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Are you looking for hidden spots in Rotterdam? Our city has infinite sights and tourist attractions, such as the Erasmus Bridge, the Markthal and the Euromast, but the city offers so much more! In recent months I have come across some beautiful, unknown places in Rotterdam. If you want to escape from the crowds or just want to see a side of Rotterdam that goes beyond modern architecture, visit the following hidden gems.
Please note: Some of the activities below may not be possible during the current crisis. Always follow the RIVM guidelines and keep one and a half meters distance of other people. Stay indoors if you have a cold or the flu. Save this article for when we can do lots of fun things again!
14 Hidden spots in Rotterdam
1. Eiland van Brienenoord
When you think of a beautiful nature on an island, the Van Brienenoord Bridge (where tens of thousands of cars drive on the A16 every day) is probably the last place you think of. Surprisingly, this island is located right below the Van Brienenoord Bridge!
As soon as you set foot on the island you discover a beautiful piece of nature where you can walk peacefully. You will not find many people on this island. On the path you will find wooded areas, grass fields, small pools, open waters and a nature playground. In addition, there are 40 different bird species, plants and butterflies that live in the nature reserve. Perhaps the most surprising habitants are the Scottish Highlanders who roam around and graze the grass all year round. There is enough to see here!
You can walk the whole island in 45 minutes. Make sure you bring your own food and drinks, because there are no restaurants. The island can be reached via the access bridge in Feijenoord at the end of the Hoendiep road.
2. Courtyard City Hall Rotterdam
The city hall is one of the few buildings in the center of Rotterdam that is still standing after the bombing in the Second World War. It’s also a building that most people have only admired from the outside.
Walk in and you will see that the city hall is a large square building with an intimate inner garden in the middle. The historic architecture and appearance of the courtyard almost make you forget that you are in Rotterdam. The fountain, statues and beautiful flowers such as roses and hydrangeas make the inner garden of Rotterdam City Hall an oasis of peace in the middle of the city.
3. Historische Tuin Schoonoord
The Historical Garden Schoonoord can be found near the Euromast Park. Despite its central location, it is a quiet oasis where you won’t encounter lots of other people. A beautiful place to walk around and enjoy all the greenery.
Schoonoord has been designated as a protected national monument due to its unique location, historical elements and special plants. In the garden you can find a rich collection of flora and fauna. There are also benches, bridges, a lush pond and several old trees. Really worth a visit!
4. Ons Park Noordereiland
The former construction site of the Willemsspoorttunnel has been transformed into a beautiful green park with the (temporary) name “Ons Park” (which means Our Park)! As you can see on the photo above, you have a beautiful view of the Willemsbrug from Ons Park on Noordereiland.
It is a small park and it is usually nice and quiet here, with just a few visitors going for a walk or a group doing a workout. It a great place to enjoy the view, the greenery and the bunnies that roam freely. A good time to visit is during the sunset.
5. Lührs Viewpoint
I actually want to keep the Lührs viewpoint a secret, but the view is too beautiful! Lührs is special, because you are on top of a 40-meter high hill and you won’t find those easily in Rotterdam. It is a bit of a climb before you reach the top. You will be rewarded with a magnificent view of the Rotterdam skyline and, if the sky is clear, the skyline of The Hague!
You escape the busy city and enjoy the nature, while the sun slowly hides behind the horizon. Be sure to also read my article with 6 beautiful sunset spots in Rotterdam.
6. The secret beach of De Heijplaat
Tired of the busy beaches in Rotterdam? Then the secret beach of ‘De Heijplaat’ behind the quarantine area is a good option to get a breath of fresh air in the winter or to take a splash in the summer. This river beach can’t be seen from the land and is surrounded by the harbor and river making it an isolated piece on the Maas.
If you visit the beach for the first time, it can be quite a search before you find it. The starting point is De Heijplaat, a large port where you travel between meter-high colorful containers, gigantic cranes and huge ships. If you walk through, you end up on the quarantine area where the harbor slowly flows into a forest with large trees and bushes on the water. Then you walk over a narrow path and you are rewarded with the beach and a beautiful view of Rotterdam and the Maas! A unique place for sunbathing, reading a book, walking or simply looking at the passing cargo ships over the Maas.
7. Trompenburg Tuinen & Arboretum
Compared to popular parks such as Kralingse Bos and Het Park, Trompenburg Tuinen & Arboratum is like a breath of fresh air if you like peace and quiet. This hidden tree and botanical garden can be found in the district Kralingen on the edge of the center. With more than 4000 species of trees and plants you almost forget that you are in a bustling city.
In Trompenburg you can easily read a book on the many benches or explore all tree species while enjoying a snack and drink in the romantic tea garden. At Trompenburg you are also in a maze of nature and cute bridges, making it a good place for a walk.
For the animal lover there are even various types of birds that you can admire in the aviary. Finally, it is a photogenic place for your perfect wedding photo or Instagram #picoftheday. Escape the hectic city and visit this hidden green piece of paradise!
Trompenburg is worth visiting in any season, but spring is definitely the best time to go. When the beautiful pink flowers and shrubs like ‘rhododendron’ are in bloom, the garden is even more beautiful!
You need to pay a fee to enter Trompenburg!
8. Artwork ‘De Zandwacht’
I immediately associate industry, wind turbines and terminals with the Maasvlakte, but to my surprise the Maasvlakte is also a peaceful, vast piece of nature with a beautiful work of art called ‘De Zandwacht’ in the middle. This artwork is on the Maasvlaktestrand and is a must-see for the beach and art lover.
When you wander through the artwork you always see a new perspective of the beautiful panorama landscape. It shows how sand dunes are formed by the way in which sand blows up in strong winds and descends again. Through the pillars, the artwork is a great place to sit and lie or to jump from one pillar to the other. In the evening the work of art is illuminated which produces magical pictures during sunset.
De Zandwacht is a frozen moment of how the landscape forms and where forget about time for a while.
9. Het Dobberend Bos
The Bobbing Forest is based on the artwork In Search of Habitus by artist Jorge Bakker. This installation consists of water-filled tank and floating bobs with trees on scale. So, The Bobbing Forest in Rotterdam is actually a ‘translation’ of In Search of Habitus in real life. Very special!
The Bobbing Forest consists out of 20 former sea buoys and 20 trees that were donated by Tree Nursery Van den Berk. It’s quite interesting to learn more about the trees, such as how they are watered, how the trees survive and how they can stand upright.
You will not find the same peace and quiet here as at the previous spots, it is located along the road on Posthumalaan, but it is one of the lesser known sights in Rotterdam.
10. Recycled Park
The Recycled Park and the Bobbing Forest can be found close to each other, so it’s easy to visit them together.
The Recycled Park collects the plastic litter that comes the Nieuwe Maas to the North Sea. It’s a great initiative to stop, or at least minimise, the pollution of the North Sea. The plastic litter that is collected is used to make building blocks that are used as floating platforms, creating a new green area in our city.
So not only does it look cool, the Recycled Park is also of great value to our city!
11. The Rotterdam Art Ride project
Rotterdam Art Ride (ROAR) is an art project whereby 18 pillars under the metro line of Rijnhaven are painted by an international group of artists from all over Europe. The goal of this great art project is to make visual art accessible to a wide audience and to inspire residents on a daily basis.
The Rotterdam Art Ride can be found under the metro line between stations Rijnhaven and Maashaven in the South of Rotterdam. Not a lot of locals are aware of this cool project!
12. Street art on the Zwarte Paardenstraat
You can admire this colorful work of art on the Zwarte Paardenstraat, a side street of the Witte de Withstraat, since 2007. The mural was created by the Chilean artist Jorge Kata Nuñez and is called “El Trotamundos”, which means the World Traveler. The galloping horse carries a world map on his body and a peace dove on his face. The artwork therefore stands for freedom and global citizenship.
If you walk on the Witte de Withstraat you cannot see it immediately, because the mural is just around the corner. There is a lot of street art hidden in the side streets of Rotterdam. You will also find a colorful mural on the Kromme Elleboog, the side street on the other side of the Witte de Withstraat: “Love Spreads” by Ramon Martins. Also worth a look!
Want to discover more street art in our city? Check out these cool murals in our city!
13. Historisch Delfshaven
If you are in need of a piece of history, Historisch Delfshaven is certainly a good choice for a visit. Although much of Rotterdam was bombed during the Second World War, this part of Rotterdam has remained untouched.
Even though it is a well-known part among most Rotterdammers, it is often surprisingly quiet. Especially during the sunset it is an oasis of peace.
14. Culture Campsite
Camping in your own city? That’s definitely possible in Rotterdam! At the Culture Campsite in Delfshaven, you sleep in art objects made from already existing material. The 12 objects can accommodate 24 guests who are looking for a unique experience. Just like the ‘rooms’, you will find the toilet and shower in a sustainable art object.
It is a unique hidden place in Rotterdam. Even if you do not plan to spend the night here, it is worthwhile to admire and photograph the art objects.
The Campsite also offers a jacuzzi and a place for food, namely the Food Club Rotterdam. A truly unique experience, in which visitors, art, architecture and sustainability come together.
How many of these spots have you visited? What is your favorite hidden place in Rotterdam?
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Fatima works as a web editor for the Coolblue webshop and provides all content related to photography. She also studies the Masters in Media & Business at Erasmus University. When she has time, she works as a wedding & fashion photographer/videographer. She calls herself a citizen of the world, but Roffa always remains her home. It’s her mission to highlight unknown Rotterdam spots. Follow her on Instagram @timavisual for beautiful Rotterdam photos and portrait photography.