This vibrant and hyper-diverse metropolitan city is the second-largest in the Netherlands and the 10th-largest city in the EU and is called home by residents holding more than 170 nationalities. During WWII, the city centre of Rotterdam was nearly completely destroyed. Much of the city had to be rebuilt, resulting in a modern landscape with many high-rise buildings and contemporary architecture, quite the contrast to many other Dutch cities.
Rotterdam also has the largest seaport in Europe, a rich maritime history, and is a major trading hub in The Netherlands. Located near the North Sea coast, on the Maas River, water plays a significant role in Rotterdam, both as part of the city’s rich maritime history and as a substantial part of present-day life in this metropolitan trade hub. Just a quick 45-minute train ride from Amsterdam, there are various fun things to do in Rotterdam. It’s a great day trip or multi-day destination to add to your itinerary when visiting The Netherlands.
- Rotterdam, Netherlands
- Top Tours
- 20 Things To Do In Rotterdam
- 1- Rent a Bike or Take A Bike Tour
- 2- Go on A Walking Tour
- 3- Experience Rotterdam By Boat
- 4- Tour the SS Rotterdam Steamship
- 5- Visit Rotterdam Central Station
- 6- Explore the Famous Markthal
- 7- Ride to the top of the Euromast
- 8- Walk or Bike Across the Famous Erasmus Bridge
- 9- Wander Around Museumpark
- 10- Admire the Collections from Boijmans van Beuningen
- 11- Visit De Kunsthal Museum for a Dose of Culture
- 12- Discover Het Natuurhistorisch Museum (Natural History Museum)
- 13- Explore the Rotterdam Maritime Museum
- 14- Be Mesmerised at the Remastered Experience
- 15- Take a Step Back in Time at Hotel New York
- 16- Stroll Through Oude Delfshaven
- 17- Visit Blijdorp Zoo
- 18- Ride the Historic Snerttram
- 19- Go Ice Skating (Only open from December to March)
- 20- Visit the Dutch Coast Beaches
20 Things To Do In Rotterdam
1- Rent a Bike or Take A Bike Tour
The best way to see any Dutch city is to rent a bike and cruise around town to understand how the locals live.
If you dare to brave the busy bike lanes on your own, there are many bike rental shops in the city centre and you can usually rent either for a few hours or by the day.
Or if you are staying in a hotel, they may also offer bike rentals on-site.
Find more information about where to rent a bike in Rotterdam here.
Prefer a guided bike tour?
Enjoy a bit more carefree cycling experience to see the Rotterdam highlights and hidden gems with a local guide on one of the many available group bike tours.
Or combine your cycling experience with the chance to taste local snacks and drinks and join a food tour by bike.
2- Go on A Walking Tour
If cycling isn’t for you, consider exploring the city on foot with a self-guided tour or letting a local expert show you around town.
Heading out with a local guide who knows the city well has many advantages.
Most walking tours combine learning a bit of history and lesser-known facts about Rotterdam while also taking you to places you might otherwise not have found on your own.
Many walking tours are available in Rotterdam, including the well-known free walking tours meeting in front of the famous Markthal near Central Station daily at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm.
You can also opt for a walking tour with a more specific focus, like visiting the famous architectural sites in Rotterdam or enjoying a local food tour or a beer-tasting experience at one of the Dutch microbreweries.
Do you like to explore at your own pace but still need help knowing where to go? Check out the GPSmyCity App, which features eight self-guided walking tours to explore Rotterdam.
3- Experience Rotterdam By Boat
With such a rich maritime history, experiencing Rotterdam’s waterways is a must when visiting this international trade hub.
The Rotterdam harbour played a role in the history of the Netherlands and is widely known as the ‘beating heart’ of the city.
Take a guided cruise through the harbour to learn about the seaport’s industrial history, gain unique insights into the operations of trade by sea and experience the best views of the city and its unique architecture from the water.
If you don’t have enough time for the full guided harbour tour, another great way to experience Rotterdam by water is to hop on a water taxi to get from one destination to another.
Rotterdam’s water taxi network has around 50 stops along the Maas River and outside the port city.
Travelling Rotterdam by water is even faster than by car so consider hopping on one of these speed boats to reach many popular stops in the city like Hotel New York, Steamship SS Rotterdam, the Maritime Museum, the Euromast, the Veerhaven, the Oude Haven, Stadium Feyenoord or Delfshaven.
4- Tour the SS Rotterdam Steamship
Want to learn even more about maritime life while visiting Rotterdam?
Take a tour of the SS Rotterdam steamship – the largest ocean liner ever built in The Netherlands.
This enormous vessel sailed countless voyages as part of the Holland-America Line since 1959 and is now permanently anchored in the Maashaven and acts as a hotel, event space, museum and restaurant open to the public.
Special tip for families: The ship’s terrace includes a children’s pool and is a perfect spot to enjoy a warm summer day.
You can find the SS Rotterdam at 3e Katendrechtse Hoofd 25, 3072 AM Rotterdam.
5- Visit Rotterdam Central Station
If you are travelling to Rotterdam by train, you can check off this ‘must see’ building right away – and if you didn’t arrive by train, it’s still worth a visit.
This bustling transit hub connects more than 100.000 travellers per day and underwent a major renovation to handle the masses but also received an architectural facelift.
The new terminal was opened in 2014 and is now one of the most iconic buildings in Rotterdam.
- 20 Landmarks in the Netherlands
- 20 Things To Do In Amsterdam At Night
- 20 Things To Do In Rotterdam
- 15 Free Things To Do In Amsterdam
6- Explore the Famous Markthal
This one-of-a-kind building opened in 2014 and is now one of Rotterdam’s most well-known attractions.
The Markthal houses a combination of 228 apartments, a covered market featuring 100 stalls, and various shops and restaurants.
This lively hotspot is bustling with locals and tourists alike and is a popular place to grab a tasty bite from one of the many food stalls featuring cuisine from around the world.
Local tip: ZLove food? Check out this food tour. Love food halls? Check out the less touristy but equally delicious Fenix Food Factory in an old warehouse at the trendy Katendrecht waterfront at Nico Koomanskade 1025, 3072 LM Rotterdam. You may like this tour of Markthal and cube houses in the city.
7- Ride to the top of the Euromast
Offering a 360-view of Rotterdam, Euromast is a popular attraction in Rotterdam that also provides a few special activities for any daredevils who love to push the limit when travelling.
Start by taking the elevator to a height of 100 meters (328 feet) in just 30 seconds and enjoy the beautiful views.
You can also enjoy brunch, lunch, high tea, wine or dinner at the Euromast Brasserie – a reservation is recommended.
Looking for a special overnight while in Rotterdam – the Euromast also has a few hotel rooms where you can enjoy an unforgettable evening high in the sky.
Want to go even higher?
The Euroscoop offers the opportunity to ride the rotating elevator at the height of 185 meters (606 feet) and enjoy music, lights and 360 views while also hearing more about the city, its diversity and more.
Looking for even more of a thrill in Rotterdam?
Between May and September, it is possible to abseil from the Euromast (under the supervision of a professional).
The descent to the ground takes about 15 minutes and is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Two people can abseil with an instructor, and you should book your tickets for this special experience in advance.
Find it at Parkhaven 20, 3016 GM Rotterdam. Skip the lines and book your Euromast tickets here.
8- Walk or Bike Across the Famous Erasmus Bridge
The Erasmus Bridge is one of the most well-known structures in Rotterdam, often even referred to as the city’s true ‘icon’, and it’s easy to see why.
Designed by Ben van Berkel of UN Studio (1996), this massive suspension bridge has a 139-metre (456 feet high) steel pylon mounted with 40 tethers.
The Erasmus bridge crosses the Maas River and connects the northern and southern parts of the city, acting as an important gateway between the two areas of town.
Walk or bike across this world-famous bridge and enjoy its stunning views.
9- Wander Around Museumpark
Like Museumplein in Amsterdam, Museumpark in Rotterdam acts as a connecting point for multiple popular museums in the city, including – the Kunsthal, Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen and Het Nieuwe Instituut – and the Maritime Museum.
The park, however, is more than just a path to the museums but is also seen as a key part of the Rotterdam art scene, and the nearby Witte de Withstraat is well known for its vibrant nightlife.
Take a stroll through this special area and stop for a selfie in the thousands of mirrors that make up the recently opened and said to be the ‘most beautiful building in Rotterdam’, Het Depot.
10- Admire the Collections from Boijmans van Beuningen
The well-known Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum is at Rotterdam’s Museumpark and features large collections of visual arts, applied arts and design.
The collection is often referred to as one of the world’s most important and is one of the top Dutch art museums.
The museum is under renovation until 2028 and is closed for visitors until that time, however, you can luckily still see the collection at its nearby neighbouring location, Het Depot.
The Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen is the world’s first publicly accessible art storage facility and is next to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.
This one-of-a-kind art depot is the result of 173 years of collecting.
The depot is not a museum, but you can visit (with a reservation), browse the more than 151,000 objects housed in the building, and gain knowledge and insights about all the activities that go into preserving and managing this type of collection through the open-viewing concept throughout the building.
Both buildings are at Museumpark 3015 CX Rotterdam and you can get your entrance ticket here.
11- Visit De Kunsthal Museum for a Dose of Culture
Another must-visit cultural hotspot is the Kunsthal Rotterdam.
It hosts more than 20 exhibitions annually and offers a vibrant cultural program unlike any other institution in the area.
The Kunsthal focuses on three core values: art, culture and society and continuously offers diverse exhibitions featuring both national and international creators, which range from modern masters and contemporary art to forgotten cultures, photography, fashion and design.
For a non-traditional art and cultural experience while in Rotterdam, this is it.
The museum operates from 10 am to 5 pm daily, except for Mondays when it is closed and it’s at Museumpark.
12- Discover Het Natuurhistorisch Museum (Natural History Museum)
The Natural History Museum is especially a great tip for families visiting Rotterdam with children.
Prepare to be fascinated by the permanent collection of birds, mammals, fish, insects, shells and plants and to learn about biodiversity.
The museum is very interactive and features both permanent and temporary exhibitions, so you’ll always find something new to experience here.
Check out the various fossils found in Dutch soil, marvel at the enormous sperm whale and elephant skeletons and learn about how animals and plants adapt in our modern cities and landscapes.
The museum is open from 11 am to 5 pm daily, except for Mondays when it is closed and is at Westzeedijk 345, 3015 AA Rotterdam.
13- Explore the Rotterdam Maritime Museum
This impressive museum hosts one of the world’s largest and most prominent maritime collections and takes visitors through the captivating six-century-long journeys of Dutch maritime history.
The Maritime Museum is in the oldest and largest museum harbour in the Netherlands and the location where the port of Rotterdam began centuries ago.
Enjoy a special day out viewing award-winning exhibits, and interactive activities for all ages, and explore the well-maintained ships and cranes in the inspiring harbour.
Tip: The museum is excellent for children of all ages and also offers guided boat trips around the maritime district (weather dependent).
The museum is open daily from 10 am and 5 pm, except on Monday when it is closed and is at Leuvehaven 1, 3011 EA Rotterdam. Reserve your tickets to the museum and skip the lines.
14- Be Mesmerised at the Remastered Experience
Looking for a unique and interactive experience to learn about Dutch art while in Rotterdam?
The Remastered Experience offers visitors the chance to experience a unique combination of the old Dutch Masters’ reimagined’ by the new Dutch Masters.
The very best Dutch digital artists have created a virtual ‘new world’ where classic Dutch masterpieces, like the colourful scenes of Van Gogh, are projected onto the walls (floors and ceilings).
Music blasts so you can dance to the beat of Mondrian’s ‘Victory Boogie Woogie’.
This unique experience isn’t like other art museums and is great for families with kids and visitors of all ages!
The Remastered Experience is open on Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11 am to 5 pm, Friday and Saturday from 11 am to 8.30 pm and is at Willemsplein 79, 3016 DR Rotterdam.
15- Take a Step Back in Time at Hotel New York
Hotel New York is a historic city landmark located in a hip area of town where both locals and tourists enjoy staying overnight or visiting for dinner or a drink.
The trendy bar and terrace have a great vibe and a spectacular city view.
The four-star hotel is set in the ex-headquarters of the Holland America Line, the place where thousands of emigrants used to depart on ships for North America.
Enjoy the lively atmosphere while imagining what it must have been like to wait to board a ship here to cross the Atlantic, full of hope and excitement for a better life.
Tip: Make a reservation in advance as the restaurant is very popular as a place to celebrate special occasions. Find Hotel New York at Koninginnenhoofd 1, 3072 AD Rotterdam.
16- Stroll Through Oude Delfshaven
This historic marina is close to every local Rotterdammer’s heart as it’s one of the only areas of the old city that survived the bombing of Rotterdam in 1940.
This quaint neighbourhood is beautiful (as if from a postcard) and has significant historical importance as the place from where the Pilgrims left The Netherlands for America.
You can learn even more about Delfshaven with a self-guided walking tour or join one of the many guided tours that often include this stop.
Tip: This area has many restaurants, shops and a great atmosphere day and at night – local students especially enjoy hanging out here.
17- Visit Blijdorp Zoo
Rotterdam is home to the most-visited zoo in The Netherlands and has been rated as the most beautiful zoo in Benelux.
In 2022 Blijdorp Zoo was even chosen as one of the most enjoyable outings in The Netherlands.
As you can tell, the locals love it as a go-to fun activity for adults and kids alike.
The beautiful park is home to a wide variety of species and has a large sea aquarium and multiple restaurants.
Blijdorp Zoo is open daily from 9am and 5pm and is at Blijdorplaan 8, 3041 JG Rotterdam. As it’s a popular attraction, you may want to reserve your tickets online.
18- Ride the Historic Snerttram
Looking for a fun local experience in Rotterdam that’s not in the usual guidebooks?
Take a ride on the Snerttram – a refurbished public tram that serves classic Dutch Pea Soup (perfect in winter) and Ice Cream (great for a warm day – or with kids!) while also telling some stories about the city as you ride along.
The website is in Dutch and the guides mostly speak Dutch but don’t let the language be a barrier to missing out on this unique experience while in Rotterdam.
Almost every Dutch person speaks English and anyone is welcome to ride the Snerttram – but make reserve your spot in advance.
The SnertTram leaves at 14:30 on Saturday and Sunday from Oostplein. One additional tram departs on Saturday at 16:00.
19- Go Ice Skating (Only open from December to March)
Visiting Rotterdam in the winter months? Then, head over to Schaatsbaan Rotterdam to enjoy the favourite winter activity of the Dutch – ice skating.
This huge inflatable skating rink is open between late November and the beginning of March and is fun for all ages.
No skating experience is required here, and you can rent all the gear you need to hop on the ice.
The ice rink is open daily from 9 am until 22.00 (and 23.00 on Friday and Saturday nights). It’s at Toepad 95, 3063 NJ Rotterdam.
Tip: The special rainbow disco lights go on every Friday, Saturday and Sunday starting at 16.00.
20- Visit the Dutch Coast Beaches
Have more time to explore outside of the city centre of Rotterdam?
Consider taking a short ride to the nearby Dutch coast and enjoy the laid-back beach lifestyle that is truly a unique part of life in The Netherlands.
The most popular beaches near Rotterdam are Hoek van Holland (also known as Rotterdam Beach) and Scheveningen Beach.
Both are just about 30km (18,5 miles) and easy to reach either by driving half an hour from Rotterdam city centre or by taking an hour train ride from Rotterdam Centraal.
Each has its charm and is popular with locals on warm days, especially Scheveningen Beach, which may be very crowded during summer.
Dutch people enjoy visiting the beach all year round – so if you are visiting in the off-season, this can be a great day trip idea to enjoy the beach without the crowds!
Looking for quieter beaches where locals like to go? Head to Moster or’s Gravezande or Maasvlakte Beach for a more laid-back and local experience.