Often overshadowed by Amsterdam (they have an intense rivalry), Rotterdam is a funky little port town that prides itself on its unique architecture, port area, art, food, and modern city center. The city is one of the most multicultural in the country and has an array of free festivals and concerts throughout the year. I really enjoyed Rotterdam – it was good modern contrast to the canal-laced historic streets of Amsterdam. Plus, the parks and markets here are stunning. Take advantage of the summer months, as most festivals and concerts occur from mid-June through late August.
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Rotterdam
1. The Erasmus Bridge
2. Walk the harbor
3. The Euromast Tower
4. Visit the cube houses
5. Walk in the park
Other Things to See and Do
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1. Attend a festival
If you can, make it out to the Rotterdam Summer Festival, which shows up the last weekend of July and is composed of dancing, parties, and colorful processions. Also visit the De Parade, which is a circus tour that entertains with performances, music, and circus-related activities.
2. Stop at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
The museum, founded in 1849, houses a rich, broad collection that is grouped into four wings with masterpieces such as Pieter Brueghel the Elder’s The “little” Tower of Babel (1563) and an important collection of surrealism, prominently featuring Salvador Dalí and René Magritte. Admission is 15 EUR and it’s open daily (except Mondays) from 11am-5pm.
3. Visit the Rotterdam Zoo
The Rotterdam Zoo was established in 1857 and is one of the most popular day trips in the Netherlands (the country is small so anywhere is a “day trip”). The Oceanarium, which has a large collection of fish from around the world, is probably the highlight of the space. Admission is 22 EUR and it’s open daily (except Mondays) from 9am-5pm. You can save 2 EUR by booking online.
4. Stop by Rotterdam City Hall
Built in 1914, this building is one of the few to survive WWII. There are several large statues to see, a grand main hall to walk through, and nice courtyard to check out.
5. Peek in the Oude Kerk
This is another one of the few areas that survived wartime bombings and destruction. The Old Church is one of the most major draws here, as it is said to be the site where the Pilgrims last prayed prior to leaving for the Americas.
6. See the Rotterdam Walk of Fame
This walkway (similar to that in Hollywood, CA) is home to handprints of various stars and starlets from around the world. If you are in the area, it is fun to stop by and see which hands fit yours.
7. Do a harbor tour
The harbor in Rotterdam is one of the largest and busiest in the entire world. Hopping on a Rotterdam harbor boat tour is a great way to view some of the action, and to see the city from a different vantage point. Tours cost 12 EUR and last an hour and a half.