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9 Cool Things to Do in Rotterdam

Girl standing by the canals in Rotterdam with bicycles and narrow houses

9 Cool Things to Do in Rotterdam

Rotterdam is Netherlands’ second biggest city after Amsterdam and only 50 miles away. It’s Europe’s biggest port, which earned the city the nickname the ‘Gateway to Europe’. Rotterdam was almost entirely destroyed by the bombing during the Second World War. After that, the city sprung back into life with a huge variety of interesting architecture.

A girl walking between two yellow walls on a yellow floor

Things To Do In Rotterdam

As well as the array of styles around the city, Rotterdam is famed for its many museums. There are many art galleries and a maritime museum. But besides the museums, read on for our list of the coolest things to do in Rotterdam.

Bright street art of a magpie holding an engagement ring in his beak on yellow background and large black and white birds

9 Cool Things To Do In Rotterdam

1. Cube Houses

Girl walking among the yellow cube houses in Rotterdam

The Cube Houses are probably the most iconic buildings to see in Rotterdam, and that’s saying something! The radical design looks like the houses have been tipped up 45 degrees and perched high above the walkway below.

We’re not convinced of the practicality of the internal slanted walls as a living space. But as an architectural feat it’s truly eye-catching.

2. Markthal

Panoramic of the Market hall in Rotterdam - A gigantic, rounded ceiling with street art covering the whole surface

The Rotterdam Markthal is a really cool looking building, and even more impressive inside! The walls are covered in the most enormous piece of artwork we’ve ever seen. The flowers, fruits and animals on the painting really bring the place to life.

There are many places to eat inside as well as shops for cheeses, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

3. Oudehaven

Girl sitting in the old harbour in Rotterdam

Oudehaven which translates as Old Harbour, is just a really nice area to walk around or to grab some lunch or dinner.

The most famous landmark here is the White House (Witte Huis) which was one of the few buildings in Rotterdam that actually survived the World War II bombs.

4. Delfshaven

Delfshaven is another beautiful area of Rotterdam, and also survived the bombing. In contrast to the modern styles in the centre, a stroll around Delfshaven feels like stepping back in time.

The crooked, narrow buildings are very similar to the canal houses that Amsterdam is famed for.

While there, we were admiring a vintage scale model of Delfshaven in a shop window when an old Dutch gentleman and his grandson approached. The grandfather started speaking Dutch to us and we had to admit that we couldn’t understand. The grandson then said that his grandfather was the original creator of the scale model decades ago!

Of course, there’s no way for us to know if it was true or not, but we really hope it was!

5. Rotterdam’s Street Art

Rotterdam is blessed with a vibrant street art scene. There are so many impressively huge pieces dotted around the city.

To try to find it all would be impossible, but the amazing people at Rewriters Rotterdam have created a free, downloadable map of street art locations! Just scroll to the bottom of that page and you’ll see a link leading you to the map.

Vibrant purple, orange and green street art of animals using geometric style

They also have a street art app available on smart phones which is only 99 cents. It uses GPS to show your location on the map, making it much easier to navigate. Plus, there’s a lot of additional information about the artists and the works.

6. Luchtsingel – Bright Yellow Bridge

Yellow bridge, detailed grainy wood with Dutch writing

The bright yellow wooden bridge is a project to help revitalise a more neglected part of Rotterdam. The bridge was built using over 17,000 wooden planks!

Anyone can pay for their name or a message to be engraved in one of the planks. It was thanks to this crowdfunded effort that the bridge was made a reality.

7. Het Park – Great Place for Lunch

We do love a city park and Het Park is no exception. It’s a nice slice of nature away from the buzz of the city.

There’s a really nice café in the park called Parqiet that have a nice lunch menu and some craft beers and fresh coffee.

8. Euromast

A peaceful park with the Euromast in Rotterdam in the background

From the park you can head to the Euromast. It’s clearly visible from the park as it’s the tallest structure in the whole of Rotterdam.

It’s impressive just to see it up close, but you can also go up and get a great view over the city. If you’re feeling particularly brave, you can abseil from the top! Maybe skip the beer in the park before doing this though.

9. Erasmus Bridge & Kop van Zuid

Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam - Large white sail-like structure

The Erasmus bridge, aptly nicknamed ‘The Swan’, is another of Rotterdam’s important landmarks. Nearby you can see some really interesting architecture and sculptures.

Some of the highlights of the area include the ‘Hotel New York’, ‘De Rotterdam’ and the modern residential tower ‘Montevideo’.

Have More Time?

The iconic windmills of Kinderdijk

Still have more time to spend in Rotterdam? Then you should take a boat trip to the Kinderdijk windmills.

You may have heard that a lot of the Netherlands is actually below sea level. The reclaimed land around Rotterdam stays dry thanks to the pumping of these windmills!

Places to Stay

The most iconic place to stay in the city has to be aboard the retired ocean liner, the ‘SS Rotterdam’!

This beauty served passengers on both sides of the Atlantic for over 40 years. And now she’s had a new lease of life as a permanently docked hotel.

A large ship - the SS Rotterdam docked

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