Rotterdam is one of those European cities that quite literally rose from the ashes. Flattened by bombing during the second World War, Rotterdam had a chance to reinvent herself. And make a comeback she did, as evidenced in the city’s dazzling, ever changing skyline filled with futuristic structures like the Euromast, the Erasmus Bridge, Piet Blom’s cube houses and so much more! Aside from being known as the architectural city of Holland, Rotterdam also holds the honour of being one of the largest ports in the world. What with shipping docks and skyscrapers there’s never a dull moment in this fast-paced city. And the best way to explore everything Rotterdam has to offer? By bike of course! Let’s get peddling to our first destination……
If you’re not afraid of heights, you’ll definitely have to go on the top of the Euromast. Only ten minutes by bike from the central station, this observation tower which is one of the must-see places in Rotterdam, offers you a 360 view over the city. It was designed by H.A. Maaskant in 1960 and after the addition of the Space Tower in 1970, it is now 185 metres high.
2. Historisch Delfshaven
Five minutes away heading west you can run into the Historisch Delfshaven which is the only part of the city survived the bombardments. It’s a picturesque corner of Rotterdam with a grand place in history, in fact Delfshaven is well known around the globe as the port of departure of the Pilgrim Fathers who spent some time here before departing for North America. Nowadays, the whole area is an intimate quartier with the typical Dutch canals, historic buildings and courtyards which will fascinate you. While visiting go into the Pelgrimvaderskerk dating back to 1761 and place of meeting for the Pilgrim Fathers.
You must go to the Markthal, which is one of the architectural symbol of the city. Designed by architectural firm MVRDV and opened in 2014, it has a horseshoe configuration with apartments draped on the food market. However, it is not only famous for its architecture but it is also an indoor market hall. It has about 100 fresh food stands, various restaurants and 15 food shop where you can have a toast with the typical Old Asterdam Cheese, a plate of Bitterballen and for dessert try Poffertjes. Don’t leave the Markthal without buying a pack of Stroopwafel and don’t forget to look at the ceiling!
Just in front of the Markthal in Blaak, the Cube Houses (Kijk-Kubus) designed by the architet Piet Blom will catch your attention for their weird shape and their colourful surfaces. One of them is a furnished museum house, specially created to let the visitor experience what life is like in a Cube House. Take your time to walk in the courtyard, you can spot some cats looking at you from the upside down windows. If you are super excited after the viewing of the museum cube you can still rent a night in one of them on Airbnb.
After having spent the whole morning on one side of the Maas river, it’s time to cross the bridge and explore the part of the city on the other side. The most famous bridge is the Erasmusbrug which is 800-metre long, and for its particular shape its nickname is “The Swan”. While crossing it you can admire De Rotterdam which is an iconic example of urban architecture designed by Rem Koolhaas in 1998. The three towers are nearly 150 metres high and they are linked all together forming a sort of “vertical city” where there are high-class flats, offices, shops, restaurants, a 4-star hotel and fitness and parking facilities.
6. Museum Boijmans Van Beuninger
If you want to taste the Dutch art from the early middle ages to 21st century, you definitely should go to Museum Boijmans Van Beuninger, where you can find works of Van Bosch, Rembramdt, Van Gogh and Dalì. It is adjacent to Museum Park and it is one of the oldest museum in the Netherlands. The collection is built on the legacy of the jurist Frans Jacob Otto Boijmans, who left his personal collection to the city of Rotterdam in 1849. The collection includes paintings, sculptures and drawing.
7. The Fenix Food Factory
Since you’re on this side of the city you absolutely have to visit the New York Hotel which owes its name to its history. In fact, the building was once the office of the Holland-America line that organized those big journey to the “New World”. And if you are still hungry after all that biking, you should visit The Fenix Food Factory, a food hub run by seven Rotterdam foodpreneurs. Here is where you can get fresh food and local farm produce.
8. Kralingse Bos
For the sunset I strongly advise the Kralingse Bos, the park that surrounds the Kralingse Lake, where you can bike, run, skate but you can also just relax and sunbathed. In the north part of the lake there is a sand beach from where you can see the Rotterdam’s skyline in the distance.
9. Witte de Withstraat
It iss when the sun goes down that Rotterdam showcases a different facade. Going from the Maritime Museum to the Museumpark, there is Witte de Withstraat a cultural point of reference during the day with its galleries, cultural institutes and fashion boutiques, which is also well known for its vibrant nightlife
There, you definitely should have dinner at Bazar, where you can taste Moroccan and African food. Besides the street there are many pubs, cosy cafès and stylish wine and cocktails bars. The street is very crowded on Friday and Saturday nights, in an exuberant and cheerful atmosphere, when tourists, locals, students and intellectuals, enjoying drinks after work.
10. Witte de With
Witte de With is the most popular nightlife area full of nice and distinctive pubs for you to check out. If you want to try the cherry beer go to the Locus Publicus in Oostplein, where you can sample over 200 different beers. If the weather is warm you can’t miss the Biergarten behind the central station, but also Thoms with its underground bar is nice in the weekend with the Dj set. Also in the neighbourhood is De Witte Aap, voted by Lonely Planet as the best bar in the world! A great way to end your Rotterdam day trip no?