When I say The Netherlands, the first thing that probably comes to mind is Amsterdam. Now don’t get me wrong, Amsterdam is an amazing city but if you have some time to spare you should also add Rotterdam to your must-visit list!
Brief introduction to Rotterdam
Rotterdam is mostly known for having the largest port in Europe, and for its Erasmus University. During the Second World War, Rotterdam was bombed and the heart of Rotterdam was almost completely destroyed. Osip Zadkine was inspired by the bombing to create the statue “The Destroyed City” also known as the “City without a heart”. This is why Rotterdam lacks in historic buildings, but there is still more than enough history to be felt and seen in the city. In a lot of places, you will find statues to commemorate the rich history of The Netherlands and Rotterdam. The people of Rotterdam are very proud of their city and are known to be quite straightforward. Don’t be alarmed, they are also very kind and more than willing to help out a traveler who is lost or just wants to get some hotspot tips.
Most of the hotspots of Rotterdam are within walking distance, but if you are visiting something like the Fenix Food Factory the use of public transportation is advised. The two main types of transportation in Rotterdam are the trams and metro. These drive very frequently, so no need to rush!
My favorite hotspots
Right next to the train and metro station Rotterdam Blaak, you can find the Markthal. The first indoor market in The Netherlands opened in October 2014 and has been a marvelous addition to the architecture in Rotterdam. The kind of horseshoe-shaped building is a true eyecatcher, not only because of its shape but also because of the interesting artwork on the inside of the building. Once you’re already inside admiring the artwork, don’t forget to also take a look at the different food stands! You will not only find true Dutch gems, but also a wide variety of multicultural foods. If you’ve done a little research on the city, you’re probably familiar with the Cube Houses. The Markthal is located right across this architectural masterpiece.
Witte de Withstraat
If you’re in town overnight, and you want to experience Rotterdam like a local, then de Witte de Withstraat is a must! With bars like de Witte Aap and NRC, you are assured of a fun night out! De Witte de Withstraat also offers some stores and restaurants, so even if you’re not staying the night it is still worth a visit!
This is another gem when we are speaking of a night out. Especially during the spring and summer time, the Oude Haven is the place to be. The terraces of the different bars and restaurant face the water and a beautiful view. Don’t forget to also take a look at the other side of the water, at the “Pencil building” side. Here you can find some nice little bars and restaurants that are definitely worth a visit, especially if the terraces at the other side are crowded it is very likely you can still find a nice place to sit at this side. De Oude Haven is located right behind the Cube Houses. Easily combine a visit to the Markthal and the Cube houses to a nice dinner or drink in the Oude Haven!
Fenix Food Factory
If you are looking for a nice place to grab some food, but you’re not in the mood for a regular restaurant. The Fenix Food Factory is the place for you. Have you ever heard of stroopwafels? This is as Dutch of a snack that you can find. It’s two thin pieces of a waffle cookie, filled with a caramel-like syrup. At STROOP they take it a step further, here you can buy stroopwafels with a twist. Besides food, you can also find a bookstore at Fenix.
Kop van Zuid
De Kop van Zuid is an area in the city, the Fenix Food Factory is actually located right next to this. It is definitely worth the trip. From here, you have a beautiful view of the skyline of Rotterdam including the Erasmus bridge also known as the swan. Have a wander around, there is loads to see. Like to beautiful Hotel New York. This used to be the administrative building for the Holland Amerika Lijn, the Netherlands-America Steamship Company, a shipping and passenger line between The Netherlands and America. Now it is transformed into a luxurious hotel. Are you into photography? At the Kop van Zuid you can find the Dutch Fotomuseum!
Boijmans van Beuningen
This museum offers a big variety of Western art, from the Middle Ages up to now. Most of the art in the museum is gifted by private collectors. The most important being Frans Boijmans and Daniel George van Beuningen, hence the name of the museum. If you’re in the need of a place to go on a rainy day while being in Rotterdam, this is a great option! Wander around and get lost, during the year you can not only enjoy the permanent art but also a variety of temporary exhibitions. The museum is located at the end of the Witte de Withstraat.
It is one of the best places to admire all the beauty that Rotterdam has to offer, the Euromast. This observation tower is the highest tower that is open to the public in The Netherlands. With 185 meters, you can imagine the extraordinary view! You can grab a bite to eat in the brasserie at 96 meters, enjoy the panoramic views at 112 meters on the observation deck or go up the full 185 meters to visit the Euroscoop. Please be advised that admission to the Euromast is not free.
Shopping in Rotterdam
Most travelers are probably not interested in going shop while on the road, but if you have some empty spaces in your backpack or suitcase and you’re in the mood for shopping, Rotterdam has a lot to offer. In the city center, you can find the Lijnbaan, which is the main shopping street. One of the “side streets” of the Lijnbaan is de Koopgoot, which literally means “buying gutter”. If you’re unfortunate enough to experience the true Dutch weather (read rain), then it might be a good idea to go to a mall. The two biggest malls are Alexandrium and Zuidplein. Both are not located in the city center, so if you’re short on time I do not recommend going here.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this short hotspot list for one of the most beautiful cities of The Netherlands: Rotterdam!