We have visited Amsterdam many times but like many, we have never ventured out of the city centre and not just because we couldn’t get past the Dutch cyclists’ ring of steel. So when the opportunity to visit Rotterdam came up, we grabbed our clogs and our bag of other common stereotypes and booked our flights.
Although Rotterdam does have its own airport, there is a larger choice of airlines who fly into Amsterdam Schiphol airport. It is really easy to get the intercity direct train from Schiphol to Rotterdam and the journey time is only 25-minutes but make sure you get the ‘direct’ service.
10 Facts About Rotterdam
Before we go on further here are 10 random facts about Rotterdam.
1. Rotterdam is Europe’s largest port.
2. In 1940 Rotterdam city centre was almost completely destroyed by the Luftwaffe.
3. One of Rotterdam’s neighbourhoods is actually called ‘Cool’.
4. 90% of Rotterdam is below sea level.
5. The Witte Huis was the tallest office building in Europe when it was built in 1898.
6. Rotterdam is also known as the ‘City of Architecture’
7. Rotterdam is the second largest city in the Netherlands.
8. The Dutch fast food ‘Kapsalon’ was invented here in 2003 (approx 1800 kcal per serving).
9. Rotterdam is the birthplace of gin.
10. Beurstraverse, the shopping area is better known as ‘de Koopgoot’ which means shopping gutter.
Sightseeing In Rotterdam
We find that one of the best ways to initially get to know a city is to take a walking tour. It helps you understand the layout of the city, you can get a taste of the culture and if you have a good guide, it can be very entertaining.
Rotterdam is perfect for walking and like the rest of the Netherlands, it’s not really renowned for the hills.
Rotterdam has quite a collection of public art and sculptures from classic styles to the slightly more unusual. We stumbled across this piece by David Bade on Eendrachtsplein, officially named Anita it’s also known as ‘Horny Anita’ and the ‘crashed ice cream car’.
One of the funniest designs is also on Eendrachtsplein, it’s the Santa Claus holding a ‘Christmas tree’ by Paul McCarthy. No way is that a Christmas tree and we’ll leave it up to you to guess its nickname.
The Leuvehaven inner harbour is the home of Rotterdam’s maritime museum. As well as the displays you can also step aboard some of the historic ships.
Another part of the Maritime District is the Oude Haven, one of the oldest harbours of Rotterdam. Many of the restored historic boats which line the harbour are now houseboats but don’t think you can stroll onboard like at the museum. These are peoples homes and they will not be too impressed by your uninvited presence.
During the warm summer evenings, the bars and terraces around the harbour are very popular with locals and tourists.
If you are visiting in the summer and want the bizarre experience of drifting down the canal, sipping beer in a wood-fired floating hot tub boat, then this is the place to come.
Rotterdam is a bit of an architects playground. The bombing of the city essentially meant a clean slate for architects to work with although even before the war there were some notable and contemporary designs. The Witte Huis which was built in 1898 was Europe’s first skyscraper and one of the few buildings to survive the German bombing.
One of the most recent buildings, opened in 2014 is the Market Hall (Markthal). Offices, apartments and a food hall with restaurants are all housed in this iconic building. Many of the food stalls have little terraces above them where you can sit and eat.
We were both pleasantly surprised how much we enjoyed Rotterdam and would definitely return. Although it is a strikingly contemporary city and very different from the stereotypical quaint Dutch image it is very ‘people friendly’ with a focus on the quality of life.
See more of where we stayed – Rotterdam Marriott Hotel.
We did the sightseeing walk with Hassan and Ferah from Rotterdam Pages.
Have you visited a place which has pleasantly surprised you? Please give us your recommendations below.