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Things to do in Rotterdam - five highlights

Last updated Apr 11, 2022

Dubbed 'The Gateway to Europe' there are countless reasons people are choosing Rotterdam for their next city break. Here we take a look at five of the best things to do and see when in this stunning Dutch city.

1. Marvel at the awesome skyline

Known as the 'high-rise city of the Netherlands' Rotterdam has a number of skyscrapers, most notably the Zalmhaven which at 705ft is the tallest building in the country.

The Erasmus Bridge, Euromast Tower and De Rotterdam are other examples of incredible architecture, and they combine to make this one of the most memorable skylines you'll see.

There are a number of spots throughout Rotterdam where you can stop to take in the view, with one of the very best from the rooftop garden on the Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen.

2. Grab a bite at the Markthal

Simply a must visit when in Rotterdam.

The Markthal is a market unlike any other. Not only does it feature the biggest artwork in the Netherlands - The Horn of Plenty by Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam - it's also contained inside a huge arch made up of 228 different apartments.

Rotterdam 10 - Ossip van Duivenbode

Photograph by Ossip van Duivenbode

The market hall itself has more than 100 fresh food stalls along with a number of restaurants and shops, and is a popular haunt for visitors and locals looking to meet up for a bite to eat.

Remarkably, the whole thing came about as a solution to a problem. When restrictions around the sale of fish and meat in the open air were introduced, the people of Rotterdam saw an opportunity and built this wonder.

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3. Take a trip down the Rhine

Rotterdam has the largest port on the continent, at the point where the Rhine meets the North Sea, earning the city the nickname 'The Gateway to Europe'.

However it's not just goods travelling along the river, it's people too.

Anyone who's been to Rotterdam will have seen the bright yellow water taxis boats hurtling through the water at speeds of up to 50km an hour, allowing visitors to observe the city in a different light while also providing important transport links within the city.

These taxis have 50 mooring places along the Rhine, and those who run them say you're quicker using them than travelling by road when getting about. Worth hopping aboard when in town.

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4. Explore some incredible architecture

We've already spoken about the architecture, but Rotterdam really is a city famed for its quite spectacular building work.

Arguably the most innovative are the several dozen cube houses which were designed by architect Piet Blom. These homes, which are cube shaped but tilted 45-degrees, are made in order to maximise space for residents. Each cube house is around 100sqm, and inside contains three separate floors. On the third floor there's a glass ceiling which presents some wonderful sky views.

Want to check them out for yourself? Well you're in luck as one of the houses is open to visitors and can be explored at your leisure.

Rotterdam cube houses

Photograph by Iris van den Broek

Another construction feat is the Maastunnel - a remarkable underwater tunnel beneath the river Nieuwe Maas which opened during WWII. An important part of the city's history and a great place to visit.

Rotterdam photo gallery - a snapshot of the city

5. Let your hair down and sample the nightlife

In years gone by people would flock to Rotterdam from all over Europe to sample its thriving dance music scene.

And while it is still an important part of the city's DNA, these days there's a broad spectrum of tastes catered to by its many nightspots.

In addition to the high-energy clubs, there's also a brilliant live music scene with many bars clearing the tables and chairs away whenever the party gets going.

And if you're after something a bit more laid-back, the city of Rotterdam loves a rooftop bar and what better place to kick back with a drink and enjoy that famous skyline from atop one of their finest structures.

For more information on Rotterdam, you can visit our destination page by clicking here.

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