The Dutch city of Rotterdam is full of quirky architecture, foodie finds, unusual attractions and trendy cafes.
There are so many interesting places to visit in Rotterdam that it’s hard to know where to begin?
This major port city in the Dutch province of South Holland is pulsating with innovation and design. It is a super modern and surprising city to visit in Europe.
Best places to visit in Rotterdam
What to do in Rotterdam
After the city was flattened by the 1940 German airstrikes in the Second World War, this resilient city was rebuilt and redesigned with flair.
The city now boasts modern shopping areas, skyscrapers, cultural sites and rather unconventional architecture. I think it’s one of the most visually exciting cities in Europe.
I spent a weekend in Rotterdam with Visit Holland and KLM hunting down some of the best things to do in Rotterdam, to inspire you to have a city break in Holland.
Rotterdam City Break
In this Rotterdam guide, you’ll find the lowdown on some of the best things to do in Rotterdam so that you can make the most of your time in this vibrant Dutch city.
A city break in Rotterdam will require a little travel planning and scheduling.
I would make a list of the Rotterdam attractions you want to visit and the destinations you want to see in the city.
We talk more about travel planning on my weekly travel podcast – Travel Goals. Subscribe now and catch up on all episodes.
Rotterdam Markthal is an incredible feat of architecture and design. This multicoloured, horseshoe-shaped food hall is an uber-cool spot for foodie fans.
The world-class market hall also features luxury apartments and has a huge artwork covering the inside known as the ‘Horn of Plenty’, by Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam.
The hall is ridiculously popular with tourists who come to sample food and drink from its fresh food stands, restaurants and cafes.
You can pick up Dutch classics at the market, such as Edam cheese and Stroopwafels and there is also a huge range of international cuisines.
It’s a hip spot to sip on coffee, people watch and get those #instagood shots.
Markthal Rotterdam restaurants
Rotterdam Markthal has approximately 100 fresh food stands, food shops, several restaurants, a supermarket and underground parking.
As I wandered around I got the impression that the food hall was a bit of a tourist hotspot? I could hear multiple international languages as I browsed the colourful food stands.
I chatted with some of the vendors who informed me that Rotterdam locals tended to shop in the local street market right outside the food hall.
There you can mingle with locals and buy fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and of course, Dutch cheese.
You can learn more about the Market Hall on a 1-hour Markthal walking tour.
Join a professional guide who will take you behind the scenes and to the most interesting parts of the Markthal.
You can also enjoy a “meet and taste” with a Markthal stallholder, who will treat you samples of cheese, chocolate and stroopwafel.
Markthal opening hours
The Rotterdam Markthal is open seven days a week until 20:00 pm. Markthal Parking is available between 00.00 and 24.00 hours from €12,50.
It is located at Dominee Jan Scharpstraat 298 and is so huge that it’s not hard to miss.
Rotterdam Cube Houses
No trip to Rotterdam is complete without swinging by the iconic cube houses!
The Rotterdam cube houses [Dutch: Kubuswoningen], were designed by Dutch architect Piet Blom at the request of city planners in the 1970s. They are based on the concept of “living as an urban roof”.
Cube houses Rotterdam inside
At first glance, you might be forgiven for thinking these whimsical buildings are just a tourist attraction purely for show.
However, people actually live in these curious, 45 degrees tilted cubed houses. Grand Design ain’t got nothing on these architectural curiosities.
Rotterdam visitors can learn more about these quirky apartments by visiting the Show Cube Museum and seeing inside one of the houses.
You can take a tour inside fully furnished Cube House and learn more about how on earth you might furnish a cube-shaped house?
I am gonna go out on a limb here and suggest you may have to look outside the realm of Ikea, these are not houses for simple flatpack furniture darlings.
Stay in a cube house Rotterdam
Why spend a night in the Cube Houses for a unique accommodation experience in Holland?
Book a night at the Stayokay Hostel Rotterdam and see what it would be like to live in a cube house. It’s definitely top of my list of things to do next time I visit Rotterdam.
When I first strolled into Weelde Rotterdam I briefly wondered if I had accidentally stumbled into a squat by mistake?
Scrap metal sculptures contrast against overgrown wildflower and vegetation, adding to the wildness of this intriguing urban location.
Weelde is actually a city farm and creative space that houses a bar, tiny theatre space, lunchroom, street art, restaurant and a large greenhouse.
Here you’ll find street art, a dilapidated bus turned into a silent disco space, a random boat, installations, makeshift beach and festivals.
There are regular events and festivals at Weelde, especially at the weekends where the ‘woke’ come to party. It is definitely one of the most interesting places to visit in Rotterdam.
The hipster vibes are basically dialled up to 11 here. Make sure to grab an organic wine and play the ‘count the beards and plaid shirts’ game.
De Zure Bom lunchroom
Feast on incredibly fresh and vibrant dishes at the on-site De Zure Bom lunch room.
Dishes here are big on flavour and have an emphasis on homegrown and colourful fresh produce.
Make sure to order the waffles, they are ridiculously moreish. Like I always say, why have 1 waffle when you can have 12?
How to get to Weelde
The most fun way to get to Weelde is of course by Rotterdam’s famous water taxi.
Zoom along the river Maas at 50 kph and arrive in style to this super cool urban hangout.
Rotterdam Water taxi
Getting a water taxi in Rotterdam is easy, you can book a water taxi in advance by calling the taxi booking number. The number is written on the information panel at the water taxi landing stages in Rotterdam.
The water taxis in Rotterdam uses a fixed transport fee that depends on the number of passengers and the distance covered.
As a general guide, a short boat trip for two costs about €12 and it’s an additional €2,50 per passenger on top.
Rotterdam Floating Farm
If you are looking for innovative city initiatives, then you had better head to the floating dairy farm in Rotterdam.
The floating farm addresses the question of agricultural space and management when 60% of a country are living below sea level?
The farm also highlights how food production can become less vulnerable to climate change and it is also powered entirely by solar panel energy.
World’s first floating dairy farm
There are around 32 cows living at the innovative water bourne farm. The cows’ welfare is top priority and steps are taken to make sure the cows have a happy existence at the world’s first floating dairy farm.
As you wander around the farm you can ask questions about the robotic farming methods and about how the farm was designed and built.
These dairy cows aren’t just for show, they are producing top-notch dairy products that will soon be available to buy in Lidl stores across the city.
This is a critical step in making dairy production and distribution more environmentally sustainable in Holland.
Feast upon a selection of foodie finds at the Rotterdam Foodhallen. This uber-trendy indoor food market has 15 stalls vying for your attention and your hard-earned Euros.
It is a newcomer to the Rotterdam food scene and is keen to impress with sleek architecture and gourmet offerings.
The Rotterdam Foodhallen is located in an old warehouse building on Wilhelminakade 58.
There is a good variety of delicious cuisine available from the stalls, including Dim Sum, Sushi, tacos, pizza, vegan treats and burgers.
There is also an excellent selection of drinks available, including many artisan gins.
Unique Rotterdam Architecture
Rotterdam is full of weird and wonderful architecture to discover and photograph. It is affectionately known as ‘Manhattan on the Meuse’, due to its modern skyline
The best way to see all the incredible architecture in the city is to take a Rotterdam Architecture Walking Tour.
On an Architecture Walking Tour, you’ll be able to learn more about the postmodernist architecture and the history of the city.
Nearly every building and street in Rotterdam has an interesting story to tell.
Visiting all the impressive architecture of the city is an integral part of any Rotterdam sightseeing tour.
The Witte House is one of the few historic buildings in Rotterdam that survived the 1940 German bombings.
Most Rotterdam tours will feature a visit to this unique Art Nouveau style building for a photo stop.
The magnificent De Rotterdam building is one of the city’s most impressive pieces of architecture.
The striking building consists of three interconnected mixed-use towers that include a hotel, offices, hotel and conference facilities. There is a definite ‘Blade Runner’ feel to this futuristic building.
To learn more about this swish building why not take a guided tour of De Rotterdam?
You will learn all about the design, the special construction, the different functions, and admire the spectacular view on the 31st floor.
The elegant Erasmus Bridge is the link between northern and southern Rotterdam.
It has affectionately been given the nickname of ‘the swan’ by locals due to its resemblance to a graceful swan’s neck.
Another example of Rotterdam’s innovation is a crowd-funded pedestrian bridge.
The Luchtsingel is a three-way, wooden pedestrian bridge connecting Rotterdam’s Centraal Station with several other previously separated urban areas.
Rotterdammers donated funds towards this bridge project and as a thank you, their names were inscribed into the bridge’s wooden facade by the architecture company.
Where to eat in Rotterdam
There is a huge variety of foodie hotspots in Rotterdam that are definitely worth a visit!
The Rotterdam food scene has a huge range of Dutch classics as well as international cuisines available at modern restaurants.
Some of the best restaurants in Rotterdam include:
Rotterdam food tour
Go with a professional guide to typical Dutch cafes and food vendors where you can sample food and drinks including stroopwafel, locally-brewed coffee and typical Dutch snacks.
This is where you come to have dinner as an ‘experience’. Set aside a good few hours and feast upon the 7-course ‘surprise dinner’ with accompanying wines by the glass.
Restaurant Héroine has a modern almost industrial feel to it and the staff are extremely attentive and knowledgeable about the creative and flavourful dishes that are being served.
Op het Dak
Their fresh menu is seasonal and local and has a strong emphasis on serving produce from their farm and other local farmers and producers.
My favourite part of Op het Dak is sitting on their terrace sipping coffee and listening to the sounds of the city below.
Witte de Withstraat
Make sure to swing by on a Friday night to see this street come to life. Rotterdammers and visitors will be spilling out of the many bars sipping on artisan gins, craft beers and cocktails.
Where to stay in Rotterdam
There are a variety of Rotterdam Neighbourhoods to stay in, each with their own character and identity.
Some Rotterdam neighbourhoods include Oude Noorden, Kralingen, Delfshaven, Kop van Zuid and Centrum.
There is a huge variety of boutique hotels, guest houses, budget accommodation, hostels, high-end hotels, hostels and Airbnb’s to choose from in Rotterdam.
Some of the best hotels in Rotterdam include:
Hotel Main Port Rotterdam
This beautifully designed hotel has a really unique location, on the banks of the River Maas. If you stay in a river-facing room, you’ll be treated to dramatic views of the river and the Rotterdam skyline.
Getting to Rotterdam
I only live 30 minutes away from Cardiff airport and so it was incredibly easy for me to get to the airport and to arrive in Amsterdam in just a few short hours.
Amsterdam to Rotterdam train
The great thing about flying into Amsterdam Airport Schiphol with KLM is that there are fantastic train connections around Holland. You can take a direct train from Schiphol Airport straight to Rotterdam.
The quickest Amsterdam to Rotterdam train route is just 36 minutes With the Intercity direct.
Rotterdam train tickets
On this service, you can travel quickly between Amsterdam Centraal, Schiphol Airport, Rotterdam Centraal and Breda.
The cities in Holland all seem so close to each other, easily reached and so well connected.
If you are visiting several cities in Holland I would recommend getting a Holland Pass.
With this pass, you can enjoy free entrance to top museums & attractions, skip-the-queue tickets, special offers at restaurants and discounts of up to 50%.
Rotterdam is a great city break in Holland as I feel it is the perfect balance of cultural heritage and modernisation.
There is so much to experience in terms of unique architecture, art and design, fabulous food, sustainability and innovation.
There seem to be so many surprising and quirky elements to the city that you could spend days visiting Rotterdam and still not experience all this modern city has to offer.
I would recommend planning your next Europe city break to this exceptional city in Holland, it really is worth a visit.
Airport Parking and lounges
Save money on your Netherlands trip by booking your airport parking in advance. You can find great airport parking deals online with Holiday Extras.
Get up to 70% off airport parking when you book in advance online. Keep your car secure and safe whilst you are on your holidays in an official airport car park.
You could also park your car at the airport with Car & Away. It’s the first person to person car-sharing service that matches car renters to car owners in a very simple and transparent way.
The service gives airport parking customers the opportunity to ‘rent and earn’ whilst on holiday. It’s a unique way to save money for travel, that’s for sure.
Why not spoil yourself with airport lounge access before your flight? Lounges don’t have to be super expensive, book online with Holiday Extras to save money on your lounge splurge.
What do you think of my Rotterdam Guide? Are you planning to visit? Let me know in the comments below!
Planning your trip to Rotterdam
Ready to book your trip to Rotterdam? Use these awesome travel resources to get you started:
- Search for the best flight deals with Skyscanner
- Search for the best hotel deals on HotelsCombined
- Get the best travel tips with a travel guidebook
- Book an Airbnb and have £25 towards your first booking
- Get the best destination recommendations from TripAdvisor
Check out all the best travel resources on my bumper travel resources page!