‘Amsterdam, Waar Ligt Dat?’ was a techno number released in the early ’90s. If you can’t read Dutch, let’s just say it isn’t too complimentary about the nation’s capital and Rotterdam’s long-standing rival. But where Amsterdam’s got the canals and classic Dutch architecture (most of Rotterdam’s buildings were destroyed in WWII), it is the ever-present, effervescent energy in Rotterdam that is the real draw card.
Rotterdam’s harbour is the busiest in Europe and central to the city’s prosperity. Visit the De Delft shipyard to see a reconstruction of an 18th century cargo ship. Or, for a glimpse of the city before the eclectic jumble of architecture styles and Blaak Area cube houses, Delfshavenhas some war-bypassed 17th century buildings. But it’s Rotterdam’s gritty arts scene and vibrant nightlife that will make you think that classic Dutch architecture may just be, dare we say it, a little overrated.
Rotterdam's Top 10
10. Netherlands Architecture Institute An impressive collection of architectural drawings, model and books. Its goal is to inspire rather than just entertain.
5. Wereldmuseum Features exhibits from around the world exploring what it means to be human.
9. Kijk-Kubus Shaped like a three-dimensional rhombus, the house/museum brings into question basic architectural assumptions.
4. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Culture buffs flock to the artworks by Salvador Dali and Rembrandt in particular.
8. Erasmus Bridge An incredibly beautiful bridge crossing the harbour. One angle is not enough.
3. Witt Huis Originally the tallest skyscraper in Europe, this is one of the few structures to survive the WWII bombings.
7. Sonneveld House Although initially built in the 1920s, its functional design will strike you as very modern.
2. Euromast Tower This odd, alien-like structure is the tallest building in Rotterdam.
6. Kunsthal Opened in 1992, the temporary exhibits on show are a great cross section of Dutch and international art.
1. Rotterdam Zoo Over 150 years old, the zoo is most famous for its Komodo dragons, Egyptian tortoise and Siberian cranes.
- Maritime Museum – This museum is out in the harbour, which is perfect to learn about the maritime history of Rotterdam.
- Museum Het Schielandshuis – A history of Rotterdam that is especially good for children.
- Openlucht Binnenvaart Museum – The harbour has changed over the centuries, but this museum with interactive exhibits brings it all back.
- Tax and Customs Museum – See the history of how such things are calculated and collected.
- Haven Museum – This museum is old and has historic ships that you can wander amongst.
Rotterdam Art & Culture
- Wereldmuseum – The history of the city in paintings.
- Kunsthal – An art gallery and museum with an ever-changing array of exhibits.
- Kijk-Kubis (Show-Cube) – This is an art house/museum with specially designed furniture to fit the tilted cube.
- Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen – This art museum takes you from the time of the Dutch Masters to the artists of today.
- Netherlands Architecture Institute – Drawings and books about the past of Rotterdam.
- Beurstraverse – Known locally as the shopping ditch, this shopping centre is known for its futuristic design.
- Linjbaan – Mainstream shops line this pedestrian mall.
- Nieuwe Binnenweg – This shopping area is filled with nightclubs and restaurants and the stores are small and sell odd items.
- Joho – This is a combination travel agency and travel shop. You can find everything you need to take a trip.
- Alexandrium – This is a large mall divided into three parts. The first is well-known clothing stores like H&M. The second has the major retailers like Toys R Us. Finally, the third section is home furnishings.
Gay & Lesbian Rotterdam
- Gay Palace – The party never ends at Rotterdam's only gay disco/dance club.
- Sparta Sauna – Come relax in the sauna and feel the heat.
- Bliss – This is a lounge bar with live DJs on the weekend.
- De Camping – You'll know it as the gay club in pink.
- Cafe C'est La Vie – This gay bar changes its theme weekly and sometimes nightly.
- Diergaarde Blijdorp (Rotterdam Zoo) – This zoo is well loved and known for being perfect for photo opportunities.
- Delfshaven – A small, old part of Rotterdam with cobbled streets and small cafes. It's a lovely way to wander away an afternoon.
- Erasmus Bridge – This harp-shaped bridge spans the largest harbour in Europe.
- Tropicana – This is a water park with slides, pools and fun for all ages.
- Beach on the Maas – This is a manmade beach that has activities for both children and adults.
- Watch the Feynoord, Excelsior and Sparta football teams compete.
- Run or simply observe the Rotterdam Marathon held every year.
- See Rotterdam’s large field hockey club play a game.
- Cheer on tennis professionals at the ABM AMRO World Tennis Tournament.
- Attend the Rotterdam Sports Awards Election in December to see who wins the best man, woman and team award.
With over 75 international galleries and institutions participating, Art Rotterdam covers the entire city with fresh new art come January.
Get into the Latin spirit for Summer Carnival, a July event inspired by the culture and mayhem of Rio’s carnivale.
Test your sea legs on all things nautical, including ship tours and naval demonstrations, during World Port Days in September.
The touring festival WOMEX brings the best of roots, folk and world music to Rotterdam in October.
Steer clear of December’s Kerstcircus if you have a fear of clowns!
When To Go
Rotterdam’s temperate summer, which sits at around 20ºC (68ºF), is filled with cultural and artistic events.
Winter has less to offer in terms of events, but at least it is relatively dry from January to May.
Spring and autumn are both good times to explore the city’s culture.
In true Dutch tradition, Rotterdam is easy to navigate on a bike.
Public transport (buses and trains) is very well coordinated and provides the most reliable and safest way to navigate the city.
Waterbuses are a great way to see the city from a new perspective, giving you a glimpse of the older parts of the city.
Like so many European cities that had to be rebuilt after World War Two, the face of Rotterdam has completely changed over the last century. The medieval old town is no more, thanks to the German Luftwaffe, and notable remnants of classic Dutch architecture are few and far between. A free reign approach to reconstruction has injected modern Rotterdam however, with one of the most unique cityscapes of any big city in the EU.
The city’s historic port is a behemoth and according to many estimates, is still the busiest in the world. Where the former European Capital of Culture shines however, is in a café, restaurant and nightclub scene both multifarious and vibrant. Explicitly evident in areas like Delfshaven and Oude Haven, the city is awash with ethnic diversity, with significant communities from Suriname, Turkey and the Dutch Antilles. Star attractions like the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Grote of Sint Laurenskerk and De Ster and De Lelie Windmills also help contribute to Rotterdam’s winning formula.
Attractions & Activities
Rotterdam has a temperate climate, with four distinct seasons.
- Winter (November to February) 1-12°C
- Spring (March to May) 6-16°C
- Summer (June to August) 13-20°C
- Fall (September to October) 10-16°C
Rotterdam On Wikipedia
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limited 3 star facilities
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