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Looking for things to do in Rotterdam? You’ve come to the right place! In this article you can find the best things to do in Rotterdam, from popular sight seeing spots to lesser known places in our city and with lots of inspiration for fun hangout spots, art, architecture, food and drinks!
Most people only think of Amsterdam when they hear about the Netherlands, but Rotterdam is actually the second biggest city in this tiny country. And it’s completely different from Amsterdam and most cities in the Netherlands.
Did you know that Rotterdam was bombed during the Second World War? Immediately after the bombing, Rotterdam began rebuilding the city. Because of this, Rotterdam has a lot of unique, modern architecture. But there’s more to this city. Expect lots of street art, museums, art galeries, hotspots, fun events and more.
Below you can find 45 things to do in Rotterdam. In the article we’ve linked to lots of other useful articles for your stay in our city. Enjoy!
Be sure to also read our extensive guide for the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam if you’re planning on visiting Rotterdam May 2020!
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45 Things to do in Rotterdam
1. The Euromast
If you’re a first-time visitor to Rotterdam, I definitely recommend a visit to the Euromast for a panoramic view of the city. The Euromast, with its 185 meters, is the highest building of the Netherlands.
The Euromast is part of the World Federations of Great Towers (WFGT): the 37 most beautiful and highest towers of the world, such as the Burj Khalifa, the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building.
Not only can you enjoy the beautiful view over Rotterdam, it’s also possible to book a table and have a delicious dinner or just get some drinks. Also with a view of our city, of course!
2. The Cube Houses
You just can’t skip the iconic Cube Houses during a visit to Rotterdam! These famous houses, designed by architect Piet Blom, are all built at 45 degrees.
Are you wondering how anyone can live in such a place? Then be sure to pay a visit to the Kijk-Kubus, which is basically a show room of one of the houses.
To really have the full experience of living in a Cube house, you can also decide to stay at Stayokay Rotterdam Cube Hostel, which is a hostel in one of the cubes. Stayokay Rotterdam Cube Hostel offers private rooms for up to 6 people, as well as mixed, male and female people dorms.
3. The Markthal
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Rotterdam is definitely the iconic Markthal. This unique architectural structure serves as both an office building, housing and a marketplace.
With over 40 food vendors that sell all sorts of international food and drinks, it’s definitely one of the highlights for most tourists.
There are several tours that will introduce you to typical Dutch food. For instance, this 2-hour walking tour with multiple snack breaks.
TIP: During the construction of the Markthal, many historical items were found in the ground of the site during the excavation. It’s possible to admire those items at the escalators in the middle of the Markthal, and it’s called De Tijdtrap – which means the time stairs.
4. Rotterdam Central Station
Another perfect example of how unique the architecture is in Rotterdam is Rotterdam Central Station. This relatively new building, which opened up in 2014, has a unique triangular shape that points toward the sky.
Locals also call Rotterdam Central Station with the nickname ‘Kapsalon’, naming it after one of the local fast food dishes that comes in a aluminium box.
There’s a big chance that you’ll visit Rotterdam Central Station, as this station connects to many destinations in the Netherlands and international destinations as well. If you’re not planning on travelling to Rotterdam with the train, then I definitely still recommend a visit and check out the commute at this unique location.
5. The Erasmus bridge
The Erasmus bridge is yet another iconic structure in Rotterdam. It’s just not possible to skip it, and there’s a high chance you’ll run into it it whether you’re planning on checking it out or not.
The bridge connects the Kop van Zuid with the center of the city. This beautiful bridge, nicknamed the Swan due to its large mast that resembles the neck of a swan, is ever so photogenic. So be sure to take lots of photos!
Another great idea is to have a walk over the bridge to the Kop van Zuid to explore this area.
6. Book a surprise dinner
One of the things you should definitely do during your visit to Rotterdam, is trying one of the amazing restaurants! But we know how difficult it can sometimes be to choose which one… How nice is it if someone would make the decision for you?
Via SurpriSeat you only have to provide a date, time and any dietary requirements. Two hours before you are expected in the surprise restaurant chosen by SurpriSeat, you will receive an email describing the location where your table is ready. This makes eating out even more special!
7. The Floating Pavilion
The Floating Pavilion, located immediately next to the Bobbing Forest, is a very unique structure with three domes. It’s a cool place to take some shots, as the Pavilion has a really futuristic look.
It’s a venue for various events and it can be rented for exhibitions, presentations, receptions, dinners and more. It’s also a hotspot for culture, innovation, sustainability and festivals.
8. The Bobbing Forest
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.
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.
Be sure to check out out on the website: dobberendbos.nl.
9. The Recycled Park
The Recycled Park, Floating Pavilion and 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!
10. Historic Delfshaven
After you’ve explored some of the modern architecture in Rotterdam, you might crave a bit of history. Even though most of Rotterdam was bombed during WWII, there are still spots that have survived the bombing.
One area that remained untouched is Delfshaven. Especially Historic Delfshaven is worth a visit, the oldest part of Rotterdam and a beautiful yacht marina. It was a very important part of our city, as it was the departure point from which the Pilgrim Fathers sailed for America.
Now it’s a beautiful historic spot in Rotterdam, where you can admire traditional houses and historic buildings.
11. The Witte Huis
Het Witte Huis or the White House – don’t confuse it with the White House in Washington, is a remarkable building in the so called Oude Haven or Old Port. This building was once the highest building of Europe with its 43 meters. Nowadays, that’s kind of hard to imagine!
Do you love historical spots? Then be sure to stroll around Oude Haven, a great area for a bit of history in Rotterdam, and admire this beautiful building!
12. The Koopgoot
Rotterdam is an excellent destination for shopaholics. For instance, the Lijnbaan is full of amazing shops. The best part is that there aren’t any cars allowed, so you can walk around carefree.
Another very famous shopping street is the Koopgoot. The official name is the Beurstraverse. Koopgoot is a nickname and roughly translates as Shopping Gutter – if you haven’t noticed already, Rotterdam is fond of giving nicknames!
You won’t find any cars in the Koopgoot, just like on the Lijnbaan. In the Koopgoot you will find large retail chains such as the Hema, H&M, Zara, Lush and Douglas.
The Koopgoot has been the heart of the shopping center of Rotterdam for over 20 years now. During that time, it has won many awards! Definitely visit the Koopgoot for a unique shopping experience in Rotterdam.
13. Stay at Nhow
Hopefully you’ll spend more than just one day in Rotterdam! If you’re spending a couple of nights, make sure to make your time here extra special with a unique hotel.
One of our favourite hotels is definitely Nhow. During your stay here you’ll feel as if you’re in New York City instead of Rotterdam. With a view of the Erasmus Bridge and the Skyline of Rotterdam you not only get to see a beautiful sunset, you’ll see Rotterdam getting up in the early morning.
It’s always a beautiful sight to witness the gorgeous skyline of Rotterdam from the Maasboulevard! It doesn’t matter how often you may have seen it, each time you’ll marvel at the impressive skyline of our city.
Take some time and stroll along the Maas. Sit down, take some photos and watch the boats that move across the water.
15. Het Park
There are a few parks you can visit on a sunny day in Rotterdam. Vroesenpark, Kralingse Bos or Het Park located at the Euromast.
Het Park is a great option, with the beautiful Euromast as a backdrop and plenty of room to find a serene spot for yourself. Take your own picnic with you and a big blanket, and you’ll have a lovely day.
Don’t feel like laying in the grass? Another wonderful option is visiting Parkcafé Parqiet. Here you can enjoy breakfast, lunch and drinks. Parqiet is located in the former carriage house and together with Dudok in the Park, is one of the few spots in the Park to enjoy a drink and food.
Check out our article with the sunniest terraces in Rotterdam!
16. Kralingse Plas
Feel like escaping the busy city? Kralingse Plas is another great option. Here you can lay on the grass by the water and enjoy a picnic with friends.
If the weather is really good, you can even decide to go for a swim! Be sure to check zwemwater.nl to check if the water is safe to enter. Sometimes the quality of the water isn’t good enough, especially when it’s really hot.
Kralingse Plas is surrounded by the Kralingse Bos. So if you feel like going for a walk, it’s an excellent place to do so.
17. Take the Watertaxi
Explore the Maas and go in one of the many watertaxi’s in Rotterdam. It is a form of public transport, but a hundred times more fun! The fast watertaxi’s bring you to more than 50 locations in Rotterdam and Schiedam.
It’s possible to go to one of the docks and grab a watertaxi there or request one beforehand. A nice way to see Rotterdam from the water and also an adventure, because the watertaxis can ride over the waves pretty quickly.
In addition to the practical function of the water taxi, you can also book it in combination with a tour. For example, this walking tour with an architect that takes you to iconic buildings, such as the Markthal and Cube houses, and on board of a watertaxi!
Check out our article with fun water activities in Rotterdam!
18. Get a tour of the port
As the largest port city in Europe, the port is an important part of Rotterdam. It provides 385,000 direct and indirect jobs at companies in the Netherlands and extends over a length of no less than 40 kilometers. Unique in its kind and therefore an essential part during your visit to Rotterdam.
With this 75-minute cruise you will be part of the traffic around the harbor, view the shipyard, the dock and the modern handling of thousands of containers.
It is also nice to explore the harbor through a bicycle tour. At this port bike tour, you drive through the center, board (by bike) for a 30-minute boat trip and then go ashore to see all aspects of the port.
19. Join the splash tour
It may look like a normal bus tour, that will take you to the most special places in Rotterdam. But that is not the only thing! During the tour, the bus literally takes a dip in the Maas. The bus sails further and shows you the city from the water.
Buy a ticket here to hop on this bright yellow sailing bus.
We’ve already mentioned the view from the Euromast, the highest observation tower in the Netherlands. But our city has so much more viewpoints to offer. From green rooftops where fruit and vegetables are grown to cozy office terraces, there are many unique rooftops in Rotterdam that offer a great view!
DakAkker is another great viewpoint in Rotterdam. It looks like a green courtyard, but then 20 meters in the air. In addition, it’s the first green rooftop in the Netherlands where fruit and vegetables are grown and honey bees are kept. Be sure to also check out the restaurant Op Het Dak for delicious food and drinks!
Be sure to read Fatima’s article with 5 hidden rooftops in Rotterdam.
There are a lot of museums that are worth a visit in Rotterdam. Around Museum Park you will find many famous museums where you can visit amazing exhibitions.
Just to name a few: Museum Boijmans van Beuningen (unfortunately it’s currently closed for construction for 7 years!), Het Nieuwe Instituut, Chabot Museum, Villa Sonneveld, Natural History Museum and De Kunsthal. These are all located near each other at Museumpark.
Check out our art route for a day full of arts and culture in Rotterdam.
22. Visit the Maritime Museum
A fun museum to visit, that isn’t located in the Museumpark, is the Maritime Museum Rotterdam. This museum is located in one of the largest and oldest museum ports in the Netherlands and here you can learn more about the past and present of the port of Rotterdam. With exhibitions, activities and a collection of historic ships and cranes, you’ll be here for a while.
Ideal for a rainy day and/or when you are visiting with children. Here you can easily buy a ticket online for the Maritime Museum Rotterdam.
If you’re looking for a fun night out in Rotterdam, then it’s a great idea to visit one of the hotspots that offer delicious cocktails. There are plenty of great hotspots in Rotterdam that create the most unique drinks and it often comes with some delicious snacks.
Calaboose, located in Kralingen, is a great place for cocktails. Especially on beautiful sunny days it’s a top choice, because of the spacious terrace where there’s enough seating for large groups. In addition to a cocktail, try one of the Indonesian dishes from the menu, such as the saté or gado gado. A fun night is guaranteed!
Check out Mathilde’s article for the best places to drink a cocktail in Rotterdam!
24. Dr. Rotterdam
Another great spot for cocktails is Dr. Rotterdam. This place has a mysterious vibe and offers a unique experience for a night out. When you make a reservation, you’ll get your patient number by text message, which you must then show at the door.
Everywhere in the bar you find doctor elements, such as attributes on the walls, the bartenders wearing doctor’s coats and the special menu.
The bartenders are really good at what they do and your cocktail experience will definitely not be boring…
25. Breakfast in Rotterdam HQ
Rotterdam is a real foodie paradise and there are a lot of great hotspots for breakfast and lunch. So be sure to schedule enough time for a big breakfast or brunch at least one morning in our city and pick one of the best spots to enjoy a big breakfast. You’ll find plenty of vegan options in our city too!
A great hotspot to have breakfast in Rotterdam is, what a surprise, Breakfast in Rotterdam HQ! It’s located in a second-hand store full of furniture, plants and more. Everything in their breakfast shop is also for sale. So if you happen to sit in a nice chair, you can take it with you after you ate!
These 9 breakfast spots in Rotterdam are our favourite options, and for even more inspiration, be sure to check out the Instagram account Breakfast in Rotterdam. Yes, the Instagram account is run by the owners of Breakfast in Rotterdam HQ!
26. Go to one of the Escape Rooms in Rotterdam with your friends
Do you and your friends love adventure? Then a visit to one of the Escape Rooms in Rotterdam is a great idea. For instance, you can visit Live Escape. Here you have three rooms: The Safe House, Lab13 and The Boiler Room.
At The Safe House, you and your friends unexpectedly witnessed a murder in the Rotterdam Underworld. In anticipation of the court case, in which you are the most important witnesses, you will be placed in a Safe House. But is it really safe?
In LAB13, horrible experiments were done by Russians. According to local residents, the lab is still being used. You must do the first exploration…
In The Boilerroom, your group enters a largely burned-down apartment to find Sophie. Once inside you will find out what has happened in the apartment and that Sophie is not the only one who has disappeared without a trace. Will you be able to find Sophie before you get caught?
27. Play games at POING
A real arcade hall with classic pinball machines, karaoke and a classic dance machine! At POING you can play all kinds of fun games, but also have a drink and order something tasty from their Asian kitchen. It’s a unique hotspot where you can catch up with friends and have a fun time together.
POING often organizes fun parties during the weekends!
28. Mooie Boules
Mooie Boules is the first food hal in Rotterdam where you can play jeu de boules (lawn bowling).
You can find this hotspot in an old metal factory in the emerging ZOHO area.
The old factory has been completely transformed into a typical French village square. Local restaurants will serve signature dishes and the bar will serve a wide range of wine, special- and local beers. Of course all in combination with a game of lawn bowling.
29. Team building during a pub quiz
How well is your general knowledge? Time to test it during a pub quiz! Grab a drink and make sure to work together as a team.
Where can you take a pub quiz in Rotterdam? One hotspot where you can enjoy a pub quiz with friends is Weena Rotterdam. Here they organise a pub quiz every Tuesday night from 8:30 pm to 11:00 pm.
Check these 3 nice places for a pub quiz in Rotterdam.
30. Have dinner at one of the best restaurants in the city
As Rotterdam is such a great place for foodies, with food from anywhere in this world, you should definitely try out one of the highest-rated restaurants in the city!
Next to many affordable restaurants, there are also a lot of fancy restaurants that have amazing food, topnotch service and impressive interiors.
31. Lührs Viewpoint
Lührs Viewpoint is a 40-meter high hill, something you don’t easily find in Rotterdam. This makes it a special place to watch the sunset in our city.
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.
Other great places to watch the sunset is from the Euromast for a panoramic view or visit the Kralingse Plas for a serene spot to really enjoy the sunset.
32. Witte de Withstraat
Witte de Withstraat is also known as Rotterdam’s cultural street and together with Museum Park it’s the cultural heart of Rotterdam. This artistic street shouldn’t be skipped during your visit, and it’s filled with nice cafes, shops, art galleries and restaurants.
There are also several accommodations on and around Witte de Withstraat, which means you’re in the middle of the cultural center of our city.
One of our favourite hostels on Witte de Withstraat is King Kong Hostel. The design of this hostel is amazing, and they offer three private rooms as well as dorms of 4, 6 and 8 beds.
33. Nieuwe Binnenweg
The Nieuwe Binnenweg is another great street to have drinks with friends. It’s a typical street in Rotterdam with a great vibe. You’ll find a couple of popular, local bars here, such as Rotown, Bar3 and Stalles.
If you love beer, you should most definitely go to Boudewijn, a Belgian beer café. There are over 24 tap baars and more than 200 bottled beers. Hungry?
Order some sides with your beers, such as fries, bitterballen, mussels and more!
34. Kabouter buttplug
Locals call this kind of weird statue Kabouter Buttplug, but the official name is actually Santa Claus by Paul McCarthy. The statue is Santa Claus with a Christmas tree and is supposed to represent the consumption culture. But, as you can see, Santa Claus looks to be holding on to something else than a christmas tree…
There has been a lot of discussion around Kabouter Buttplug, and it has been dragged around to various spots in the city because of its sexual image.
Finally, the statue has found its place at Eendrachtsplein and the streets wouldn’t be the same without Santa Claus.
35. The Luchtsingel
The Luchtsingel connects the center of Rotterdam with Rotterdam North. This unique bright yellow structure is a 390 meters pedestrian bridge. It’s completely free to visit!
From the Schieblock, where you can find Annabel, Biergarten and the DakAkker, you can walk to Pompenburg and Hofplein station. Here you’ll find various restaurants and shops.
36. The Hofbogen
If you’re visiting the Luchtsingel, you might as well cross over to the North of Rotterdam. This neighbourhood has changed a lot in the recent years. Instead of sexshops and snackbars, you can now find lots of vintage stores, art galeries and cosy lunchrooms.
The Hofbogen, located at the border of the Oude Noorden, are definitely worth a visit. In this unique structure you’ll find lots of creative hotspots: Clone Records, BIRD, FG Food Labs and more. Around the Hofbogen you’ll also find lots of street art.
37. Admire the street art all across Rotterdam
In Rotterdam, there’s actually no need to spend money to enjoy art, because there is plenty of art to explore on the streets. If you’re a street art lover, you’ll definitely love our city.
Next to well-known spots, such as the street art around the Hofbogen by Opperclaes that changes four times a year, there are also lesser known spots in our city where you can find street art. This makes it so fun to roam around our city and find pieces of art in unexpected places.
If you don’t feel like searching for the best street art in Rotterdam, be sure to check out this great app by Rewriters 010 with an street art route in Rotterdam. Not only does this app show you where to find the best street art, it also includes all the background information on the artworks and the artists.
38. 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.
Be sure to check out their website for more information about the project and its contributing artists!
39. Eiland van Brienenoord
If you’ve been to Rotterdam a few times already and feel like skipping the popular sights and see more of our city, be sure to explore more of the lesser known parts of Rotterdam. One of them is the Eiland of Brienenoord (Island of Brienenoord), 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.
Check out these five hidden spots in Rotterdam for four more hidden spots! Perfect if you want to escape from the crowds or you just want to see a side of Rotterdam that goes beyond modern architecture.
There are so many unique hotspots in our city, but one that really stands out is Weelde. This creative, utopian free stat is a place where music, art, performance and food and drinks come together. It’s a place where both young and old can enjoy themselves.
There’s a lunchroom, restaurant, bar, garden, a big shed and a huge greenhouse. So whether you’re looking for a serene spot for a bite to eat or really want to party, both is possible at Weelde.
Be sure to keep an eye on our calender for cool events at Weelde!
41. Take the metro
The metro in Rotterdam is actually a great and easy way to travel around. Besides that it’s functional, there are actually some pretty cool stations in our city.
For instance, Wilhelminaplein (pictured above), Marconiplein and Blaak. It may sound a bit weird to call a subway station a place of interest, but these are pretty photogenic places and reflect our raw city quite well!
If you want to learn how to use the public transport in our city, be sure to check out this article with information on how to use the bus, tram and metro in Rotterdam.
There’s a big chance that you’ll visit Rotterdam on a rainy day. Don’t let it spoil your fun!
One of the things to do on a rainy day in our city, is visiting one of the cinema’s. Whether you want to watch the latest blockbuster or an arthouse film and classics, it’s all possible.
You can visit Cinerama, located at Westblaak, for that old skool movie experience. Both the exterior and interior of Cinerama is fantastic.
Another great option is KINO. It’s also possible to have dinner and drinks here, perfect before you go watch that old classic film.
43. Go on the Rotterdam hop on, hop off bus
Are you in Rotterdam for the first time and do you want to see as much as possible? Then a hop-on hop-off is more convenient than you think. With a 24- or 28-hour ticket you can get in and out wherever and whenever you want.
Of course it is best to discover Rotterdam on foot or by bike, but during a rainy day it is nice that you can hide from the rain in a bus and warm up. Then to brave the rain again with your umbrella and still admire all the sights of Rotterdam!
44. Visit one of the many events that take place in Rotterdam
There are lots of fun events planned in Rotterdam and there’s something for everyone. From the free annual festival Metropolis and the annual theaterfestival De Parade to the city mediation and international yoga day.
Be sure to check out our calender to see if there’s anything fun to attend while you’re visiting our city!
45. Van Nelle Fabriek
De Van Nelle Fabriek is a remarkable building made of concrete, steel and glass. It’s an event location, office building and museum. There’s a chance that during your visit in Rotterdam that there’s a event organised in this building. Van Nelle Fabriek is an excellent spot to take photos!
Hopefully you’ve got enough inspiration for things to do in Rotterdam after reading this article! Have an amazing time in our city, and be sure to follow us on Instagram @WeekendsinRotterdam and tag your photos in Rotterdam with #WeekendsinRotterdam.