Rotterdam is the second largest city in Netherlands – after Amsterdam.
Rotterdam lies on both banks of the Nieuwe Maas, the tidal southern arm of the Rhine, where it’s joined by the little River Rotte.
After the war and air attacks in 1940 – Rotterdam was rebuilt and redesigned with modern shopping streets and residential districts, transforming into one of the most modern and architecturally interesting cities in Europe.
Today, it’s as popular for its vibrant entertainment options as it is for its many fine museums, splendid architecture, and maritime tourist attractions. Bellow you will find a selection of 7 places to enjoy in Rotterdam.
1 The Cube Houses Rotterdam
How to get there: Overblaak 70, 3011 MH Rotterdam
Rotterdam is indeed home to many fine examples of modern architecture, much of it inspired by the city’s waterside setting as well as a response to the devastation of WWII. Pushing the architectural envelope to the max are the city’s famous Cube Houses (Kubuswoningen). Designed by Dutch architect Piet Blom, this block of houses, with their unique cube-shaped upper stories, are clearly visible from a walk through the Old Harbor, and one of them, the Show Cube, is open to visitors and contains displays on the design and history of the buildings.
Another architectural gem is the White House (Witte Huis). Once Europe’s tallest building, this stunning ten-story Art Nouveau structure was built in 1898 and is now a National Heritage Site with superb views from its rooftop. Finally, those with an interest in the design of buildings should visit the Netherlands Architecture Institute, home to a superb museum outlining the development of various architectural movements over the decades.
2. Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk Rotterdam
How to get there: Grotekerkplein 15, Rotterdam
Great St. Lawrence Church – Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk – is all that’s left of Rotterdam’s medieval buildings, most of which were destroyed during WWII. In Grote Kerkplein, the late Gothic church dates from the 15th century and was built on once marshy ground giving the building a peculiar lean that was only halted after its foundation was rebuilt in 1650. It was heavily damaged in bombings, but was fully restored at the end of the war.
Upon entering the church, you’ll be struck by the beauty of the bright interior, an effect heightened by the colored glass of its windows. The church is famous for its three Danish organs, the largest of which stands on a marble base on the inside wall of the tower. The bronze doors of the main entrance, on the theme of War and Peace, are by the Italian artist Giacomo Manzu, and in front of the church is a statue of Rotterdam’s most famous son, Erasmus. Guided tours are available, although the small admission fee includes a very informative audio guide.
3. The Old Harbor and Marine Museums
The Old Harbor (Oude Haven) is a boat basin filled with restored historic boats, many of which are houseboats where their owners live. In good weather, you can sit outside in one of the many cafés or stroll around and watch the boats being painted or repaired. Signs identify the ages of the boats and show pictures of this area in its heyday as a commercial port and shipyard.
A short walk from here, Maritime Museum Rotterdam was established in 1873 and provides a fascinating look into the city’s connection to the sea and its many waterways. The large collections cover the history of shipping and seafaring, including ship models, a reconstruction of a 2,000-year-old vessel, and numerous seafaring paintings. Another marine-related tourist attraction is the adjoining Harbor Museum, an open-air facility that’s home to the wonderfully preserved 19th-century Buffel, an ironclad ram ship, as well as an old lightship (all told, more than 20 historic vessels are on display). Both facilities offer English-language guided tours. A recent addition to Rotterdam’s roster of important old vessels is the SS Rotterdam, launched in 1958 and considered the finest Dutch-built passenger vessel. This sumptuously decorated vessel is now a hotel and museum, and one of the favorite things to do here is have lunch or dinner in its dining room.
4. Kinderdijk’s Windmills
How to get there: Nederwaard 1, 2961 AS Kinderdijk, Netherlands
Official Website: https://www.kinderdijk.nl/
On the River Noord, just 23 kilometers east of Rotterdam, is the beautiful little village of Kinderdijk (the “children’s dyke”). Taking its name from a famous legend that describes a baby’s cradle being stranded here during the St. Elizabeth’s Day flood of 1421, it’s one of the most visited places in the Netherlands.
Each of its 19 perfectly preserved 18th-century windmills is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built between 1722 and 1761, together they comprise the largest surviving concentration of windmills in the country, a history that’s celebrated during special Mill Days, when their sails are once again set in motion.
5. The Markthaln Rotterdam
How to get there: Ds. Jan Scharpstraat 298 3011 GZ Rotterdam
Official Website: https://www.markthal.nl/
How crazy is this popular gathering point in Rotterdam? The impressive Markt, which opened in 2014. Its soaring arched ceiling is covered in larger-than-life murals of vegetables, fish, and other food subjects, and the market itself is a kaleidoscope of fresh and prepared foods.
You’ll have the pleasure to find restaurants serving everything from traditional Dutch favorites, like Stroopwafels, to Balkan foods, Spanish tapas, and exotic Indonesian dishes.
6. Boat Tours of the Europoort
How to get there: Luxemburgweg 2, 3198 LG Europoort Rotterdam, Netherlands
Official Website: https://www.europort.nl/
Rotterdam’s massive port occupies half the city’s total area of 247 square kilometers, much of it in turn occupied by Europoort, a huge complex known as the Gateway to Europe. In addition to countless massive ships, you’ll see mile after mile of quays and storage facilities built to service the world’s busiest port. One of the most popular excursions begins at Maeslantkering near Hoek van Holland (Hook of Holland) and includes a close-up look at the city’s massive surge barrier. Evening tours are also fun, especially with Rotterdam’s most famous landmarks, including the superb Erasmus Bridge, being spectacularly illuminated.
7. The Euromast Rotterdam
How to get there: Parkhaven 20, 3016 GM Rotterdam
Official Website: www.euromast.nl/en
One of Rotterdam’s most distinctive landmarks, the Euromast lies at the north entrance to the Maas Tunnel. Erected in 1960, this 185-meter-high tower houses two restaurants with superb views over Rotterdam, each at the 92-meter mark. For thrill seekers looking for more than just great views there’s the chance to abseil down the building, while those looking for a unique overnight stay can book one of two stunning suites located at the 100-meter point. English language guided tours are available.