Things to do in Rotterdam

Must-see Rotterdam sights

Amsterdam is always a firm favourite. But have you thought about an alternative Dutch break? Rotterdam has it all. From modern design to impressive art museums, Rotterdam is ever-charming.

  1. Enjoy the view from Euromast
  2. Explore the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum
  3. Take a boat trip
  4. Discover the historic Dordrecht
  5. See innovative design
  6. Explore Rotterdam Museum
  7. See Rotterdam’s only medieval building

In recent years, the face of Rotterdam has changed almost beyond recognition. With its dynamic modern skyline, it is now one of the largest and busiest ports in the world.

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1. Enjoy the view from Euromast

The Euromast observation tower rises above the trees to a height of 185 metres (600ft). It was built in 1960 to celebrate the Floriade international flower and garden exhibition. The observation platform at 100 metres (330ft) offers a panoramic view of the city and port. The restaurant is an excellent spot to enjoy Sunday brunch with a view.

Best for: Incredible views of Rotterdam

While you’re there: There is also a café-deli on the ground floor for those without a head for heights.

2. Explore the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum

The best-known of Rotterdam’s museums is the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. Founded in 1847, it houses one of the best art collections in the Netherlands. The museum is currently under a large scale renovation and will reopen its doors in 2021. The museum owns a number of well-known early Flemish paintings, including The Prodigal Son by Hieronymus Bosch and one of the two versions of The Tower of Babel by Pieter Brueghel the Elder. The collection of Old Masters includes Rembrandt’s tender portrait of his son Titus, painted in 1655. There is plenty more to see in this incredible museum. Top of the list for things to do in Rotterdam.

Best for: Art enthusiasts

While you’re there: The modern collection features canvases by Monet, van Gogh and Kandinsky.

3. Take a boat trip

What to do in Rotterdam if you like the water? The harbour in this part of the country constitutes about 50 percent of the area of Rotterdam. The best way to see the wharfs, quays, docks and silos is to take a 75-minute Spido harbour tour from Willemsplein 85 (next to the Erasmus Bridge). Each kilometre of the Rhine is numbered, beginning at kilometre 0 on Lake Constance and reaching 1001 at the Spido quay. At kilometre 1008 the boat turns across the busy shipping lanes and enters the Eemshaven. It then heads back upstream to enter the Waalhaven. Sit back and relax while you drift across the water.

Best for: A relaxing trip across the water

While you’re there: There are dinner cruises year round by The Pancake Boat for either 75 minutes or two and a half hours.

4. Discover the historic Dordrecht

Head here for something different during your time in Rotterdam. The old river port of Dordrecht lies at the confluence of three busy water-ways, about 15km (10 miles) southeast of Rotterdam. The area provides a pleasing contrast to the modernism of Rotterdam. A castle was built here by Count Dirk III in the early 11th century to control vital shipping routes into and out of Holland. The town that grew up around the castle was granted a charter by Count Willem I in 1220.

Best for: A contrast to modern Rotterdam

While you’re there: The town is well known for its award-winning week- end market, which is held every Friday and Saturday around Statenplein.

5. See innovative design

Cube houses (Kubuswoningen) are a set of innovative dwellings designed by architect Piet Blom and built in Rotterdam. You can visit the exhibition house Kijk Kubus (Cube Houses) for an impression of life in strange futuristic dwellings, where all the furniture has to be adapted to the sloping walls.

Best for: Quirky design

While you’re there: A few of the houses have been turned into the Stayokay Hostel.

6. Explore Rotterdam Museum

One of the best things to do in Rotterdam is visit Rotterdam Museum. The city’s history museum moved to this purpose-built home a few years ago. It explores a variety of themes including the development of the port, local industry and World War II.

Best for: Learning about Rotterdam

While you’re there: Enjoy Rotterdam’s other museums, too. Another highlight is the city’s Photography Museum.

7. See Rotterdam’s only medieval building

The only medieval building still standing in Rotterdam is the Grotekerk. Also known as Sint Laurenskerk, the church was gutted during the war, but subsequently restored with great skill. On a bleak square in front of the church stands a statue of Erasmus, the philosopher and scholar noted for his satire, who was born in Rotterdam in 1469. Although Erasmus left home at the tender age of six to study in Deventer and later Oxford, he spent most of his life in Rotterdam. The city’s university is named after him. Searching for Rotterdam holidays? We recommend staying at the Nhow Rotterdam Hotel.

Best for: Medieval architecture

While you’re there: There are plenty of eateries around the church to head to after for some lunch such as the food court, Markthal.

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