Rotterdam in the Netherlands is a city that has an extra-long list of things to do. You’ll see beautiful architecture, the river that flows through the city, the ports & the historical buildings, the museums, all competing to get your attention. One thing’s for sure —you are going to have a packed holiday! Whatever you choose to do make sure you don’t miss these top ten things to do in Rotterdam.
1. Take yourself on a Rotterdam boat tour
A great way to begin your tour of Rotterdam would be to see the city from the river that is an integral part of the city’s being — the Nieuwe Maas. A boat tour will show you more of this distributary of the Rhine, the city skyline & the harbors of Rotterdam.
Now, Rotterdam’s harbor is humongous. It’s said to be one of the largest ones in Europe, & one of the busiest too, so there should be no missing it. You can take a water taxi, a duck boat, or one of the city’s popular Spido harbor tours. Most of them will have a guide to tell you more about this great port city while you gaze at the docks, shipyards, shipping containers & cruises.
2. Get to the top Euromast
To see the city from another perspective, you have to go up the Euromast, which is an observation tower that treats you with sights of Rotterdam, its river & its ports from a height of 606ft. It’s one of the coolest things to do in Rotterdam!
Enhancing the experience is a revolving elevator that takes you to the top. Up there, you can even have a meal for there are some restaurants at the top of Euromast. There are even a couple of suites that let you stay up in the tower that was completed in 1960. Now, if you want more adventure, you can rappel down the Euromast instead of taking the elevator back down.
3. Take a look at the architectural marvel that is Markthal
Another super-famous building of this city in the Netherlands is Markthal — Rotterdam’s own market hall. There are a long list of things that’ll make you want to go see the building for yourself. First of all, the architecture is very modern and the market looks like it’s housed in a large tunnel made of stone & glass. What’s more — you have over 200 apartments coming together to make the outer structure of the market hall. And some of them even have windows overlooking the goings-on in the market, below.
That’s not all. If you walk in and look up at the ceiling above the stalls you will see the mural that gifted Markthal the nickname, Sistine Chapel of Rotterdam. This painting, which is the world’s largest mural, is called Hoorne des Overvloeds or Horn of Plenty, a picture of fruits, vegetables, butterflies & a few insects. It was put together by artists Arno Coenen & Iris Roskam in 2014 when the market hall opened.
4. Grab a bite at Fenix Food Factory
This is yet another indoor market, visiting which will be rewarding. This warehouse building is a food market and has in it several vendors selling food from all over the globe. You’ll find stroopwafel, sandwiches, meats, cheeses, baked foods & even beer at the Food Factory.
On certain days there are events held in here. And on warm days you can even sit outside and enjoy some fresh food while looking out into the old docks near here, a very relaxing thing to do in Rotterdam.
5. Lay your eyes upon Rotterdam’s Cube Houses
Among the architectural specimens that make it to tourists’ wishlist is a set of homes that look like yellow cubes placed on a building. These are the famous cube houses of Rotterdam. A piece of modern architecture, this depiction of a village in the city was a creation of architect Piet Blom. Apart from the shape of these houses, another distinctive part of this innovative project is the windows that also keep with the 45-degree tilt of the walls & roofs of the place.
If you’re curious to see what it would be like to be put up in these unique living quarters, there is one unit that you can actually tour. You can go see how the space is used and how much of the outside you can see through those angled windows.
6. Visit Rotterdam’s Museum Quarter
This is the part of town that has most of its museums. The well-known Boijmans Van Beuningen, Kunsthal, Natural History Museum & Het Nieuwe Instituut are all within walking distances of one another, so it’s one of the best things to do in Rotterdam.
And in the middle of the quarter is the Museum Park, an inviting green space with some water features, sculpture & birds. If the weather is good you can picnic here. Or you could just stroll through the park and enjoy the surroundings.
7. See the Erasmus bridge up close
From the Museum Park, you could go see the iconic Erasmusbrug or the Erasmus bridge that spans the Nieuwe Maas. You can walk across this around 800-meter bridge to get to the Southside of Rotterdam. Once on the other side, you might want to look for ‘the swan.’ If you look at the bridge from its sides you might see that bridge’s pylon looks like the neck of a swan.
This stylish bridge in Rotterdam is quite a beauty at night too when it’s all lit up. There are two other bridges across the Mass that you might like to see after you see the Erasmus.
8. Walk over the wooden bridge
There’s also a pedestrian bridge in the city that might be of interest to you. It’s called the Luchtsingel Bridge and it’s made of wood and painted yellow. The reason you might want to go see it is that it’s known to be the first crowd-funded bridge. The 400-meter bridge connects 3 different parts of the city.
It’s a pedestrian bridge and engraved on it are the names of the people who made it possible. With that bright color, the names & some graffiti, you’ll surely have some fun pictures to bring back from Rotterdam. Definitely a must on the list of things to do in Rotterdam!
9. Gaze at The Witte Huis
This white house is a world heritage site. It was built in 1898 and is said to have once been the tallest building in all of Europe. Another thing that makes it a symbol of the city is the fact that it was one of the few buildings that ended up not being razed to the ground during World War II.
Constructed in Art Nouveau style this landmark has 10 floors. Visitors can go up to a viewing area at the top of the building to take in the views. Or you could sit down to grab a bite at the cafe on the ground floor.
10. Walk into the SS Rotterdam
While you’re in Rotterdam, you also have the opportunity to get onto SS Rotterdam and tour it. SS Rotterdam is a retired cruise ship that is now made the Maas its permanent home and is open to visitors.
And inside this ship are some restaurants you could eat at when you go for a tour or when you stay there. Yes, you can also choose to spend a night at one of the cabins inside it to know what it’s like to sleep in a grand ocean liner that was built in the 1950s!