Rotterdam is the second largest city in the Netherlands after Amsterdam. It is located in the Rhine-Meuse delta, in the province of South Holland. Rotterdam is known above all for being home to Europe’s largest seaport and also has a well-known skyline. In addition to being an economic hub, Rotterdam is a great destination for a day trip. Below you will find our recommended itinerary and recommendations for Rotterdam.
Itinerary for a Daytrip to Rotterdam
Only have one day in Rotterdam and want to see the highlights? No problem! The sights and activities below are arranged in order of location from the main train station so you can follow along on foot to all the attractions in just one day.
#1 Central Station
Are you taking the train to Rotterdam? Then you will be impressed immediately upon arrival at the central station! Every day more than 100,000 people pass through here using the numerous Intercity and international high-speed trains. The historic station building has recently been completely rebuilt and modernized, only the original “Centraal Station” lettering (now with LED lighting) and the clock on the front gable have been preserved. It’s a real eye-catcher and the ideal place to begin exploring the city!
#2 Market Hall
From the central station you walk through the modern city center of Rotterdam. The main highlight is the market hall (markthal), impressive both from both the outside and the inside. In the semicircular glass building there are more than 100 fresh food stands, a supermarket and several cafés and restaurants. Don’t forget to look up when strolling along the stands, where you’ll see the artwork “Horn of Plenty“, the largest work of art in the Netherlands. This market isn’t called the “Sistine Chapel” for nothing!
#3 Laurens Church
Only about 100 meters across the large forecourt of the market hall, is the Laurens Church (Sint-Laurenskerk). This imposing late Gothic building was built in the second half of the 15th century and is the last of its kind in Rotterdam. The destruction from the Second World War has been carefully restored and stands in memory of the fallen. Climb the gates of the building to the top and enjoy a unique view over the center of the city. Guided tours of the church are also offered.
Our tip: Would you like to climb high up? From the Laurens Church you can look out over the surrounding city center. The Euromast is ideal for a view over the entire city.
#4 Cube Houses
Behind Laurens Church in the direction of the market hall you will find the Kijk-Kubus, the famous cube houses of Rotterdam. The unique cube houses were designed by an architect who envisioned a separate village in the middle of the city. The whole complex looks like a forest, with the hexagon shaped cubes representing houses. While a large part of the complex are apartments, the building also contains a museum apartment that is open to visitors. It’s certainly worth a stop to experience the unique architecture from the inside.
#5 Erasmus Bridge
The Erasmus Bridge (Erasmusbrug) is undoubtedly the symbol of Rotterdam! From the cube houses you walk towards the the red bridge, Willems Bridge (Willemsbrug), and then turn right. Follow the river banks until you reach the Erasmus Bridge (about 20 minutes for 1.6 km). The walk between the Willems Bridge and the Erasmus Bridge is a bit longer than through the city center, but you will have a beautiful view of the skyline of Rotterdam, and of course of both bridges.
The Erasmus Bridge connects the north with the south of the city and is 800 meters in length. It rises on 140 meter high steel pylons, resembling a swan and therefore bears the nickname De Zwaan (the swan). Walk over the bridge to the south and to enjoy the view of the Meuse river with its many cargo ships and boats. If you’re lucky, a gigantic cruise ship will be docked at the Cruise Terminal on the opposite bank.
#6 Hotel New York
The Hotel New York is located in the former Holland America Lijn building and is a National Building of the Netherlands. It was built between 1901 and 1917 with the purpose of accommodating American immigrants. After the company moved its headquarters to the United States, the building was converted into the luxury Hotel New York. It retains the two ancient towers and the original inscription, “Holland America Lijn“, making it a Rotterdam historical symbol. In addition to 72 rooms and conference rooms, the hotel also houses a restaurant that provides an upscale dining experience.
A special feature of Rotterdam is the river Meuse, which runs through the city, and is connected to the many small inland waterways in the city center. The waterways provide a unique form of public transport, the watertaxi. There are several stops in the city, one of which is located right next to the Hotel New York. From here you can get dropped off directly in front of the Euromast (or travel back downtown) for a few euros per person.
#8 Euromast Tower
The Euromast is the round building west of downtown (resembling a television tower) that will catch your eye all the way from the Erasmus Bridge and the Hotel New York. On a clear day, you can enjoy a unique 360° view of Rotterdam and the port facilities on the outskirts of the city. An elevator takes you up to the first viewing platform at a height of 100 meters in just 30 seconds. Here you will find a brasserie and a viewing platform. You can also continue all the way to the top, reaching 185 meters in height.
#9 Het Park
Directly opposite the Euromast, in the direction of the city center, is Het Park. This is a carefully maintained green area near the city center that invites you to take a moment of relaxation on warm days. In the spring, the park is home to a few colorful tulip fields, which combined with the Euromast make a beautiful photo background.
#10 Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
From Het Park you cross the main street, Westzeedijk, and walk a few hundred meters towards the city center, passing the famous hospital Erasmus MC. Just behind it is another municipal park, the Museum Park, which you can cross on your way to the museum. At the northeast end is the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.
Boijmans Van Beuningen is the most famous museum in Rotterdam. Fancy some art and culture? Then visit the museum of the Dutch artist Boijman. In 1849 he gave his works of art to the city of Rotterdam. Later the museum was expanded and now includes paintings by famous artists as well as sculptures, prints and drawings. European works of art in this museum are from the early Middle Ages up to the 21st century.
#11 Witte de With Street
From the early evening hours the Witte de With Straat becomes a real hotspot of Rotterdam’s nightlife. Within walking distance of the museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, you will find countless cafés, bars and small restaurants. The Witte de With Straat is well frequented and the terraces of the cafés are packed, especially on sunny days! This is the ideal place to end your day trip through Rotterdam with a Dutch biertje and kapsalon.