The Best Things To Do When Visiting Rotterdam In The Netherlands

During our visit to the Netherlands we had planned on just seeing Amsterdam, however last minute we decided to see what Rotterdam was all about! After spending a few days here, we are so glad we did! Between Amsterdam and Rotterdam; Rotterdam was by far our favorite city and we felt as though it gave us a much more authentic view of dutch life because it wasn’t so touristy. When visiting both cities you will see that Amsterdam and Rotterdam are not the same but entirely different cities. Visiting for a couple days is enough to explore the main attractions of this city. Rotterdam is a very safe city and really showcases some of the beauty of the Netherlands. You may be asking yourself what there is to do in Rotterdam. To help you with your travels to Rotterdam, we have narrowed down our most favorite and the best things to do here!

Rotterdam was heavily bombed in WW2 by Germany, the only original thing building that exists is the Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk church, the Witte House, and a handful of others. Rotterdam undertook massive rebuilding after the war, today Rotterdam is famous for amazingly new modern and unique architecture which exists throughout the city. Rotterdam is also known for being a major port city right along the river Rotterdam has excellent canal side shopping and walking paths. It is also the second largest dutch city after Amsterdam.

How To Get From Amsterdam To Rotterdam 

Trains run everyday pretty much all day from Amsterdam to Rotterdam and it will cost you about 14 Euro’s each. You can alternatively take a bus (which is what we did when returning to Amsterdam). We much preferred the bus as we didn’t have to transfer and we payed less. It takes about an 1 hour and 5 minutes to get between Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

Hotel New York

Hotel New York Rotterdam

Hotel New York was the famous port of the Holland-America line. This is where most European immigrants would leave to come to New York. You can quickly see this hotel and port as it is right next to the Fenix food factory. For me it was remarkable to see where millions of those whose descendants now make up America came through to get to Ellis Island.

Fenix Food Factory 

Cheese Platter Fenix Food Factory

Our Delicious Cheese Platter at Fenix Food Factory!

Fenix Food Factory is the culmination of different entrepreneurs who love artisanal foods coming together buying an old port warehouse, then turning it into a hot spot in Rotterdam for food. Fenix Food Factory has such a great vibe and atmosphere. My recommendation is get a cheese platter, they are seriously so good! Because after all, the Netherlands is the home of gouda cheese.

Cube House

The cube houses of Rotterdam are residential homes built in the 1980’s which were designed asymmetrically to resemble an abstract forest. Each home is a cube which is titled 45 degrees, when design was underway for these houses the architect based them on the concept of “living as an urban roof”. I think he achieved it with these crazy and wonky looking homes! You can see these buildings from Markthal as they are just across the street. If you really enjoy the architecture of the cube homes you can even stay in one for a night in the Stayokay Hostel Rotterdam. 

Witte Huis

The Witte Huis or known as the White House in english. Was an extremely big deal when constructed in 1898, not only in The Netherlands but also in Europe. The Witte Huis was the tallest office building ever built in The Netherlands at the time and the first high rise building in Europe. Today it still remains a marvel as it was one of the very few buildings that survived the bombings that happened during WW2. The Witte Huis is perfect to visit during your time in Rotterdam, it is now a national museum and is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk 

Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk 

Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk is a protestant church which was the only building that remains from the medieval era. In 1940 when the church was damaged by German bombings there were calls to tear down the church, these were quickly stopped by the then queen of The Netherlands. If in Rotterdam you will definitely notice this church as it sticks out compared to the rest of newer buildings in the city. Keep an eye out for it when going to the cube house or Markthal as it is really close nearby.


Markthal is another place to find some delicious food or drinks. Full of many different food stalls and eateries there is plenty of international delicacies to be tried while here. When visiting market hall make sure to check out the ceiling and walls as the building is basically a large arch with vibrant and colorful paintings on the walls and ceiling. 

Erasmusburg Bridge

Erasmusburg Bridge Rotterdam

Erasumburg Bridge connects the north and south parts of Rotterdam and is smack dab in the center of the city. If you go to Fenix food factory or Hotel New York you will have to cross over this bridge by either walking or public transit. The bridge itself is beautiful and also really nice for walking. the great view over the river and city is what makes this bridge truly stand out.

Try A Fresh Stroopwafel

Eating Stroopwafel in Rotterdam

A stroopwafel is a wafer cookie made from two layers of baked dough with a caramel filling in the center, they are a dutch specialty! You can find many different stands and shops selling these fresh stroopwafels. While the ones pre-made you can buy in any market are delicious, nothing can quite beat a fresh hot one; these are in a league of their own. Generally there are many different flavors available of stroopwafels, if this is your first time trying one you can never go wrong with the original!

Santa Claus Statue

In 2001 the city of Rotterdam commissioned LA artist Paul McCarthy to make a festive and expensive Christmas statue featuring Santa Clause holding a bell and a Christmas tree. At the time of the finishing of this statue it was instantly met with its fair share of controversy by the public. With the intended site moved and shop owners rejecting having this statue placed in front of their shops. This controversy stems from the tree that Santa is holding. You be the judge yourself, but we found it quite interesting to say the least. This statue is known by locals as “The Butt Plug Gnome”.

Rotterdam Central Station

Rotterdam Central Station

Known as the international gateway to Rotterdam. When visiting the city by rail or bus you most likely will at some point come through Rotterdam central station. The central station is very unique in its own rite. With an iconic looking slanted roof and glass front, in addition to catching a train you will also be able to take a magnificent picture!

We hope you enjoy Rotterdam as much as we did! As always if you have any questions leave them in the comments below!