When you visit the Netherlands, you will probably visit Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, but I suggest not to skip Rotterdam in your Netherlands itinerary. Rotterdam is the second largest city of the Netherlands and can not be compared to Amsterdam in terms of architecture, history and experience. In addition, an important event will take place in 2020: Rotterdam organizes the 65th edition of Eurovision.
In this article I will tell you what is so special about this city and I give tips what not to miss in the centre of Rotterdam.
“Rotterdam, the New York of the Netherlands”.
Port of Rotterdam
Internationally Rotterdam is probably best known for its port. It has one of the largest ports in the world and is of great economic importance to the Netherlands. The first ports were in the centre of Rotterdam, but later new port areas continued to emerge to the west and south. The land is even expanded in the North Sea for the newest port! Shipping and trade play an important role in the history of Rotterdam, and this still reflects in the city.
Bombing of Rotterdam in the second world war
On May 14, 1940, a large bombing took place on the centre of Rotterdam by German bombers. Almost the entire historic city centre was destroyed in only 15 minutes. An estimated 650 to 900 people died and about 24.000 houses were destroyed. The destruction of the old city centre means that there are hardly any historical buildings to be found. In contrast, Rotterdam highly developed in the field of modern architecture. Between the funky modern buildings there are still some traces of the old city. This makes Rotterdam a very special and unique city. It is said that Rotterdam is the New York of the Netherlands.
My number 1 tip to get to know a city is to do a city walk. The centre of Rotterdam is quite compact and therefore the highlights can be viewed within a 10km walk. A city walk is also the perfect way to view the modern buildings of which there are so many in Rotterdam. You can download a very complete city walk here. On your route you will find most of the tourist attractions below. In addition, the tourist information can inform about more routes, also for cycling.
The markthal is an ultramodern building in the shape of an airplane hangar. This building includes houses, shops, and an attractive food market. A real eye-catcher is the ceiling with a beautiful colourful painting. The markthal is open 7 days a week.
Whenever it is time for lunch, dinner or tea or coffee, the markthal is a good spot for taking a bite. And it is a nice opportunity to try some Dutch foods.
Related article: Traditional Dutch Food
Rotterdam Zoo – Diergaarde Blijdorp
The most beautiful zoo of the BeNeLux (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg), and one of the oldest zoos in the Netherlands can be found in the centre of Rotterdam. You should take a whole day to visit the zoo, because it is very large and there is a lot to see. Diergaarde Blijdorp is known for the beautiful animal enclosures and the successful breeding programs. More information about visiting the zoo can be found on their website.
The Euromast is the highest observation tower in the Netherlands and an essential part of the city skyline. The Euromast, designed by the architect H.A. Maaskant, was built in 1960 and was 100 meters high. In 1970 the tower was however expanded with a Space Tower, to a height of 185 meters, making it the highest observation tower in the Netherlands.
There is a viewing platform and a restaurant at the height of 100 meters. From the platform you have a great view of Rotterdam and the surrounding area. You can also go up to a height of 185 with a glass lift where you have a breath taking view. Meanwhile, the real thrill seekers can abseil from the tower every weekend in peak season. Please note that the Euromast is only accessible with a ticket, also the restaurant.
The Erasmus bridge has been decorating Rotterdam since 1996. The photogenic bridge designed by Ben van Berkel has the nickname ‘The Swan’. A visit to Rotterdam is not complete without seeing this bridge. The bridge is accessible for cars, cyclists and pedestrians, but the best place to view the bridge is from Noordereiland.
St Laurens church
The Laurenskerk is the only building in medieval Rotterdam that survived the bombing of 1940. Therefore given the history, a visit to the church or the nearby park is extra special and cannot be missing in your itinerary.
For a low admission price you can visit the church Monday to Saturday. In addition, in the months of March to October the tower can be climbed on Wednesday and Saturday under the guidance of a guide.
Museum Rotterdam is a good museum to visit if you want to learn more about the background of the city of Rotterdam. There are permanent exhibitions about the history and identity of the city including films about the Second World War. The museum has also a few changing exhibitions. For more information, check the website of Museum Rotterdam.
Maritime Museum Rotterdam is a shipping and harbour museum in the centre of the city. In the Maritime Museum you can visit various exhibitions for all generations. The exhibitions show the impact of shipping on the daily lives. Outside the museum in the museum harbour, various ships, cranes and lighthouses can be viewed in addition.
Due to the large number of exhibitions for children, I think the museum is most advisable for people with children and people who are interested in ships. More visitor information is on this website.
The white house
The white house has for a long time been the highest office building in Europe. It was the first skyscraper in Rotterdam and people came from far to view this beautiful building and the elevator that was very modern at that time. Miraculously, this building survived the bombing. Today it is still an office building, but there is a cafe and restaurant on the lower floor, therefore it is possible to visit the white house.
These architecturally remarkable cube houses are very famous and are depicted of almost every postcard. The architect Piet Blom designed the houses and they symbolize a forest, where each individual house represents a tree. Are you already wondering what they look like inside? The houses are privately owned, but one of the houses can be viewed inside.
Do you want more information about your visit to Rotterdam?
Do you need more information about the tourist attractions?
Are you interested in a custom-made Rotterdam itinerary?
Can I help you with finding accommodations or restaurants?
Please, feel free to contact me.