Rotterdam cityscape at night

Things to do in  Rotterdam

Modern architecture meets maritime history

Often bypassed for Amsterdam by travelers, the Netherlands’ “second city” of Rotterdam feels like it’s a world away from the more traditional, laid-back capital. Rotterdam is an urban powerhouse with a skyscraper-lined skyline, buzzing nightlife, and dynamic cultural scene. Almost completely reconstructed post-World War II, it’s Europe’s biggest harbor and a hub of innovation that’s famous for its ever-changing architecture and urban redevelopments. If quieter pastimes appeal, take a break from the hubbub with a stroll along the picturesque canals or a pause at one of the city’s many cafés.

Top 15 attractions in Rotterdam

Markthal (Market Hall)

Rotterdam’s new market hall is also the largest indoor market in the country. Architecturally striking, the building is designed with apartments flanking a horseshoe-shaped arch. Inside the glass facade is a covered public square and market hall, with more than 100 food stalls, eight restaurants, and 15 shops, and one of the Netherlands’ largest artworks on its ceiling.More

Church of St. Lawrence (Sint Laurenskerk)

The Church of St. Lawrence (Sint Laurenskerk) is the primary landmark of Rotterdam, and the only remaining building of medieval times in the city. The late-Gothic structure was built between 1449 and 1525, originally consecrated as a Catholic cathedral before being converted to a Protestant place of worship following the Reformation in 1572. Much of the ornate decoration from the interior was removed at this time.For a time, from 1619 to 1642, the church was topped with a wooden spire designed by architect Hendrick de Keyser, but this was demolished due to rot. The next idea was to top the tower with a stone pinnacle, but this caused the tower to tilt, requiring new piles to be added under the foundation. Much of the remaining interior decoration was removed during the Batavian Revolution of 1795.Sint Laurenskerk was heavily damaged in the German bombing of May 14, 1940, the images of which still symbolize the hardship the city endured during this period. After the bombing, there was controversy over whether to keep or demolish the church, and in the end, a restoration was agreed upon.One of the main attractions of the Sint Laurenskerk is the Carillon of bells, which were originally installed in 1661 as a set of 36 designed by F. Hemony. More were later added during the post-war renovation, and there are now 49.More

Erasmusbrug (Erasmus Bridge)

Linking north and south Rotterdam across the River New Meuse, the Erasmus Bridge (Erasmusbrug is one of the city’s most notable landmarks. Opened in 1996, it’s striking for its single, angled pylon, which lends it the nickname “The Swan” (De Zwaan and makes it a must-see for visitors.More

Cube Houses (Kubuswoningen)

Even in a city with lots of out-of-the-ordinary architecture, Rotterdam’s Cube Houses (Kubuswoningen manage to stand out from the crowd. Designed by Dutch architect Piet Blom and built in the early 1980s, these yellow-and-gray cubic houses are perched at a 45-degree-angle, creating unusual lines and strangely shaped interiors.More

Rotterdam Central Station (Rotterdam Centraal)

Rotterdam’s bold Central Station (Centraal Station) is a showstopper and fitting introduction for arriving visitors to the city’s famously edgy architecture. Renovated in 2014, the midcentury station stands out for its unique design with a glass-fronted facade topped by a futuristic stainless-steel roof that soars high above the building.More

Windmills of Kinderdijk

The Netherlands is famous for its windmills, and the most charming place to admire the traditional Dutch landmarks is at Kinderdijk. Just outside of Rotterdam, Kinderdijk’s 19 windmills date back to the 17th century and are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.More


Rotterdam’s Euromast observation tower—which was built in 1960—rises to 607 feet (185 meters, making it the Netherlands’ tallest building. Extended to its current height in 1970, the observation tower offers restaurants, hotel suites, abseiling experiences, a viewing platform, and a rotating Euroscoop glass elevator with panoramic views.More

Rotterdam Old Harbor (Oude Haven)

One of the trendiest corners of Rotterdam, Old Harbor (Oude Haven) was the city’s first port, dating back to 1350. Today, this vibrant area along the north bank of the Meuse River is a mix of historical and modern architecture—including Piet Blom’s famous Cube Houses—where visitors can experience the best dining and nightlife in the city.More

Rotterdam City Hall (Stadhuis)

Most of Rotterdam’s historic buildings were destroyed by World War II bombing, with a few notable exceptions, including the city’s grand City Hall (Stadhuis). Built in the first two decades of the 20th century, this massive Beaux Art-style palace features four wings around an interior courtyard and a soaring clock and bell tower.More

Maritime Museum Rotterdam

The kid-focused Maritime Museum Rotterdam is one of the world’s oldest and largest museums dedicated to naval history. Family-friendly permanent exhibitions include an interactive model of the city’s port and the Professor Splash play space; outside, several moored ships can be explored at the open-air Harbour Museum.More

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Please note: The Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is temporarily closed. Rotterdam’s premier art museum began with bequests from two wealthy Dutch art lovers: Frans Jacob Otto Boijmans donated his collection to the city in 1847, and Daniel George van Deuningenfollowed suit in 1955. From 16th-century paintings to contemporary glassware, the museum’s displays of western works are constantly changing; it has featured 20th-century bodies of work by German Expressionist Max Beckmann and French surrealist Yves Tanguy, as well as pieces from hundreds of years earlier.Highlights of this expansive 140,000-work collection include Pieter Bruegel’s peerless Old Testament offering The Tower of Babel (1553), which warrants close inspection for all its detailed activity; scores of delicate drawings by Renaissance artist Fra Bartolommeo; Rembrandt’s winsome Titus at his Desk; and a collection of Gerrit Rietveld’s distinct colored wooden furniture. The many other artists represented here include Rubens, Dalí, Da Vinci, Monet, Picasso, Van Eyck, and Man Ray. All works are housed in a stylish red-brick building designed by Adrianus Van der Steur, now updated with airy glass galleries and surrounded by a sculpture park and fountains. Free temporary exhibitions are on display in the Willem van der Vorm gallery and Serra Hall just inside the main entrance.More


One of Rotterdam’s oldest areas—having escaped bombing during World War II—Delfshaven fringes the River New Meuse on the city’s western edges. Originally a harbor for the nearby city of Delft and the 1620 leaving point for the Pilgrim Fathers, its gabled houses, historical ships, and quayside shops and eateries are magnets for visitors.More

Rotterdam Zoo (Diergaarde Blijdorp)

Rotterdam Zoo (Diergaarde Blijdorp) is known for its successful conservation and breeding programs. Visit the zoo for the chance to see creatures from all around the globe, from African pygmy hippos to Asiatic lions, North American polar bears to Australian swamp wallabies. There’s even an on-site aquarium and butterfly garden.More

Kop van Zuid

What was once an abandoned port area has now been redeveloped into an urban, metropolitan neighborhood. Many of the disused buildings in Kop van Zuid – shipyards, headquarters, and plants – have remained and were recently given a second life, not without thanks to the completion of the now-iconic Erasmus Bridge that finally united the north and the south sides of the mighty Nieuwe Maas River. Along with new infrastructure and award-winning architecture (throughout their modernization, most buildings kept a lot of their original features to keep history alive), this duality and eclectic feel have helped Kop van Zuid reached an international reputation, and its business model has since been copied several times in other naval cities facing similar issues. If Kop van Zuid used to be exclusively for dockworkers and sailors, it is now filled with fashionable youngsters and local families wanting to experience a new side of their city. Visitors will now find a contemporary and inviting entertainment district that features hotels, cafés, restaurants, a theater, and many businesses – even an international cruise ship port, the Wilhelmina Pier.More

Kunsthal Rotterdam (Art Hall Rotterdam)

A visit to Kunsthal Rotterdam, one of the city’s most prestigious museums, offers the opportunity to appreciate both art and architecture. The dynamic institution is known for its ever-changing and intriguing exhibition program displayed in an architecturally inspired multifloored building, designed by famed Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas.More

Trip ideas

5 Must-See Amsterdam Museums

5 Must-See Amsterdam Museums

Van Gogh Museum Virtual Tours and Activities

Van Gogh Museum Virtual Tours and Activities

Top activities in Rotterdam

Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

All about Rotterdam

When to visit

Summertime is the most popular time to visit Rotterdam and the Netherlands, with average temperatures that stay in the low-70s°F (low-20s°C) and the highest chance of sunny skies. Annual summer events like the North Sea Jazz Festival and the Rotterdam Unlimited Festival, with its colorful Summer Carnival, pull in the crowds, while the International Film Festival Rotterdam is a winter favorite.

Getting around

Many of Rotterdam’s central sights can be reached on foot. Better yet, rent a bike and explore the city on your own or as part of a guided tour. This bike-friendly city has more than 370 miles (600 kilometers) of bike paths. For longer distances, there are also buses, trams, and metros, as well as water taxis and ferries that zip across the River Maas.

Traveler tips

Do not be fooled by the sunny weather. There’s always a chance of rain in Rotterdam, so pack an umbrella even in summer. Rain or shine, there’s wildlife to be spotted in the city. Hop aboard the fast ferry from Hoek van Holland, and keep a close lookout for seals lounging on the beach as at the Landtong ferry stop.


People Also Ask

Is Rotterdam worth visiting?

Yes. Rotterdam is the Netherlands’ second-largest city and the largest port in Europe. It has a completely different vibe to Amsterdam. Rotterdam is renowned for its maritime history and modern architecture, such as the Market Hall, Erasmus Bridge, and Cube Houses. The city also brims with museums, restaurants, and cultural sites.

How do you spend a day in Rotterdam?

With just one day in Rotterdam, focus on the highlights. Marvel at architectural landmarks, such as Rotterdam Central Station, the Cube Houses, and Erasmus Bridge; admire the views from the Euromast Tower; and visit the Maritime Museum. For dining options head to the Market Hall, and enjoy drinks in the riverside Delfshaven district.

Is Rotterdam nicer than Amsterdam?

It depends on your interests! Both Rotterdam and Amsterdam are worth visiting, but the two cities offer completely different experiences. While the capital is known for its pretty canals, historic buildings, and laid-back café culture, Rotterdam is known for its striking modern landmarks, soaring skyscrapers, and innovative foodie scene.

What is Rotterdam most known for?

Rotterdam is famous for its port, the largest in Europe, and its rich maritime history as the “Gateway to Europe.” Rebuilt after World War II, the city also is renowned for its modern skyscrapers and architectural landmarks, including the Cube Houses, the Market Hall, and Erasmus Bridge.

Is Rotterdam a walkable city?

Yes. It’s easy to get around Rotterdam’s central sights on foot. The city offers wide sidewalks, scenic riverside walkways, and pedestrianized shopping boulevards. If you need a break, you can always hop on the tram or board a passenger ferry or water taxi that will zip you across the River Maas.

Is one day enough for Rotterdam?

Not entirely. One day is enough to take in Rotterdam’s highlights, such as the Maritime Museum, Cube Houses, and Market Hall. But, this is the Netherlands second-largest city, and you’ll probably wish you had more time to discover its many museums, scenic bike paths, foodie scene, and nightlife.

Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What are the top things to do in Rotterdam?
What are the top activities in Rotterdam?
What are the top things to do near Rotterdam?
Check out things to do near Rotterdam:
What do I need to know before visiting Rotterdam?