Looking for things to do in Rotterdam? This handy guide features some of my favourite spots for eating, drinking and sightseeing in the contemporary port city.
Brunch at By Jarmusch
It’s never a bad idea to have a good brunch (or breakfast) inside you before exploring a new metropolis. My tip for Rotterdam is By Jarmusch. With a menu inspired by an American Diner, you can look forward to freshly brewed coffee complete with free refills (this is America after all) and classic dishes such as pancakes, waffles and eggs cooked however you want them.
Did I mention the interior? By Jarmusch offers a modern interpretation of the traditional diner, so whilst you’ll still find booths and a counter bar, the furnishings and zigzag flooring make for an altogether more hip vibe.
Architecture at Cube Houses
If you’re a fan of architecture and design, no visit to Rotterdam would be complete without getting a glimpse of the city’s iconic Cube Houses.Designed by architect Piet Blom in the 1970s, the 38 homes are a far cry from your average living space. Blom was tasked with building homes above a pedestrian bridge, and these angular yellow and grey structures were his answer.
You can even take a look inside the Cube Houses for the teeny fee of €2.50. Their location near Rotterdam Blaak station has bonus architecture points: from here you can also see the spectacular Martkthal building.
Art at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Boijmans Van Beuningen is one of my favourite museums in the Netherlands (so far) and hence one my favourite things to do in Rotterdam.Featuring gallery after gallery of beautifully-curated works by the likes of Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Picasso to name but a few, it’s easy to lose yourself (both figuratively and literally) in the sprawling space.
The collection is diverse, covering everything from the old masters to contemporary pieces. Don’t miss Untitled (Manhole) by Maurizio Cattelan – the museum had to make a hole in the floor to accommodate this curious piece.
Beer (and nibbles) at Fenix Food Factory
Indoor street food markets seem to be the new norm in any given city, and Rotterdam is no exception. Fenix Food Factory is located in an old industrial neighbourhood which provides a somewhat haunting backdrop of 1984-esque factory buildings.
A former warehouse plays host to a number of food stalls and De Kaapse Brouwers brewery. The space opens out onto the water complete with a large outdoor seating space – the perfect sunny-day spot for a refreshing craft beer and bite.
A bit of history at Hotel New York
Amid Rotterdam’s modern cityscape you’ll find the not-so-modern Hotel New York. The former office building of the Holland America Lines was built in 1901 by the architects J. Muller and Droogleever Fortuin, and the signage “Holland America Lijn” can still be seen on the splendid exterior.
The building is now an upscale hotel with an attractive restaurant to boot – its advised to book in advance if you want to eat here. On the north side of the hotel (beside the water), you can also enjoy excellent views of the city’s famous Erasmusbrug (Erasmus bridge).
Travel by taxi boat
Who doesn’t love a ride in a speedboat? Rotterdam’s water taxis can get you from A to B in a flash, and offer the opportunity to get a glimpse of the city from a different vantage point. Rides are reasonably priced (starting from €4.50 per person in the centrum area) and there are convenient pickup and drop off points for navigating the city. This one might just seem like a mode of transport, but I’d count it as one of my top things to do in Rotterdam.
A full map of locations can be found here.
Dinner at De Pasta Kantine
If you’re looking for a casual, no-fuss dinner – you can’t go wrong De Pasta Kantine. The eatery boasts a simple, modern interior and outdoor terrace, and serves up reasonably priced fresh pasta dishes with a good selection of accompanying wines. We sampled the suitably-sized tagliatelle with mushrooms, hazelnuts, garlic, grilled green asparagus, white wine and Grana Padano, along with an organic house wine. YUM!
Do you have suggestions for things to do in Rotterdam? Share your local tips in the comments below.
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