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Fatima Benhaddou is the newest guest blogger at Weekends in Rotterdam! She will mainly write about underestimated and lesser-known places in Rotterdam. Follow her Instagram @funfatima for beautiful portrait and nature photography. For her first article, Fatima writes about 5 hidden spots in Rotterdam.
The featured photo of Trompenburg Gardens & Arboretum was made by photographer Fleur Beerthuis of We picture it.
Rotterdam is a city with 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.
5 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. 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.
4. 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. 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!
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!
You need to pay a fee to enter Trompenburg!
5. 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.
How many of these spots have you visited? What is your favorite hidden place in Rotterdam?
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.