Modernist buildings, fashionable nightlife, river views and many museums and galleries make the Netherlands’ second-biggest city an exciting and lively destination.
Rotterdam developed as a prosperous shipping port in the 1800s. As it has grown, its cultural delights have expanded. Rotterdam’s architecture is some of the most modern and innovative in the Netherlands. Spend days exploring myriad art galleries and museums. Find unusual dining experiences and trendy nightlife across the city.
During World War II, the historic port was almost entirely destroyed and the city suffered massive bombing damage. Today, view the modernist reconstructions and more recent architectural additions, such as the spaceship-like Markthal and the three half-spheres of the solar-powered Floating Pavilion.
Find a collection of architecture, art galleries and museums in the Museumkwartier. Visit one of the Netherlands’ oldest museums, the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, before stepping into modern and contemporary exhibitions at the Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Arts and the TENT exhibition space. Learn about city and country history in museums covering everything from the golden era of Dutch shipping to archaeology, fossils, plants and animal life.
Afterward, explore the streets of Witte de Withstraat and Nieuwe Binnenweg. Browse through stores selling CDs and vinyl albums, lingerie, books, jewelry and fashion by local designers. At night these dynamic streets have restaurants, live music venues and lively bars.
In its location on the Maas River, Rotterdam has numerous riverside walks and waterfront dining. Explore the river delta on a cruise or take the Lek River waterbus to see 18th-century windmills at nearby Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Treat yourself to panoramic city views, including the Erasmus “Swan” Bridge, from the restaurant at the top of the Euromast. If you’re brave, abseil down. Taste the diversity of the city’s culinary treats at restaurants serving North African and Middle Eastern flavors or have a beer and traditional Dutch bitterballen, battered and fried beef balls.
Rotterdam is a major cruise ship destination. With boat access to the U.K. and to Germany along the Rhine, Rotterdam is very easy to reach. Get here from Amsterdam in 1 hour by train.