A city guide to Rotterdam

Lydia Wilkins

If you're struggling to think of a great place to go on holiday this year, put Rotterdam on the top of your list, we've compiled an itinerary just for you

Rotterdam is a city brimming with history; only parts of the “old city” remain, in part due to a bombing campaign during World War Two. The city has since re-built what was destroyed and it’s now an up-and-coming tourist destination, thanks to the relatively new Eurostar station. Rot-terdam is known for its architecture, as well as its multi-cultural feel. Add to this the crackdown on louche behaviour by tourists in Amsterdam—a 45-minute train ride away—the city is gradually becoming more popular.

 

Where to stay

If you’re curious about the canals winding throughout the city, then make sure you stay in H2OTEL; dubbed the floating hotel in the city’s centre, where you can wake up on the canal. Located in a peaceful neighbourhood, there is a bar, as well as a restaurant for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you prefer something that is more unusual, consider staying inside the Cube Houses’ hostel; you can always view one of the houses instead, should you prefer. Hotel New York is also rated highly by travel writers. 

 

Culture

The Cube Houses are definitely worth a visit if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary. They’re located just outside Rotterdam Centraal Station. Designed by architect Piet Bloom, these houses are constructed at a ninety degree angle, complete with a yellow exterior. The en-try costs vary depending on age, however it is worth it if you have a spare 45 minutes. 

The Erasmusbrug (or the Erasmus Bridge) is a must see, especially if you like walking. Connecting the North and South parts of Rotterdam, the height of the bridge means you can see across the city. It’s a very peaceful place. 

Oude Haven translates as “Old Port”; this is where the old and newer city intersect. It’s an almost noiseless area, leaving behind the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s hard to believe that this is just a little walk outside the city’s centre! Free to walk through; you can catch a water taxi here, too. Nearby are the Flags Of Peace, and the Marathon Monument, which are free to view. 

If you have an interest in photography, do not miss the Netherlands Photo Museum. Its website states that it has a collection of five and a half million photographs, with approximately ten exhibi-tions held each year. 

 

Activites

Rotterdam is a haven for the illicit street art scene; scattered throughout the city, there are constantly changing pieces that are free to view. The styles are different, the colours vividly bold.

And if that’s not enough, there are also street art tours. Rotterdam is the city that acts as an elaborate gallery for spontaneous art. Rewriters Rotterdam is a local organisation, complete with a street art route; you can download their app here

Other activities include walking tours, De Doelen, the Martime Museum, the SS Rotterdam Escape Room, the Euromast, the Aquarium and zoo. There is also a Theatre and Cinema. 

 

What to see

If you were the child who dreamt of flying away on the magic carpet, then you have come to the right place; located in the square between the opera house and the theatre, the Flying Grass Carpet is an expansive area of astro-turf. Landmarks from around the city are set out in the grass but can you work out which ones they represent?

Crowdfunding is responsible for a lot of things; one of the most eye catching results is De luchtsingel. It’s a yellow bridge, a short walk away from Amsterdam Centraal Station. Connecting the North end to the city’s centre, the names of the contributors are listed in the panels making up the bridge. 

The Marathon Monument and the Flags of Peace are nearby. Both located on Oude Haven, the Marathon monument has the names of Marathon winners engraved on the base. 

The Flags of Peace is a project exploring the question of how we define peace, how it’s symbolised. Compiled by design agency Trapped In Suburbia, this project has the objective to gather a flag exploring these ideas from every global nation. A continual work-in-progress, there are more flags to come. 

If you consider yourself to be a “bookworm”, drop in at De Slegte Rotterdam. A second hand, independent bookshop, this bookshop is the “comeback kid” of bookshops in the city. It sells everything from postcards to beloved political biographies. 

Make sure you visit the Stadhuis. Translated as City Hall, there is a small garden located inside. An oasis of calm, there are two statues of Greek Gods at either end, a fountain in the centre, and well-trimmed hedges around the edge. On your way out, make sure you visit the World War Two bronze memorial statue, located at the front of City Hall. 

Near to Stadhuis is Grote of Sint-laurenskerk; have a look inside the church if you’re passing by. Looking carefully at the front, you can see where the church is slightly beginning to sink, due to the way the city was built. 

 

Food and drink

If you only visit one place, make it the Markthal. The Market Hall is a market inside a dome-sloped building; a mural of various colourful images covers the celling. There are also residents who live inside the building, alongside office spaces, above the market. 

Nearly every type of food is sold at the Markthal, including spices, icecream, smoothies, Dutch delicacies, and Asian food; a huge range of tastes are catered for. Make sure you try Stroopwaffels, or even Olliebol.  ExGo’s Dragon Breath is also a highlight for the more adventurous. If you acted as a dragon as a child, you do not want to miss this store. 

Another recommendation is Blaak Markt, a regular food market close to Markthal.

De Ijssalon is an ice-cream parlour, with smaller branches dotted throughout the history; it offers a mix of traditional and newer flavours. It’s cheap, delicious, and should be on your list of places to visit in the summer. 

Encore is the ideal restaurant for dinner; a bar and a grill, there is a four part process to building your own bespoke meal. (First, choose the main, then your side, a vegetable, and your sauces.) The cocktails are a wonderful sight to behold, too; some are made up in front of you, and they are almost akin to a work of art. 

Other places you should stop at for food and drinks are: Hema (try the vanilla fudge!); Jamie Oliver’s; Baek (known for the best burger’s in Rotterdam); and Douwe Egberts Cafe, near Centraal station. And if all else fails, there are food stalls dotted throughout the city. 

 

How to get around

The Netherlands is infamous for its main mode of travel; cycling, and Rotterdam is no different. Make sure you visit the bikes below the station. There are a various cycle paths; other information can be accessed here. And you can hire a bike from a rental company

Make sure you explore Rotterdam Centraal station. The Eurostar may have opened only recently, but there is also the metro. There are shops inside, alongside the occasional piano. This is also the place to catch the Metro, as well as a tram ride. 

 

The unexpected parts of the city

If you consider yourself to be privy to the party scene, consider visiting Witte de Withstraat. This street is known for supporting—or rather being—a hub for nightlife. There are various places to eat, as well as art galleries, shops, and more.