12 things to see & do in Rotterdam, Netherlands

In Europe, Featured, Mini Breaks, Netherlands, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, World Travel by Janis12 Comments

A perfect blend of the past and the contemporary

So, you’re considering heading to Rotterdam? Well, I think you’re making a fantastic decision. I feel Rotterdam is so often overlooked with a preference to Amsterdam, and the reason I say that, is because we did that exact thing. 

Vessel II and the Regentessebrug, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Rotterdam's waterways

Don’t get me wrong I loved our time in Amsterdam. 

However, if you’re looking for a similar Dutch experience that’s slightly calmer, plenty of charm, perhaps not so many canals, then Rotterdam is for you. 

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We headed to Rotterdam for the Traverse18 conference and decided it was a perfect opportunity to explore the city in more depth, so we decided to add a couple of days on to the trip.

My advice is, if you love quirky and eclectic architecture, enjoy a city with a relaxed and welcoming vibe, and of course a harbour or two, then you’ll want to visit Rotterdam. 

Erasmus in front of Laurenkerk, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Erasmus in front of Laurenkerk

Gary and I had a chat, and we’ve chosen a variety of things that made our visit to the Netherlands second largest city memorable to us.


Oude Haven & Witte Huis

To those of us who don’t speak Dutch (me included), this is the historic Old Harbour and White House. This is a charming area to stroll around, and also a great place to share time with friends.

The Old Harbour, Rotterdam, Netherlands

The Old Harbour

The old harbour has historical sailing ships moored within its docks, a lovely reflection on times gone by. Some of the boats are still working and lived upon.

A large mobile home, Rotterdam, Netherlands

A large mobile home, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Here you can head along the canals that branch off the harbour.

However, one of Rotterdam’s few surviving buildings from the Second World War bombing campaign is the White House.

This beautiful building was constructed in Art Nouveau style in 1898 and although only 10 storeys high, was at the time one of Europe’s tallest buildings.

The Witte Huis - Up close, Rotterdam, Netherlands

The Witte Huis


Cube Houses

Overlooking Oude Haven is the eye-catching Cube Houses designed by architect Piet Blom. These are really quite bizarre; the 39 houses have been built at a 45-degree angle, and they almost appear to be staring down at you, rather than you gazing up at them.

Cubes in the harbour, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Cubes in the harbour

The show cube, Kijk-Kubus is open seven days a week and is furnished to give you an idea, what is like to live in one. Not too sure that I could though.

Cube houses against Blue skies, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Cube houses against Blue skies, Rotterdam, Netherlands

An ideal city …

… for a mini-break or you could even choose to turn it into a road-trip like us and visit some other towns and cities in the region.


Erasmus Bridge

“The Swan” as it’s nicknamed, is quite a focal point in the city and you can see why. It spans 802 metres (2,631 ft) across the New Meuse and is pretty impressive. Take a stroll across the bridge and capture the views from either side, it's certainly worth it.

Erasmusbrug, Rotterdam, Netherlands



Market Hall

You may have seen this building before as it’s quite distinctive, but you have to take a look inside the ceiling is so striking, it’s like a fruit and vegetable basket has been thrown in the air.

Cycling in front of the market, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Cycling in front of the Market Hall

The Market Hall is home to offices and apartments above, but all through the bottom is food and drinks galore and who doesn’t like cheese?

The edge of the Market, Rotterdam, Netherlands

The edge of the Market

The Market Ceiling, Rotterdam, Netherlands

The Market Ceiling, Rotterdam, Netherlands


Maritime Museum

If maritime history floats your boat, then you’re definitely heading to the right place, as Rotterdam is full of it, I was in my element.

Lighthouse at the HArbour Museum, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Lighthouse at the Harbour Museum

Wander to the Maritime Museum Harbour and take a stroll around the exhibits outside.

You’ll feel like you’ve walked into an old working port.

The striking red cast iron lighthouse once stood at the Hook of Holland.

Maritime Museum, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Maritime Museum

The museum doesn’t have to be open for you to enjoy it around here, we wandered through early evening.

Tempted to?

Discover more of Holland, you'll be amazed how easy it is to tour around by car with. Like us you can create your own road trip and visit Keukenhof, Haarlem, Alkmaar, Utrecht and Gouda.

We also squeezed in a tour of Four Dutch Harbour Towns and a visit to the 19 traditional windmills at the UNESCO site of Kinderdijk.

Take a peek at the offers at Rental Cars, they cover all budgets and allow you to pick up and drop off at different destinations.



Possibly the most visible structure in Rotterdam is the Euromast observation tower.

It now stands 185 metres tall, after the Space Tower was added in 1970.

If heights are your thing, then catch the lift that takes just 30 seconds to transport you up to the observation deck, at around 100 metres above.

Euromast, Rotterdam, Netherlands



Too many to name

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Rotterdam has some stunning architecture. Old structures mixing seamlessly with the modern, it looks so retro, but it works so well. 

Rotterdam - Canal Side, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Rotterdam - Canal Side

Keep your eyes peeled as some of the quirkier just blend in to the background. This is one of the reasons we loved Rotterdam.

Impressive style, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Impressive style

Rotterdam Architecture, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Rotterdam Architecture


Witte de Withstraat

If you are hungry or thirsty this is the street to head to, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Some enjoyable restaurants and lively bars, tempting you with culinary delights from all over the globe.

Witte de Withstraat, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Witte de Withstraat

Great for a bit of al fresco dining in the Dutch sunshine.


Museum Rotterdam

Museum Rotterdam has changed its path over the years, concentrating originally on Antiquities then moving into the Golden Age. Through the reconstruction of a city that witnessed such devastation in WWII.

Museum Rotterdam, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Museum Rotterdam

In its present day it uses the ethos “a city with a young heart and an old soul” which I like.


Cool District

Well, that’s a name to try and live up to the “Cool District”. I’ll let you make your own judgement, but it’s certainly an area to head to. 

Cool bar, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Cool bar in the Cool district


Shopping in the Cool District

Parts of this small district are pedestrianised with some interesting shops and indeed some quirky sculptures.

Keep a look out for Father Christmas with his unusual Christmas present.

Santa with a suprise, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Santa with a suprise, Rotterdam, Netherlands


Pie time

Mmmmm, apple pie and cream.

We sort of came across Dudok café in Het Park by accident. 

We wanted a coffee break and noticed “Dudok’s” renowned apple pie.

We thought it would be rude not to give it a try, obviously for research purposes you understand.

Dudoks original apple pie, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Dudoks original apple pie

It was very nice, I wouldn’t mind a slice now.


Street Art

Like a lot of people, I do like street art, and Rotterdam has some fantastic examples. 

Monkey Street Art, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Monkey Street Art

Climbing the Wall, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Climbing the Wall

Sir Hippolot, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Sir Hippolot

Whether they’re scaling the heights of a building, small pieces hidden in doorways are tactile public sculptures. They are all incredible in their own way.

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Inspired to visit Rotterdam?

Why not visit the Cube Houses or discover the quirky sculptures dotted around town?

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  1. I love the look of Rotterdam, your photos are so inspiring. We have a day to kill before our ferry from Hook of Holland to the UK so hopefully this is where we will head to. I’ll definitely be referring back to this post nearer the time. #farawayfiles

    1. Thanks Annabel, you’ll easily be able to fill a day in Rotterdam. There’s so much to see particularly around the old harbour and the city centre.Glad to be of help.

  2. I absolutely adore Rotterdam, it’s a unique city in The Netherlands! Can you believe that up until 10 years ago the city was pretty grimy? It’s so much better now!#FarawayFiles

  3. Rotterdam is an absolute must for architecture lovers – I went there for work and we took an architectural tour which was fabulous. Love those cube houses! Thanks for linking up with #farawayfiles

    1. That sounds like it would have interesting, some of the buildings are rather quirky, it would have been good to know a little bit of history behind them.

  4. I’d really like to visit Rotterdam. It looks so different from Amsterdam and I love the arty vibe that you’ve captured in your photos. Thanks for sharing with #farawayfiles

    1. Rotterdam has a different feel to Amsterdam, it doesn’t have as many canals & historic buildings, but it also doesn’t get as busy as Amsterdam, which is pleasant.

  5. We missed Rotterdam as we had limited time in the area, but I have regretted it ever since, and seeing your photos makes it all the more clear that we need to get back and spend time there too. I love all the reflections shots, and as I’m married to an architect, the photos of all the unique architecture as well. #farawayfiles

    1. To be perfectly honest Rotterdam wasn’t really at the top of our list, and we were so surprised how fantastic it was. Your husband will love it, if he is an architect, this is what really stood out for us.

  6. It was my birthplace. I was recently there and had a meal in Hotel New York which is the old Holland America building situated at the waterside.

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