You Will Love Rotterdam If... 5 Reasons
Looking for a vibrant and affordable city break?
Been to Amsterdam and want to tread an alternative track?
There is something for just about EVERYYONE in Rotterdam! Seriously.
It is a fantastic place to be both day and night.
Each district of Rotterdam has its own special character and between them they boast a huge variety of top attractions including landmarks, architecture, museums, theatres, casinos, shops, clubs, bars, restaurants, cafes, sculptures and culture. It is difficult to pinpoint just 5 reasons to visit!
But you will seriously LOVE Rotterdam if...
Walking, exploring, sightseeing and discovering is your thing.
(Other modes of transport are available!)
You have a thing for breath-taking architecture, funky art and sculptures.
Taking really cool photos and making memories is on the agenda!
Eating good food, drinking cocktails and maybe getting high is also on the agenda.
You love heights. Or you love bridges. Or you love city history. Or you just love quirky cities!
Is that more than 5? Well. It is a very cool city. And the great thing is there's no need to spend a fortune either. Not unless you want to. A lot of what filled our time included walking around and sightseeing.
We arrived with a list of 'things to do' that I'd gleaned from prior internet research and set about covering the city by foot with the help of Google Maps on our phones. It was on these walks we found some of the things we enjoyed most!
Use the highlights listed below to plan your own adventures in Rotterdam.
De Markthal or The Market Hall
A place where food and housing come together! Impressive in sheer size, plus a variety of treats indoors; doughnuts, sushi, chocolate, cheese, cured meats, pizzas, waffles, wraps, ice cream and fresh fruit.
The construction of this build is mind-blowing. Archaeological discoveries such as weapons and jewellery can be found in the centre stairway. And also notably the ceiling, known as the Sixtine Chapel of Rotterdam, is phenomenal in design. Each of the four and a half thousand panels of aluminium is acoustically equipped. The 36 thousand foot piece of art by Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam, named Horn of Plenty, is possibly the largest artwork in the world and certainly worth an ogle.
The Market Hall is in the Lawrence District. Here you will find Lawrence Church, Museum Rotterdam and the Cube Houses. Surrounding the Market Hall there are stalls and shops plus a big wheel (one of many height-inspired attractions).
These are close to the Market Hall and you can go inside one for 3 euros. Or just take crazy pictures that challenge perception!
This shot looks like a transformer right?
Piet Blom designed the cubes to represent trees and together they create a forest. He also designed the building behind,The Pencil.
Quaint and pretty. Catch a drink on one of the waterside terraces, if you can get a table!
One of many spectacular bridges in Rotterdam. This bright red structure looks great day and night!
The building to the right, Witte Huis, is featured in the Battlefield game on the Rotterdam map.
Witte De Withstraat
Described as the 'art axis' of the city, this place is awake most times and days! Our apartment was a moments walk from this vibrant street so we experienced it Friday to Tuesday and there was always an evening crowd, particularly on Friday and Saturday! Hosting the funky looking Wunderbar (pictured) Worm and NRC, plus many others.
Also around this area, the 'Mind Blowing Institute' and other arty venues.
Panenka (the Classy) Sports Bar
Very close by, this fab venue offers cocktails and good food (burgers, chicken, ribs). Friendly staff and shows a lot of football on plenty of screens. Everyone is happy.
The 4 Floors Coffeeshop
If you're looking to smoke weed legally, 4 Floors offers seating upstairs. As with all of the coffee shops you will need ID to get in. Not all outlets have seating areas. And those that do require you to buy weed. (See Smoking Weed below for the lowdown!)
Just around the corner from Witte de Withstraat you can find the Rotterdam Foodsquare which hosts 9 unique restaurants.
Found in the Foodsquare, we loved their burgers and crunchy chicken! Awesome selection of cocktails including Martini Espresso, Aperol Spritz and Hudson Cider Bite. Plus fresh milkshakes. Friendly staff and funky, amazing artwork and interior. Worth a visit for food, drinks or both!
Erasmusbrug - Erasmus Bridge
We visited the Erasmus at night. It looks amazing from faraway and close up! We ate at Happy Italy; good pizza, pasta and fair prices- also do takeaway. We also crossed the Erasmus in the day time. Again it looked stunning close up and from far away. Café, VERS010 was near and great for an alcoholic drink and food!
From the Erasmus, walk down to Rotterdam Port where you can get a good view of the Erasmus. The historical Hotel New York is here too and now dwarfed, it's amazing to think this was once the place to stay whilst awaiting voyage to America!
Rotterdam Port is the biggest in Europe. Although we didn't see much water traffic during our visit.
Erasmus Bridge and Harbour Area
There's a lot of fantastic architecture to look at plus keep your eye out for Rotterdam's floating park made out of recycled debris collected from the port!
This area was formerly known as the Red Light District and we used the Rijnhavenbrug (bridge pictured) to cross from the Port to Katendrecht. The area is up-and-coming with Fenix Food Factory, Posse and Walhalla theatre amongst plenty of other quirky eateries to visit.
Het Park and the Euromast
Het Park is perfect for a stroll with its winding waterways and wildlife (variety of birds) plus BBQ areas (which I imagine in the summertime are thriving).
Plus there are a number of cafes on site for refreshments and plenty of people milling and playing games on the grass.
The Euromast is just off one edge of Het park and for a fee you can climb the viewing tower.
This area is near to the Centraal Station and is Rotterdam's own Chinatown with many Asian restaurants to choose from!
This is widely known as Kabouter Buttplug or Butt Plug Gnome. Love it or hate it, Paul McCarthy designed the festive tribute with a warning, "we become what we see in the media."
Of course I merely see the jolly chap Santa holding a Christmas tree...
If it doesn't get you thinking about your perceptions, it should at least make you giggle as you pass it by!
Pay him a visit in Eendrachtsplein.
Also firm faves, the Cascade (tower of barrels) and Destroyed City (human figure without a heart- symbolic of Rotterdam's heart being lost in the bombing).
Both sculptures are featured in the second image gallery at the start of this blog and there are plenty of others to discover.
You will always need ID as proof of age.
Visit Tref (free sandwiches) 4Floors or Pluto (amazing Predator inspired furniture!) for seating areas but you have to buy to get in.
Amigos has a seating area but only groups of 2 are permitted!
Coffeeshop Bellamy, Sky High, Sensei Smile and Witte de With are counter sales only. You can rollup on the side but then you have to leave- and smoking on the streets is illegal. My friends got around this by visiting one of many open spaces or along canals where seating seems to pop up regularly. However smoking weed publicly is frowned upon despite laws being more relaxed.
Rotterdam, the old city with a new heart.
The detail of these red lights are not clear in the picture. There is a figure in the flames to the left, a city burning to the right and a bomber plane swooping toward.
The lights span pavements for a 12 kilometre periphery and memorialise the massive area flattened in less than 15 minutes, known as the Rotterdam blitz, in 1940 on May 14th.
We spotted around 15 of these on our travels (rumoured to be 400 in total!) and I found it a truly humbling reminder of the history of this city.
You can get a free map of the fire boundary from tourist offices and trace the route or Google it to get a true perspective of the city which has been rebuilt from the ashes.
Rotterdam Small Print
We flew to Amsterdam and got an intercity direct train from Amsterdam Schiphol airport to Rotterdam Central station (around 15 euros). We got a taxi to our Museum Park apartment and walked to the train station on our return after getting our bearings!
Rotterdam is cheaper than Amsterdam which was great. Due to the high standards we felt we got very good value for money.
We all enjoyed being in the Witte de Withstraat area- everyone's immediate needs were met here; food, alcohol, football, arty-farty cool stuff, weed, shops etc. plus easy walks to attractions.
Rotterdam attracts visitors for all kinds of reasons and of all age groups. We visited as a small, mixed group (late 20's/ early 30's) and all loved it. We met a Rugby tour of 18-70's who had been clubbing and were enjoying the food and nightlife plus plenty of groups enjoying the Witte de Withstraat area.
Monday was the quietest day with some businesses closed.
I visited Rotterdam expecting a version of Amsterdam but in truth Rotterdam is incomparable. Both are beautiful cities with standalone quirky attributes and reasons to visit.
Because no trip would be complete without the plugging of my book, Maga High! Yes I am smirking like a lunatic. But I am happy to be water-side at one of these usually heaving terraces.
This copy of the book is now housed at the Rotterdam Bibliotheek! I think and I hope anyway. The very helpful assistant assured me if for some reason it couldn't be listed he would leave it somewhere public, so fingers crossed it is at least out there!
I hope you have enjoyed reading and are inspired to visit Rotterdam in the future! Subscribe to stay up to date with all upcoming Lifestyle and Entertainment blogs.