Rotterdam is a Dutch city like no other with its bold, modern architecture, sprawling port, cultural delights and a cool vibe..
Rotterdam is the second largest city in the Netherlands. It lies on both sides of the Nieuwe Maas. Rotterdam was almost flattened by the world war bombings in 1940. Post war, the city was rebuilt in its present avatar by a team of modern architects. While a visit to this city does not offer the traditional Dutch experience, you cannot fail to be amazed by its statement of re-invention and urban design.
Rotterdam is reached in under 90 minutes by car via A58 and A16. You can opt for alternate driving routes through A59 or via A2 and A15. Look up parking options here
With connections every half hour, the journey is quick and hassle free. The travel takes just an hour and the schedules can be found on the NS website
This is the heart of Rotterdam. Coolsingel houses the Town Hall. This Dutch Renaissance style building is a visual treat and was luckily left unscathed by the bombings. You can book tours at the Tourist Information Office (Coolsingel 114). Be sure to pick up a tourist pass giving you 24 hour access to all the transport. The War Memorial, the Museum Rotterdam and the World Trade Centre are located here. Coolsingel leads off into the shopping streets of Lijnbaan and Koopgoot.
A piece of pre-war medieval Rotterdam. This magnificent building dates from the 15th century. It was heavily damaged in the World War. It was later restored to its former glory. Do not miss the statue of Erasmus at the front while you sit in one of the cafes in this church square. You can find information on guided tours here.
A true feast for all senses. As you walk into this building, with its high dome and glass walls, you will automatically gaze up at the art embellished ceiling. The artwork called “Horn of Plenty” depicts a brilliant multi-color mural of birds, animals, fruits and insects. However, the inviting smells from the various food stalls would make you look down eventually. These are indeed rave worthy with a range of cuisines and options to choose from. Hence, it comes as no surprise that this is the most visited building in Rotterdam.
The Cube Houses:
As you step out of the Markthal, you will be tilting your head to view the yellow and white cube houses at the correct angle. The Dutch architect, Piet Blom, conceptualized the individual houses to represent a tree. The group houses form a forest. With three floors and no straight walls, one gets curious as to what the interior would look like. You can do just that in the cube house which is open to visitors. Capture the Cube Houses, The Pencil and the Witte Huis on camera for these are Rotterdam’s architectural gems.
Hang out by the Old Harbor :
One of the oldest harbors in Rotterdam. It is filled with restored historic boats. The terraces around the harbor come alive in summer. With the skyscraper Witte Huis in the backdrop, the old harbor is a seamless blend of the old and new. Check out the Maritime Museum to re-live the history of this port and to visit some of the original vessels. Combination tickets with other attractions are worth exploring.
Stop by ‘The Swan’:
Rotterdam’s iconic landmark – Erasmus Bridge, is a must on everyone’s itinerary. This is a suspension bridge that dominates the skyline and named after the city’s famous humanist son. It swings to let boats pass and has been nicknamed ‘The Swan’ due to its shape. Do click some selfies with this architectural marvel.
Speed aboard the Spido:
A special journey around the Rotterdam harbor. This luxury boat takes you on an unforgettable tour where you can watch the busy port with its big and small vessels, quays and storage facilities against the architectural backdrop of the city. The Spido sails from the foot of the Erasmus Bridge and covers major landmarks like the Euromast, Hotel New York and the Steam Ship Rotterdam. The website has details of available tours and packages. Another fun option is the amphibious Splash Tours.
Experience the Euromast:
One of the tallest watch towers in the Netherlands. Go up on the glass gondola to get a 360 degree view of Rotterdam. Enjoy a snack in the restaurant while admiring sweeping views across the Rotterdam skyline. On a clear day, you might be able to spot Antwerp in the distance! For the adventurous, jump and abseil down the tower on the way back. The attraction being very popular, it would be prudent to book your tickets early.
Marvel at the Museumpark:
A modern park in the center of the city. You have a pick of six museums to choose from. Visit the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen for a spectacular journey into art, sculptures and paintings or the Chabot Museum for works by Hendrik Chabot. The Netherlands Architecture Institute and the Art Hall are also very popular.
Pay a tribute to the Pilgrim Fathers:
Visit Delfshaven from where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail in 1620 to Plymouth, Massachusetts. There is a bronze tablet and a memorial here. The Old Church where their pre-sail service was held is very popular. This is another district where most buildings are from the pre-war times.
Rotterdam is one place where you will not go hungry. In fact, you would need to plan a whole new trip dedicated to food and drink if you have to do justice to what this city has to offer. The old harbor, the Coolsingel and the Witte de Withstraat have some of Rotterdam’s most popular terraces.The Markthal and the Fenix Food Factory are the covered markets that must not be missed. While at the Markthal you would be spoilt for choice with respect to variety and cuisine. The Fenix Food Factory offers culinary delicacies from artisans in an industrial setting. Check out the Kaapse Brouwers here for sure. Another cool option is to combine a visit to the SS Rotterdam with a quick bite on-board. Or how about booking a table for lunch at the Hotel New York – the erstwhile headquarters of the Holland – America line?
Hop on a water taxi and feel the wind across your face as you speed along the Maas. Apart from the fun experience, this is also one of the easiest and most convenient ways to get around in Rotterdam. With more than 50 stops and 25 years of service, this is a true Rotterdam must do!
For Eindhoven News: Muktha Kartik Iyer