Netherlands: Is Rotterdam on Your Travel Radar?

To be honest Rotterdam is not on my travel radar not until I have attended a travel conference in the city. I spent a week in Rotterdam and I was amazed and enjoy my stay!

After a few days exploring Brussels, I took the train to Rotterdam  to attend a travel conference. An hour and half train ride and a few windmills we passed along the vast expanse of green field. The train slowly chugging into a halt,  I easily navigated my way to the metro to my hotel.

My hotel is conveniently located along the  southern part of Cool District. Yes,  you read it right, that’s the district name! Lucky for me a few minutes walk to the best sightseeing is just on my doorstep.  So if you’re ready to join me on my stroll, let’s go!

Bits and Pieces of the Past!  The city was named after the construction of a Dam in 1270 along the Rotter River, by 1340 the city rights were granted to Rotterdam. Rotterdam City  was almost wiped out from the map due to bombing during the WWII.

In 2006 the city council has put a 12 kilometre physical mark periphery called the Fire boundary Walk ( red luminous lights on the pavement , that divided into West, North and East route ) a reminder of the affected area during the fire.

The city was slowly changed into a modern metropolis  and only a few buildings have survived and still standing up to this time after extensive renovation and preservation.

Saint Lawrence Church ( Sint-Laurenskerk ) was built between 1449 and 1525. A wooden spire was added to the tower in 1621  designed by H. de Keyser, but was demolished due to poor quality of its wood.  During the Rotterdam Blitz on May 14, 1940 it was heavily damaged. In 1952, Queen Julia of the Netherlands has laid the stone foundation for the restoration, and was completed in 1968.

If you have extra time while in the city, you can go up the tower with a guide ( with small fee) and you will be welcomed with the 360 degrees view of the whole city.

The Rotterdam’s City Town Hall was built between 1914 and 1920, is one of the few old buildings left in the centre of the city. And miraculously survived during the bombing in 1940. You can visit inside but with a guide.

White house ( Witte Huis ) built in 1898 in an art Nouveau style, with 10 floors and 141 feet tall.  First sky scraper building in Rotterdam ,the tallest building in Europe at the time. A  pre war standing building, and it’s listed on the National Heritage site.

Architectural Geeks come along!  During the WWII, the heart of Rotterdam was almost completely destroyed due to bombing by the Nazis, and only few buildings have survived.  In 1950’s through the 1970’s the city was slowly rebuilt.

But in the 1980’s they have begun developing an active building architectural policy. The quirky and daring building has sprung like a mushroom everywhere, adding a character to the whole city skyline. Rotterdam has a reputation of being the playground for architects.

Are you ready to be blown away with Rotterdam architectural building designs? Come and join me for a stroll photography!

Thanks to a local Dutch architect Piet Blom  with his bizarre  and innovative architectural designs. Let’s start with The Cube House  design by architect Piet Blom in 1984 ( residential/businesses) near Oude Haven. A very unique building structure. Giving an illusion to the people looking from outside the cube house ( a hexagonal shaped ) looks like being tipped on the side. But once you are inside the building it looks normal aside from  the angled windows and walls, and the only problem standard furniture doesn’t fit  inside so they use customise furniture.

Another quirky designed by Piet Blom is the Blaaktoren ( usually regards as the “pencil tower “ ) . It  is a 15-story high-rise residential  building in the centre of Rotterdam City. The hexagonal tower if you look closely it has inverted windows ( the window arches is located on the bottom part ).

Market Hall  (Locals often call it the Sharpener due to its shape )  was built in 2014 and design by architect firm MVRDV. The most fascinating is the interior art work facade, the 11,000 square metre ceiling displays massive enlargements of fruits, vegetables, grains, fish, flowers, and insects.

In the background, you can also see the iconic building of the church tower. According to the artist they want to evoke the childlike feeling of wonderment with this work. The ground floor is occupied by food stalls and the higher floors are serve as offices and accommodations.

St. Pauls Church ( Pauluskerk )  an unorthodox church was built in the late 1950’s. It was demolished and reconstructed in 2007 as apart of the CalypSoproject an Urban redevelopment. Designed by British architect W. Alsop in a quirky brown  diamond shape, the original bell  is the only remaining part of the old church.

The Central Station  was reopened on March 2014 after the renovation. Even with its bold design some historic elements have remained intact from the former station building (1957) by Sybold van Ravesteyn , such as the original clock in the front façade, the letters spelling out Centraal Station (LED lights).

Known as the international gateway to Rotterdam as it is well connected to several high-speed networks. Features a built in solar panels, the building itself is energy efficient providing own electricity, with underground bicycle  parking that accommodates over 5,000 bicycles.

Looking to try local Cuisine?  Dutch cuisine consists of meat, seasonal vegetable, herring, sausages and lots of cheese!  I haven’t really found a local authentic restaurant that served traditional Dutch food, due to  the influence of Eurasian descent it has impacted the local cuisine.

The neighbouring country and  Surinamese cuisine are widely established. But with small luck, I had a chance to try the Dutch usual snacks .

A unique Dutch culinary experience is not complete without trying the famous Bitterballen ( meatball ) a deep fried crispy meatballs traditionally served with mustard for dipping, usually served in Dutch pubs.

Thick Dutch Fries! Usually served in a piping hot paper cone slathered with tasty toppings from ketchup, mayo and crispy onions. Why not paired it with Kibbeling a battered and deep fried white fish usually codfish, the Dutch version of fish and chips!

For sure this is not for the faint hearted! Raw Herring  ( haring ) It has been claimed that Dutch has been eating herring for over 600 years. They are only allowed to catch herring from mid May to mid July. Usually served with pickles and finely chopped onions, you normally spot them in fish stand or herring carts. Traditionally herring is to be eaten by holding the fish tail, then dipped in onion then slide into your mouth. Are you  brave enough to try? Eating raw herring is either you love it or hate it, I leave that to you!

Now say Cheese!  Cheese lovers come along, you have landed on the cheesy land! It’s no excuse not visiting a cheese shop. They normally offer free tasting before you decide what to buy to take home. Try those different famous local cheese, and under any circumstances these cheese are not to be missed! Gouda a semi soft cheese made in 48% butterfat cows milk and aged  roughly for 3 months to 5 years, goes well with fruit and wine. Edam  a semi hard cow-milk cheese made in partially skimmed 40% butterfat milk, originated in town of Edam Holland, goes well with dark beer. And of course not to missed the Goats cheese very creamy and melts on your tongue.


Don’t Miss Out The Outdoor Art exhibit!  The City port of Rotterdam offers an open air gallery of modern to contemporary arts! There are so many art installations around the city’s street, gardens and square and the best part of it they are free to visit! There are numerous impressive public arts created by world famous artist from  iconic to unique designs.

Let’s start with the most controversial sculpture! The Santa Claus ( by Paul McCarthy ), initially the statue has been moved around to find the perfect place. As the locals find it obscene, vulgar and offensive. The Jovial Father Christmas was not holding a Christmas tree, but instead it looks like a sex toy ( butt plug ).

Erasmus bridge ( Erasmusburg )  the 802 metre long and 139 metre high is the second largest bridge in the Netherlands, connecting the North and South parts of the city. Named after D. Erasmus, a prominent renaissance  humanist. It is also nickname “ The Swan “ due to asymmetrical pale blue pylon and horizontal base assembles like a swan.

Exploring the Colourful and Upcoming side of the City!  I was lucky to join the walking  tour of the Oude Noorden/ Northern area of the city. Where the locals usually hang out. This upcoming neighbourhood in the city seems to be the hot list for new establishment such bars and restaurants, they are sprouting like mushrooms in the area.

Do you like to visit heavy graffiti neighbourhood? Let’s explore the old train viaduct! The Old station Hofplein  it used to be the Netherlands main train line station. Now a days is where the creative entrepreneurs settled in, run by real Rotterdammers with their specialty shops and unique products.

The Eurotrash United Bar has a quirky interior, the ceiling was  designed by the same artist of the  Market Hall (Horn & Plenty ). The bar owners are keen beer brewers too, so don’t missed out their  special beers on tap!

In the midst of looking like an abandon area, the up coming area of ZoHo  Rotterdam’s grain quarter  here you can find  the refurbished old static  train carriage Gare du Nord  a bio vegan bistro. Inspired by world cuisines, they serve organic and seasonal produce from their communal garden.

Urban landscaping the perfect example is the Op Het Dak rooftop bistro garden. They grow their own organic vegetable, herbs and they even have a bee hive on site, fresh honey anyone? If you are looking for a relax atmosphere, the green oasis overlooking 360 degrees view of the city, is the perfect place!

“Rotterdam has exceeded my expectation, at the end of my week exploration I fell in love and I was surprised with the beautiful city port!” Wandering around Rotterdam along the river bank with the skyscraper buildings glistening as the night falls is such a picture perfect! “

Is Rotterdam on your travel radar? If ever you are visiting the Netherlands do check out this quirky city port, for sure you will love it, as I did!

Insider’s Tip:

  • Rotterdam is well connected with intercity train, so if ever you are in Belgium or in Amsterdam there’s no excuse not to visit the Port City of Rotterdam.
  • Rotterdam is definitely a photographers playground, if you love capturing building architectures this is your perfect place. Those quirky, eccentric and  bizarre  buildings are just picture perfect for snapping!
  • If you love outdoor arts, Rotterdam is the perfect place to explore, there are thousands of artworks and monuments that are scattered around the city for the public to appreciate and enjoy.

Disclaimer: Some of the tour was organised by the Rotterdam Tourism Board, although I enjoyed my experience as a guest I have received no further remuneration to write this post. As always I retain full editorial control and all opinions are my own.

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22 thoughts on “Netherlands: Is Rotterdam on Your Travel Radar?

  1. Rotterdam’s architecture is really interesting and are beautiful! I’m sure my husband would spend hours just appreciating it all especially that of the Blaaktoren. Some lovely recommendations here too 🙂

  2. Looooove the photos! And that Father Christmas statue is highly offensive and I can see how the locals would hate it, but it’s also kiiiinda hilarious! Great post 🙂

  3. I can definitely see how this a place for architecture geeks! I’m going to the Netherlands next year and this post has gotten me even more excited about going!

  4. Although I’ve been to Amsterdam numerous times, Rotterdam has likewise never been on my radar. After your gorgeous photos & hearing about the food – I’m sold! Thank you!


  5. I am planning on visiting the Netherlands next year but to be honest, had not considered visiting Rotterdam until I read your article. I love beautiful modern buildings and would love to see all new architecture in this city.

  6. Rotterdam has some very interesting architecture. It’s definitely a more modern European city – but packed with unique experiences. Great list.

  7. You had me at lots of cheese! 🙂 I have never been to Rotterdam but it looks beautiful and all of those cool buildings and Saint Lawrence church!? Simply beautiful! I love the outdoors so it seems like something my husband and I would enjoy – the walking tour sounds lovely, give you the inside scoop and the food looks delicious! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Cheese!!! For me, tasty cheese is always a good reason to visit the place.
    Edam, Gauda, Goats cheese … are good enough reasons to put Rotterdam on the bucket list, while impressive architecture just completes the list why to visit Rotterdam!

  9. Hahaha Santa Clause and his “plug” that’s hilarious! I’ve never put Rotterdam high on the list but I love your post, it really highlights the beautiful architecture the city has. My other half is a photographer and architecture like this is definitely his kind of playground! It’s now on the bucket list – thanks!

  10. Ooh, Rotterdam has never been on my list before…but it is now! I always wonder what a lot of these cities would be like if they weren’t bombed during WWII. The walking tour sounds right up my alley. It also looks like there’s a lot of street art to check out as well!

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