If you have ever thought about visiting the Netherlands, then Amsterdam might be at the forefront of your mind. However, Rotterdam is a city with plenty of appeal and one that is well worth a visit. This beautiful city, located in the southern part of the country, is home to the largest port in Europe. Because of this, it has become a popular destination for European cruise ships. When it comes to things to do in Rotterdam, this fantastic city is certainly not lacking.
Something a little bit different about Rotterdam when compared to other Dutch cities is the presence of skyscrapers, so lovers of architecture will appreciate the cityscape. The almost complete devastation of the city during World War II led to many world-famous architects designing some truly spectacular buildings as part of the city’s regeneration. Names such as Piet Blom, Rem Koolhaas and Ben van Berkel all contributed to the regeneration of Rotterdam.
Today, there are plenty of things to do in Rotterdam including organised tours, shopping, and harbour and beach-related activities; at the end of the day, this city really does have something for everyone. Due to its coastal location, it has a temperate oceanic climate, with average daytime temperatures ranging from 6oC in the winter to 22oC in the summer.
Rotterdam is a city full of history and culture and it is a popular choice with those looking for a city break, probably on the same level as Barcelona when it comes to city breaks (click on the link for 10 cool things to do in Barcelona). If you are thinking of heading there for a break, and you really should, you will find plenty to keep you occupied. With so many things to do in Rotterdam, I guarantee that you will never get bored. Below I list but a few examples:
Built between 1958 and 1960 for the 1960 Floriade festival, Euromast became a listed monument in 2010. The Euromast was originally built to a height of 101 metres, but in 1970 the addition of the Space Tower raised the height to 185 metres. The structure has a fabulous ‘crow’s nest’ observation platform at 100 metres, which can be reached in 30 seconds via the Euromast lift. This gives visitors the chance to enjoy panoramic views over the city and beyond. There really are fantastic views to be had.
For those who want to get that little bit higher, there is a revolving lift that takes you to the Space Tower. And for those who fancy a bit more adventure and are not afraid of heights, you can abseil down the tower! Adult entry to Euromast is €9.50, with the price for children aged 4-11 being €6.10. However, for those that want to do the abseiling thing, the price is €52.50.
As well as the observation platform and Space Tower, Euromast has a fabulous restaurant that opens at 11.00am, Monday to Saturday. It serves, lunch followed by afternoon tea and then dinner. On Sundays, the brasserie opens from 10.00am to serve brunch. Definitely one of the things to do in Rotterdam for those not afraid of height.
Hoek van Holland
Hoek van Holland, or Rotterdam Beach as it is also known, is an expansive stretch of beach popular with both locals and tourists. During the summer months, Hoek van Holland gets busy with people enjoying the promenade, beach, sand dunes, and sea. However, don’t think for one minute that the area is only busy in the summer. During the other seasons, this part of the city is also popular with those who just love to chill out and watch the ships passing in and out of the Port of Rotterdam.
Hoek van Holland also has a number of museums for those who want to spend some time away from the crowded beach. With plenty of choice in terms of exhibitions and collections, museum lovers will adore Hoek van Holland.
For those of you with an interest in all things architecture, Erasmusbrug (Erasmus Bridge) is definitely one of the fascinating things to do in Rotterdam. This fabulous bridge is 802 metres in length and connects the north and south parts of the city. The suspension bridge has been nicknamed ‘The Swan’ because of the shape created by its 139-metre pylon secured with forty cables. This superb feat of engineering is one of the most iconic features of the city and is well worth a look. It has even been featured in various films including Jackie Chan’s Who Am I?
One of the best ways to see any city is on g a tour bus, but Splashtours are the norm in Rotterdam. Join up to 41 other people on a bright yellow bus that allows you to see more of this fabulous city by seamlessly transitioning from bus to boat back to bus as it traverses the street and the local waterways!
Splashtours provide Dutch and English commentary and a tour usually takes about sixty minutes taking tourists around the city to see the sights. At the end of the city tour, the bus will plunge into the River Maas, allowing passengers an alternative view of the city. There are catering options available on the bus including coffee and cakes, afternoon tea, lunch or dinner.
There is also the option to combine a Splashtour with a visit to Euromast or with a game of mini-golf or laser shooting. Prices start from €24.50 per adult for a standard Splashtour.
If you want something different when considering things to do in Rotterdam, a visit to Rotterdam Zoo will amaze you, with a variety of creatures that include Malayan tapirs, gorillas, red pandas, and Asian elephants. Visitors will also enjoy a number of activities such as feeding sessions and meetings with the keepers. Animal feeding takes place throughout the day, which include the sea lions, penguins and pelicans.
There are also other activities, including the opportunity to meet the vulture keeper, and there is a shark-feeding presentation every Wednesday and Friday. On Sundays, visitors can watch the piranhas getting fed, followed by the elephants taking a bath.
Entrance tickets to Rotterdam Zoo are €22.00 for adults (reduced to €20.00 for online tickets). Kids get in for €17.50 (reduced to €15.50, when purchased online).
Rotterdam is famous for its wonderful food markets and shops, notably the amazing indoor market hall, De Markthal. With around 100 fresh food stands, fifteen food shops and a host of fabulous restaurants, De Markthal is definitely a big hit with ‘foodies’ looking for things to do in Rotterdam. It is open every day until 8.00pm, and as well as the many opportunities to taste and buy delicious food, there is also a sprawling collection of artwork across the ceiling, often referred to as the ‘Dutch Sistine Chapel’.
Fenix Food Factory is another food hub in Rotterdam. This is run by seven food entrepreneurs, including Kaapse Brouwers brewery, Jordy’s Bakery, Stielman coffee roasters, and Firma Bijten butchers. You can enjoy delicious local produce such as bread, cheese, coffee, cider and fresh fruit and veg, all in a former warehouse overlooking the River Maas.
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- Rotterdam Night Skyline: By Mlefter – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28965299
- Euromast: By G.Lanting (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
- Rotterdam Beach: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mjmoers/
- Erasmus Bridge: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lukeprice88/
- Splashtours: By S.J. de Waard (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
- Rotterdam Zoo: By Wikifrits – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15073973
- Markthal: By Steven Lek (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons