Rotterdam and water are inextricably linked. We have the largest seaport in Europe, the famous Maas that flows right through the city, a beautiful Kralingse plas and many little ports that take you back in time. Experiencing them is a must during your visit to Rotterdam! Read further for the best sightseeing tips and activities to really get to know Rotterdam.
1. 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.
2. Visit the Maritime Museum
An activity that is fun for all ages. The Maritime Museum Rotterdam 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 or when you are visiting with children. Here you can easily buy a ticket online for the Maritime Museum Rotterdam.
Leuvehaven 1, 3011 EA Rotterdam
3. Dine on the water
Anything in combination with food is of course a good idea. in Rotterdam you will find a lot of nice options for dining on the water. For example on the ss Rotterdam, a steamship that used to sail between Holland and the USA and now has a permanent place on Katendrecht. Here you can have a bite to eat at the Lido Grill or Restaurant Club Room. A little cozier is Vessel11, located in the Waalhaven where they serve dishes from British cuisine, with a seasonal and modern twist. How about a Sunday Roast on the water?
If you are looking for the real Dutch experience, you must eat at the Pancake Cruise. In addition to tasting the typical Dutch pancakes, you explore Rotterdam with a boat trip on the Maas. Book a table via this link!
4. Spend the night on the water
It is even more fun to spend the night on the water. Because yes, that is also possible in Rotterdam! Earlier we told about the steamship ss Rotterdam. Here you can stay in one of the 254 rooms with a choice of six different room types. If you want something a little cozier, we recommend the Wikkelboat: a multifunctional, sustainable and super tiny place to stay on the water.
5. Take a water taxi
It is a form of public transport, but a hundred times more fun! Book a ride on the website or order a taxi by phone and get dropped off at one of the 50 locations in the city. A nice way to see Rotterdam from the water and also an adventure, because the taxis 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 here!). On this walking tour you first get an extensive explanation from an architect guide before the tour with the water taxi starts.
6. 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.
7. Get on board for a boat trip in Rotterdam
The best way to experience Rotterdam is of course by taking a boat trip. Because believe us: from the water, Rotterdam looks very different! Sail under the Erasmus Bridge and the Willems Bridge, view the various ports, see where the Holland-America Line once left and experience Rotterdam’s unique character.
We recommend this tour for a quiet 1-hour cruise, which covers all the highlights of Rotterdam.
What’s also nice is to combine a cruise with a walking tour. This is a lot more extensive, so you get to know the city pretty well. We recommend this walking tour and harbor cruise, in which you embark on a harbor tour after a 3-hour walking tour. Are you staying in a different city? This architecture tour and cruise includes a pick-up service from other cities in the country.
8. Stroll along de Maas
Are you not so fond of sailing but still want to experience the skyline of Rotterdam and the sloshing water of the Maas? Then walk along the Maasboulevard! You walk a few kilometers with a view of the Willems Bridge, Erasmus Bridge, Noordereiland and the Kop van Zuid. Take your time, sit on a bench in the sun, take some photos and watch the boats that sail over the water.
9. Visit the historic Delfshaven
Although a large part of Rotterdam was bombed during the Second World War, Delfshaven is an area that fortunately remained unaffected. This oldest part of Rotterdam is a marina that used to be the point of departure from which the Pilgrim Father sailed to America. View the beautiful old houses along the canal, eat a fresh herring and take a seat on a terrace by the water.
10. Rent your own boat at the Kralingse plas
It might not be sea water, but the Kralingse plas is a piece of Rotterdam that you should not miss. Surrounded by the forest, this lake is the place where the Rotterdammer goes during a summer day. When the sun is out, it is full of people barbecuing, children playing and friends enjoying a drink. Also the place for the sports enthusiasts among us. In addition to being a wonderful place for running, cycling or inline skating, you can see the sailboats of the Rotterdam sailing club pass by. Our tip is to rent a nice sloop and float around on this beautiful part of Rotterdam. A quick Google search and you will find different places where you can rent one!
11. Have a drink at the Old Harbor
A beautiful place to walk around, have a drink and enjoy the view. Along the water you will find various bars and restaurants with large terraces. And one thing that definitely stands out is our own White House. This building was once the tallest building in Europe with its 43 meters. The old harbor is not that big, so perfect if you don’t have much time.
12. Visit the Wereldhavendagen
Are you visiting Rotterdam in September? Then it’s the perfect time to fully experience the Maas and the port. During the Wereldhavendagen there are a lot of demonstrations, boat trips and all other kinds of entertainment on the water and the quays. The Wereldhavendagen take place on September 4, 5 & 6 2020.
13. Float around in a HotTug
A floating hot tub: how cool is that?! The HotTug is an electrically powered boat in which you are kept warm during your boat trip by a wood-burning stove. This allows you to sail for at least two hours through the canals of Rotterdam and a navigation license is not required. Super fun to do with your friends!
Has your outing on the water already been booked? Or did the sea sickness already kick in from just reading about it? Hopefully there is a fun activity that fits your stay in Rotterdam! We look forward to seeing your experiences on Instagram, so make sure to tag us in your photo with #WeekendsinRotterdam.