Attractions in Rotterdam

Lots of things to visit

Oude Haven Rotterdam
For history & culture buffs

Head to the Oude Haven (Old Harbour) for three museums dedicated to local and Dutch maritime history and tradition, notably the excellent Maritiem Museum Rotterdam (Maritime Museum Rotterdam).

Scheepvaartkwartier, the inner harbour of Rotterdam is a beautifully protected urban landscape. Broad avenues lined with imposing town houses recall Rotterdam's rich shipping history. If historic sailing ships float your boat then a visit to Veerhaven inner harbour is a must.

Dwarfed by surrounding office blocks, the Schielandshuis is central Rotterdam's only survivor from the 17th century. Fully restored to period glory, it's a great way to learn about Rotterdam's cultural heritage.

Don't miss the Café De Unie: housed in a splendid Mondriaan-inspired building, the art society / music venue / café has been a cultural institution since 1925.

Het Nieuwe Instituut
For architecture fans

Start at Het Nieuwe Instituut (The New Institute), formerly known as NAI, on Museumpark - a museum, library, archive and cultural podium dedicated to architecture.

Other architectural attractions include the Kijk-Kubus (Show-Cube) house, Sonneveld House Museum, Hotel New York, Het Witte Huis (the first Dutch 'skyscraper' built in 1898), the Euromast and the Laurenskerk, Rotterdam's sole surviving late-Gothic medieval building.

Café De Witte Aap
For nightlife lovers

Rotterdam is one of the trendiest cities in the Netherland. Enjoy a nice beer, relax with a cocktail or just dance all night long, Rotterdam has it all!

What do you think about Toffler? It's a place for those who like an underground atmosphere in an old pedestrian tunnel. Nhow Rotterdam serves delicious cocktails and is a popular place with a fantastic view over the Maas and Erasmus Bridge. For those who want to end the evening in style, visit De Witte Aap. It was named the best café in the city in 2009 according to Lonely Planet.

Museum Boijmans van Beuningen
For art lovers

Rotterdam's key museums are concentrated around Museumpark, whose landscaped gardens are themselves dotted with sculptures and installations.

The park is flanked by the celebrated Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, which houses works by leading Old Masters and contemporary artists as well as exquisite pieces of porcelain, silver, glass, and Delftware.

Other institutions on Museumpark include the Kunsthal (Hall of Culture), which holds a rolling programme of eclectic exhibitions; the Natuurmuseum (Nature Museum) with exhibitions of fossils, skeletons, insects, and stuffed birds and animals; and the small Chabot Museum, dedicated to the work of Expressionist artist Henk Chabot.

Away from Museumpark, the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art is worth a visit.

Five essentials

1. Whizz up the Euromast for unbeatable panoramic views of Rotterdam.

2. Stroll around Oude Haven, Rotterdam's old harbour, to soak up the mix of old and new, tempting antique shops and atmospheric restaurants and cafés.

3. Spend quality time in the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen with its world-class collections of Golden Age and contemporary art.

4. Enjoy a drink, meal or overnight stay at the spectacular turn-of-the-century Hotel New York, the former headquarters of the Holland America Line.

5. Take a boat tour to admire Rotterdam's architecture from the water, sailing along 'Manhattan on the Maas', under the Erasmus Bridge, past the Hotel New York and up close to the enormous ocean liners.

Five off the beaten track attractions

1. The village and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kinderdijk (30 minutes from central Rotterdam) is the largest concentration of old windmills in the Netherlands. 19 of the still operating mills line the canals, many dating to the 18th century and open to visitors.

2. The Sonneveld House Museum, built in 1933, is one of the best-preserved examples of the Nieuwe Bouwen architectural style, the Dutch branch of the International School of Modernism.

3. Originally part of a 19th-century family estate, the tranquil Trompenburg Arboretum was planted as an English country garden and now boasts over 4,000 trees, bushes and perennials, a rose garden, aviary and cacti glasshouse.

4. Housed in a Modernist villa in the Museum Park, the Chabot Museum is dedicated to the Dutch painter and sculptor Hendrik “Henk” Chabot, one of Holland's most important Expressionist figures.

5. The Lantaren Venster is a 1940s art-house cinema, which was rehoused to a chic glass and wood building on the Wilhemina pier in 2010. It offers an eclectic mix of old and current art-house films as well as live comedy, theatre and jazz performances.