To be completely honest with you, I didn’t know much about Rotterdam when I arrived there for my Erasmus programme halfway through August. Luckily I discovered quite some places that I really liked! So after spending four months in this beautiful city, I thought I’d make a city guide including all the things and places I enjoyed the most during my stay.
Personally I went to Rotterdam by train, which I think is the fastest and cheapest way to go if you live in Belgium (or another country close to the Netherlands) like me. No worries if you live further away though: Rotterdam has a great connection to Schiphol Airport. You can take a direct train from Schiphol Airport to Rotterdam Central Station and it will only take you around 20 minutes. A ticket in second class will cost you around €21.
If you are staying in Rotterdam for a few days and are planning to discover the city, I recommend buying a “Dagkaart 3 dagen” from an RET machine. With this ticket you enjoy unlimited travel with bus, tram and metro for 3 days in a row for only €16,50. The same tickets are also available for one (€7,50) or two days (€12,50).
I highly recommend CitizenM, where we stayed when my boyfriend came over. The rooms are more on the small side but they have a huge bed and a TV with quite some movies to choose from. Also, you control everything in your room from the iPad that’s there.
Besides that the location is great! When you walk outside you can immediately see the Kubuswoningen and the Markthal. The train- and metrostation is practically in front of the door, so no matter if you’re traveling around the city or planning on going further away for the day, you’re covered.
Tip: the cocktails you can get in the hotel bar are awesome! Upon arrival in the hotel every guest gets one free drink voucher, so I would advice you to spend it wisely and try one of them. I promise you won’t regret it!
Where to eat?
- Little V Little V is a cosy Vietnamese restaurant next to the Laurens church. The food is really good and great value for money. Again, if you like cocktails, try one! They are divine. I definitely recommend making reservations, otherwise chances are high that you won’t be able to get in. (Address: Grotekerkplein 109, 3011 GC Rotterdam)
- Elliniko – The All Day Greek I had never been to a Greek restaurant before, and this was a great introduction to the Greek kitchen for me! I personally prefer to go there throughout the day instead of in the evening, because it is less crowded and the service is much quicker. Also, I could be mistaken but I think the prices are cheaper then (as in same menu card, different prices). (Inside the Markthal. Address: Grotemarkt 184, 3011 PA Rotterdam)
- Sumo If you like sushi, I definitely recommend the all-you-can-eat arrangement at Sumo. Although I am still a sushi-newbie, I really liked theirs. I also want to mention that I do not eat seafood but I ate so much there, there are definitely enough meat and vegetarian options available. Also, best kappa maki I ever ate. Just throwing that in there. And the crispy chicken maki was also one of my favorites! (Inside the Markthal. Address: Verlengde Nieuwstraat 2-5, 3011 GX Rotterdam)
- Jamie’s Italian It is a busy restaurant from the popular Jamie’s Italian chain, but both the food and atmosphere are great. I had the tortellini con carne di vitello and it was delicious! The waiters are so nice there, one of my friends accidentally spilled her drink and immediately got a new one for free whilst someone else cleaned up our table. I honestly regret not having a Jamie’s Italian in Belgium, I would be a regular there! (Inside the Markthal. Address: Grotemarkt 90-92, 3011 PA Rotterdam)
- De Burgerij De Burgerij is a place that I personally love, we have one in Antwerp too. They offer a range of different burgers including a monthly special, and for picky eaters (like me) they don’t mind adapting it to your taste. I always ask to leave out the pickles, onion and tomato – they don’t mind at all. (Address: Botersloot 24B, 3011 HG Rotterdam)
- Round&Round If you like pancakes, you can’t miss this place! Banana, chocolate and caramel – or – strawberries, honey and whipped cream. Divine. They also have a lot of different teas to check out if you’re a fan. Oh, and cake. The only downside: there is not a lot of room to sit down, so make sure you make reservations. (Address: Hoogstraat 55A, 3011 PG Rotterdam)
- Fenix Food Factory If you are planning on taking a walk around the Wilhelminakade (which you should really do), don’t forget to check out the Fenix Food Factory. Inside there are stands with stroopwafels, coffee and cake, other food and drinks, even other miscellaneous things like books and postcards! I wouldn’t recommend it as a place to really have dinner, but if you are in for a little snack it’s a good spot. (Address: Veerlaan 19D, 3072 AN Rotterdam)
What to do?
- When in Rotterdam, you can’t miss its architecture. I would definitely recommend checking out the Kubuswoningen and its surroundings, the Willemsbridge and the Erasmusbridge. The walk I have enjoyed the most was by far the one around the Wilhelminakade. You’ll see the Luxor Theatre, the Erasmusbridge, The Rotterdam, the monument “Lost Luggage Depot” by Jeff Wall, Hotel New York, the Rijnhavenbridge with lovelocks on it, the Fenix Food Factory and the Dutch Pinball Museum (only open on weekends).
- If you like art, take a short time out of your schedule to walk the Beeldenroute Westersingel. It’s short but sweet. Check out this blogpost I made a while back for pictures!
- Be sure to visit the Markthal, an indoor food market where there’s something to everyone’s taste. I recommend on taking a stroll around the market before you settle on what to eat, because you will probably want it all, haha. The building itself is also impressive: it’s shaped in an arch, has lots of windows and a spectacular ceiling!
- If you want to go shopping, there’s three mayor places to be: the Koopgoot or Beurstraverse, the Bijenkorf and around the Binnenwegplein and Lijnbaan (and its side roads).
- To walk around in peace and quiet and see literally nothing but windmills, you can always take the waterbus to Kinderdijk. It is recognized as UNESCO World Heritage, you can take the Canal Hopper or Canal Cruiser boat, and go inside some of the windmills.
- If you like going to the zoo, you can’t miss Diergaarde Blijdorp! It may be the nicest zoo I have ever been to, and especially the polar bears were impressive to watch.
- You may know the CD’s with funny music from De Après Skihut, so why not visit this bar? If you fancy a night out, dancing on Après Ski music, drinking a few beers (they have Jupiler) and eating the typical bitterballen – you know this is the place.
- For a panoramic view over Rotterdam, go to the Euromast. It’s the highest building in the city. If you want, you can also eat and/or sleep there.
- And last but not least: if you like football, go see a Feyenoord game at De Kuip. The stadium is beautiful and the atmosphere during a game is just great. I’m not a huge football fan, but I would definitely go back to enjoy a game if I had the chance.
The first day trip I recommend is The Hague and Scheveningen. In The Hague, you can take a walk around the Binnenhof, the Mauritshuis and the Hofvijver. If you want to go shopping, go downtown and check out the Grote Marktstraat. Also, the Peace Palace is a nice place to visit – it’s on the way to Scheveningen and has its own tram stop.
In Scheveningen, you can start your walk at Beelden aan Zee, a (partly free) museum with statues. You can choose to walk over the beach or the promenade or a combination of both. You will pass by the Kurhaus and Sea Life before getting to the pier. The pier has two floors, so you can walk to the end and back on different levels. Afterwards you can go to play some Glowgolf or maybe check out Holland Casino if you’d like!
The second day trip I propose doing is Amsterdam, the complete opposite of Rotterdam. When you walk out of the central station you will notice two things straight away: the houses are terribly cute and the city is terribly crowded. If you don’t like big crowds, Amsterdam might not be your favorite city. If you walk into the direction of Dam, you will amongst others pass by the Beurs van Berlage, Primark and De Bijenkorf. There you can see the Royal Palace and the National Monument.
If you are eager to shop, walk into the Kalverstraat. If you want to visit the Foodhallen, a covered food market, you can take a tram between the New Church and the Magna Plaza. If you have no clue what you want to do, I recommend checking out a museum or taking a stroll around the Canals. You’re likely to discover some nice places on your own.
Finally I want to end this blogpost by giving you a little interesting fact about something you might notice when walking around Rotterdam.
Around the city, you might notice tiny red lamps built-in the sidewalks, on squares or anywhere else. These lights are part of the Brandgrens or “fire boundary”. They mark the area that was destroyed during the German bombing of Tuesday May 14th 1940 and the subsequent fire, which razed the city to the ground.
Off course this event had a big impact on the city. Because it had to be completely rebuilt, it became one of the most modern cities and known for its architecture. (The pictures below are not mine, but I included them to show you what I am talking about. )
If you made it all the way down here, I want to thank you for bearing with me and I hope you enjoyed my city guide! What did you think of my recommendations? Do you agree with me, or did I forget to include an amazing spot you can’t live without? Please let me know in the comments.
Bye for now! Lots of love,