Devastated by bombing during the Second World War, Rotterdam is almost entirely rebuilt becoming today one of the most beautiful and important cities in the nation, second only to the capital Amsterdam. In the 1990s a large business district arose, the Kop van Zuid, which he saw the intervention of famous architects and which allowed the city, in 2007, to be awarded the title of City of Architecture.
Today we take you to discover all the wonders that make Rotterdam one of the most beautiful cities in the world: here are the 15 best attractions and things to do during a stay.
- Old Town and Willemsbrug
- Market hall
- Church of San Lorenzo
- Port of Rotterdam
- Euromast Tower
- Cubic houses by Piet Blom
- Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen
- Kunsthal and Museum Park
- Maritime Museum
- White House
- Erasmusburg and Kop vaz Zuid district
- Diergaarde Blijdorp Zoo
- Miniworld Rotterdam
- Sonneveld House
- Other attractions to visit
- 6 things to do in Rotterdam
- User questions and comments
Are you looking for a hotel in Rotterdam? We have selected the best offers on Booking.com for you
1 - Old Town and Willemsbrug
The historic center of Rotterdam extends from the railway station to the Port. Walking through the streets you will notice that the area is almost entirely modern: in fact, little remains of history, due to the terrible bombing of 1940. Only the town hall, the old post office and the Church of Sint Laurens were saved. The only neighborhood that remained almost completely intact during the bombing is Delfshaven, in the western part of the city. The historic center is also the liveliest part of the city, where there are many attractions, which we will also see later, and services.
In the historic center, a visit to the Willemsbrug bridge is also unmissable, the bridge that leads to the Feyjenoord district and is parallel to the Erasmusbrug (which we will talk about later). Also called the Red Bridge, crossing it you will enjoy one of the best skyline views of Rotterdam!
Easily reachable on foot from anywhere in the city. From Rotterdam Centraal train station to the old town 850 m (11 min walk). Reference metro stations Stadhuis (lines D and E), Beurs (lines A, B, C, D and E) and Eendrachtsplein (lines A, B and C) - Get directions
It is the best neighborhood to stay, full of services and the center of nightlife. There are also three major metro stations and the central train station here.
2 - Markthal
One of the first attractions we recommend to visit in Rotterdam is the spectacular Markthal, the largest food market in Holland! In fact, the structure covers 95.000 square meters, is 40 m high and, in addition to the market, it also houses offices and apartments! The market was inaugurated in 2014 directly by the Queen of the Netherlands and has been ever since one of the most loved and visited attractions in the city!
Inside you can really spend hours and hours! You can find many typical Dutch products, but not only: Rotterdam is a multi-ethnic city and here too you will find places from different parts of the world: from Mediterranean to Asian cuisine, from Greek to South American! Obviously, we advise you to stop in the typical Dutch cuisine!
Ma the real attraction of the market is the gigantic mural, called Cornucopia and created by the artists Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam. On this immense wall are represented all the products that you can then find among the market stalls!
The market is one of the best places to taste the famous "yellow gold", the typical Dutch cheese appreciated since the time of Julius Caesar and available in different variations
- in Dominee Jan Scharpstraat 298. Easily reachable on foot from every point of the historic center, such as from the Church of San Lorenzo (190 m, 2 min). Tram station and Blaak reference metro (tram lines 21 and 24, metro lines A, B and C) - Get directions
- market Mon-Thu and Sat 10: 00-20: 00, Fri 10: 00-21: 00, Sun 12: 00-18: 00 / the individual restaurants observe different hours, available on the official website
3 - Church of San Lorenzo
In the old town is the Church of St. Lawrence, in Dutch Laurenskerk Rotterdam, is one of the three buildings that survived the bombing, despite being heavily damaged. The church is very old: it was built between 1449 and 1525. It was the first building in Rotterdam to be built entirely of stone. The post-bombing restoration began in 1952 and was completed in 1968.
The church is now a real symbol of the city, to which citizens are very attached. It is possible to visit the interior and also climb the bell tower, from which you can admire a beautiful view over the whole city! Unfortunately, the ascents to the bell tower are limited to only a few hours and therefore you will not be able to enjoy the view from the top at sunset, but it is still an experience not to be missed, because you can see the entire historic center from above!
- at Grotekerkplein 27. Easily accessible from anywhere in the historic center, such as the Piet Blom Cube Houses (550 m, 7 min). Blaak tram and metro reference station (tram lines 21 and 24, metro lines A, B and C) - Get directions
- Church from October to February Tue-Sat 11: 00-16: 00, from March to October Tue-Sat 10: 00-17: 00 / Climb to the bell tower from July to October Wed 14:00, Sat 12:00 and 13: 30
- Single church € 3,00, free up to 12 years / Full bell tower € 6,00, reduced € 4,50
4 - Port of Rotterdam
The Port of Rotterdam is one of the most important and famous in the world. In Dutch, Europoort, is located in the western part of the city, on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, and includes the entire complex it occupies together with the adjacent industrial area.
Being an important commercial area, it cannot be visited independently, but many agencies offer walking or cycling tours. Instead, we recommend that you join a 90-minute harbor cruise, which will allow you to have a unique view of the harbor, shipyards and docks. During the cruise, your guide will tell you the history of this area, its important development and how the work inside it works!
- port in the Europoort Rotterdam area, 28 km from the historic center. Harbor Cruise Departure Point from Euromast Tower - Get Directions
- port accessible only via tour / departure time 10:30, duration 90 min
- cruise in the port € 14,00 per person
5 - Euromast Tower
A few steps from the historic center is the Euromast, that is the panoramic tower of Rotterdam, an icon of the city. It was in fact built starting in 1958 and the works lasted until 1960 on a project by the architect Hugh Maaskant. In 1970 it was enlarged and, with its 186 m high, is the highest publicly accessible building in the country!
At 100 meters high it is located a viewing platform that offers a 360 ° view over the city. Those who wish can climb to the top via an impressive glass lift. The tower also offers a restaurant and a small hotel.
Visit the tower at sunset, when the sun sets on the horizon, the sky turns red and the first lights begin to turn on. Obviously it's the busiest time, so buy your ticket in advance
- in Parkhaven 20. Walkable from Het Park (450 m, 6 min). From the historic center direct tram line 8 or 23 (Beurs-Euromast, 15 min) or direct metro line A, B or C (Blaak-Dijkzigt, 13 min) - Get directions
- every day, from April to September 9: 30-22: 00, from October to March 10: 00-22: 00
- full € 10,25, reduced € 6,75
6 - Cubic houses of Piet Blom
In the historic center it is located one of the most particular attractions of the city, but also one of the most photographed! We are talking about the famous Piet Blom Cube Houses, called Kijk-Kubus in Dutch.
It is a particular architectural project that consists of buildings in the shape of an inverted cube, designed by the architect Piet Blom in the 70s. In the imagination of the author of the project, these houses were seen as theset of trees in a wood. Once the copyright was acquired, the format was also transplanted to other areas of the world, including Canada.
But the most spectacular thing is that these houses are real residential apartments! Those not open to the public for visits are inhabited, certainly it must not be easy to adapt to the particular spaces of this structure, characterized for example by non-straight walls. Some houses are instead used as a museum and it is possible to visit them inside, we advise you not to miss this opportunity!
Remember to take some pictures! It is a truly instagrammable place, where you can take perfect shots to keep as a souvenir or to publish on your social networks
- in Overblaak 70. Easily reachable on foot from any point in the historic center, such as from the Church of San Lorenzo (440 m, 5 min). Blaak tram and metro reference station (tram lines 21 and 24, metro lines A, B and C) - Get directions
- every day 10: 00-18: 00
- full € 3,00, reduced over € 652,00, reduced children up to 12 years € 1,50
7 - Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen
The Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen is one of the most important in all of Holland, and contains splendid collections of paintings, sculptures and decorative arts by painters and artists from all over Europe: suffice it to mention Jan van Eyck, Bosh, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Rembrandt, Rubens, Vah Gogh, Monet, Gauguin.
It probably is also one of the most beautiful museums in Holland, inside which you will find works from the Middle Ages to today, by international artists and Dutch designers, and where you will have the opportunity to admire the works of some of the most famous painters of modern and contemporary art. At the entrance, you will also find the fantastic Merry-Go-Round Coat Rack, an unconventional wardrobe, designed by designer Wieki Somers, where you can hang your jacket and then pull it up with the ropes up to the ceiling.
- Museumpark 18, outside the historic center. Accessible on foot from the Maritime Museum (850 m, 10 min) and Kunsthal Rotterdam (800 m, 10 min). From the historic center, direct metro line A, B or C (Blaak-Eendrachtsplein, 4 min) - Get directions
- Tue-Sun 10: 00-17: 00
- full € 15,00, reduced € 7,50
8 - Kunsthal and Museum Park
Near the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum there is another very important museum, the Kunsthal Rotterdam, surrounded by the green Museum Park. This wonderful garden includes an area full of roses and the GJ de Jongh-Monument, with a small and pretty lake. It is about a perfect place to relax, very popular with locals too!
If you visit Rotterdam in autumn, and the day allows it, we also recommend that you take the right time to visit the Museum Park, as the trees will be completely red and yellow, creating wonderful plays of color in the various lakes in the park.
The Kunsthal Rotterdam is, however, a museum of modern art, which in addition to the permanent collections also hosts many temporary exhibitions. Worth a visit if only for the architecture of the structure in which it is housed: it is a building designed by the renowned architect Rem Koolhaas.
- in Museumpark, Westzeedijk 341, outside the historic center. Easily accessible on foot from the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum (800 m, 10 min) or the Erasmusbrug (1,2 km, 14 min). From the historic center, direct metro line A, B or C (Blaak-Eendrachtsplein, 10 min) - Get directions
- Tue-Sun 10: 00-17: 00
- full € 14,00, reduced € 7,00
9 - Maritime Museum
The Maritime Museum, or the maritime museum, is a museum complex that includes a library and a vast collection of vintage ships and nautical objects in general. It is a perfect visit to do even with children, also thanks to the many interactive exhibits!
Also part of the complex is the old Havenmuseum, located on a barge in the harbor area. This barge, built in 1906, was used for the transportation of stone and gravel for construction, traveling to Brussels and passing through various channels. A whole family lived on board: the living room, the bedroom, the kitchen are still visible.
- in Leuvehaven 1. Easily reachable on foot from anywhere in the historic center, such as the St. Lawrence Church (650 m, 9 min). Beurs Metro Station (lines A, B and C) - Get directions
- Tue-Sat 10: 00-17: 00, Sun and holidays 11: 00-17: 00, closed Mon
- full € 14,00, reduced € 10,00
10 - Witte Huis
The Witte Huis, in Italian Casa Bianca, is a building declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is located in the historic center and overlooks the Oudehaven canal. and it is the oldest skyscraper in Rotterdam. It was also one of the few buildings to survive the bombing of the Second World War.
The Witte Huis is 43 m high and spread over 10 floors, in Art Nouveau style: located 1 m above sea level, over 1.000 poles were planted in the ground for its construction, otherwise it would not have held up. Today there is a bar here, where you can stop for a drink while admiring the view!
- in Geldersekade 1. Easily reachable on foot from anywhere in the historic center, such as from the Church of San Lorenzo (650 m, 8 min). Blaak tram and metro reference station (tram lines 21 and 24, metro lines A, B and C) - Get directions
- from the outside easily accessible / bar Mon-Sat 15: 00-2: 00
- free from the outside / variable drink bar, consult the official website
11 - Erasmusburg and Kop vaz Zuid district
The Erasmusburg is a famous Rotterdam bridge built in the late 80s over the Nieuwe Maas River. The bridge connects the historic city center with Kop van Zuid, the new Kop van Zuid business district. This neighborhood is extremely modern, so much so that with its skyscrapers it gives the impression of being in an American city! Renzo Piano is also one of the famous architects who redeveloped this neighborhood.
The bridge is now one of the symbols of the city! Made of steel, it is about 800 m long and has a maximum height of 139 m: supporting it is the famous inclined pylon and 40 steel cables. The bridge was inaugurated in 1996 in the presence of Queen Beatrix.
Reachable on foot from the Maritime Museum (1,5 km, 14 min) on the side of the historic center, and from the Fotomuseum (650 m, 8 min) on the other side. Reference metro stations Leuvehaven, on the old town side (lines D and E), and Wilhelminaplein, in the Kop vaz Zuid district (lines D and E) - Get directions
We advise you not to miss the Hotel New York and the Recycled Park. The first retains inside beautiful decorations in Jugendstil style as well as a wonderful restaurant. The second is a floating park built using recycled plastic. Opposite is the Bobbing Forest, a forest whose trees are planted in buoys
12 - Diergaarde Blijdorp Zoo
Diergaarde Blijdorp, or Rotterdam Zoo, was opened in 1857 and is one of the oldest in the Netherlands and one of the most beautiful in Europe. In fact, in 2016, 2017 and 2018 it was voted the best zoo in the Benelux, the area that includes the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.
Indeed the original zoo was destroyed by bombing of the First World War and in 1940 the new zoo was inaugurated, a little further north than the previous one. In 2004 the whole zoo was declared a national monument.
Inside there are very important animal species, including Asian, such as the crested deer, white stork howling, and Lapland owl, European, such as wolf and wildcat, and African, such as western lowland gorilla, pygmy hippo, and zebra .
This is a must-visit attraction with children! There are in fact areas dedicated to them and many activities. In fact, several lessons and conferences are organized with industry experts, but also wonderful photography workshops to learn how to photograph animals!
Given the popularity of the zoo, we recommend that you buy your ticket online to avoid queuing at the ticket offices
- in Blijdorplaan 8, north of the old town. 2,5 km from Rotterdam Centraal train station (30 min walk). Accessible by direct bus 33 or 40 (Rotterdam Centraal-Rotterdam Blijdorpplein, 20 min) - Get directions
- every day 9: 00-17: 00
- full € 23,00, reduced € 17,00
13 - Miniworld Rotterdam
Miniworld Rotterdam is a construction of the miniature world, where you can admire several cities, including Rotterdam itself, reconstructed in great detail. Within the Miniworld, cities follow the solar cycle, so they are in constant motion. A day lasts about 24 minutes, and when night falls, the sun sets and the lights of the buildings come on, giving you the opportunity to admire the models even when illuminated, as if it were really night. A fun and unforgettable experience!
In the Miniworld there are also models of pre-war Rotterdam, rebuilt following the urban planning preceding the bombings.
Visit it absolutely if you are traveling with children. Inside is the Kidz area, within which various activities are organized, including the Treasure Hunt. It is recommended to purchase the entrance ticket online to avoid the queue at the ticket offices
- in Weena 745. Easily reachable on foot from any point in the historic center. Close to Rotterdam Centraal station (550m, 7 min) - Get directions
- generally 10: 00-17: 00, but the times vary according to the days and seasons. Consult the official website
- full € 12,95, reduced € 9,25
14 - Huis Sonneveld
The Huis Sonneveld is a different museum from all those mentioned so far, it could be said that it is truly one of a kind. This is a modern style house that would appear to be quite common, were it not for the fact that it was built in 1933. Visitors can then experience what it is like to live in a modern house that had a totally futuristic look during the years it was built.
Furthermore, Huis Sonneveld is one of the best preserved houses in the style of Het Nieuwe Bouwen. Designed by the Brinkman en Van der Vlugt architecture firm on behalf of Albertus Sonneveld, the owner, the house is bright and spacious, with well-preserved furnishings, absolutely worth a visit!
- in Jongkindstraat 12. Easily reachable on foot from anywhere in the historic center, such as the Maritime Museum (900 m, 11 min). Reference Metro Eendrachtsplein (lines A, B and C) - Get directions
- Wed-Sun 11: 00-18: 00
- full € 14,00, reduced € 7,00
15 - Fotomuseum
Last but not least, we move to the ultra-modern neighborhood of Kop vaz Zuid, a few minutes walk from Erasmusbrgu. Here is the Fotomuseum, one of the most beautiful photography museums in the world, as well as being the largest in the Netherlands.
The museum spread over several floors and is completely dedicated to the world of photography. On the ground floor there are several interactive exhibits on the history of this art, while the other floors host numerous temporary exhibitions, both on the city and internationally, with photographs by world-renowned photographers!
- in Las Palmas, Statendam, Kop vaz Zuid district. Easily accessible on foot from the Erasmusbrug (650 m, 8 min). Wilhelminaplein Metro Station (Lines D and E) - Get Directions
- Tue-Sun 11: 00-17: 00
- full € 14,00, reduced € 7,00
Other attractions to visit
So far we have seen the main attractions of the city, a must visit! But Rotterdam will allow you to visit many other places and do many other things!
The city is full of museums, in addition to those mentioned you can visit the Museum Rotterdam '40 -'45, focusing on the history of the city during the years of the Second World War (€ 9,00), or the Natuurhistorisch Museum Rotterdam, the natural history museum that will surely appeal to even the children (€ 8,00). Also, in the city there is a museum dedicated exclusively to children, the Villa Zebra (€ 10,00), in the Kop vaz Zuid district.
Furthermore, the city is full of green areas, ideal for relaxing between visits. The big city park is Het Park (free), where there is also a minigolf and several clubs! While in the southern part there is the large Zuiderpark (free). Finally, north of the historic center is located the Plaswijckpark amusement park, ideal for spending an afternoon with your children (€ 12,00)!
6 things to do in Rotterdam/5
- River cruise: Discover the city from another perspective on a one-hour river cruise departing from the port of Rotterdam
- Tour on the Amphibious bus: adrenaline-pumping alternative to the classic river ride, this particular bus is capable of moving both on land and in water and offers a fun tour especially if you are traveling with children
- Visit the city by bike: all of Holland is a very green country, where renewable energy is used and locals prefer the use of bicycles. Then get confused by taking part in a bike ride
- Enjoy the Bohemian side of Pannekoekstraat: it's a trendy neighborhood full of alternative shops and retro boutiques. Do not miss Depot Rotterdam, ideal for lovers of contemporary and design furniture, while for a coffee, stop at the Urban Espresso Bar, one of the trendiest cafes in the neighborhood
- Photo at Luchtsingel Bridge: it is one of the instagrammable places in Rotterdam. This is a completely yellow bridge, which connects the center with the northern districts
- Visit Witte de Withstraat: the coolest street in Rotterdam, definitely Hipster! Here you will find particular clubs, numerous art galleries and even several Coffeshops
Plan your stay in Rotterdam: flights and hotels
Getting to Rotterdam is very simple, thanks to Rotterdam The Hague Airport (starting from € 240,00). If you have visited Amsterdam before (starting from € 76,00), you can reach the city by direct train (40 min, from € 17,40).
We recommend staying in the historic center (starting from € 50,00 per night), as you will be close to the central train station and the main attractions. This will allow you to move easily on foot and to have several central metro stations near you. In addition, the nightlife is concentrated here, with numerous clubs and restaurants!
If you are traveling with children, you must know that Rotterdam really is a city within reach of man and many museums have activities for even the youngest visitors! Definitely unmissable the zoo, Villa Zebra and the Miniworld!
If you are traveling low cost instead, we recommend the purchase of the Rotterdam Welcome Card, which will allow you to get 50% discounts for the entrances to numerous attractions. To save some money on lunches and dinners we advise you to stop at the Markthal market, where you will have a wide choice!