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9 Amazing Things to do in Rotterdam

Forget every photo you have ever seen of cute little houses in the Netherlands. Now think about very modern architecture and quite peculiar too. Welcome to Rotterdam! This contemporary city offers a lot of things to do and to entertain its travelers!

I lived in Amsterdam after I first came to Europe. Now, 3 years later, I’m living in the south of the Netherlands and have visited many cities in the country. Amsterdam will always be my favorite one for many reasons. However, Rotterdam is a spectacular city that deserves many posts as well.

The second-largest city in the Netherlands is also home to the world’s second-largest port. Some of Rotterdam’s maritime heritage can be seen in the Maritime Museum and in the Harbor Museum.

The first one has more activities for kids, but the latter is also very interesting. This is where I was able to get into the bridge of a huge container ship! I felt like a child, but it was so nice!

Anyways, you certainly won’t be bored in this modern and cultural city! I’ve put together the 9 coolest things to do in Rotterdam. But first I’ll explain why this is the most modern city in the Netherlands.

Hey, looking for more tips for your next trip to the Netherlands? Check out some of our other posts below, or click here to find all of our Netherlands posts.

Complete Destruction

Back in the Second World War, the Germans tried to invade the Netherlands and ordered the surrender of the country. Hitler thought they wouldn’t have much of a problem since the country is relatively small.

However, for obvious reasons, the Dutch wouldn’t comply with their demands and resisted. Fighting.

They resisted for exactly 4 days and even had negotiated a ceasefire. Yet on the fifth day after the invasion, the Germans decided the wait was too long for a country they thought it would be much easier to occupy.

So, they bombed the city center of Rotterdam until almost nothing was left and threatened to do the same thing in another city, Utrecht. The Dutch government surrendered the next morning.


Reborn From the Ashes

Rotterdam was reconstructed in the years following WW2 and became a playground for architecture geeks.

Today, the city houses the highest buildings in the country, a modern central station, the splendid Erasmus bridge, and an observation deck to appreciate it all.

Note that I’m not even close to pointing out all points of interest of Rotterdam. Let’s start it!

1. Visit Europe’s largest indoor market, the Markthal

This picturesque residential and office building is home to a delicious food market. The Markthal was created due to strict European laws to sell meat, fish, and cheese in the open air. So, now the market is inside it.

If there is one thing you can’t miss here, it is the ceiling! There is a real piece of art covering it all. But please, don’t skip the food stalls on the ground floor.

Grab a Dutch snack to continue your journey through the city. Are you a foodie too? High five! So, check out this post about the best Dutch snacks you don’t want to miss when in the Netherlands.

Address: Verlengde Nieuwstraat.


2. Take some photos of the quirky Cube Houses

Close to the Markthal is the quirky and super modern Cube Houses. Certainly one of the craziest constructions I have seen in my life! This residential place is meant to represent forest and each house represents a tree. Sweet!

So, include these interesting houses in your list of things to see in the city! You won’t regret it. As I said above, Rotterdam has a distinctive architecture. So, if you want to learn more about it with a local guide, I’d strongly recommend taking an architecture walking tour through the city.

Address: Overblaak 70.


3. Go on an architecture tour

The Swan, that is the Erasmus bridge’s nickname because of its irregular shape. Built in 1996, this symbol of modern architecture rises 139 meters up in the sky, and it is 284 meters long.

It’s a perfect spot for photography lovers, day and night, as there are many skyscrapers behind it. If you are making an architecture tour, this bridge is one of the things you will learn about.

I’ve seen many people make a boat tour on the Maas river and I believe they had a wonderful view of this area from there. Too bad I didn’t have time to make it too. Next time. 😊


4. Have some coffee at the White House (Het Witte Huis)

The Netherlands also has a white house, did you know that? It’s a National Heritage site built in 1898. The White House in Rotterdam is one of the few buildings to survive the bombing attack in 1940.

This construction was restored in the 1990s and is 43m high. The most impressive part is that this building was once the highest building in Europe! Can you imagine that?

Have a cup of coffee in the cafe on the ground floor of this art nouveau landmark and appreciate the place. It is located right in front of the old port of Rotterdam.

Address: Geldersekade 1c. It opens from Monday to Saturday from 3 pm to 2/ 4 am.


5. Visit the Museumpark in Rotterdam

You will certainly find a museum to your taste of art in the Museumpark. They showcase many different art styles in those museums.

For example, the famous Museum Boijmans has a comprehensive collection of Western art from the Middle Ages to the present day (€17,50).

The New Institute showcases modern architecture and design, while the House Sonneveld, which was built in 1933, showcases a sort of modern architecture (for 1933!).

You can buy one ticket for both the house and the New Institute for €14. There is a combi ticket for The New Institute, Chabot Museum, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Kunsthal Rotterdam and the Museum of Natural History: € 27.50

A very Dutch way to learn about the city’s history, it is to make a bike tour of the highlights of Rotterdam with a local. Riding a bike is definitely a thing you should do in the Netherlands, by the way! This THE bike country and these two just belong together, don’t you think?

6. Wander through the hip Witte de Withstraat – Cool street with bar/ cafes

Go have a drink in the bohemian Witte de Withstraat. This street has an easygoing atmosphere during the day and an amazing vibe at night! If you’re looking for a place to hang out, this is the spot! Grab a good glass of wine or beer and enjoy it! But first, take your time to wander and choose a place. There are plenty of options.

I’ve seen many art galleries, cozy cafes, and bars with a hipster crowd in this region of Rotterdam. Also, stroll along this street to see all sorts of cute little shops the city has to offer!


7. Abseil from the Euromast Tower

By now you have seen a lot of Rotterdam on the ground. So, go up in the Euromast tower (€9,75) to see everything again, but from 185 meters high! If it’s a clear day, you can see as far as 30km into the distance!

Are you afraid of heights? I am! 😊 Anyways, this attraction is certainly a thing you should see in the city to have a very special view (360°) of Rotterdam.

There is also a restaurant up in the tower, but I didn’t eat there.

Ps: They do not accept cash, only card payments.

Address: Parkhaven 20. Daily open from 10 am to 10 pm.

View from the Euromast

8. Have some drinks at the Fenix Food Factory

Or food, of course! The Fenix Food Factory is a former warehouse where you can have some lunch and/or drinks and relax with a view of the skyscrapers. Once a month, a food truck (last weekend of the month) and a vintage market (third weekend) take place here.

Address: Veerlan 19D. It is open from Tuesday to Saturday.

9. Visit a bridge made by locals

Luchtsingel, also known as the yellow bridge, was crowdfunded by locals and, since they are the sponsors, you can read their names (or messages) on the wooden planks. Creative, to say the least. The initiative had the objective to connect the Northern area of Rotterdam to the center and to bring to life a neglected area. Well, it worked.

The Luchtsingel bridge has 9 accesses, click here to find them all.

Hey, looking for more tips for your next trip to the Netherlands? Check out some of our other posts below, or click here to find all of our Netherlands posts.

Rotterdam has an amazing cosmopolitan feeling, don’t you agree? Have you ever been to Rotterdam or are you planning to go there? Share your experiences in the comments below!

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My best travel tips & resources:

Here're my all-time favorite travel tips & resources so that you can save money and plan your travel logistics hassle-free! For more travel tips, check out my complete guide on how to plan a trip to the Netherlands.
  • Saving money: Fly on offseason, winter (not Xmas or NYE), Tuesday, or Wednesday! According to experts, these are the cheapest days to fly.
  • Travel insurance: Before you leave for the Netherlands, make sure you have a valid travel insurance policy because accidents happen on the road. I have been paying for Safety Wing travel insurance for a little over a year now, and I happily recommend them to my family and friends.
  • Accommodation: I usually stay in mid-range comfy hotels or private rooms in hostels. These are the sites we use to book accommodation: for hotels (excellent flexible cancellation policy) and Hostelworld for hostels (low deposit and easy cancellation).
  • Tours: I absolutely love booking guided tours with locals to get a history lesson while sight-seeing, especially food tours and walking tours! I book all of our tours using Viator and GetYourGuide.
  • Transportation: I use Google Maps to figure out how to get around a place using public transport. When I book a rental car, I always use to find the best deal.
  • What to Pack: Here're the travel essentials I bring on every trip. I also have lots of packing guides!


Thursday 15th of February 2018

I believe Rotterdam might be my favourite city in The Netherlands. It has such a rugged and edgy vibe and there is always something going on :)

Bruna Venturinelli

Friday 16th of February 2018

Hi Eva,

I totally agree with you! Rotterdam feels like a restless city. But my favorite one will always be Amsterdam ♥ lol Your last name looks Dutch though. Are you?


Sunday 11th of February 2018

Great tips! I'll be there in May for traverse so this guide will be super handy! I'm especially keen to see those cube houses!

Bruna Venturinelli

Sunday 11th of February 2018

Hi Leanne,

Thanks, glad to hear! I'm sure you will enjoy it a lot. Especially because the weather in May is usually very beautiful here:)


the unending journey

Sunday 11th of February 2018

I'm typically not a fan of modern architecture, but Rotterdam looks amazing! Shamefully, I've only spent a weekend in Amsterdam. Clearly, I need to get back to The Netherlands and do some more exploring. Thank you for the wonderful inspiration!

Bruna Venturinelli

Sunday 11th of February 2018

I have to admit that I'm not a fan either. But I was so used to the cute old architecture of other Dutch cities that when I got to Rotterdam, I was impressed! A gorgeous and vibrant city! Thank you, I hope this guide helps you when you come to the Netherlands.



Sunday 11th of February 2018

So many cool places to see in the area! Thank you for all your suggestions <3

Bruna Venturinelli

Sunday 11th of February 2018

Hi Mary,

You're very welcome :) I'm glad to help!



Saturday 10th of February 2018

Such a great list! I lived in The Hague for a while and I wish I'd taken more time to explore Rotterdam! It looks totally awesome.

Bruna Venturinelli

Sunday 11th of February 2018

Hi Hannah,

Thanks a lot! Well, next time you go there you know what to look for :)