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.
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.
Table of Contents
- 1 Visit the Rotterdam Discovery Exhibition
- 2 Explore and taste the food at The Markthal
- 3 Wander around the Cube Houses
- 4 Brunch at Picknick
- 5 Admire the view of Rotterdam from the Euromast (Observation Tower)
- 6 Take a Bike & Bite Tour
- 7 Visit Man Met Bril Koffie for coffee
- 8 Have Dinner at Bazaar
Visit the Rotterdam Discovery Exhibition
The Rotterdam Discovery Exhibition in the basement at the Tourist Information Office in central Rotterdam is the best way to start your trip exploring and to find your bearings. It is also a great introduction to learning about one of the biggest port cities in Europe.
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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!
- Mon-Sun – 9:30 – 18:00
- It is free to visit and should only take you around 15-30minutes.
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 7 days of the week
- Market Floor – 12:00 – 18:00
- The Bars and Restaurants – 10:00 – 00:00
- 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
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 5minutes walk away from The Markthal it is a great option to do before or after you have been at the market hall.
- 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.
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 local if they can. It is also centrally located near both Blaak station and Markhal building. The staff, prices, and atmosphere were all great.
- Mon-Sat – 8:00 – 16:30
- Sun 9:30 – 16:30
- I had the salmon and eggs, which was really delicious.
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 hight 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 is 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.
- April – September: open from 9:30 a.m
- October – March: open from 10:00 a.m.
- Adults € 9,75 65+ € 8,75
- Children 4 – 11 years € 6,25
- If you are looking for an extra thrill and you love adventure, they now offer Abseiling / Zip-line from the top for € 55,00
Take a Bike & Bite Tour
As you know the 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.
Not only did I learn some interesting things, I got to taste some amazing local products. I made a lovely new friend while at the same time I got to exercise!
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.
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.
- €50 Euros per person
- 11:00 is the starting time
- The duration of the tour is 4hours
- Definitely, do not eat beforehand, wear comfortable shoes and bring a bottle of water along.
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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 the coffee. I went from having one coffee to 3, as I was chatting with one of the managers about all the different types of coffees that they sell and distribute around Rotterdam.
- Make sure to get the coffee cards that come with your coffee to see the make and where it comes from
Have Dinner at Bazaar
This bright and colourful Moroccan restaurant was a delight to go to especially after a long day of exploring in Rotterdam Netherlands. The eye catching lights and decorations and the cheerful 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 on the menu are either North Africa or from the Middle East and are reasonably priced. I had the El Couscous (meat) grilled kebab chicken and vegetables and not only was it delicious, it was fresh and filling.
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 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.
How to get to Rotterdam Netherlands
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.
Thank you for reading my article ‘Best Things to See and Do in Rotterdam Netherlands ‘, I hope it helped you to decide what to do in Rotterdam Netherlands. It is such a fun, vibrant city and definitely worth going there for a weekend.
Have you been to Rotterdam?
I would love to hear it 🙂 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.