Top 12 Best Things To Do in Rotterdam

Rotterdam is located in the southern Netherlands and is the second largest city in the country after the capital Amsterdam with a population of approximately 630,000. Rotterdam has been a major city for many hundreds of years and has always served as a large port as it lies on the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt river delta.

Since the 1300’s the port of Rotterdam has developed and served as a major port of the Dutch East India Company. During WWII Rotterdam saw extensive bombing and its center was almost completely destroyed, however after this the city was slowly rebuilt and once again stands as a modern port.

Aside from its fascinating port, Rotterdam also features some fantastic architecture like the modern cube buildings and the Euromast Tower, but also has a wonderful variety of museums, eateries and activities to enjoy.

Below a list with the Top 12 Best Things To Do in Rotterdam:

1. Markthal Rotterdam

Markthal Rotterdam
Source: flickr

The Markthal is a stunning piece of architecture that was constructed in 2009 and serves as both an office building and a marketplace. The design of the structure is quite unique with a large semi-circular grey facade and a large windowed section facing out to the surrounding courtyard. The inside of the structure has some amazing artwork by Arno Coenen and shows various colorful fruits, plants, insects and flowers.

The market section of the Markthal contains a huge array of shops, stalls, restaurants and bars such as a Tea bar, a tapas bar, a “world of drinks” shop and over 70 other different businesses. It really is a cool and vibrant place to explore and sample some find food and drink.

2. Rotterdam Zoo

Rotterdam Zoo
Source: flickr

Also known as the Diergaarden Blijdorp, the Rotterdam Zoo had stood for many years despite having to change locations during WWII to avoid bombing. The zoo is in great condition and features a Botanical garden and Oceanium and also operates breeding programs to help endangered species such as the Red Panda.

The zoo is split into several different themed areas including a Chinese garden, a Malayan Forest, Mongolian Steppes and a crocodile river. Animals include the Black Rhino, Greater Kudu, Sumatran Tiger, Asian Elephant and the Amur Leopard. This zoo really is a fantastic place for both children and adults alike and the wide variety of enclosures and interactive elements will provide hours of fun.

3. Euromast Tower

Euromast Tower
Source: flickr

The Euromast Tower is an observation station that was created in 1960 to provide panoramic views of the Rotterdam Cityscape. The towers stands at 606ft and with its antenna it is the tallest building in Rotterdam. The tower features a restaurant, a conference room for business meetings, a hotel suite and of course the observation deck.

This is the perfect way to see the sprawling expanse of Rotterdam and its ports and the entrance fee is quite modest for both adults and children. If you are looking for a little adrenaline action you can even zip-line or abseil from the tower!

4. Erasmus Bridge

Erasmus Bridge
Source: flickr

This monumental bridge spans the Nieuwe Maas distributary of the Rhine and runs from the confluence of the Noord and Lek rivers. The length of this impressive bridge stretches to an immense 802m making it the second largest in the Netherlands. The bridge is nicknamed the Swan due to its large upright mast that resembles the neck of a swan.

In the centre of the bridge there is a bascule section that opens to allow larger ships passage through the waters. This feat of modern engineering creates an impressive backdrop to the port of Rotterdam and is a fine construction to admire and walk across.

5. Rotterdam Central Station

Rotterdam Central Station
Source: flickr

Rotterdam is a city that is full of modern and unique architecture and the central station is one such building. The new terminal was opened in 2014 and its architecture has become quite iconic. The building has a triangular shape that points towards the sky at a protruding angle.

The clock and the large letters that are set in the station entrance were transferred from the old station to retain some of its memory. The station connects to many other destinations in the Netherlands including Amsterdam, Den Haag, Groningen and Tilburg and sees 100,000+ passengers come through its doors on a daily basis.

6. Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk

Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk
Source: flickr
The Church of Saint Laurence is the only remaining piece of medieval architecture that survives in Rotterdam. The church was constructed in 1449 and was added too over the years.

The church was one of the first all-stone buildings to be created in Rotterdam and has served as a place for many important events. Located in the old town centre, near the Maritime Museum and the Erasmus Bridge, the church stands out against the relative modern skyline of Rotterdam.

The interior of the church is quite beautiful with many decorated arches, high vaulted ceilings and a variety of stone reliefs and rich religious decoration.

7. Europort

Europort
Source: flickr

The area labelled the Europort is an area of the ports in Rotterdam and is considered one of the busiest ports in the world and a major trade entry point into Europe.

The port is huge beyond belief and is a fascinating place to visit, to understand its importance and the role it plays in the cities and countries economy.

Boat tours are a great way to view the port and you will see many immense cargo ships, the large number of quays, storage facilities and boat yards and be blown away by the sheet scale and operation of this industrial marvel.

8. Maritime Museum

Maritime Museum
Source: flickr

The Maritime Museum is one of the largest of its type in the world with a huge collection of cartography, maritime memorabilia and art. The museum is located in central Rotterdam near the Markthal and the Cube houses.

Some of the interesting exhibitions include a controversial paiting of the Battle of Trafalgar, a collection of figureheads from various ships, different navy uniforms and flags from sea battles.

This really is a place full of interesting objects relating to the maritime world and the artefacts you can find here are world-class.

9. Kinderdijk’s Windmills

Kinderdijk's Windmills
Source: flickr

Windmills are an iconic structure that has come to define the Netherlands and is one of the main things people associate with the country. Around 20km to the east of central Rotterdam lies the small village of Kinderdjik which is a charming place to visit in its own right. What makes this village an especially magical place however is the many windmills that line the canals here. The 19 windmills stand proudly and have been restored to their original condition and are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This truly is a delightful place to visit and the surrounding countryside and network of canals is extremely impressive.

10. Museum Boymans-van Beuningen

Museum Boymans-van Beuningen
Source: flickr

This peaceful and charming museum is located in the Dijkzigt district of Rotterdam and is one of the country’s most important museums of art. The museum contains a fine display of sculptures, paintings and decorative arts from many different artists and countries including works from Van Gough, Dali and Rembrandt. Notable pieces include the “Tower of Babel” by Pieter Bruegel, and “Couple with their heads full of Clouds” by Dali. Aside from the fantastic collection of art, the building and grounds of the museum are really impressive and a pleasant place to walk around.

11. The Witte Huis

The Witte Huis
Source: flickr

This wonderful building is one of the only buildings to survive the Blitzkrieg in WWII in central Rotterdam and stands proudly as a reminder of the cities heritage and history. The striking Art Nouveau style of this building, make it easily recognisable and the white façade, ornate turrets and decorative roof give it great character. The beautiful design of this building and its extensive history have made it a National Heritage Site and was the first high-rise building in Europe.

12. Cube House Rotterdam

Cube House Rotterdam
Source: flickr

The cube house is as you would expect – A set of houses that are cuboid fashion. This bizarre and eccentric housing block was designed by Piet Blom and the cubes that it is formed from are tilted at a 45 degree angle. The cubes are like no other type of house you will see and they really are an interesting concept; it makes you wonder how the people living here cope with the strange angles of the walls and windows. From afar the structure looks like some old 2D computer game and one of the cubes is open to the public so you can see what the interior is like.