Rotterdam is the second biggest city in the Netherlands and the World`s largest port. The port is home to the massive Europoort facility through which so much freight passes on its way to and from the continent.
The city dates back to medieval times, and yet, it is the one with the most modernistic look in Holland. In the 13th century, a dam was built to separate the Rotte from the Nieuwe Maas river (hence the city’s name) Central Rotterdam was quickly rebuilt after it was almost completely destroyed in WWII. Now it has modern shopping streets, residential districts, and high-rises, making it one of the most modern and architecturally interesting cities to visit in Europe.
Rotterdam is popular both for its vibrant entertainment options, and its many remarkable museums, splendid architecture, and maritime tourist attractions.
We prepared a list of the top tourist attractions to help you make the most of your time in the city:
Museum Boymans-van Beuningen
This museum is located in the Dijkzigt district of Rotterdam and is one of the country’s most important museums of art. It contains a fine display of sculptures, paintings and decorative arts from many different artists and countries including works from Van Gough, Dali and Rembrandt. Besides the fantastic art collection, the building and grounds of the museum are really impressive and a pleasant place to walk around.
The Witte Huis
This wonderful building is one of the only ones to survive the Blitzkrieg in WWII in central Rotterdam and was the first high-rise building in Europe. The striking Art Nouveau style of this building with its white façade, ornate turrets, and the decorative roof is a reminder of the cities heritage and history. The beautiful and recognizable design of the building, together with its extensive history, has made it a National Heritage Site.
The Old Harbor and Marine Museums
Rotterdam's Old Harbor (Oude Haven), is a pleasant place to walk around, have coffee, and watch historic boats being painted or repaired. Close by are the Maritime Museum and its harbor, (est. in 1873), providing a great insight into the city's connection to the sea and its many waterways. The museum`s collections cover the history of shipping and seafaring, including ship models, a reconstruction of a 2,000-year-old vessel, and numerous seafaring paintings.
Rotterdam Boat Tour
Embarking on a boat tour is the perfect way to see the fantastic harbors and ports of Rotterdam. As the port is so extensive and huge, a boat tour will provide a comfortable means of transport and you will learn a lot of interesting facts from the tour guides. The tours offer an approximately 75 minutes-tour on a modern boat with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating with fantastic wide windows for unobstructed viewing while enjoying food and drinks.
A great example of the city's modern-yet-functional architecture is the Rotterdam Art Hall, or Kunsthal. This trendy and modern gallery has been open since 1992, and a variety of constantly changing exhibits are hosted there. The area combines 3300 sq. m of exhibition space, an auditorium and restaurant. Visitors can enjoy fascinating visual arts, intriguing designs, architectural works, and cultural exibits from across the globe.
The Cube Houses
Rotterdam is home to many fine examples of modern architecture. Designed by Dutch architect Piet Blom, the city's famous Cube Houses (Kubuswoningen) with their unique cube-shaped upper stories, are clearly visible from a walk through the Old Harbor. One of the houses, the Show Cube, is open for visits, and there you can see displays on the design and history of the buildings. A museum dedicated to chess is also located here.
Rotterdam's massive port is the biggest in the world! It occupies half the city's total area, and a huge part of it is Europoort - a huge complex known as the ``Gateway to Europe”. There you will see countless large freight vessels, quays and storage facilities built to service the world's busiest port. Do not miss ``Hook of Holland``, and one of Rotterdam's most famous landmarks - the superb Erasmus Bridge, being spectacularly illuminated at night.
Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk
Great St. Lawrence Church (Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk) dates from the 15th century, and it is the only medieval buildings after WWII. It is located in Grote Kerkplein, and upon entering the church, you will immediately notice the beautiful bright interior with colored glass of its windows. The three Danish organs, the bronze doors of the main entrance, and the statue of Rotterdam's most famous son, Erasmus will leave you amazed.
Windmills are an iconic structure for the Netherlands, and one of the main things people associate with the country. The Kinderdjik village is located about 20km east of central Rotterdam. With the 19 windmills lining the canals, this village is an especially magical place. The windmills have been restored to their original condition and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The surrounding countryside and network of canals are extremely impressive place to visit .
Fenix Food Factory
The Fenix Food Factory is the new place to experience, eat and buy good quality food. It provides a unique experience where visitors can not only delve into the food world but also take part in workshops, tastings, and open markets. The factory promotes fresh local produce, as well as freshly roasted coffee and home-brewed beer. Food lovers can also indulge in tasty cheeses, a selection of butchers meats, bread, and cakes.
The most obvious and most common way of getting around any Dutch city, is of course, by bike. Cycling is a huge part of Dutch culture and lifestyle, and you will notice so many different kinds of bicycles. Rotterdam is a big city, and it also offers many other forms of public transport, such as the bus, metro, tram, and even a water taxi. Visit the official Rotterdam website to learn more insights and get ready to enjoy the city like a local.