The reason of my first visit to Rotterdam was for arranging some paperwork soon after my move to the Netherlands, yet that first impression was more than enough to trigger my travel bug. Also making a friend based in Rotterdam made me visit this lovely city every once in a while.
I have travelled around the Netherlands quite a lot, and Rotterdam is actually the only city where I felt like “home” with its remarkable skyscrapers, multicultural atmosphere and unique skyline. Yes, unlike other Dutch cities, Rotterdam has a skyline! And standing by Erasmusbrug looking over Maas river reminds me so much of those moments where I’d stand by the Bosphorus Bridge in Ortaköy whilst looking over Anatolian side, which always made my favourite evenings back when I lived in Beşiktaş.
If you come to the city by train, which is very likely to happen, all of its architectural highlights will catch your attention one by one, starting from the Centraal Station itself. You could go straight down towards Westersingel and make a big round to discover some of its main landmarks.
An interesting one to start with is cube houses, Kubuswoningen, designed by Piet Blom. The houses are meant to optimise living space one has inside, while all of them together represents a village within a city, and each house represents a tree, and putting all houses together makes them a forest. Interesting, right?
Markthal is in the very same area, and as the name speaks for itself, it is a huge market hall which has the shape of a horseshoe. For avid readers, Rotterdam Library is only one step away, and Blaak Tower just another.
When it comes to street art, Rotterdam will not disappoint you a bit. Along the Westersingel, you will see various works of art from Rotterdam’s International Sculpture Collection.
My favourite piece is Paul McCarthy’s the Butt Plug Gnome, which you can find on Eendrachtsplein. It is a statue of Santa Claus holding a pine tree, and one of the most creative ones you could ever see.
Go along Witte de Withstraat and you will find yourself in the center of contemporary art. The Kunstblock art venues of the area open their doors for free between 6 – 9pm. You can visit Showroom MAMA, TENT Rotterdam, UBIK Theater, V2_Lab for the Instable Media, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art and CBK Rotterdam’s collection. You can either decide on your own path or join a Kunstblock tour at 7pm, which is also for free!
Museumpark makes a good next stop, especially if you are lucky to visit the city on a sunny day. However autumn views will also make you feel extremely gezellig if you happen to be there in November like me.
Euromast is a must visit place for city view lovers. I personally suggest you to go up either during sunset or in the evening to be mesmerized by the city’s evening lights.
The port of Rotterdam is the largest one in Europe, and one of the biggest/busiest of the world. The Oude Haven, part of the Maritime District, is nice for discovering historic ships, as well as to enjoy some food and drinks on its terraces. You can also find Het Witte Huis, Europe’s first skyscraper here.
As you pass along Wereldmuseum, you will start enjoying the river view from a completely different and spectacular angle while you approach Erasmusbrug, one of the many bridges the city has.
Erasmusbrug is the second largest one in the Netherlands, known with its nickname “The Swan”. Once you go across to the other side, you will find yourself at the World Port Center. I had witnessed some of my favourite views of the city at this very spot of the city.
You can discover Rotterdam on foot, by bicycle or by hopping on to the tram or metro. Yet if you want to spice it up, water taxi is the way to go! No need to look for them, as they are pretty much everywhere. You can either have a cozy tour for two or add this as part of your sightseeing trip.
While you are in the are, you must check out Drijvend Paviljoen. It consists of three floating half-spheres. Floating! On the water! The best thing ever. Currently it serves as an exhibition and reception space. And especially in the evenings, it shines with its stunning colours among the city lights.
All these walking around should of course include some stops to fuel up. Koekela, which I luckily discovered thanks to a birthday gift I received from my Rotterdammer colleague, is one of the best bakeries you could find. Seriously. Everything they bake there tastes like heaven in your mouth. Vessel 11, which will definitely catch your attention while you are in Wijnhaven, offers you a unique experience to enjoy some food and drinks. As it is actually a red vessel. Beer lovers can also enjoy their own brew V11 Skunky Red Ale. Cafe Dudok is famous of its apple pie, which is also a traditional Dutch delicacy, among the other stuff it offers. De Witte Aap bar located on Witte de Withstraat was once named as the best bar in the world. So you can pay a visit and make up your mind! Fenix Food Factory is highly recommended who enjoys discovering food and beer at interesting places such as a warehouse!
A friend of mine recently said “You are changing my perspective of Rotterdam.”. Oh well, that’s no surprise, as once I found love in Rotterdam. Like. Literally. Just like I found that below cute heart on Erasmusbrug.