You might know Rotterdam as one of the largest ports in the world, and the second largest city in the Netherlands. While it’s true that these claims to fame are important for the history of the city, there’s a lot more to Rotterdam than meets the eye. From culture to sky scrapers, classic windmills to chic neighborhoods, Rotterdam is a vibrant and picturesque city that should be added to you European itinerary as soon as possible. During our recent stay at the highly recommended Manhattan Hotel, we discovered many wonderful sights to see in this wonderful city. Here are a few of our best things to do in Rotterdam Netherlands.
Nothing more authentic Netherlands than a windmill, I’d say. Kinderdijk is one of the best places in the Netherlands to see some of the most beautiful windmills in the entire country. Many of the 19 windmills here date back hundreds of years, and you can take tours inside the windmills to discover how they work, plus meet a real life miller (their website actually calls them ‘full-blooded’, whatever that means!). If all that isn’t convincing you enough, listen to the UNESCO World Heritage site badge Kinderdijk has – that should do it. It’s around 15km east of Rotterdam, making it an enjoyable, relaxing day out from the city.
Discover Oude Haven
Otherwise known as ‘Old Harbour’, this beautiful area of Rotterdam mixes old and new, with ships lining the waters and modern skyscrapers towering above you. It’s the perfect place in Rotterdam to wine and dine, especially in the summer when you can sit out on the patios and bask in the sunshine. Fun fact – the first skyscraper in Europe was actually built here in 1898, so not only are there modern buildings, there are also the first of its kind in the area too.
Museum Boijmans van Beuningen
This museum is often referred to as one of the finest in Europe, and is also one of the oldest museums in the Netherlands. Here you’ll find plenty of art originating from not just The Netherlands, but the remainder of Europe, including art from Rembrandt, Dali, Bosch, Van Gogh, and Christo. Not only that, but the museum houses design objects that have changed over the last 800 years, making it an interesting spot for a visitor who’s less than enthused by classic portraits or paintings. Its 1935 red brick building is also worth a good bit of admiration while you’re here.
If you’re into architecture, Huis Sonneveld, or the Sonneveld House Museum, is one of the most important things to see when in Rotterdam. Built in the 1930s, it’s a fine example of Dutch functionalism, and was intended to merely be a practical design to make sense, but the results became nothing short of gorgeous. The Museum has been full refurbished in recent years, with interesting features and décor. Design fanatics – this is a place you’ll want to call home.
Navy nerd alert! Visiting the SS Rotterdam is much more than just have a poke around an old boat – this ship has be turned into something seriously special. Not only can you see this beautiful boat, which sailed from 1959 to 2000, but you can also enjoy some entertainment – if we’re going all out, you can get married on it! Its many rooms were renovated and now you can stroll along the deck in the sunshine, have a drink or meal in one of the ships several restaurants and bars, or discover all the boat has to offer on a guided tour. Plus, admission is free.
Catch a view of Erasmusbrug
The Erasmusbrug, or Erasmus Bridge, is one of those iconic landmarks of Rotterdam. This cable-style bridge in over 800 meters long, and has earned itself the nickname of ‘The Swan’ because of its asymmetrical style. As it’s so huge, you can find monumental views of the bridge from so many points along the river. It also looks absolutely stunning at night, so make sure you take a stroll down to the river in the evening at some point to see the Erasmusburg all lit up.
Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk
There are a lot examples of modern architecture in Rotterdam, but to get your fix of something a bit older, Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk is your best bet. This church was finished at the beginning of the 16th century, but suffered some damaged during the Rotterdam Blitz in 1940. After debates whether to tear the whole thing down entirely after that occurrence, it was finally decided to keep it up, a wise choice for the city to make. While the outside is beautiful, the inside is simply breath-taking, with wide, ornate arches that give Laurenskerk its charm.
Bet you didn’t see that recommendation coming, did you? But it’s true, Rotterdam has a pretty cool mosque in it. Built it 2001, it isn’t exactly the oldest mosque you’ll see in Europe, but in this part of the world it’s a nice change from all the Catholic churches and sharp, cube buildings. With two minarets and a dome, it’s a beautiful to stroll around and take a few picture of.
Located between several of Rotterdam’s finest museums, the aptly named Museumpark is the perfect place to stroll around if you’ve gone a bit stir crazy going round museums all day. In the beautiful sunshine, there are few better places in Rotterdam to get out into some fresh air and space. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled as you wander round the park – there are several pieces of artwork dotted around that are worth stopping at.
If you’re looking for a bit more of an offbeat museum to visit, or you enjoy checking out cool artifacts from all over the globe, then Wereldmuseum is the place for you, and with more than 1800 items on display it will certainly keep you entertained for a while. From silver objects from all kinds of countries, to the samurai exhibitions, Inca artifacts, and photo collections, the Wereldmuseum has all kind of things to keep the curious mind at bay.
Do you have any suggestions to add to the Best Things to do in Rotterdam Netherlands list?