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The best places to visit in Rotterdam | City break guide

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.

The best places to visit in Rotterdam

The 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.

Disclaimer: Sponsored post with Visit Holland and KLM

Things to do in Rotterdam

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.

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Rotterdam Markthal

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 best places to visit in Rotterdam

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.

Markthal tour

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.

Weelde 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

Weelde is located at Marconistraat 39 in West Rotterdam. You can get the metro to the Marconiplein stop, or get the tram to stop Het Witte Dorp.

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.

The farm is located at Gustoweg 10b, 3029 and is surely one of the more unusual Rotterdam attractions to explore?

Rotterdam Foodhallen

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. Here are a few examples of iconic buildings in Rotterdam.

Witte House

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.

De Rotterdam

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.

Erasmus Bridge

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.

Luchtsingel

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

If you are interested in learning more about the local Dutch cuisine in Rotterdam, why not book a Dutch Food Walking 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.

Restaurant Héroine

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

Op het Dak offers a fabulous view of the city in a rooftop garden setting. It is a unique cafe bar in Rotterdam that serves exceptional food and carefully crafted coffees.

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

Witte de Withstraat is the street in Rotterdam for boutique shopping, hip dining, drinking, street art spotting and people watching.

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

I stayed in the very swish Mainport Hotel during my time in Rotterdam. This luxury 5-star hotel is conveniently located in the heart of Rotterdam city centre.

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

One of the easiest ways to reach Rotterdam is by flying to Holland with KLM from the UK. I flew into Amsterdam Airport Schiphol from my local airport in Cardiff with KLM.

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.

You can buy your train tickets at Schiphol Airport, in advance online, or you can buy an Eurail pass that covers you for train travel in Holland and the rest of Europe.

You can also reach other Dutch cities from the airport and from Rotterdam Centraal including the Hague and Utrecht. The cities in Holland all seem so close to each other, easily reached and so well connected.

Holland Pass

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%.

Visit Rotterdam

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. 

Planning your trip to Rotterdam

Ready to book your trip to Rotterdam? Use these awesome travel resources to get you started:

Check out all the best travel resources on my bumper travel resources page!

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There are so many places to visit in Rotterdam including unique architecture, art and design, fabulous food, sustainability and innovation. See the best things to do in Rotterdam, what to eat and what to see so that you can plan your dream trip to this innovative Dutch city. #Rotterdam #Holland #Citybreak #Europe #Europetravel #travel

There are so many places to visit in Rotterdam including unique architecture, art and design, fabulous food, sustainability and innovation. See the best things to do in Rotterdam, what to eat and what to see so that you can plan your dream trip to this innovative Dutch city. #Rotterdam #Holland #Citybreak #Europe #Europetravel #travel

There are so many places to visit in Rotterdam including unique architecture, art and design, fabulous food, sustainability and innovation. See the best things to do in Rotterdam, what to eat and what to see so that you can plan your dream trip to this innovative Dutch city. #Rotterdam #Holland #Citybreak #Europe #Europetravel #travel

Disclaimer: This content is sponsored by KLM. All opinions remain my own as usual. This post may contain affiliate links that earn me a small commission but come at no additional cost to you. By clicking these links you are supporting Pip and the City and helping to keep the content free. Massive thanks for your ongoing support.