The Top Things to do in Rotterdam

rotterdam cube house - one of the best things to do in rotterdam
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Thinking about visiting Rotterdam? There are some many great things to do in Rotterdam which is why I have created this helpful guide to ensure you get the most out of your visit.

This post shares top attractions in Rotterdam as well as some hidden gems to help you get the most out of your visit.

Looking for recommendations on food? Here are my must-eat Rotterdam restaurant recommendations.

Rotterdam is my favourite city in The Netherlands. Located in the province of South Holland, Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the country and one which is full of personality.

Far from the pretty, traditional buildings seen in Amsterdam and Utrecht, the port city of Rotterdam boasts a cool industrial feel with bursts of creativity.

view of the docks in rotterdam, netherlands

Top things to do in Rotterdam

How to get to Rotterdam

By Plane 

Rotterdam has its own airport (Rotterdam The Hague Airport) making it a great option for a quick city break from the UK. Rotterdam airport is a 15-minute drive from the centre of the city and easily accessible by taxi or by train and bus (30 minutes).

By Train 

If you are arriving into The Netherlands via Amsterdam Schipol you can easily take the train directly into Rotterdam. Train travel across Holland is reliable and affordable, tickets can easily be purchased from machines at all stations, however, if you prefer to be more organised as well as pay the best prices, you can purchase all your train tickets in advance from Trainline.com.

A direct train journey from Amsterdam Schipol to Rotterdam will take just 35 minutes and is priced at €13.00 each way.

By Ferry 

As Rotterdam is a port city, you can reach the city by ferry from the UK. Leaving from Harwich, Stena Line offers a variety of different ferry options including day and night transfers. Stena Line offers a great alternative to flying and if booked far enough in advance you can get some great prices.

When is the best time to visit Rotterdam

Being a city break destination, a weekend in Rotterdam is great at all times of the year. However, I personally enjoy the city most during the summer months (May to August). While there are both in and outdoor activities, some of the best things to do in Rotterdam are based outdoors and enjoyed most during the warmer weather.

If you a street art enthusiast you will want to visit Rotterdam in September when the annual POW WOW Street art festival is held. The global street art and music festival first started in Hawaii and then spread to different locations around the globe, Rotterdam is the first destination in Europe to hold the festival which celebrates the colourful form of art.

In May 2020 (12th-17th), Rotterdam will play host to the 65th Eurovision Song Contest at the Ahoy Arena. This will be a busy but fantastic time to visit the city if you are planning on visiting the Rotterdam during this time it is strongly advised to book your accommodation far in advance. 

If you are visiting Rotterdam in December, between the 13th-15th December the annual Dordrecht Christmas Festival is held. Located just outside of Rotterdam, this is the largest Christmas Market in Holland, consisting of over 200 stalls. Dordrecht can be reached within less than 30 minutes from Rotterdam.

Where to stay in Rotterdam

Mainport Design Hotel

For absolute luxury, the best hotel to stay in Rotterdam is the Mainport Design Hotel. Located in the city centre, the 5-star hotel offers stunning room views across the port and even has inbuilt saunas in the rooms.

sauna room in the rotterdam main port hotel

The hotel has a waterfront terrace and a private jetty which is accessible for taxi and party boats. The rooms at Mainport Design Hotel is individually decorated in a luxury setting.

All rooms are equipped with an XXL 4-layer signature bed, a whirlpool bath and walk-in shower. This hotel is incredible and the perfect place to relax after a busy day in Rotterdam.

StayOkay Rotterdam

Alternatively, if you are looking for a unique hotel in Rotterdam then you will want to book into the StayOkay. Situated in the city centre of Rotterdam, Stayokay Hostel Rotterdam is housed in one of the famous cube housesopposite Blaak Metro Station.  The StayOkay is a hostel but they do offer both dormitories and private rooms.

Click here to find the best price on both The Mainport Design Hotel and StayOkay Rotterdam.

How to get around in Rotterdam

Rotterdam is well connected by public transport and if you are only in the city for one day, I advise making the most of this to ensure you see as much as possible. The Metro is easy to navigate and extremely safe, for the best value purchase a one day Rotterdam Metro ticket at any station for €7.50. These tickets can be used on the Metro, Tram and Bus. 

Another popular and convenient way to get around Rotterdam is by the water taxi. I will also say it is the most fun as it goes wonderfully fast through the waters of Rotterdam. The taxi needs to be booked in advance, either through the website or by calling the phone number provided on the signs of each station.

Water taxi Rotterdam uses a fixed transport fee, this rate depends on the number of passengers and the distance covered. A short boat trip for two costs about €12 and an additional €2,50 per passenger on top.

Top tip: Ensure you are early / on time for your water taxi as it will not wait and you will not get a refund if you miss it.

If you are keen to use the Water Taxi as well as seeing the major sights then I would recommend booking onto the Cube Houses, Watertaxi and Markthal tour.

This 2.5 hours guided tour includes a panoramic view from one of the top floors of De Rotterdam, a water taxi ride under the Erasmus Bridge, a guided walk in the Old Harbour, entry into the cube houses as well as a meet and taste tour in the Markthal. The tour is priced at £27.99 per person meaning you will save a lot of money and receive a lot more information about the city.

Top things to do in Rotterdam Map

What to do in Rotterdam

Visit the Cube Houses

Let’s start with the most famous things to do in Rotterdam -the cube houses.

The Cube Houses designed by architect Piet Blom are based on the concept of “living as an urban roof”. Blom tilted the cube of a conventional house by 45 degrees and rested it upon a pylon. His design represents a village within a city, where each house represents a tree, and all the houses together, a forest.

the cube houses of rotterdam, one of the top things to do in rotterdam

Aside from the initial quirky idea, the Cube homes are actually practical as they were created to fully optimise all available space. One of the homes has been preserved as a museum in order to allow tourists to explore these homes of the future.

The nearest Metro stop for the Cube Houses is Blaak Metro Station. 

The Markthal

Located close to the Cube Houses is the Markthal. The Markthal is a unique horseshoe-shaped building which holds around  100 fresh food stands, nearly 15 food shops, various restaurants and a supermarket. It is a fantastic place to visit for a quick street food style lunch or to pick up traditional Dutch food souvenirs. 

Be sure to look up to take in the beautiful mural across the ceiling, the ‘Horn of Plenty’ by Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam.

bars inside the markthal in rotterdam

View The City From The Euromast

For one of the best views of the city then book a ticket for the Euromast. The Euromast one of Rotterdam’s icons, Aat 185 metres high, it’s the highest watchtower in the Netherlands and an essential part of the skyline of the city.

After taking in the views you can treat yourself to either lunch or dinner at the top of the tower.

Nearest Metro Station for the Euromast: Coolhaven.

See The City By Bike

When in Rotterdam for the day, do as the Dutch do and hop on a bike. There are so many bike tours available across Rotterdam and rightly so, it is a fantastic way to see the city in a limited time.

The best bike tours in Rotterdam: 

Rotterdam Highlights – Small Group 

Rotterdam Hidden Gems Bike Tour

Rotterdam Food Tour by Bike 

rotterdam cube house - one of the best things to do in rotterdam

Play Pinball

No day trip to Rotterdam would be complete without a bit of retro fun, so make sure you visit the Dutch Pinball Museum.

The museum is home to over 100 pinball machines, of which 80 are playable. Making it a great place for anyone who wants to play the machines, wants to get lost in an atmospheric ambience or wants to enjoy the nice view alongside a nice cup of coffee.

The pinball museum closes at 6 pm (5 pm on Wednesdays) therefore make sure you visit during the day time.

Nearest metro station: Wilhelminaplein

Take in the street art of Witte de Withstraat

There is so much street art in Rotterdam, so much so they hold a street art festival called Pow Wow each September. Throughout the rest of the year, bright mural walls can mainly be found in the bar area of Witte De Withstraat.

If you are a fan of a coloured wall then the Street Art Cities map is always helpful for finding the best locations.

Nearest Metro station: Eendrachtsplein

Walk The Luchtsingel Bridge

The Luchtsingel Bridge is a 400-metre long yellow bridge which was crowd-funded for by the people and businesses of Rotterdam. For €25 locals were able to purchase a yellow plank of wood with their name on it which would later become part of the bridge.

The bridge was designed to reconnect the three districts of Rotterdam and in turn, a three-dimensional cityscape has risen.

Nearest metro station: Rotterdam Centraal

Hop-On Board The SS Rotterdam

The fifth SS Rotterdam, also known as “The Grande Dame”, is a former ocean liner and cruise ship, and has been a hotel ship in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, since 2010. Aside from being a hotel visitors can also board the boat for tours, Afternoon Tea and an Escape Room.

ss rotterdam escape room

I booked onto the Escape Room on my last visit and loved the nautical themed challenge room. Guests are invited to the bottom of the SS Rotterdam to escape from the cold storage and win the treasure from the ship’s former captain.

As a regular at escape rooms across Europe, I highly enjoyed this challenging room which is available in both Dutch and English. If you have a spare hour during your day in Rotterdam I would highly recommend booking on to this.

Nearest metro station: Rijnhaven

Other top things to do in Rotterdam – Book your activities in advance:


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