Rotterdam is a city located in the western part of the Netherlands. It is the second most populated city in the country and a major commercial centre, home to one of the busiest ports in the world.
Rotterdam is a destination that is rarely included in tourist itineraries to discover the Netherlands, although the city is a lively destination with plenty of activities to do. Rotterdam is not famous for its historical heritage as most of the old sites were destroyed by German bombing during World War II, but more for its modern and avant-garde appearance.
The development of the city began in the 19th century, thanks to the impetus of the Industrial Revolution and the expansion of Germany. A large influx of workers came here during those years and Rotterdam’s growth did not come to a halt until World War II, when the Luftwaffe bombed it several times, leaving it half-destroyed.
From the damage caused by the war, however, the municipality pursued the idea not so much to rebuild what had been lost, but to create a ‘new’ and better Rotterdam. From 1950 to 1970 the city was practically completely rebuilt.
Today, the city is known for being a location with buildings and works constructed by famous architects in recent times and for being an ideal destination for those who love architecture and shopping thanks to the presence of numerous boutiques of major brands.
The Church of St Lawrence also known as Sint-Laurenskerk is, together with the Town Hall, one of the few medieval buildings that have survived. Built between about 1449 and 1525 in late Gothic style, the religious building was a true masterpiece of medieval Rotterdam due to its size and magnificence. The church on Grotekerk Square was bombed during World War II but was later restored and became a symbol of the city’s rebirth.
On the outside, you can admire the bronze doors made by Italian artist Giacomo Manzu in the 1960s with panels entitled ‘war and peace’ depicting the horrors of war and the joys of peace. Inside, there are valuable works such as the largest organ in the Netherlands, the baptismal font by Hans Petri and the 17th century tombs of Witte de With, Egbert Kortenaer and Johan van Brakel, three important army officers.
Not to be missed is a visit to the Sint-Laurenskerk tower, which at 64 metres high offers a spectacular view of the city and the surrounding area. Walking up the inner staircase, which has almost 300 steps, you can admire the three large bells and the carillon by François Hemony built in 1660 and still in perfect working order.
The knowledge of a destination also passes through its gastronomic heritage, which is why we recommend a stop at the Markthal, a large covered food market located in the historic Laurenskwartier district. Inside there are almost a hundred stalls selling vegetables, meat, fish, cheese, fruit and other foods, but there are also small restaurants, kiosks, bars and a supermarket in the basement.
The building, opened in 2014 and designed by the Dutch studio MVRDV, covers a total area of 95,000 square metres The exterior façade is made of natural grey stone, which is the same material used for the market floor and the surrounding public space. It is very popular with locals and tourists alike.
Coolsingel, also called the ‘Cool’ quarter of the city, is part of the historic centre of Rotterdam, as this is where the new town hall (Stadhuis) is located, which was built between 1914 and 1920 in Renaissance style. The building is famous for having miraculously survived the bombing of the city during World War II. Opposite the town hall, you can admire the war memorial designed by Mari Andriessen.
The neighbourhood is also famous for being home to the famous Lijnbaan shopping street, which is one of the oldest pedestrian streets in Europe and is characterised by the presence of numerous boutiques and shops of major brands; in addition, there is also a branch of the Dutch department store chain De Bijenkorf (literally ‘the hive’), designed by the famous architect Marcel Breuer in 1958.
One of Rotterdam’s landmark buildings is undoubtedly the tower known as Euromast located next to the tunnel that crosses the river Maas. Euromast was built around 1960 and is a 185-metre high tower with a rooftop terrace, two restaurants and a hotel with a few intimate suites.
Visiting this special tower means admiring a breathtaking view of the entire city and surrounding area. The most fearless can climb aboard the Euroscoop, a special lift made of transparent glass walls that rotates 360° and allows passengers to enjoy a truly unique experience.
Rotterdam’s oldest and most historic district is Delfshaven, which miraculously remained unscathed by German bombing during World War II and has retained its authentic appearance. Here, you can still find narrow cobbled streets surrounded by historic buildings, typical restaurants, small shops and the old city harbour that was once the departure point for many fishermen.
Walking through the narrow streets of the district, it is easy to reach the Church of the Pilgrim Fathers, a place of historical significance since it was here that the Pilgrim Fathers gathered in 1620 before setting off for the Americas. Another historical fact for which Delfshaven is famous is that this is said to be the birthplace of Admiral Piet Hein, a brave soldier who fought in the 16th century during the war against Spain.
There is an area of Rotterdam known as Museum Park that houses six museum sites of different types and topics. The museums present are:
Other museums to consider in Rotterdam are:
Among the most modern and distinctive buildings in Rotterdam are the famous Cubic Houses (Kijk-Kubus), which are located in the Oude Haven district and are considered a true masterpiece of local architecture. These special houses designed by the Dutch architect Piet Blom are located in the Old Harbour area and are formed by 45-degree inclined cubes of a deep yellow colour.
One of these cubic houses known as the Show Cube (or Kijk-Kubus) can be visited inside where there is a tour explaining the history and design of these particular creations, while most of the other houses have been converted into accommodation where it is possible to stay for a truly special experience.
Once you have visited the older part of Delfshaven, you can move on to the more modern part of the city by crossing the Erasmus Bridge, which was named after the philosopher Erasmus. Theologian, humanist and essayist Erasmus was born in Rotterdam in 1466 and is particularly famous for his work ‘In Praise of Folly’.
The bridge was designed by the Dutch architect Ben van Berkel and is also known as ‘the swan’, as it consists of a 140-metre high pylon resembling the neck of a swan. Crossing the bridge you reach the more modern district of Kop Van Zui where famous architects have built tall skyscrapers and impressive architectural works that make Rotterdam a metropolis with a truly modern skyline.
One of the best ways to admire the bridge and the Kop Van Zui district is in the evening by taking one of the many boat tours that allow you to see the whole city lit up.
Located at the foot of the iconic Erasmus Bridge, Remastered Rotterdam is an immersive multimedia experience not to be missed, designed to blur the boundaries of perception and stimulate curiosity in the works of art represented.
You will stroll under a waterfall, experience an adventure with Hieronymus Bosch’s otherworldly creatures, learn to travel through time and surround yourself with paintings by old Dutch masters such as Van Gogh and Mondriaan. The show entertains, intrigues and astounds visitors at every turn, with 22k 360° resolution and immersive sound.
Rotterdam Zoo, Diergaarde Blijdorp in Dutch, is one of the oldest and largest zoos in the Netherlands, with an area of about 28 hectares.
Founded in 1857, it houses a wide variety of animals from all over the world, including elephants, lions, tigers, gorillas, polar bears, penguins and many others. There are also many attractions and special exhibits, including an aquarium, a rainforest, a butterfly garden and much more.
Rotterdam Zoo is committed to nature conservation and cooperates with many international organisations for the protection of animals and endangered species. The park also offers educational programmes for visitors, including guided tours and educational workshops for schools.
The city’s homage to its most illustrious citizen, Erasmus of Rotterdam, can be found in the Grotekerk square, in front of the late Gothic church dedicated to St. Lawrence, the city’s patron saint, where sculptor Keijser’s bronze Erasmus Statue18 reproduces the figure of the humanist theologian.
Two other famous statues can be found in the city: the first is De Verwoeste Stad19 by the French-Belarusian sculptor Zadkine in 1953, who was inspired when he visited Rotterdam shortly after the Second World War. The statue, in cubist style, depicts a man in agony who has just lost his heart (a symbol of the bombed city centre); it still evokes strong feelings in Rotterdam.
The second statue is a work by Picasso (made in collaboration with Norwegian artist Carl Nesjar), Sylvette20, the name of the painter’s muse, erected in 1973.
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
There are several reasons why a cruise in the port of Rotterdam can be an interesting and unique experience: consider that the port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe and one of the largest in the world. From the water you have the opportunity to enjoy unique views of the city from the Maas River, admire the skyscrapers and see the city from a different perspective.
Moreover, the cruise is also a great opportunity to relax while sitting on the boat, perhaps after a day spent sightseeing.
Of all the cruises you can take in Rotterdam, the one below is the best-selling as well as one of the cheapest.
Alternatively, choose the one that suits you best: if you wish, combine your cruise with entry to other Rotterdam attractions or, why not, cruise the Maas River by an alternative means!
The choice of accommodation in Rotterdam is really wide: it ranges from inexpensive hostels, especially suitable for young people looking for fun, to hotels in all price ranges. You can also try the experience of sleeping in smart hotels with excellent wifi coverage where you can check in yourself 24 hours a day using the tablets available at the entrance and manage lights, TVs and curtains with home automation.
Rotterdam is not an endless metropolis, so it is quite easy and quick to move from one area to another, but each area has its own particular identity that it is good to know in order to find the most suitable hotel for the type of holiday you want to take. The best areas to sleep in Rotterdam are Centrum, Noord and Delfshaven.
The centre is the preferred choice of many tourists, convinced that it is always a good idea to stay in the heart of the city. In fact, this is also true in Rotterdam if you are looking for comfort and amenities, but don’t expect a quaint medieval centre with romantic alleys and views: the centre of Rotterdam was rebuilt after World War II and is therefore very modern.
The city is served by an international airport located 6 km north of the city centre. There are direct flights to and from several European cities, mainly thanks to the Dutch airline Transavia. The RET Bus 50 and 33 are the service provided as a shuttle to and from the airport to the centre.
A good alternative for getting to the city is also the train, which provides high-speed connections from many European and Dutch cities including Amsterdam, from which it is only an hour away.
Speaking of Amsterdam, it is also easy to get to Rotterdam from the Dutch capital using a rental car: you travel via the A4 motorway heading south, passing through The Hague and taking just under an hour in all.
Like any city in the Netherlands, getting around by bicycle in Rotterdam is easy and efficient, and it is probably the fastest means of transport within the city. There are separate bicycle lanes from most of the main roads, and rental offices are located near the central station.
The RET company runs public transport within the city, including the five metro lines. As in the rest of the Netherlands, unless you only plan to take public transport a couple of times, it is worth buying the OV Chipkaart, a debit card used to pay for transport.
His name in Latin makes him sound like a character from the Harry Potter books, but there is little that is magical and much that is intellectual in the life of Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, better known as Erasmus of Rotterdam.
A key figure of European Humanism at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries, he was an important theologian, philosopher and essayist. He travelled extensively and lived for longer or shorter periods in France, England, Switzerland and Italy.
His education took place in an ecclesiastical environment and Erasmus eventually took vows, but he was always critical of the church and its dogmatism. He anticipated some aspects of Lutheranism, but never sided with either the Catholics or the Lutherans. In 1517, he abandoned his religious habit.
His best known work is In Praise of Folly, written in a single week. It was a bestseller at the time, with translations in several languages and numerous editions, and has become a fundamental text for anyone studying philosophy. It is a shrewd and biting critique of the church and many aspects of contemporary society.
What's the weather at Rotterdam? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Rotterdam for the next few days.
Rotterdam is located in the province of South Holland (Zuid-Holland), on the southwest coast of the country, along the Nieuwe Maas River, which is part of the Rhine River delta. The city is located about 80 km southeast of Amsterdam and about 25 km southwest ofThe Hague, the country's political capital.
City Card allow you to save on public transport and / or on the entrances to the main tourist attractions.