The impressive skyline of Rotterdam can be seen for miles around, sufficiently imposing and spectacular to rival that of New York. Rotterdam is known in the Netherlands and abroad as a city of great architecture, featuring many examples of innovative construction. You won’t find any classic Dutch medieval architecture here though: Rotterdam was bombed heavily during WWII and spent many subsequent decades rebuilding.
The port of Rotterdam is the largest in Europe, and from 1962 it was the world’s busiest port until it was finally surpassed by Shanghai in 2004. The city is world-renowned for its modern harbour, and a day in Rotterdam would not be complete without a trip to, and indeed on the water.
You can enjoy all sorts of cruises and excursions on the classic and modern ships and boats from the port, including excursions to the windmills at Kinderdijk, or culinary cruises in the Maas on the Pancake Boat, China Boat, Brunch Boat and Tapas Boat. Or if you are looking for something a bit more educational, on Spido you can really explore the port of Rotterdam.
Rotterdam was European Capital of Culture in 2001, and the city has many cultural facilities including a large congress and concert building called De Doelen, many theatres (including the new Luxor theatre) and movie theatres. The Ahoy complex in the south of the city is used for pop concerts, exhibitions, tennis tournaments and other events.
The famous Cube Houses (an unusual collection of cube-shaped homes designed in the ‘70’s) are certainly worth a visit, and the special Kijk-kubus (Museum House) offers you a look inside. Rotterdam also has a large and varied selection of museums. Some of the more well-known museums are the Boijmans-van Beuningen Museum, the NAi (Netherlands Architecture Institute), the Volkenkundig Museum (foreign peoples and cultures), the Kunsthal (design by Rem Koolhaas),the center for contemporary art Witte de With, the Maritiem Museum, the Brandweermuseum (Fire brigade museum) and the Historisch Museum (Historical museum). Others include the tax museum and the nature historical museum. At the historical shipyard and museum Scheepswerf ‘De Delft, you can experience the reconstruction of Ship of the Line ‘De Delft’.
If you are on a break with the family, Rotterdam has a great deal of activities for kids, including the Diergaarde Blijdorp Zoo. Situated at the northwest side of Rotterdam, you can spend hours walking around Blijdorp and you still wouldn’t see everything. The Zoo is also complete with a vast indoor sea aquarium called the Oceanium, which has a walkthrough tunnel where you will be surrounded by sharks. Learn what it’s like to be a grown up at Familiepark Plaswijckpark with its Animal Park, Play Park & Traffic Town. If you fancy some family competition, head to Midgetgolfbaan Parkhaven, Rotterdam’s own mini golf course. While you’re there you can take in the Euromast Tower and the Pannenkoekenboot (Pancake Boat), Rotterdam’s culinary sailing tour.
Travelling to Rotterdam by Ferry
With a direct ferry and less than an 1 hour driving from the other two ports in Holland, taking the ferry to Rotterdam is great way of visiting this great city. The Rotterdam port, Amsterdam port and the Hook of Holland also offer train and bus links in to the heart of Rotterdam.