an eccentric small warehouse. Other interesting shops include North Sea Design, Dearhunter Vintage, Keet, and Susan Bijl. The popular Amsterdam concept store Hutspot also has a location in Rotterdam.
Enjoy the Nightlife: Witte de Withstraat is the hippest street in Amsterdam. Packed with bars, venues, and cafes it is easily the best place to spend the evening in Rotterdam. Check out De Zondebok & ‘T Zwarte Schaap for an excellent selection of beers and jenever. Other great nightlife spots include Boudewijn, Holy Smoke, and Rotown.
Catch a Water Taxi: Rotterdam boasts the busiest port in Europe and the 4th busiest port in the world. In a city that is so famous for its waterways, it would be a pity to not take advantage of a ride on one of the city’s water taxis. The water taxis travel at speeds of up 50 km per hour and have regular journeys during peak tourist season. You can also travel by water to nearby Kinderdijk which has the highest concentration of windmills in the Netherlands.
WHERE TO EAT
Rotterdam Markthal: Okay, okay, so every travel guidebook will tell you to go here and truthfully it feels pretty touristy, BUT the building is worth seeing if you are a fan of modern architecture. My advice – walk around, buy some snacks, but have your meals elsewhere.
Fenix Food Factory: The Fenix Food Factory is a small scale food hub that offers the best of Rotterdam’s food scene. Enjoy a microbrewed beer, buy some seasonal produce for a picnic, and munch on freshly baked bread with handmade cheese – sounds great right?
Vessel 11: A gastropub on a boat that hosts concerts? Sure, why not, this is Vessel 11. Vessell 11 serves British cuisine with their own homebrewed beer, check their website for events.
Vroesenpaviljoen: A popular spot with locals when the weather is warm, Vroesenpaviljoen is located in one of Rotterdam’s prettiest city parks.
GOOD TO KNOW
- Getting There: The closest airport is Schiphol Airport and the city center is only a quick metro ride from the airport. Rotterdam is easily accessed by train and is a great day trip from Amsterdam.
- Getting Around: Rotterdam is easy to get around and has a plethora of options for transport including bike rental, Uber, metro, train, bus, and water taxi. Not to mention that the city tourism office brings its “A game” with a constant supply of city maps and free walking tours.
- Safety: Typical safety precautions should be taken when traveling through Rotterdam. Since I was traveling as a solo female traveler, I think it is important to note that I did not feel unsafe at any point of my trip. In general, Rotterdam is fairly safe compared to other large cities. Wikitravel recommends avoiding South Rotterdam at night.
I had a great time visiting Rotterdam and hope to return soon. Since I live in a small city in rural Austria, it felt great to be back in a busy and lively city such as Rotterdam. With its fantastic food, hip bars, excellent shopping, and rad architecture it is easy to understand what makes Rotterdam special.