10 Things To Do in Rotterdam, The Netherlands

things to see in Rotterdam

Are you traveling to Rotterdam? These top 10 things to do in Rotterdam will be so useful for planning your trip.

Next to the capital city of Amsterdam, Rotterdam is the largest and most important city in the Netherlands.

However, this is not to say that you shouldn’t come here before spending days in Amsterdam. Rotterdam can hold its own as a leading tourist, leisure and business destination in Europe, especially because its massive Europoort facility is the largest port in the world.

Here are some exciting things to do in Rotterdam.

Top 10 Things to Do in Amsterdam

Top 10 Things to Do in Rotterdam, The Netherlands

1. Stroll along the Old Harbor

As a city known for its port, Rotterdam boasts of Old Harbor (Oude Haven), a must-see tourist destination.

Oude Haven is a cosy seaside area where locals come to meet, eat, drink and dance. The entire area is like an open museum, as moored on its dock are impressively restored historic ships and houseboats where locals live.

Old Harbor in Rotterdam

In summer, relax and spend hours sipping your favorite drink at any of the bar and restaurant terraces. You should definitely check out Noah, voted best cocktail bar in the Netherlands.

Stroll around the harbor to make friends with the locals, or simply watch them paint, repair or tend to their boats. As night falls, visit some nearby hotspots like Stockholm, Mooii and Popocatepetl for late drinks and dining.

You can reach Oude Haven in the Maritime District by metro, train or water taxi.

2. Visit Maritime Museums

There are two sea-related museums in the district.

A short walk from Oude Haven is Maritime Museum Rotterdam, an iconic establishment representing the city’s culture, history and industry. (You can buy the Entrance Ticket here).

Built in 1873, the museum is home to a large collection of shipping and seafaring items and artefacts, including ship models, a reconstruction of a 2,000-year-old vessel and several paintings depicting life at sea.

The other tourist attraction to see is the adjoining open-air Maritime Museum Harbor. Here you will see an old lightship, the well-preserved 19th-century ironclad Buffel and more than 20 historic vessels. One of the fun things to do in Rotterdam!

3. Check out Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen

Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen is a leading art museum and tourist attraction. Nestled in a beautiful building at Museumpark in the Dijkzigt district, this museum specializes specifically in Dutch and European art from the early Middle Ages to the 21st century.

Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen in Rotterdam

Important masterpieces are displayed by Van Gogh, Monet, Hieronymus Bosch, Rembrandt, Kandinsky, Dalí, Mondrian and Rothko. A visit here is like a magical journey from the world of the Dutch Masters, through Impressionism and Surrealism, to Modernism and De Stijl.

The museum was founded in 1849. The permanent works on display were from the personal collections of Frans Jacob Otto Boijmans, lawyer and art collector, and industrialist Daniël George van Beuningen. The modern building, which is now a modern landmark, opened in 1935.

4. Visit the Witte Huis

The Witte Huis (White House), an Art Nouveau-style building, is Europe’s first skyscraper built in 1898. It’s a historic and iconic city landmark, the only structure in central Rotterdam that survived the bombings in WWII.

The Witte Huis has a distinctive white façade, ornate turrets and decorative roof. It stands today representing the rich history and heritage of the Dutch people.

Located near Old Harbor, come to the Witte Huis to get a drink while enjoying the harbor view, boathouses and historic vessels. The Witte Huis is a National Heritage Site.

5. Wonder at Grote of Sint Laurenskerk

Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk or Great St. Lawrence Church is the only surviving piece of medieval architecture in Rotterdam. It was built in 1449 on once marshy ground and rebuilt in 1650.

Sint Laurenskerk Rotterdam

You can’t miss this stunning all-stone structure as it now stands out against the surrounding modern city skyline.

Step inside and be struck by the beauty of the bright interior coming from the colored glass windows. You will also see three Danish organs, the largest of which stands on a marble base on the inside wall of the tower, and bronze doors created by the Italian artist Giacomo Manzu.

One of the best things to do in Rotterdam!

6. Enjoy seeing the Cube Houses

The Cube Houses have become a unique and eccentric representative of Rotterdam and the city’s amazing architecture.

Cube Houses in Rotterdam

Coming from the adjacent Blaak Train Station or walking along the Old Harbor, your eyes will surely catch these tilted cube homes at an abnormal angle of 55 degrees. They were designed by Dutch architect Piet Blom.

You can walk inside one of the homes, the Show Cube, to see what it’s like from the inside. It serves as a museum that contains information on the design and history of the buildings. One of the best places to visit in Rotterdam!

7. Cross Erasmus Bridge

Named after Rotterdam’s most famous child, this monumental bridge is one of the most beautiful structures in the Netherlands.

Architects from all over the world love Erasmus Bridge, which is the second-longest bridge in the country. It is 802 meters long and 139 meters high.

Erasmus Bridge_places to visit in Rotterdam in one day

Locals call it the Swan because its large upright mast looks like a giant swan neck. Erasmus Bridge is even more spectacular at night with the lights on.

8. Wonder at Markthal

Markthal (or Market Hall), one of Rotterdam’s most popular gathering points, is a stunning architecture that represents the city’s modern urban ingenuity.

Market Hall_ must see in Rotterdam

It is a huge and impressive office complex with a soaring arched ceiling covering the food hall. Many consider it an architectural marvel.

The arch makes it look like a giant horseshoe, which is why locals nicknamed it “koopboog” (“horseshoe”).

Come here to appreciate the hall’s design and enjoy the food at classy restaurants serving everything from traditional Dutch favorites, Spanish tapas, and exotic Indonesian dishes.

9. Visit Rotterdam Zoo

Rotterdam Zoo or Diergaarde Blijdorp is well-known all over Europe. Come here to see the animals and spend quality time with friends or family at the Chinese garden, Oceanium, a crocodile river and other attractions.

Rotterdam Zoo is famous for its unique animals such as the black rhino, Sumatran tiger, Amur leopard and the endangered Red Panda.

Skip the lines at one of Europe’s most exciting zoos with fast-track entry to Rotterdam Zoo.

10. Take a quick trip to Kinderdijk’s Windmills

Just 20 km from central Rotterdam are the world-famous windmills of Kinderdijk.

Kinderdijk is home to 19 gigantic windmills that were built in medieval times along the canals. This magical site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You can buy the entry tickets here and experience the beautifully preserved windmills in the Kinderdijk Village.

You won’t regret making a quick trip to this place. It’s one of the best day trips from Rotterdam!

Rotterdam is a popular destination for young visitors, hipsters and business travelers from all over Europe.

The above things to do in Rotterdam are just a few of the reasons why you should visit this exciting Dutch city.

Pre-travel guide of Rotterdam

fun things to do in Rotterdam

Best time to visit Rotterdam

Visitors come here all year round, but it is wise to schedule your visit during the summer months to avoid the rainfall and cold weather.

How to get to & around Rotterdam

Arrive through the Rotterdam Airport that connects with several cities in Europe. You can also come by train from Amsterdam or The Hague.

Moving around Rotterdam is easy as the city’s transport system is very efficient. There are scheduled trams, buses and trains all over the city.

Where to stay in Rotterdam

The best area to stay in is the Centrum or City Centre, where you can find several accommodations and excellent transport connections.

Stop worrying about what things to do in Rotterdam as you will definitely not run out of exciting options.

Check availability & prices of the most recommended hotels in Rotterdam.

Sara Rodríguez

A passionate traveler with a mission: Help you plan your next trip easily and enjoy it to the fullest.

In this travel blog you will find everything you need to get inspired and organize your next adventure. Read more about my story here.

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