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Rotterdam: Guide to a Modern Dutch City

Be prepared for innovative architecture, fabulous museums, and great jazz


rotterdam location map

Rotterdam Location Map: Approximate location of Rotterdam within the Netherlands

James Martin, Europe Travel

Rotterdam is the Netherland's second largest city, located in the province of South Holland in the west of the Netherlands. Rotterdam is home to Europe's busiest port.

Why go to Rotterdam?

First the bad news: Rotterdam was almost completely destroyed in the war; there is no quaint medieval center. Instead, Rotterdam has become one of the most modern cities in Europe. It's a center for compelling modern architecture; many famous architects work or teach in Rotterdam. The Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAI) is a museum that documents Rotterdam's past and future in architecture.

The tallest residential and office buildings in Europe are found in Rotterdam, as well as the 610 foot tall Euromast, a tower specially built for the 1960 Floriade that has an observation platform and Brasserie restaurant 315 feet above ground level. Above the restaurant there are a couple of hotel suites you can stay in if you're willing to pay dearly for a fantastic view over a major city. (They need to be reserved no later than three months prior to your stay.)

Rotterdam is also known for its museums and has a highly rated zoo. The Blijdorp Zoo at Blijdorplaan 8, Rotterdam, is one of the most popular attractions in the Netherlands.

The Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is a top art museum that covers the history of art, from the Middle Ages to the 21st century. Like the Euromast, the museum has a room for two you can stay in, in this case a Revolving Hotel Room designed by Carsten Höller. The Revolving Hotel Room is available for guests from 6 February to 25 April 2010.

Delfshaven, a Rotterdam neighborhood, is where the pilgrims last prayed at the Pelgrimskerk or Pilgrim's church before boarding the Speedwell to start on their trip to America. The Speedwell wasn't seaworthy, of course, so you can do what the pilgrims did (well, in my head at least) and stroll over to Delfshaven's Stadsbrouwerij de Pelgrim, or Pilgrim's Brewery to drown your sorrows. See our Delfshaven Pictures for more.

Rotterdam even has a pancake boat! How cool is that? You can eat unlimited pancakes while on a one hour tour of the waterfront around Rotterdam. And speaking of food, in late 2009 Rotterdam was voted Culinary Capital of the Netherlands by restaurant guide SpecialBite.

And, of course, Rotterdam is a huge cycling city. You can take a bike tour or just rent a bike at the Central station to get around.

Getting to Rotterdam: Rotterdam Central Train Station

Rotterdam Central is being modernized at the moment, and should re-open in 2010. There is currently a temporary station.

Rotterdam is one of the four major railway hubs in the Netherlands. It is on the north end of the city center.

Rotterdam Metro line D connects underground at Rotterdam Central Station.

Resources: Netherlands Rail Passes | Netherlands Map Showing Rail Lines

Rotterdam Airport

Rotterdam Airport (RTM) is located about 3.5 miles northwest of the city and is the Netherland's third largest airport. See a map and travel information: Rotterdam Airport Map

Rotterdam Welcome Card

The purchase of a Rotterdam Welcome Card gives you discounts of 25% at many attractions, museums, restaurants, theatres and clubs, a city map, and a putlic transportation card. Find out prices and more here.

The SS Rotterdam

Like the idea of cruising but not the waves? Well, the Steamship SS Rotterdam is a historic cruise ship once owned by the Holland - America Line that has been restored and turned into a sort of living museum; you can visit, see the artisan work done during the golden age of elegant cruise ships, and even eat in the restaurant and stay in one of the cabins.

Every evening there's a tour that takes you through the ship.

Some shows from Rotterdam's premier North Sea Jazz Festival (July) are held in the SS Rotterdam.

To reserve a room on the ship, see: ss Rotterdam Hotel & Restaurants (book direct).

Where to Stay

Venere offers a wide range of Rotterdam user-rated hotels. The top rated Hotel Van Walsum (book direct) is located in a quiet section of the central city.

For folks who are staying a while, have a family or friends in tow, or just like the privacy of a vacation rental apartment or home, a Rotterdam Vacation Rental (book direct) might be in order.

Rotterdam Summer Carnival

The last week of July Rotterdam becomes Caribbean with Summer Carnival Rotterdam. For more information, see the Official Carnival website.


You can get just a taste of Rotterdam in the Holland in one day tour from Amsterdam (Book Direct). The tour takes you from Amsterdam to Aalsmeer, Delft, Rotterdam, and The Hague.

Tourist Information Offices

Here is contact information for the VVV, the tourist information offices in Rotterdam.

VVV Rotterdam Store
Coolsingel 5, 3012 AA Rotterdam
Tel: 0900 - 403 40 65 (35 €cent per minute)
Fax: 010 - 271 01 28

VVV Rotterdam Info Café
Stationsplein 45 (entrance Weena)

Check info and hours.

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