Have you visited Rotterdam yet? Due to new measures aiming to reduce the number of tourists in Amsterdam and a new Eurostar opening in the city, Rotterdam is becoming a travel hotspot for backpackers.
With its stunning modern architecture and rich history, Rotterdam is certainly alluring. So, what can you do in two days here on a budget? It turns out, quite a lot!
Read on to discover the best 15 things to do in Rotterdam.
1. Cube houses
Houses in the shape of a cube (obviously) and mounted at a 45-degree angle. Constructed by architect Piet Blom in the seventies, you can take a look around the famous structures – there’s even a hostel inside! Open daily from 10:00am until 6:00pm, the entrance fee is €2 for students and €3 for everyone else.
2. Oude Haven
Oude Haven, or the ‘Old Port’, refers to a picturesque area along the river. It’s free to explore and is perfect for walking off all those stroopwafels. Here you’ll find the Flags Of Peace, the Marathon Monument, Erasmusburg and various bars to stop in along the way!
The Erasmusburg is a large bridge that takes a few leisurely minutes to cross. Rotterdam is known for its architecture, so you need to see this. It’s free to walk across and you can admire some of the city’s most impressive buildings from its epic vantage point.
4. Water taxi
Take in Rotterdam from a unique viewpoint with a short boat cruise along the river. There are water taxis available all around the city, with a short trip costing around €12 for two.
5. Flags of peace
Down by Oude Haven you’ll see a series of flags marking the coast line, fluttering in the wind. They aim to create a ‘visual dialogue around peace and its symbolism’, while presenting ‘a global spectrum of ideas on peace, each highlighting particular relationships and views towards the topic.’ Seeing this at the end of 2018 made me feel hopeful for a better future.
Looking for a hearty meal, but want (read: need) it to be Instagrammable? Baek is a little outside of the city centre, but it’s known for cooking Rotterdam’s best burger so it’s definitely worth getting your walking boots on for. Prices are cheap, the atmosphere is on point, portions are generous, staff are wonderful and the cheesecake is excellent. Sold yet?
📷 Lydia Wilkins
7. Flying grass carpet
It sounds a little like Aladdin, no? This large area of astro-turf visits different areas of the country, and when it settles becomes a miniature open space. It’s in Rotterdam currently, near the opera house and theatre. Not quite ‘a whole new world’, but it’s a perfect space for lunch, meeting friends or just people watching.
8. Street art tour
Rotterdam has a rich street art scene. You can walk around the city by yourself for free or opt for a guided route. Rewriters Rotterdam are one local street art organisation who organise group guided tours. The city’s artwork is elaborate, spontaneous, and always changing, creating an unconventional open-air gallery.
📷 Lydia Wilkins
9. De IJssalon
In need of something sweet? De IJssalon has some of the best ice-cream in the city. They’ve got a small stall in the Markthal and their own premises too. Think traditional flavours with a twist – cherry mania, anyone?
If you consider yourself a foodie then you must visit the Markthal. Opened in 2014, it acts as a residential building and an indoor market. The market has lots of food stalls – make sure you try out ExGo’s Dragon Breath – a frozen dessert dipped in liquid nitrogen which makes for a pretty cool snap. The stroopwafels are also very tasty for those who have a sweet tooth (like me!)
📷 Lydia Wilkins
11. De luchtsingel
A yellow bridge that was crowd-funded in order to connect the city’s centre to the North end. The brightly-coloured panels list the name of every person and organisation who contributed to the bridge. Even if only for convenience, it’s worth taking a stroll across – after all, how many significant landmarks are bright yellow?
12. Witte de Withstraat
As I wandered the city, photographing various locations, I was told I should mention Witte de Withstraat. Why? “Parties and meeting new people.” There are various hostels, bars, clubs and restaurants to keep every kind of backpacker entertained, as well as even more street art.
13. Walking tour
Rotterdam is flat, so pretty much anywhere can be reached on foot. Why not go for a guided tour around the city? It’s a perfect way to get your bearings, as well as exploring parts of the city you might otherwise not have known about.
14. Theatre Rotterdam
Near to the flying grass carpet there’s an opera house, cinema and theatre. I have it on good authority from a Dutch friend that the theatre showcases a wonderful variety of performances. At the time of my visit Hamlet was showing and posters for it were all over the city.
📷 Lydia Wilkins
15. Amsterdam day trip; Centraal station
If you have a bit more time, Amsterdam is about 45 minutes away on the train. It’s possible to go just for the day! But make sure you explore Rotterdam Centraal Station before you do; it’s a stunning modern building with numerous shops to browse selling virtually everything. There are also bikes below the station that you can take out for a spin.
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About the author
Lydia Wilkins is an NCTJ qualified freelance journalist. She has written for various publications including The Independent, The Brighton and Hove Independent and BN1 Magazine. She documents her life as an Autistic Female at Mademoisellewomen.com. You can find her on Twitter at @Journo_Lydia.