Best things to do in Rotterdam Netherlands

Best Things to See and Do in Rotterdam Netherlands 

Rotterdam Netherlands is a city that has been on my weekend bucket list for some time now. So when I was in the Netherlands working, I took the opportunity to jump on the train from Amsterdam and head there for a few days. I wanted to explore this interesting city and see why it was named one of the places to travel to in 2016 by Lonely Planet.

View over Rotterdam from the Euromast tower
Overlooking the city of Rotterdam from the Euromast Observation deck

Best things to do in Rotterdam Netherlands

There is so much to see and do in Rotterdam that is hard to do if you are there for a short period of time. This is why I have put together ‘Best things to see and do in Rotterdam Netherlands‘ and the best bit is these are all achievable within 48 hours or for a weekend.

1. Visit the Rotterdam Discovery Exhibition

Start your day off by visiting the free Rotterdam Discovery Exhibition located in the basement of the Tourist Information Office in central Rotterdam. It is a great way to find your bearings for the city and should take only 15-30 minutes to see. It is also a great introduction to learning about one of the biggest port cities in Europe. 

The exhibition will take you on a journey through the past, present and future through interactive displays that both adults and children will enjoy. The best thing is that they have made learning fun and you might find yourself spending more time in there than you thought! Open Hours: Mon-Sun – 9:30 – 18:00

You can check if you require a visa for the Netherlands and if there are any requirements.

Modern buildings outside the railway station
Outside the Rotterdam Railway Station

2. Explore and taste the food at The Markthal

The Markthal is definitely one of a kind and if anything an impressive architectural structure, especially when you see it for the first time. This residential and office building is built in the shape of an arch which you can see right through.

I think the most stunning thing about the Markthal is the amazing 4,000 colourful tiles that cover the inside roof that creates the largest artwork in the Netherlands called The Horn of Plenty.

Underneath the arch is the biggest indoor market hall in the Netherlands. With over 96 unique stalls, a supermarket, 20 shops and restaurants you definitely won’t run out of choices for food. One of my favourite things to do there was wandering around the market with my guide, talking to the stall owners and sampling the food.

Open Hours: Open 7 days the week

  • Market Floor – 12:00 – 18:00
  • The Bars and Restaurants – 10:00 – 00:00

Top Tip:

  • One of the best things to see and do is to go down to the car park and see the exhibition on the Roman artefacts that they found when building the complex
The arch shaped building of the Markthal
Outside the Markthal – Rotterdam Netherlands

3. Wander around the Cube Houses

The Cube Houses (also known as the Pole Houses or Tree Houses) is a Rotterdam icon and has definitely become a popular Instagram hotspot. Designed by architect Piet Blom these bright yellow cubic houses are somewhat interesting and curious to see.

Situated within the waterfront area and only a 5-minute walk away from The Markthal it is a great option to do before or after you have been at the market hall.

Top Tip:

  • If you want to experience what it would be like to stay in one of these, there is one currently available on Airbnb on a nightly basis.
looking up at the yellow cube houses
Wandering around underneath the Cube Houses – Rotterdam Netherlands

4. Brunch at Picknick

I am a huge fan of brunch especially because some breakfast meals are just meant to be eaten any time of day. The Picknick in Rotterdam was a great spot for brunch with a wide choice of breakfast items that were organic and delicious.

The Picknick prides itself on making sure that everything is homemade.  They only use the freshest and best seasonal products that are grown locally if they can. It is also centrally located near both Blaak station and the Markhal building. The staff, prices, and atmosphere were all great.

  • Open Hours:  Mon-Sat – 8:00 – 16:30  /  Sun – 9:30 – 16:30

Top Tip:

  • I had the salmon and eggs, which was really delicious.
Rhubarb Salad served with fresh bread
Rhubarb Salad at Picknick- Rotterdam Netherlands

5. Admire the view of Rotterdam from the Euromast (Observation Tower)

If you are wanting impressive 360 views and some great photos of Rotterdam Netherlands, then you can’t go past visiting the Euromast (also known as the Observation Tower). Built-in 1960, it’s original height at the time was 100 meters, however, in 1970 the Space Tower was added making it nearly double its height at 185 meters. 

There is a lot to offer at the Tower too from the coffee and souvenir shop downstairs to the Restaurant and hotel rooms at the top. There are 2 viewing platforms one above another which are connected via stairs. If you are feeling daring, then you can take the Euroscoop. It rotates around the tower from the observation deck to the top while sitting down, taking in the 360-degree views. If you are looking for an extra thrill and you love adventure, they now offer Abseiling / Zip-line from the top for € 55,00

Additional Information

  • Open Hours: April – September: open from 9:30 a.m  /  October – March: open from 10:00 a.m.
  • Entrance Fee: Adults € 9,75    65+ € 8,75  /  Children 4 – 11 years € 6,25
  • Tickets; Book your tickets in advance online to save time.
Rotterdam city skyline from the Euromast tower
Taken in the views from Euromas Observation Tower – Rotterdam Netherlands

6. Take a Bike & Bite Tour around Rotterdam

As you know people in the Netherlands ride bikes everywhere, so it is no surprise the best way to see Rotterdam is to take a bike tour. I went with Bike & Bite Tour and it was one of the best things that I have done while in Rotterdam and I highly recommend it. 

Not only did I learn some interesting things, but I also got to taste some amazing local products. I made a lovely new friend while at the same time I got to exercise! If you don’t want to miss out, you can book your spot in advance online.

The company’s mission is ‘There is no better way to get to know someone than to sit down with a tasty bite or drink and chat away. So this is what we offer: a genuine connection while you enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of the city’ and I could not agree more because this is exactly what I was given.

Selfie with the tour guide
A selfie with my new friend and tour guide – Rotterdam Netherlands

You will see the highlights, as well as many interesting lesser-known places. On the way, you will stop at different locations to sample Dutch and international culinary delights like cheese at the Market Hall and mini Dutch pancakes. Don’t forget to strap on your GoPro for all those action shots while cycling around Rotterdam.

  How about cycling in Zandvoort through the dunes and along the beach? 

Additional Information

  • Price – €50 Euros per person
  • Starting Time – 11:00 
  • Duration – The duration of the tour is 4hours

Top Tip

  • Definitely, do not eat beforehand, wear comfortable shoes and bring a bottle of water along.
Bridge over the harbour
Admiring The Erasmus Bridge while walking along in Rotterdam Netherlands

7. Visit Man Met Bril Koffie for coffee

If you love coffee and want to kick start your day of exploring on the right foot then you should pop into Man Met Bril Koffie. Some people even say that not only is this the best coffee but the best coffee shop in Rotterdam. Their coffee shop is also where they roast their beans and have this area visible to the public to see. They encourage the customers to talk to them about where they source their beans from, which countries they come from and how they are roasted.

It was refreshing to see that the staff loved their jobs and enjoyed talking about coffee. I went from having one coffee to 3, as I was chatting with one of the managers about all the different types of coffee that they sell and distribute around Rotterdam.

Top Tip:

  • Make sure to get the coffee cards that come with your coffee to see the make and where it comes from
Bikes parked outside the Man Met Bril Koffie coffee shop
Outside the  Man Met Bril Koffie – Rotterdam Netherlands

8. Have Dinner at Bazaar

The bright and colourful Moroccan restaurant was a delight to go to after a long day of exploring Rotterdam. The eye-catching lights, decorations and music put me in a great mood as soon as I walked into the restaurant. It reminded me a little bit of the colourful Istanbul market Grand Bazaar.

All of their meat is halal and most of the dishes are either in North Africa or from the Middle East. Which are all reasonably priced for the location. I had the El Couscous (meat) grilled kebab chicken and vegetables it was delicious and filling.

⇒ Read More – Edam Netherlands (The home of Edam Cheese)

I was on my own, so the lady that was serving me came over chatted with me a bit and made me fill more welcome while I was waiting for my food. The staff here were efficient, friendly and professional which made my experience all the more enjoyable.


  • The restaurant gets really busy, so best to make a reservation. However, they only take reservations by phone, not by e-mail.
Kebab on a colourful plate from the Bazaar Rotterdam Netherlands
El Couscous (meat) grilled kebab chicken and vegetables – Rotterdam Netherlands

How to get to Rotterdam Netherlands

Closest Airport

The closest international airport is The Hague Airport Rotterdam and it is only 20-25 mins away by cab from the city centre. Alternatively, you can fly to Amsterdam Schiphol which has more flight options and then take the train from there which is about 30mins to an hour depending on the train.

  If you are flying from any of the airports in the UK, instantly save on airport parking with Purpleparking before leaving. 


Get an OV-Chipcard to get around on public transport in Rotterdam. You buy an OV-Chipcard and top it up with money as required. It is like the same system as using a London oyster card. It is cheaper than buying two one-way tickets and it will also save you time.

  Here are some top tourist attractions in Rotterdam that you can book in advance, to save disappointment.

More tips before heading to Rotterdam

  • Currency; Euro’s is the currency used in the Netherlands.
  • Accommodation; I stayed at the centrally located ibis Rotterdam City Centre. It was in walking distance to most tourist attractions. 
  • Activities; Take advantage of all the great things to do while in Rotterdam
  • Power outlets; The Netherlands us European adaptors
  • Wifi; Have non-stop WiFi access in Europe to keep everyone updated with your activities.

  Staying in Amsterdam while in the Netherlands? Then check out the charming Pillows Anna van den Vondel Amsterdam. A boutique hotel centrally located in the capital. 

Scale model Rotterdam tourism Netherlands
A display in the Rotterdam Discovery Exhibition of the whole city – of Rotterdam Netherlands

Discover other countries near the Netherlands

Why don’t you discover other countries near Amsterdam Netherlands that involve culture, food and history? 

Thank you for reading my article ‘Best Things to See and Do in Rotterdam Netherlands ‘. It is such a fun, vibrant city and definitely worth going there for a weekend.


  Things to do Rotterdam Netherlands Pinterest

Have you been to Rotterdam Netherlands?

Please feel free to share your experience in the comments below or if you know any other places see while there?

Disclaimer: Even though I was invited by the Rotterdam Tourist Office  All views are my own and based on my own experience.

“This post contains affiliate links, which means that at no additional cost to you if you click on one of the product links, we may earn a commission.”  For further details, you can view our Privacy Policy, Terms & Conditions or contact me directly. 

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60 thoughts on “Best Things to See and Do in Rotterdam Netherlands 

  1. Nicole Anderson | Camping for Women says:

    Rotterdam looks to be such an attractive, fascinating and diverse city with so many different type of things to see. My fiance’s family comes from the Netherlands (a city called Delft where they make the famous Delftware) which is not too far at all from Rotterdam. I am so looking forward to seeing and experiencing Rotterdam for myself when we visit his family. Bookmarking this post will give me a great list to start with.

  2. Ha says:

    I think I will love the Rotterdam Discovery Exhibition thanks to its special design. I would love to have lunch at Picknick too. Picknick seems like a nice place with delicious dishes. I will definitely not miss Man Met Bril Koffie. The design looks awesome, and coffee must be tasty since you had 3 😀

  3. Emmalene says:

    Great article Melissa; I’ve never visited Rotterdam but definitely looks like it could be a great weekend city break destination in 2018!

  4. Abigail Sinsona says:

    Rotterdam looks amazing and I love the photos you took. The architecture is breathtaking and it looks gorgeous in your photos – I would probably be in awe seeing those in person. The food looks amazing too. I could probably spend all day just walking around the city – it seems like there is so much to see!

    • Melbtravel says:

      This is such a fun place to go especially for a weekend exploring. I was on my own here exploring and it is a really safe city too. Btw thanks about the photos

  5. Joanna says:

    You got me all excited about Rotterdam and all the amazing things there are to see there! I will be visiting this city next year for the Traverse 18 conference and I will be taking my time to explore as much as I can of the city as well. The Markthal sounds lovely, I bet you will find me there many times for lunch or dinner. I have been wanting for some time now to see the Cube Houses and figure out the architecture mystery behind them 🙂

    • Melbtravel says:

      You are going to Traverse? That is great, I went this year and it was a really good conference. You going to learn a lot and make a heap of new friends. Have a great time and I look forward to the pictures

  6. Lance says:

    The city looks amazing. My Great Grandfather and his family left the Netherlands to go to the United States in the early 1900s. So, I have always wanted to make the trip to see our ancestral birthplace. Thanks for the great info, especially the great restaurants. When we go, we’ll have to check out the Air BnB at the cube houses. The kids would love to stay in one of those (and so would I).

  7. Divyakshi Gupta says:

    An interactive exhibition is such a unique way to study a place! 4000 colourful tiles ! WHOA! That should be some architectural marvel 🙂
    Looks so so pretty.I had never seen the Cube houses before. Damn creative and so vibrant! Loved the concept of the Bike and bite tour.Man Met Bril Koffie Is totally my kind of coffee shop. That art looks beyond beautiful! Very interesting post.

    • Melbtravel says:

      It is the biggest artwork in the Netherlands and it looks really cool lit up at night, as you can see in my pictures. If anything I definitely recommend the bike tour it is was so much fun and I really learnt alot from it.

  8. Juergen Klein says:

    Thanks for sharing this post about Rotterdam. I love to go to local markets, but the size and architecture of the Markthal really surprised me! I can’t really get a concept of the Cube Houses – are the walls inside sloping out? So I would probably look for an airbnb rental just to experience it inside. My question as an urban art aficionado: isn’t there any street art in this city?

    • Melbtravel says:

      I have no idea I never went inside the cube houses but it would be a great thing to know. Yes, there is street art and I was going to visit it but I just ran out of time unfortunately.

  9. Alouise says:

    This is perfect timing because I’m going to be visiting Rotterdam next year for a conference. Love the tip about visiting the Rotterdam Discovery Exhibition at the tourist center. It’s always nice to find a free learning attraction. And the bike and bite tour sounds like a lot of fun. Definitely adding a few of these to my trip plan.

    • Melbtravel says:

      Definitely perfect timing and yes go there, they also have alot of free information there about the city. Everything is within walking distance too. Have a great trip when you go 🙂

  10. Paulina says:

    I am in love with your Rotterdam guide, Melanie. Even though the city is so close from where I currently live, in Luxembourg, I have never been. The modern art and architecture is such a contrast with the fairytale imagery that I am used to see about the Netherlands (tulips, cheese, bikes etc.)

  11. Martha says:

    I love cities with unique features. I feel like all major cities have museums and the typical hot spots, so I always try to visit cities that have unique architecture or city art. Looks like Rotterdam has both! Loved the cube houses and the Markthal. Any must buy things from the market travelers should add to their souvenir list?

  12. Dominic says:

    Love that you tacked it on to a work trip – I often do the same. I feel like Amsterdam always get the Netherlands love. I’ve been quite a few times, but have never made it out to Rotterdam. Looks like a lovely city and one worth a visit next time I am in the area.

  13. Dany says:

    We absolutely loved the indoor market hall in Rotterdam! The food is indeed delicious and not at all expensive, also we had the chance to buy many nice things we brought back home!

  14. Dada says:

    Rotterdam in the Netherlands looks like to be a very modern city and very cool city to explore! The Markhal and the Cube houses…wow! Another city to add on my list to visit this year! Hopefully for this spring, perfect for the tulip viewing!

  15. Bhusha says:

    Been to Amsterdam but missed Rotterdam. Hope to get here next time.
    Those cube houses are super interesting. Thanks for the tip that one of it is available in Airbnb!

  16. Agness of eTramping says:

    Rotterdam seems simply astonishing, Mel. This is an awesome and detailed guide which everyone should use when planning to go there. 😉

  17. Lara Dunning says:

    We had a short layover in The Netherlands this summer, and I so want to go back. Thanks for the tips on what to do in Rotterdam, and I love that you’ve included so many culinary adventures. Would love to do the bike and bite tour!

  18. Lisa says:

    This is a lovely and really detailed itinerary for Rotterdam. I’d love to spend a night in the cube house, thanks for the tip on Airbnb, I’ll look out for it! I also love Dutch coffee, so would like to visit your choice, and get my coffee card to see where it’s from!

  19. Chesca says:

    What an awesome list of things to do in Rotterdam! I have always overlooked this city in favour of Amsterdam, but not any more. Those yellow cube houses look so cool, and that coffee shop sounds amazing too. I’d definitely want to try the zipline! What a way to experience the city 🙂

  20. Indrani says:

    I am not a big fan of modern architecture but those cube houses fascinated me a lot. So sad I didn’t do Rotterdam, I spent one whole day in Amsterdam. Very detailed useful itinerary.

  21. Corinne says:

    The only thing I’ve done in Rotterdam is get on a ferry, but I’ve booked a weekend there this spring. I’m always happy to have a couple of restaurant recs before I go, so I’ll check in on Morocco.

  22. Kate Storm says:

    Those cube houses are so cool!! The view from the observation tower is gorgeous as well–looks like y’all had great weather for your visit. I had never thought about Rotterdam as a travel destination before, but it looks like it’d be a great secondary travel destination to add onto a trip to Amsterdam!

    • Melbtravel says:

      I got sunburnt when i was there, which is something rare for me for sure. Rotterdam is definitely a great place to visit for a weekend and there was so much to do. Hopefully, you will make it there one day.

  23. Lois Alter Mark says:

    I am so bummed that I didn’t take the chance to head to Rotterdam when I visited Amsterdam! Everything about the city seems absolutely dreamy, from the Markthal to the various architecture hot spots. Will have to add this to the top of my must-visit destinations of 2018!

  24. Aditi says:

    Wow… Rotterdam looks like an amazing place with lots of things to do. I’d love to tread the streets on foot and stop by the food at The Markthal. I like the idea of heading to Euromast to gain a bird’s eye view of the place. Cheers!!

  25. lisa says:

    This is Rotterdam as I have never seen it before your photo’s are amazing! It is such a clean city and I have always read that the people of Netherlands are some of the nicest. That arch! wow so photogenic this city really looks modern and colourful, I hope I get to see it one day.

  26. Punita Malhotra says:

    The cube houses are so interesting. I would like to know more about these! And the restaurants and cafes that you have recommended look wonderful. Will make a note of these.

  27. Sandy N Vyjay says:

    Rotterdam is a lovely place with so much to see and experience. I read about Rotterdam some time back and the fact that this place is underrated and lesser known as compared to say Amsterdam. The food looks really amazing and the Rotterdam Discovery Museum looks really fascinating.

  28. Marya says:

    if i can add something on the list, that would be watching a football match derby between the teams from rotterdam: sparta vs feyenoord. 😉

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