With its psychedelic modern architecture, mind-blowing food, diverse creative scene and uber cool hostels, Rotterdam has got a heck of a lot going for it. So it’s weird that most travellers bypass the city on their European adventures.
Or maybe it isn’t – Rotterdam isn’t one of those cities you can just rock up in and expect to have a good time. You need to know what you’re doing. With a little planning however, Rotterdam might just become your new favourite city. In case you need any more persuading, here are nine things that put the DAMN in Rotterdam…
Rotterdam is deliciously weird
Not many cities would have the balls to erect a giant Santa holding a sex toy (no pun intended), but that’s just the way Rotterdam rolls. It’s an open-minded city that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Another great weird thing to do in Rotterdam is to check out the eerily beautifully floating forest, an installation featuring slender elm trees mounted to decommissioned sea buoys. Oh, and if anybody knows what Rotterdam’s obsession with painting creepy babies on every available surface is, please let us know in the comments below!
Freakshakes! Giant stroopwafels! A cheesecake festival!
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If you’re looking for an excuse to fall off your detox wagon, Rotterdam is it. Head to Supermercado for insane freakshakes, Dudok for legendary apple pie, and Stroop Rotterdam for freshly made giant stroopwafels in flavours such as salted caramel, lemon or bacon. Oh, and you might want to accidentally time your visit to coincide with the annual cheesecake festival.
If you need something to break up all the sugar, try Fenix Food Factory for an organic market in a former factory, Bertmans for ridiculously good brunch, or Ter Marsch and Co for Rotterdam’s best burger. And when if you’re looking for an incredible vegetarian restaurant in Rotterdam, then you need to check out to Spirit.
The nightlife in Rotterdam makes Amsterdam look tame
The beauty of Rotterdam’s nightlife is that it’s less touristy than its more famous neighbour, meaning it’s super chilled and you can have a great night out for less.
If you just want to go with the flow and see where the night takes you, head to Witte de Withstraat, which is where you’ll find Rotterdam’s highest concentration of cool bars (including Cafe de Witte Aap, voted world’s best bar), clubs and late night cheap eats. Or for something a little more left-field, the parties thrown by creative space Roodkapje Rotterdam are pretty trippy. In the summer, Biergarten Rotterdam is one of the best places to be. And if you want a club that doesn’t take itself too seriously, check out Bar.
One of our favourite places any time of day or night is Aloha Bar, Rotterdam’s best rooftop bar and restaurant converted from a former swimming pool – the Tropicana décor is the shiz, the views across the water are intense and they keep their own bees.
There’s space for creativity in Rotterdam
The last few years has seen an explosion of innovative urban renewal projects cropping up in previously unloved corners of the city, such as the Zomerhofkwartier aka Zoho and the Hofbogen District, located under the arches of a disused railway line, which is home to the legendary Bird jazz bar and some excellent food options.
And if you’re interested in getting your hands on the work of Rotterdam’s local makers plus plenty of vintage knick-knacks, head to the Instagram heaven that is Swan Market (pictured above). Or try Groos Rotterdam for local produce and design.
The architecture in Rotterdam is mind-bendingly good
Rotterdam was almost completely destroyed during WW2, but what the city lacks in historic old buildings, it more than makes up for in innovation, creativity and sheer audacity.
Architectural wonders you mustn’t miss include the incredible domed roof of Markthal Rotterdam indoor market; the Instagram-ready yellow walkways of the Luchtsingel, whose construction was crowdfunded by the local community; the magnificent Erasmus Bridge nicknamed “The Swan”; the UNESCO world heritage Van Nellefabriek, possibly one of the world’s most beautiful buildings; the Sonneveld House, a stunning residence that appears to have been frozen in time; and the futuristic Cube Houses, which are now home to Stayokay Rotterdam Cube Hostel.
Coffee nerds visiting Rotterdam can breathe a sigh of relief
There should be a word for the fear of being left high and dry without a decent coffee whilst travelling. It’s always the first thing we Google before an upcoming trip.
But coffee nerds need have no fear of visiting Rotterdam – there are some amazing coffee shop options, and local roasters. Our favourites include Man met Bril Koffie, Hopper Coffee and the oh-so-gorgeous Aloha Bar.
Art is everywhere in Rotterdam
Cariffiti There’s a crazy amount of street art in Rotterdam, as well as public art installations. One of the best places to explore it is around Witte de Withstraat, where you’ll find psychedelic murals and neon signage. To really get your geek on, download the Rewriters app for a guided tour and background info on over 7km of Rotterdam’s street art.
The museums in Rotterdam are excellent – if you only visit one, make sure it’s Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, which houses one of Europe’s finest collections of modern art with works from the likes of Picasso, Dali, Renoir and Monet, plus a fantastic sculpture garden. Or try Witte de With for something a little more edgy. For photography lovers, the Nederlands Fotomuseum is a great way to spend an afternoon.
There are plenty of places to get your chill on
The best park in Rotterdam to get closer to nature aka soothe your hangover is the Kralingse Bos which centres around a picturesque lake and even has its own pancake shop. If you’re feeling energetic, hire a bike for the day and explore Rotterdam’s pretty canals.
And if you want to get out of the city for the afternoon, take the 30 minute boatride Kinderdijk, a UNESCO world heritage site with more windmills than you can shake a stick at. Perfect if you want to add a little quintessential Dutch countryside to your life.
The hostels are very, very cool
Okay, so we already mentioned Stayokay Rotterdam Cube Hostel which is housed in one of Rotterdam’s most iconic buildings – which btw is just as weird on the inside as it is on the outside. If you fancy something a little more homely, then Hostel Ani & Haakien Rotterdam is the one for you – with pancake breakfasts, movie nights and gorgeously quirky design, you may not want to leave. For vintage chic and a relaxed atmosphere, try Hostel Room Rotterdam.
Last but not least, there’s the ultra-cool King Kong Hostel located at the heart of Rotterdam’s trendy Witte de Withstraat. Rumour has it that this hostels recently played host to some famous guests, to which we say… maybe.
Are you ready to fall in love with Rotterdam? Click here to browse all our excellent hostels in Rotterdam ????
Got a hot tip for things to do in Rotterdam? Tell us about it in the comments below ??
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