4 Awesome Things Rotterdam Is Famous For (Plus 12 Fun Things To Do In The City)

Rotterdam might be the second-largest city in the Netherlands but this wonderful city never settles for the runner-up position in other aspects. When it comes to the rich art and culture scene, groundbreaking architecture, vibrant nightlife, and shopping experiences, and jaw-dropping attractions, Rotterdam is definitely second to none. 

If you’re planning to visit soon, read our guide to find out the things Rotterdam is known for, as well as the fun things to do in this amazing city. 

1. Rotterdam as a Port City

Rotterdam as a Port City

Being the largest port city in Europe, the waters of the Nieuwe Maas river have always been an integral part of Rotterdam’s tourism and economy. From taking a boat trip and sailing across the river to dining and sleeping in a floating hotel, you won’t run out of fun, water-based things to do in Rotterdam. 

  • Step inside The Maritime Museum 

The Maritime Museum is the best place to begin. Here, you can learn more about Rotterdam’s rich maritime heritage, with exhibitions, activities, and a collection of historic ships and cranes. 

  • Sail away!

And of course, exploring the port city is never complete without plunging into the water. Fortunately, there are different ways to sail in Rotterdam and see the beauty of the city from different angles: 

  1. Get to your destination by taking a water taxi, a fun mode of public transport
  2. Join a splash tour and ride a shape-shifting bus (that literally takes a dip in the Maas)
  3. Have a relaxing river cruise and sail under the spectacular Erasmus Bridge and the Willems Bridge.

  • Dine and spend the night on the water

You can also have a harbour-themed dining and accommodation experience in Rotterdam. We’re not just talking about restaurants, hotels, and serviced apartments in Rotterdam located along the harbour — we’re referring to unique properties that actually float on the water: 

  1. Visit the ss Rotterdam, a former ocean liner and cruise ship that’s been converted into a hotel ship
  2. Dine at Vessel11, a red ship docked in the Old City Harbour of Rotterdam that happens to be a British Gastro-Pub
  3. Spend the night on the water by staying at Wikkelboat, a tiny yet multifunctional, sustainable accommodation. 
  4. Go sightseeing

Not a fan of sailing? Stroll along the Maasboulevard and feast your eyes on the river, skyscrapers, and Rotterdam’s Willems Bridge and Erasmus Bridge. You may also visit the historic Delfshaven, a marina that’s considered the oldest part of Rotterdam. 

2. Rotterdam as The Netherlands’ Architecture Capital


Architecture Capital

The city wasn’t hailed as The Netherlands’ “architecture capital” for no reason — this gem of a city is a treasure trove of classic and modern architectural wonders, historical landmarks, and hypermodern skyscrapers, that all beg to be discovered. 

  • Check out the following architectural gems in Rotterdam

Look up and prepare to see awe-inspiring spectacles, from a well-preserved medieval church to a quirky and ambitious “forest” of cube houses. 

Centraal Station

Cube Houses (or Pole Houses or Tree Houses)

Erasmus Bridge

De Rotterdam


Markthal (Market Hall)

Het Witte Huis

Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk

Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen & Depot Boijmans

Van Nelle Factory

3. Rotterdam as a Hub for Arts and Culture


Hub for Arts and Culture

Are you an art buff? Rotterdam has a rich art and cultural scene that’s worth checking out. 

  • Step inside museums and galleries 

Just tour the cultural axis between Museumpark and Witte de Withstraat, and you’ll discover the city’s highly-acclaimed museums and galleries: 

  1. Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, one of the oldest museums in the Netherlands.
  2. Het Nieuwe Instituut (Museum of Architecture, Design and Digital Culture)
  3. Kunsthal 
  4. TENT (an exhibition room for contemporary Rotterdam art)

  • Discover street art 

Some of the best artworks aren’t framed inside a gallery — they’re displayed on public walls and discovered when you least expect them. You can find a wide array around the Luchtsingel pedestrian bridge and the Hofbogen arches. You can also visit The Rotterdam Tourist Information Coolsingel, which provides a walking route that will lead you to the best sculptures and impressive murals dotted all around the city. 


  • Visit a performing art centre

Love performing arts? Feel free to check out Rotterdam’s premier theatres, concert halls, and arthouse cinemas. 

  • Rotterdam loves music too 

A music lover? Rotterdam has a wide array of music venues that will suit everyone’s taste, from jazz and blues to electronic dance music.

4. Rotterdam as a Buzzing City for Dining, Shopping, and Nightlife


Buzzing City for Dining, Shopping, and Nightlife

Rotterdam is one of the trendiest cities in the country. Day or night, rain or shine, you won’t run out of places to see for dining, drinking, shopping, and partying. 

  • Go on a shopping and dining spree

Ready your wallets! Rotterdam is packed with amazing shopping centres and dining hubs all shopaholics and foodies couldn’t resist. 

  1. For high-end fashion boutiques, head to Meent, the Van Oldebarneveltstraat, Pannenkoekstraat, and Witte De Withstraat.
  2. Discover hip boutiques and interior shops on the Nieuwe Binnenweg and Oude Binnenweg, Botersloot, Nieuwemarkt and Pannekoekstraat.
  3. For a wide array of food kiosks, cafes, and restaurants, visit the iconic Markthal (Market Hall)
  4. For dining and drinking, visit Oude Noorden, a hub with trendy bistros, modern restaurants, jazz clubs, and brewpubs. 

  • Visit a nightlife district

The fun doesn’t stop at sundown. In fact, people come here for its vibrant nightlife scene. 

Take a stroll along the nightlife districts like  Witte de Withstraat, Binnenweg, and Luchtsingel, which are brimming with life with their hip bars and eateries. Whether you’re looking for a classic and laidback pub for a relaxing beer night or a busy club for dancing and partying, you can surely find a place that’s perfect for you.

  • Party from above or below

Rotterdam has rooftop bars and sunny terraces too, such as the Op Het Dak, that lets you enjoy a glass of your favourite drink while marvelling at the views of the Rotterdam skyline and Nieuwe Maas River. Conversely, also has intimate underground scenes for a prohibition era-like drinking, including Toffler. 

What’s your favourite face of Rotterdam? Are you fascinated by the port city’s sparkling waters? How about its extensive collection of jaw-dropping architectural wonders? Perhaps you’ll visit the city for its vibrant cultural scene? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the comments below. 

This article is from our guest writer, Carmina Natividad. let us know your thoughts in the comment section.


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