What to see and do in Rotterdam in a day
Rotterdam is an amazing city. It’s the first thought that comes to mind when I remember our experience in this city. And I’m saying this because I just don’t expected all what I found.
It is a unique modern city, with a constant offer of art, architecture and culture. Check out in this post the places you have to see in Rotterdam.
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The first thing you can think of Rotterdam it’s an industrial city with nothing interesting to see. But nothing further from reality. I’m sure this city will surprise you.
It is a city with history and innovative. Rotterdam was ravaged by Nazi bombings in the Second World War and has been able to reinvent itself.
Nowadays, it seems that architects have liberty to create the most varied and flashy buildings you can imagine. Looks like they’re doing a competition to see who makes the building more innovative, modern, exclusive and original.
The Rotterdamers are proud of this development. They love to show off the buildings that has the city, how original they are, how pretty they are.
I was captivated with this idea and this way of developing the city. Every building I saw it was a work that shaped the city in a different, original and fun way.
You’re going to see a lot of curious buildings, but you can also visit the old part that survived bombardments. And of course you can’t miss the Kinderdijk mills. And more thing we’ll tell you in this post.
Recommendation: Rotterdam Welcome card
What to see in Rotterdam. Must-see visits in one day
If you’re going to be just one day in Rotterdam we tell you what are the best things to do and Visit.
Bike tour Bike and Bite
We started the visit with the proposal made by the Bike & Bite guys.
It’s an activity that lasts about four hours where you cycle around Rotterdam and you go stopping from time to time. Sometimes the stops are to tell you something interesting, and other times to snack something typical and good quality in interesting places in the city, to which it is rare arrive on your own.
The Station Rotterdam is the gateway to the city. Here come all the transport: bus, tram, train and metro. Here you will arrive if you come from Amsterdam by train or from Paris, to give a few examples.
What he calls the most the station’s attention are its architectural features, which have become one of the most emblematic buildings in the city. The station combines innovation with historical elements. They have maintained the original clock, the letters of “Centraal Station”, although they are now illuminated with LEDs, and two granite sculptures found on platform 1.
Most of the major and well-known buildings of Rotterdam have a nickname. About the Roterdamers give a nickname to everything. The One at Centraal Station is ‘kapsalon’. Kapsalon is a fast food dish and low cost typical of Rotterdam very much like a shawarma. It is always served on a tray of aluminum and that’s why they call the station that way.
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The Ancient Rotterdam
The little that’s left of the old Rotterdam is on Proveniersstraat Street. Here you can see some of the buildings that remained standing after the German bombings. Unfortunately there are not many, as you can see, but it seems that you have transported to another city in a matter of a few meters.
Fenix Food Factory
Fenix Food Factory is a popular market to visit in Rotterdam. It has been established parallel to the Markthal. The Markthal is a construction impressive that we’ll talk about later, but it’s more for tourists.
However, the Fenix Food Factory is for the Rotterdamers. Here you will find a ideal place to eat or have a drink, shop or experiment with the Crafts.
Here you’re going to find fresh local products and some are produced right there. This project was born in 2014, with the idea of entrepreneurs passionate about food and craftsmanship.
Closes on Mondays.
Hotel New York
It is located where the Rotterdam cruises to New York once sailed. It’s art nouveau and full of stories. Hotel New York is composed of a hotel, a restaurant, a bar, a café with a terrace, a newsstand and a bookshop.
The hotel has strived to keep the original architecture and interior intact. You will be amazed by the magnificent Jugend style decorations and history that give off the walls of the building. Order something from the menu and take your time to really enjoy the New York Hotel. (VisitHolland.com)
From here you can visit Erasmus Bridge and Maastoren Tower. (If you are with the bike tour you will be taken through these places, it is very cool)
The cube houses of Rotterdam
They are in front of the Markthal. They’re a real curiosity. That’s 32 cubes in total that are rotated 45 degrees. They were built in 1984 by architect Piet Blom.
Of course, they’re inhabited! Although what we saw was a hostel. So you know, if you want to stay in a fun place, this is your place.
They can be visited to see what they look like inside.
Take a drink in the Markthal
I have to tell you that I had little desire to see it, for what I imagined was a sort of giant industrial ship turned into market. Nothing further from reality!
First of all because it’s a housing building. If, even if it doesn’t seem like it, here it lives People.
The interior is spectacular, an awesome work of art. Another thing is the market, with traditional products, such as the San Miguel market in Madrid or others. But the building is impressive, worth seeing.
The little window you see, they’re from the houses. Can you imagine living there?
Euromast Rotterdam from the heights
It’s a tower of communications enabled to enjoy the views from a height of more than 100 meters. You can see all of Rotterdam. I recommend that you go up at sunset times so you can enjoy it with the light of the Sunset. Definitely a must visit in Rotterdam.
The Kinderdijk Mills
Kinderdijk mills are UNESCO’s World Heritage sites. These mills were not used to grind the grain or as a sawmill, but were used to pump water out of the levees to maintain the safety level for the inhabitants.
They’ve been in operation until 80 or 90 years ago. Today much more powerful pumps are used to maintain the water level.
When you arrive in Kinderdijk you will find some office to pay for the ticket. Look, seeing the mills is completely free and does not require paying the entrance fee. This ticket is to see an interpretation center and a mill inside, but you are not obliged to pay for it.
This visit will take you quietly for two to three hours as you have to take the waterbus that takes a while and then everything is done by walking or cycling. I really recommend you to go by bike because it makes everything much more comfortable and less tired. The bike can be carried on the waterbus.
What to see in Rotterdam in two days
Your second day in Rotterdam visits what didn’t give you time on the first day. But if you gave time to everything, our recommendations are, spend the morning at the Boijmans Van Museum Beuningen eats in the museum itself, then strolls through the harbour on the Spido, walk the streets of Rotterdam and get closer to the Witte Huis, visit the Van Nelle factory (only with guided visit)
Visit the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum
It is the most important museum of art in Rotterdam, it has a collection ranging from the European Middle Ages to modern art of our day. There are must-see works art and other curious ones. Without a doubt a must for all art lovers.
Spido, Visit to the Port of Rotterdam
This visit was done more for Fer than for me, hehehe and because it is included in the Rotterdam Welcome car. This tour takes you to know one of the largest ports in the world.
In addition, you can enjoy the skyline of the city with its fantastic architecture.
The tour lasts about 75 minutes and in summer there are also afternoon departures.
Witte Huis, a quirky building to see in Rotterdam
The Van Nelle factory in Rotterdam
A very interesting visit. This factory was operational until recently and is one of the generators of the Bauhaus school’s architectural movement next to the factory of the same name in Germany. I really recommend you to make this visit with a guide like the one we had with Urban Guides. An architecture student who was explaining to us point by point the design of the factory and why things, you will not regret it.
Of course I recommend you to walk through the city, enjoy it and feel it because it is a city that has really earned the prestige of being one of the most modern and evolved in the world. Enjoy it!
In a separate post I’ll tell you more about the museums of Rotterdam, but here I leave you a list ready for you to choose your favorite.
- Boijman Van Beuningen Museum, the must-see.
- Nederlands Fotomuseum, a must for photography lovers.
- Maritime Museum Rotterdam
- The Rotterdam Museum
- Natural History Museum, a journey through history with thousands of fossils of all kinds.
- Witte from With Center, contemporary art.
How to get around the city
The best way to get around the city is the bike. You are in a big city, but that is very friendly with cyclists. As in all the Netherlands, the bicycle is the ideal way to get around. In addition, you can put it on public transport if you get tired 😉
Where to sleep in Rotterdam?
Here you have classic or curious places to sleep. You can choose between the New York Hotel, where the passengers who migrated to America, or the King Kong Hostel or the cube houses were staying. Which one are you staying with?
We stayed at the Ibis Rotterdam City Centre hotel. It is super well located and you can get walking almost everywhere. If you want to rent bikes they have and if you go by car like us, right around the corner there is a parking lot, with which they also have an agreement and you get much cheaper to leave the car there than on the street.
Prepare your trip to the Netherlands
- Where to eat in Utrecht
- What to see in Utrecht, must-see attractions
- Accommodation in Utrecht
- Excursions and guided tours
- Itinerary 10 days in the Netherlands
- 4 days in Amsterdam
- Zaanse Schans, the mill village
- Volendam, a very picturesque fishing village
- Giethoorn, the Venice of Holland
- A day in Edam and its medieval cheese market
- Best Travel Insurance for your trips
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