The Best of Rotterdam – What to See And Do

Rotterdam center

Rotterdam – the New York of the Netherlands

Well, this may sound like an exaggeration, especially when coming from somebody who has never been to NYC. However, I am pretty sure New York would feel like Rotterdam does. Rotterdam is not your typical Dutch city with the tall, narrow houses staring at their reflection in the water. You wont see tourists and locals enjoying the afternoon sun from a boat on the canals. But you can feel the fast-paced heartbeat of the city in every corner, every street, every cozy coffee place. 

The city center of Rotterdam was almost completely destroyed during WW2, which is the reason for the unusual for the Netherlands architecture. After the war Rotterdam became the blank canvas for many artists and architects. Today, it is a vibrant mix of modern buildings, skyscrapers and what is left from its old looks. 

Rotterdam is not your typical European touristic city,  either, and that is where its charm is. There are plenty of art galleries, street art pieces, cozy cafes and hipster bars. Honestly, there is no better way to explore it than just to roam around its streets and fall in love with everything you see. 

Shop at the Cool district and have a cup of coffee at Stadhuisplein 

A thing I love about Dutch cities – large squares with old buildings and busy candle-lit restaurants/cafes. The Town hall square in Rotterdam is no exception. In addition, it is surrounded by a big shopping area and various food spots. If you are not a sightseer, this would be your cup of tea – or coffee! 

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Rotterdam Blaak: Where the past meets the present

This district is right in the heart of the city, a short walk from the central station (which is an architectural masterpiece by itself!). It is a rather busy spot, because some of the most famous attractions/sites are situated here. It is the perfect blend of Rotterdams modern architecture icons and some of its old gems. Here you can see the famous Cube houses, the Central library and Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk. The latter is a protestant church and the only remaining medieval site. It was almost demolished during the Rotterdam Blitz in 1940, but was later restored.

 Cube houses

Probably Rotterdams most famous site, these yellow cubes are actual residential properties. They make for the perfect Rotterdam postcard and are a must-see! For all the curious folks out there, one of the houses has been turned to a Show Cube Museum. People can see a fully furnished house with its slanted walls – how cool is that! 

Grab a bite at Markthal

The concept of a city market was obviously taken on another level here. The horseshoe-like glass building houses a variety of pop-up shops with food from various cuisines, and collections of herbs and spices. The inside walls depict what is called ‘the largest artwork in the world – 11 000 m² of giant fruit, veggies, flowers and seeds! To top it all off, the complex is not just a market place – it is also a residential and office building.

Take a stroll down the Niuewe Maas

The waterfront of Rotterdam offers some of the most amazing views of the city. With the iconic Erasmusbrug, the skyscrapers and glass buildings, the occasional typical Dutch houses and the unforgiving wind, you realise how small we really are in the grand scheme of things. Philosophy aside, the cityscape is really breathtaking, especially when the sun is setting down! 

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Wind down and take a sip at Witte de Withstraat

This street is the go-to place for artsy spots and people. I will be telling you more about it in my next post, but basically the street is full of gezellig coffee places, bars and restaurants, and funky shops. It is the perfect place to take a sip of wine or grab dinner after a long day of roaming around the city. The atmosphere is really cozy, with candles, lights and soft music everywhere. However, many of the places are crowded, so if you prefer a quiet spot with some privacy, maybe skip this street. 

Rotterdam is truly an amazing city. A perfect blend of architecture, history, culture and international diversity. Let me know your thoughts about it together with your favourite spots down below! 

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