Things to do in Rotterdam

Take the ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland and drive straight to Rotterdam

museums in rotterdam
Centre & Museumpark

Explore this area on foot, taking in the pedestrianised shopping areas around Lijnbaan and Beursplein and more bohemian areas to the east, Meent and Pannekoekstraat.

Check out major landmarks like the Stadhuis (City Hall), Laurenskerk church and World Trade Centre before following the trendy Witte de Withstraat street towards Museumpark, the attractive park around which most of Rotterdam's key museums are clustered, including the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Kunsthal and Natuurmuseum.


Explore some of Rotterdam's most varied architecture here in the 'city triangle'. Oude Haven (Old Harbour) offers original 16th and 17th century warehouses, taverns and merchant homes as well as antique shops and an antiques market.

Blaak was flattened by a German bombardment during World War II and reconstructed with weird and wonderful buildings like Piet Blom's cube houses and Boompjes Boulevard is lined with some of the city's modern architecture highlights.

Nieuwe Werk

Key points of interest in this western part of Rotterdam are Het Park (The Park) and the Euromast.

Travel to the viewing platform of the 100 metre (328 feet) Euromast for the best views of old Rotterdam (Oude Haven and Delfshaven), the glittering architecture of new Rotterdam and the Europoort - on a clear day you can see for 30km (19 miles). Take the rotating glass elevator up to the Space Tower to reach even greater heights of 185 metres (607 feet) and abseil down if you're brave enough.


Delfshaven (Delft harbour) fortuitously escaped wartime bombardment, meaning you can enjoy its tranquil shops and cafés and visit the Oude of Pelgrimvaderskerk (Old or Pilgrim Fathers' Church), which marks the spot where the Pilgrims embarked the Speedwell in 1620 to meet their sister ship, the Mayflower, in Southampton.

Wilhelminakade (Wilhemina pier) or Kop van Zuid (Southbank)

Walk over the Erasmus Bridge or grab a watertaxi from Leuvehaven to discover this vibrant, regenerated docklands area. 

It's a unique blend of old architectural icons like the Hotel New York, Las Palmas and Lantaren Venster and some of the city's newest and most striking additions, including the Maastoren, New Orleans and De Rotterdam.

Historic tram in Rotterdam
Getting around

There are two ways to take in all these sights and more: with the historic number 10 tram and on an ArchiGuides tour.

The first is a hop-on/hop-off ride in a vintage tram, departing from Willemsplein (at the north base of the Erasmus Bridge) and calling at all the city's major sights. Rotterdam ArchiGuides provide two-hour guided walking, cycling or bus tours of Rotterdam with a focus on architecture.

Rotterdam City Hall
Five free things to do

1. Visit Rotterdam's Stadhuis (City Hall), built in 1914 in Art Deco style with a working carillon and golden tower. The public areas, including an impressive hall and attractive courtyard, are free to enter but you'll have to charm a guard to show you the Burgerzaal (civic hall).

2. Stroll along the Vlaggenparade (Flag Parade) on the banks of the Maas river: over 230 flags flutter along Boompjes Boulevard, representing Rotterdam's long history of international trade and commerce.

3. Visit Galerie VIVID in the Red Apple Building, a superb gallery of contemporary and modern design and art established in 1999 and featuring exhibitions of global designers and artists.

4. Walk over the Erasmus Bridge, one of The Netherlands' most famous bridges. With its elegant white curved shape, locals call the bridge ‘The Swan’ and like to claim its the country's only hill.

5. Listen to a carillon performance outside one (or more) of the three churches in Rotterdam where the city's two official carilloneurs play: De Laurenskerk, the Stadhuis and Pelgrimvaderskerk in Delfshaven.

Cafe Culture Rotterdam
Five best cafés & bars

1. Café Dudok (Meent, 88) is a Rotterdam institution, taking its name from the Dutch architect who designed the striking 1940s building in which it's housed. Open from breakfast till late, Dudok is particularly well-known for its traditional Dutch apple pie, served warm with cinnamon ice cream.

2. The SS Rotterdam (3e Katendrechtse Hoofd, 25) was once a Holland-America Line flagship, ushering thousands of people between Rotterdam and New York through the 1950s and 60s. She's now been transformed into a plush hotel with several bars and restaurants berthed in the regenerated Katendrecht district, making her a unique venue for cocktails and dinner.

3. Jazzcafé Dizzy ('s-Gravendijkwal, 127), named after the great jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie, is the place to be on Monday and Tuesday nights and Sunday afternoons, when you'll find it packed with music lovers enjoying live performances of jazz and virtually every genre of music imaginable.

4. Café De Unie (Mauritsweg, 34-35) combines an eclectic cultural centre with an organic café and restaurant. The original café, built in 1925, was bombed during the war, so today's venue features a reconstruction of the striking De Stijl façade.

5. De Tuin van de Vier Windstreken (Plaszoom, 354) boasts an unbeatable location, flanked front and back by the Kralingse Plas (lake) and Kralingse Bos (forest) and on either side by 16th and 17th-century windmills. Guests enjoy unbroken views of the lake and Rotterdam's iconic skyline behind it from the large terrace and contemporary glass restaurant.