Everything You Need To Know About The Netherland’s Underrated Capital Of Cool, Rotterdam

By Simone Jovel
25th Feb 2020

things to do in rotterdam

Famed for its architecture, historic marinas, and most recently as the host city for Eurovision 2020, Rotterdam deserves a spot on your holiday itinerary. 

Located in the province of South Holland, just 40 minutes by train from the centre of Amsterdam, this Dutch city makes for an ideal day trip, although we won’t blame you if you decide to stay a little longer. 

In fact, there’s so much to do that we rounded up the ultimate first timer’s guide to Rotterdam so you won’t miss a beat, or a brew.

Trip Out At The Cube Houses

The Piet Blom’s Cube Houses are one of the best examples of Rotterdam innovation. Located in the Blaakse Bos waterfront development in the Laurenskwartier district, these yellow and white houses are a visual trip that needs to be seen to be believed. Designed in an asymmetrical pattern to resemble an abstract forest (stick with us), each roof is said to represent a treetop, with three sides facing the ground and three facing the sky. The overall goal of the project was to maximise the limited space available when it comes to high density living. If you’re intrigued by this wooden forest you can check out the kijk-kubus or show cube and experience it for yourself.

Eat Your Way Through The Markthal

When it comes to snacks, we prefer them all in one place, and that’s exactly what you’ll find at The Markthal. You can wrap your laughing gear around everything that Dutch cuisine has to offer, from Patat (fries), to Kass (cheese), bitterballen (small tasty morsels of deep fried perfection), stroopwafels (hot caramel waffles), kibbeling (fried cod), loempias (spring rolls), the list goes on. But it's not just Dutch eats on offer here, you’ll find nearly 200 different cuisines on the menu here, and they’re open 7 days a week. While you’re there, check out the Binnenrote outdoor market which is conveniently located alongside the Markthal.

Step Back In Time At The Historisch Delfshaven

For a city that lost so much during the war, Rotterdam was fortunate enough to have some of its more stunning architecture survive. The Delshaven marina survived all out destruction during the bombardment and in 2020 one of the most gramworthy spots in the city, will canal houses now home to bars and shops, that are perfect for a tipple like De Pelgrim brewery, or a lazy spot of antique shopping.

Walk The Street Art Trail

We’re big fans of experiencing a city on foot, and Rotterdam is right up there when it comes to cities best explored with a coffee in one hand and camera in the other. In fact, the best way to experience this city is on a walking tour, and there are a plethora to choose from. The Street Art Trail is one of the best walking tours in Rotterdam, running a total length of 7 kilometres with works by local artists adorning walls and laneways. You can hop on an organised tour or download the Rewriters app which also includes some of the best graffiti spots in town and new works as they appear. 

Get Cultured With Contemporary Art

Rotterdam is well known amongst contemporary art lovers. Home to the Nederlands Fotomuseum, and Cokkie Snoei, exhibiting 20th century vintage photography and canvas, you don’t have to be here long to realise that when it comes to art this is a great city to base yourself for a couple of days. When it comes to perfectly curating your own itinerary, you can’t go past the Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art. The centre boasts up to 6 exhibitions a year, showcasing some of the world’s most established, and also some of the world's most exciting emerging artists in the contemporary space. Those well versed in the contemporary scene will know the Museum van Boijmans Van Benuingen. On many a bucket list, this is one of the Netherland’s oldest museums. Unfortunately at the time of writing the museum was closed for renovations so check local guides for details. Finally, the Kunsthal the building alone is an icon in modern circles for its use of materials and ramps, and what’s inside is just as notable. In 2020 you’ll find everything from erotic photography, interactive exhibitions, and the first retrospective on French creator Thierry Mugler.

But First, Always Coffee

For anyone that can’t tourist without some serious caffeination, we got you. The specialty coffee scene is thriving, meaning you can plan your day with an appropriate amount of stops along the way. Starting with Hopper, located in the vibing Witte de Withstraat this is the ideal spot to hatch a plan for the day ahead, they also bake their own bread. Next on the list is Harvest Coffee Brewers. The team here have landed in Rotterdam by way of Melbourne so you know you’re in for a decent cup of Joe, and yes, before you ask you will most definitely find decent avo on toast here. For those serious about their brews, Man Met Bril Koffie, is the business roasting their beans onsite. FInally, a bottomless filter is the guaranteed way to all of our hearts, and at By Jarmusch you’ll find free filter coffee refills so you can rest those tired traveller feet and recaffeinate accordingly.


Beer is always a good idea, especially in The Netherlands, and when you’re on holiday it’s beer o’clock all the time. There are countless bars along the Witte de Wittstraat pulling local and international brews, so you can settle in and people watch the rest of the day away. When the sun’s out (or at least you find yourself in Rotterdam during the summer months), the aptly named Biergarten Rotterdam, or Rotterdam Beer Garden, is the perfect outdoor location complete with DJS, acoustic sets and even comedy shows. When it comes to needing a beer during those colder months, or any time really, Bokaal Rotterdam is always a safe bet with classic pub eats and dutch bar snacks.

Image Credit: Richard Ciraulo, Mike van den Bos, Achim Thomae, Christian Fregnan, Visit Rotterdam, Chanachai Panichpattanakij, Harvest

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