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.
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 centre 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 centre. 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. De binnentuin in Citykerk Het Steiger
The Sint Dominicuskerk Het Steiger is already a hidden gem in itself. This church dates from the reconstruction period. Fittingly from that time, modern materials such as concrete and glass have been used.
At first glance it looks like a sober building, until you’re inside and take a good look at the glass-in-concrete wall artwork by Berend Hendriks. This window, eight meters wide and six meters high, creates a beautiful light.
It is a place for silence and reflection in the noisy centre of Rotterdam. The green inner garden with cloister is extra special, a place to dream away for a while.
10. Park Rozenburg
A beautiful place for a walk in Rotterdam is Kralingen. This district is nice and close to the centre of the city, but is still a place where you can completely unwind. Whenever I walk here I love admiring all the beautiful historic buildings and enormous houses.
In addition, you will also find a lot of green places in Kralingen, such as Park Rozenburg. It is only a small park and often it’s very quiet. Some ponds with ducks and lots of lawns and trees make it an oasis in the city. Close to Park Rozenburg you can also find Slot Honingen. Another hidden gem in Kralingen, surrounded by big villas.
Discover more places for a walk in Rotterdam.
11. Heemtuin Kralingse Bos
The beautiful Heemtuin is tucked away in the middle of the Kralingse Bos. Here you will find all kinds of plants, trees and shrubs.
Walk across the narrow pier through all the greenery and eventually you will arrive at the Kralingse Plas and you will be rewarded with a beautiful view of the skyline of Rotterdam.
12. 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!
13. 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!
14. 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!
15. Street art in the Afrikaanderwijk
Another great place for street art and an area that you might not be so familiar with is Afrikaanderwijk. Thanks to Pow Pow! Rotterdam a lot of artists created a lot of new street art here in September 2019. Now you can find a street art route here with all kinds of beautiful murals on the facades of buildings.
In 2020 a lot of new works have been added to the streets, so plenty of new things to discover if you haven’t been there in a while!
TIP: For cool street art routes, I recommend the Rewriters app. This app takes you through the most beautiful street art in Rotterdam and gives you background information about the artwork and the artist.
The routes are updated several times a year, so there is always something new to discover!
16. 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.
17. 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 hot tub and a place for food: a nice terrace and a place where guests can cook. A truly unique experience, in which visitors, art, architecture and sustainability come together.
18. Dakpark Rotterdam
The unique Roof Park in Rotterdam-West is one of the largest roof parks in Europe. Located at a height of nine meters, the park offers a beautiful view of the nearby harbor and high-rise buildings. Despite its size, it is a little less known place in Rotterdam.
There is plenty to do at the Dakpark! There are large lawns and handy picnic tables, so you can enjoy a barbecue or picnic here. There is also an herb garden, Mediterranean garden, community garden and pergolas. Children can play in the playground and on the water stairs.
Of course there is also enough space for organized activities, such as yoga and boot camp.
19. Voedseltuin Rotterdam
Stichting Voedseltuin (“Voedseltuin means food garden) Rotterdam is a hidden garden with a mission. This foundation was established with the aim of providing healthy and fresh food for everyone. With the help of volunteers, they grow sustainably grown seasonal vegetables and fruit for the Food Bank in Rotterdam.
But not many people know that you can stop by here at certain hours for a look. The above photo, for example, was taken when there were still sculptures in the Food Garden from the sculpture route ‘Let’s Get Physical’.
20. De Wasserij
Have you ever heard of De Wasserij? This was once an industrial laundry in Rotterdam Noord. Today it is a breeding ground for creatives working in the fashion world. There are also many interesting studios to be found here.
Of course you can’t just walk into such a studio, since the makers are at work here. However, it is worth keeping an eye on De Wasserij. There are often exhibits, pop-ups and other activities here. For example, they take part in the Groot Rotterdams Atelierweekend every year, when you get a look at all kinds of art studios in Rotterdam.
The Swapshop often does have its doors open, since it is a store where you can exchange beautiful items that you no longer wear for second-hand gems.
The residents of De Wasserij also have one thing in common: they want to contribute to a better future through their company. As stated on the website of De Wasserij : “… more and more professionals and more and more consumers are becoming aware that fashion causes large-scale pollution. There is also a growing awareness that the production of ‘fast fashion’ in particular in many places in the world creates social inequality.”
How many of these spots have you visited? What is your favourite hidden place in Rotterdam?