Rotterdam is the second biggest city in the Netherlands and home of the biggest port in Europe. It is also a very international, modern and beautiful city with all the perks of being a big European city: culture, architecture, gastronomy, art and more.
There are many reasons why Rotterdam is worth visiting: its unique architecture that mixes new and old styles, the state-of-the-art designs, the modern cuisine experience with an international touch, the shopping areas and the beautiful streets. It is definitely worth your time.
When visiting the Netherlands, you will have to make decisions and see what are your priorities. There is so much to see even though it is such a small country that you will be surprised! Rotterdam is definitely one of my recommendations, a city that has a lot to offer for people with any type of interests. A modern Dutch city with its own personality. If you want to find out why you should visit Rotterdam, keep reading this article!
10 Reasons to Visit Rotterdam
I could come up with hundreds of reasons why anyone should visit Rotterdam. Did you know that half of the Netherland’s favorite big city is Amsterdam but the other half likes Rotterdam better? It has a lot to offer in a unique way. Here are my reasons why you shouldn’t miss out:
I would go so far and say that Rotterdam is THE city if you are into architecture and this is not only in the Netherlands but also in Europe. It is definitely an interesting mix of different styles, modern and old, and how destruction can become a positive thing.
The city centre of Rotterdam was destroyed almost completely during World War II. The city of Rotterdam was bombed by friendly fire during an “accident”. Since the postwar, Rotterdam had to reconstruct itself from the ruins, adopting all the architectural movements and tendencies that raised during this time of empowerment and avant-garde.
Since then Rotterdam has been called the “heartless city” or stad zonder hart because instead of reconstructing the old buildings, they decided to create a new Rotterdam. Luckily so for architecture lovers, these are the most amazing buildings created since, that give a new personality and soul to this city:
- Rotterdam’s Central Station: just arriving at Rotterdam’s main station is worth your time. I swear you are not expecting such an environment architectural originality in the Netherlands. Rotterdam’s central station area is surrounded by modern designs, buildings, parks, tram stop and the building itself is worth a look. P.S. Even though the train station is 7 years old, the clock on it is 60 years old, from the original first central station.
- De Rotterdam: this is a must-see for those interested in modern architecture. This building was finished in 2013 and it is a symbol of the city and an awarded tall glass building. You can easily observe it from de Erasmus Bridge.
- Erasmus Bridge: possibly the most iconic bridge in Rotterdam. It is an 808 meters long bridge that closes the River Mass from North to South. Built between 1994-1996 and designed by Ben van Berkel, it is the tallest bridge in the Netherlands.
- Montevideo: no, it is not the capital of Uruguay but a building. It is another skyscraper with break and glass vertical lines that create a 153m tall building.
- De Markthal: another building finished during this decade of the century, a massive gem of architectural proportions 😉 From the outside, you are looking at a half a cylinder. From the inside, you are looking at a piece of art, tulips and beautiful pictures reflected on a curve ceiling. The best part, going there is a must because of the amazing 11,000m2 of food stands.
- Cube Houses: Dutch architect Piet Bloom created these 40 small yellow titled cubes that grow out of concrete pillars creating an architectural “tree”, shaped like tilted cubes, are each perched on concrete pillars, giving the impression of architectural ‘trees’ clustering together to make a yellow forest.
The Netherlands is not the most well-known country when it comes to their own cuisine, but thanks to my experience, I can tell you that you can find some of the best international cuisines there.
Rotterdam is one of the highlights, one of the cities with the most interesting international gastronomy, also thanks to its international position and thanks to being a melting pot of cultures. These are my recommendations:
- Market Hall: this is definitely my first recommendation. The market is inside the most amazing building (another recommendation) and holds up to 100 stalls of fresh products of all sort and from everywhere in the world, from sweets to Greek food, from coffee to Spanish salumi. I recommend you not eating for the whole morning and going straight there for the best lunch and the best view!
- De Jong: If you are looking for more of a romantic location, De Jong is the perfect intimate bistro. Located in the hip De Hofbogen area, the young chef Jim de Jong converted a former train station into a beautiful restaurant. The food focuses on seasonal produce and creative dishes feature flowers and herbs from the restaurant’s kitchen.
- Bazar: For a more exotic cuisine, this is your place. Bazar is a Rotterdam institution that buzzes any time of the day and night with locals and has the authenticity of a bustling souk with its colourful hanging lanterns and vibrant atmosphere. The vast menu includes varieties of North African and Middle Eastern dishes, from falafel pita sandwiches to Royal Persian lamb, all served with sweet mint tea.
Other recommendations can be Stir for one of the best cocktails you can imagine, Gastrobar Hartig for great dinner, Zeezout for fish and Hinoki for great noodles.
Same Reasons as Amsterdam
I would say that even though both cities are so different, they both have many many common reasons why anyone would want to visit them. These are some of the reasons why people love Amsterdam, and these are the Rotterdam version of them:
- Canals: yes, Rotterdam also has canals. This may be surprising because it is the most well-known by the harbor and the river Maas. If you go to the Old Harbour of Rotterdam, you will see the beautiful old canals.
- Bikes: like any other city in the Netherlands, Rotterdam is a fully bike-proof city. It is not only Amsterdam that suffers from peak hours and bike accidents, but also Rotterdam has many of those!
- International: Rotterdam, as well as Amsterdam, is a big international city. It has many international brands, people from all over the world, cuisine from all over the world and many universities. It is definitely a nice melting pot of cultures with a lot of cultural input for those who want to get to know the city (international art, Surinamese and Indonesian neighborhoods and more).
- Windmills: Kinderdijk is one of the most beautiful landscapes in the Netherlands, with 15th-century windmills all in line by the canals, just 15km away from the centre of Rotterdam. It is a World Heritage Site, a place worth visiting.
- Beer: It doesn’t only have a beer but some of the best nightlife. Irish pubs, Clubs, Cafes, Restaurant, Bars and everything opens every day of the week. Heineken beer is not only sold in Amsterdam anyway 😉
- Stroopwafels: yes! You can have delicious Dutch sweets in the local market that opens every day right in front of the Market Hall in the center of the city. If you want to get a taste of what is Dutch, this is a must.
- Design and Art: if you are into modern art and design, there are many galleries and exhibitions in Rotterdam that you won’t want to miss, such as Nederlands Fotomuseum, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art (my personal favorite and free once a month), Museum van Boijmans Van Benuingen, TENT and more.
- Shopping: All around the Markt Hall area there are streets with shopping centers among them (1) the van Oldenbarneveltstraat in the Mauritskwartier (for Dutch, Danish, Swedish and French brand), (2)Lijnbaan & Beurstraverse/Beursplein & Binnenwegplein (for high street and Dutch stores such as de Bijenkorf or HEMA), (3) Coolsingel shopping area or (4) Plaza & Kruiskade (the high-end fashion district of Rotterdam).
Rotterdam: My Opinion
Rotterdam or Amsterdam? both. I would recommend anyone to visit both cities because they are not comparable, visiting the only one you are going to miss a lot of great things that the other has. If you want to know more about them both or you are considering moving to one of them, my last article was all about these cities. Check it out here.
Besides, I would recommend going to Rotterdam and taking a little bit of side time to go visit Delft if you are into art or pottery, or Gouda if you love cheese. These two small cities are only 15 minutes away from Rotterdam and are two of my favorite spots in the Netherlands.