The Netherlands has a lot to offer, but most tourists get lost in the red light district and the canals of Amsterdam. Indeed, it’s a beatiful city. But don’t forget there’s much more to see in the country of bikes and tulips. Take the train for 40 minutes to Rotterdam, and discover a modern city center sorrounded by skyscrappers. I’ts a great contrast between both cities worth experiencing. A paradise for architects! Here’s what to do in Rotterdam for a weekend!
Metro or tram stop Centraal station
The station itself is an iconic building in Rotterdam and was rebuilt just a few years ago. On the first platform we can still see a wall, which is the last standing part of the old station.
From the station, you can walk to Lijnbaan, which is the shopping area. But you also have a tram and metro stop if you want to start in another area. Tram 20 and 25 cross the commercial area and pass the
Fun fact: They say that the architect was inspired by the tinfoil trays in which Kapsalon is served. And what is Kapsalon ?? Well, it’s this delicious dish with kebab meat, lettuce, potatoes, and cheese. This great invention comes from Rotterdam (although it is in any Turkish restaurant of Holland) and they say that it is “the typical food of Rotterdam“.
Tram stop Lijnbaan or metro / tram stop Beurs
This is the main shopping street, which also open on Sundays. In the middle of Lijnbaan, another commercial street will take you to an underground passageway of shops. If you continue in that direction, you arrive at the Markthal. You will also pass by the Hudson’s Bay, the new mall with high end brands – in the basement they have an outlet !!
Metro stop Blaak
Best area to find somewhere to eat! The Markthal is cool to go for a walk and a snack. This iconic building of Rotterdam was proposed at first as a covered market, to move the street market into the interior. But it has ended up being a something like a fancy food court. You can find all kinds of food! A favourite for both tourists and locals. The normal market is still outside on the weekends.
Tip: in the area you can find Vapiano and Happy italy, cheap Italian restaurants. Always a good option.
Cubic houses and Oude haven
Metro stop Blaak
In front of the Markthal there are the cubic houses. In short, houses on shapes of cubes. Because Rotterdam’s architecture is nothing but unique!
If you go up the stairs of the cubic houses and continue through the passage, you arrive at the Oude Haven– old port – a lovely area for a drink at a terrace by the water. Many of the boats that are standing here are actual houses where families and students live. Something common for Dutch people, but so interesting for tourits!
From there you can see the Witte huis building – white house – nearby, which is one of the few standing buildings that survived the bombing during the war.
Metro / tram Wilhelminaplein
From the Oude Haven you can walk to the river -Maas- and along the avenue with views of the Erasmus bridge, and the Willems bridge behind you. If you feel like walking, I’d recommend crossing the Erasmus bridge by foot. Impressive views of the port of Rotterdam, the actively growing skyline of the city, and massive ships going under your feet. If you’re lucky, you may get to see the bridge opening for a high ship. Very impressive!
Tip: If you’re on a rush, you can always take a water taxi by Willems bridge from the stop Boompjes to Hotel New York. A fun ride guaranteed!
Maashaven – Port of the river Maas
Metro / tram Wilhelminaplein
When crossing the Erasmus, you will see the building “De Rotterdam”. On the 7th floor there’s a terrace and restaurant with the best views during day and night.
Also in this area is the Hotel New York, which once served as the office building of the “Holland-Amerika lijn” cruise. The ship that was used for this line, the SS Rotterdam, is now a days a floating hotel, standing in Katendrecht and can be visited.
Tip: next to Hotel New York there’s a small bridge that takes you to Katendrecht, where you can find alternative bars / restaurants. Visit the Food Fenix Factory if you’d like to try craft beers.
Want to stay in one of the most iconic places of Rotterdam? Check this out!
Witte de With straat
Metro / tram stop Leuvehaven or Beurs
This is the street with the best atmosphere of Rotterdam. Some of the best bars and restaurants are here and there’s always something going on day and night. You can’t miss the Witte aap bar, or the bet burgers from Ter Marsch. If you want the best value for money and love Tourkish food, Bazaar is the best restaurant. Besides that, there are many alternative shops and galleries. A great street to visit any time of the day.
Between the metro / tram stops Beurs and Leuvehaven there is another small port, Leuvehaven. A paradise for photografers! Old style wooden boats, a pub / restaurant in one of them, an old lighthouse, and the railways left from the old port. At night, it’s all light up like Christmas!