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Rotterdam City Guide
Rotterdam is renowned for its port – the largest in Europe – and one of the busiest in the world. But it’s also a known as a city of striking architectural landmarks, art-dominated streets, and an incredible new food market. And just nearby you have the capital of the Netherlands, The Hague, Delft and Gouda – all within easy reach. These places are icons that represent Holland the world over, with their art, cheese, ceramics – and of course, windmills.
Visit www.rotterdam.info or the tourist office at Binnenwegplein for you city maps and guide on what to see and do in Rotterdam. Like elsewhere in The Netherlands, Rotterdam is bicycle-friendly. There are separate bike lanes on the streets and separate traffic lights for bicyclists. You can rent a bike near Central Station at Use-it, on Vijverhofstraat 5 minutes from Central Station.
The Hague is the home of the Dutch Government city, but the city is also known as the ‘Royal City by the Sea’ because of the members of the Dutch Royal Family who reside here. The Hague is also the home of Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ in the world famous Mauritshuis Museum. The city is also located near the North Sea coastline. Scheveningen, the best known seaside resort on the Dutch coast, is also famous as being one of those difficult words that only Dutch people can say.
Delft is known for its historic town centre with canals, as well as being the birthplace of the painter Johannes Vermeer. Even more famous, is Delft pottery – the blue and white pottery made in and around Delft in the Netherlands from the 16th century still famous today and gave the word ‘delph’ as a byword for crockery to the world.
Just 20 kilometres away from Rotterdam is Gouda – world famous for its Gouda cheese, which is still traded on its cheese market every Thursday. Gouda cheese is not made in the city itself but in the surrounding region, but it gets its name from being traded in Gouda where the council imposes stringent quality controls on the making of the cheese.
When you fly to Holland, you sometimes needs to the real Dutch icons. The best Dutch icon is a windmill – and the most famous windmills in the world are the windmills of Kinderdijk. The unique collection of 19 authentic windmills is a UNESCO World Heritage is undoubtedly and is a wonderful and day trip in the Netherlands from Rotterdam. You can reach them using the Waterbus – changing at the ‘Ridderkerk’ to another ferry called ‘ Driehoeksveer’ to get there.
Hotels in Rotterdam
Rotterdam has a good array of hotels, often with views of the water – and some very funky designs as befits the city.
The Mainport hotel is right up against the Maas River and the harbour, stunning Mainport is one of the best locations to rest your head in Rotterdam. It has in-room hot tubs and Finnish saunas, as well as a spa with Turkish hammam and steam rooms. Its 5 star ultra-modernity – ‘Manhattan on the Maas’.
Bazar has 27 Middle Eastern-, African- and South American-themed rooms, full exotically decorated rooms. It is situated right in the cultural district of Rotterdam with Museum Boymans nearby. Top-floor rooms have balconies and views. There is also a ground-floor bar and restaurant.
If you are on a budget – and even if you are not, and just want to stay somewhere different, try the Stayokay Rotterdam on Overblaak. The Stayokay Rotterdam is is housed in one of the famous Cube houses (Dutch: Kubuswoningen) – a set of houses built on the concept of “living as an urban roof”. Cube houses are a set of innovative houses built in Rotterdam, designed by architect Piet Blom and based on the concept of “living as an urban roof”. It’s distinctive appearance is because Piet Blom tilted the cube of a conventional house 45 degrees, and rested it upon a hexagon-shaped pylon.
Eating and Drinking in Rotterdam
Going out in Rotterdam is extremely varied. The Oude Haven Oude Haven (Old Harbour) and the main market square Blaak are great spots for cafés and restaurants are located around the picturesque harbour. Close to the Oude Haven area around the Pannenkoekstraat has emerged as a new centre for shopping and going out. Amid small boutiques, selling clothes, you can find cocktail bars such as Level or Soho, which both attract large crowds. Especially in the summer this is a great place for a mojito.
The Market Hall is the first indoor market in the Netherlands with over 100 stalls selling fresh produce planned, as well as restaurants and cooking classes.
De Ballentent is a waterfront pub and also a great spot for a meal, with two terraces. Mussels, schnitzels and more line the menu but the real speciality here is bals, huge homemade meatloafy meatballs.
The De Witte Aap is smoky, wooden corner bar, on Witte de Withstraat, with cool locals from the morning coffee crowd to late-night revellers.
The Grand café Westerpaviljoen on Nieuwe Binnenweg is a great place to read the newspaper, have a big breakfast good lunch, or in the evening, drink on their fantastic terrace.
Café LaBru has a hipster crowd with great selection of spirit and cocktail drinks. One of the newest arrivals on Rotterdam’s cool nightlife scene is a pop-up drinking spot simply called BAR located
Explore Rotterdam – shopping and sightseeing
The main shopping areas are the pedestrianised Lijnbaan and the Hoogstraat. Alternative shopping can be found at Botersloot and Pannekoekstraat, which is full of independent stores – just east from the market square.
This huge Blaak Market is the city’s best and is spread across Blaak Square across from the cube houses. Even more exotic and colourful is the Afrikaanderplein Market which is geared towards Rotterdam inhabitants of Antillian, South American or African descent on Wednesday and Saturday.
For architecture, visit the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Van Nelle Factory (Van Nellefabriek), a former coffee, tea and tobacco factory that is considered an icon of 20th-century industrial architecture.
The latest attraction in Rotterdam is the Market Hall (also ‘Markthal’ or ‘Koopboog’) – a residential- and office building with a market hall underneath, with a glass facade making it the largest glass-window structure in Europe. The Market Hall the size of a large football pitch and you can buy fresh fish, meat, cheese, flowers and bread. The architecture is fantastic with more than 4000 colourful tiles covering the inside of the roof. Its open every day until 8pm so be sure to pay a visit. The inside of the building is painted with a 11.000 m2 of artwork showing fruits, vegetables, seeds, fish, flowers and insects, created using digital 3D-technique. The Markthal can now be called the ‘The Sistine Chapel of Rotterdam’!
For art, visit the Museum van Boijmans Beuningen, whose permanent collection includes works by Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Monet, Mondrian, Magritte as well as a dedicated Dalí exhibition room in an incredible Surrealism wing.
The Mauritshuis just beside government buildings in The Hague, has a unique history and owns a unique collection including Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’, Rembrandt, Rubens and Van Dyck. The Vermeer is now back from a world tour and it’s the centrepiece for this incredible collection of Flemish masters from the Golden Age.
Getting to and from Rotterdam Airport
Flying to Rotterdam The Hague Airport is very handy to get to the cities of Rotterdam, The Hague and Delft. The RET shuttle bus 50 connects to metro station Meijersplein where you can transfer to metro line E to Slinge (total travel to Rotterdam Centraal about 20 minutes), or Metro Line E to The Hague. The number 33 bus which runs frequently to Rotterdam Centraal Station and takes you there in about 25 minutes.
You can book airport transfers upfront – a transfer with a private cab from the airport to Rotterdam Centraal cost about €19.