Are you looking for a trendy destination for a cultural city trip in Europe? Then Rotterdam in the Netherlands is the place to be. With its vibrant city center and beautiful waterfront, the Dutch city of Rotterdam offers a variety of sights and activities to explore. The city is home to a great selection of museums, galleries, parks and restaurants. It also has a great nightlife, with many bars and clubs to choose from. In addition, you can enjoy shopping in the many shops with both local and international brands. In this blog post I share all my tips to plan a perfect weekend in Rotterdam.
I had already visited Rotterdam once in the past, but I had never been there for a longer stay. That is why Rotterdam wasn’t on my bucket list as a destination for a weekend getaway. Fortunately, this trip changed my mind. Rotterdam surprised me with its wonderful mix of old and new, cultural sights and many hotspots.
** disclaimer: this is a sponsored post but this does not alter the fact that I share my own honest experiences about this service. **
Rotterdam, located in South Holland, has been an important international trade center since the Middle Ages. This city was founded in 1270 and quickly grew into an big port for trade ships from all over Europe.
During World War II, Rotterdam was heavily bombed by the Germans, completely destroying the inner city. However, the city was quickly rebuilt with the main focus in the center being on working, shopping and nightlife. The huge skyscrapers with office spaces are living proof of this. Factories disappeared to industrial parks outside the center. The suburbs made way for housing developments.
Starting in the 1950s, the city began to concentrate on developing its port facilities, with the construction of the Maasvlakte, a new port area. This allowed Rotterdam to become the largest port in Europe, and to this day it is one of the busiest ports in the world.
Today, Rotterdam is a vibrant city with a thriving economy based on the port and its many businesses. It has become an important cultural and educational center in the Netherlands, with a large number of universities, museums and tourist attractions. For example, the city is also home to the world-famous Erasmus University, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and the iconic Erasmus Bridge.
Rotterdam is a modern city with a rich and fascinating history that is definitely worth visiting.
Hot to travel to Rotterdam?
Are you traveling from Belgium to Rotterdam by train? Then you can do so very easily by public transport. From the Central station in Antwerp it takes one hour by IC train and half an hour by Thalys. From there the Thalys continues its itinerey to the Dutch capital, which makes Rotterdam also the perfect day trip from Amsterdam.
You can also travel to Rotterdam with the well-known low budget bus services such as Eurolines and Flixbus. The prices might be a bit cheaper, but it will take you longer.
Rotterdam is also easy to reach by car from Belgium via the E19 and A16 freeways.
Are you traveling by plane to Rotterdam from another destination? Then you will probably arrive in the nearest airport Rotterdam The Hague Airport (RTM). The easiest way to travel from Rotterdam Airport to the city is with the Rotterdam Airport Express bus. The bus runs every 15 minutes from the airport to Rotterdam Central Station and it takes about 20 minutes to get to the city centre. Tickets for the Rotterdam Airport Express bus can be bought at the airport or on the bus. Of couse you can also go by taxi or rent a car.
How to get around in Rotterdam?
Once in the city, you can use public transportation. Rotterdam has a very extensive public transportation system with buses, streetcars, subways and water buses.
You can also take a taxi. You can book these online or by phone.
Or do it like the real Dutch and discover the city by bike. Because Rotterdam has an extensive bicycle route network, this is a great way to get around the city. Are you not used to ride a bike in the city (like me)? Then be extra vigilant of the traffic rules. Rotterdam is a busy city with many road users, both two- and four-wheelers. This sometimes makes cycling a little more difficult. Also be aware of the many streetcar tracks.
My favorite way to explore Rotterdam was on foot. Since I found biking in Rotterdam a little too hectic, walking was the ideal way for me to explore the city. Moreover, Rotterdam has a number of pedestrian-friendly areas that make it easy to navigate.
Are you traveling by car? If so, I recommend finding an accammodation with parking so you can safely leave your car when you explore Rotterdam.
When is the best time to travel to Rotterdam?
Rotterdam is a metropolis with many outdoor and indoor attractions which makes a weekend in Rotterdam possible during every season.
If you want to avoid precipitation, it is best to travel to Rotterdam between April and October.
During these moments you can also enjoy pleasant temperatures. Keep in mind Rotterdam is bussier in the summer months. During the period from April to October there are also numerous festivals such as Rotterdam Street Parade (April/May), North Sea Jazz Festival (July), Rotterdam Food Festival (July), Rotterdam Unlimited (August), Summer Carnival (August) and De Parade (August/September).
Where to stay during a weekend in Rotterdam?
During our weekend in Rotterdam, we stayed at the Supernova Hotel. This beautiful boutique hotel is located near the Erasmus Bridge. So it’s within walking distance from the Central Station and the Museum Park.
The Supernova hotel opened its doors just before corona and immediately had to go through a difficult period. Today, after 3.5 years, the Supernova hotel is known as the hot spot to stay in Rotterdam. This trendy boutique hotel even won the award for best hotel design. Not surprising when you know that all 38 rooms are unique and thus have a different design. The design of the common areas and corridors also contribute to the trendy look, but at the same time with a comfy and homely touch.
Because they chose bold, dark colors on the walls here, the owner told us that they have to do a weekly round with a paint brush to retouch damages in the walls This shows with how much care this hotel is maintained.
In the morning you can enjoy a delicious breakfast buffet at the bar. Also at other times during the day you can go there for a drink or snack. Moreover, the common areas on the first floor lend themselves perfectly as a workplace. So I would definitely recommend the Supernova Hotel for a business trip as well. When checking out, don’t forget to take a souvenir from the shop. There you can buy some real Rotterdam specialties from local merchants in the area.
You can also use the private parking for a fee where you can safely leave your car during your stay.
More hotels in Rotterdam? Then check out Moonback’s map with their offerings for Rotterdam.
Book your stay with Moonback
Booking your stay at the Supernova hotel is possible through Moonback. Never heard of Moonback before? Then it’s definitely time to save this booking platform to your favorite sites. On this platform, you can book the most pleasant hotels in different bucket list cities.
Moreover, Moonback strives for a fair market both for travelers and hotel owners. That way, you don’t feel like you’re being pushed to pick a particular stay. Are you familiar with this? When you are looking for a nice accommodation and suddenly a pop-up appears telling you that only one room is still available? Well at Moonback, this is not the case. No more FOMO or panic attacks while booking a stay, just honest and transparent communication.
Moonback is still growing and new addresses and different destinations are added daily. So it is definitely worth checking this platform to see what they have on offer before you go on a city trip.
Fun and original things to do during your weekend in Rotterdam?
Since I only stayed in Rotterdam for a weekend, I wanted to discover as much of the city as possible and preferably in an original way. Here is a brief overview of my favorite activities during my city break in Rotterdam.
Behind the scenes of the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
The Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum is currently closed due to renovations, but that doesn’t mean you can’t catch a glimpse of its extensive art collection.
In the Boijmans Van Beuningen depot you can take a look behind the scenes of the museum. With the necessary protective clothing, you can see the result of 173 years of collecting art through a guided tour. You will find more than 151,000 collected works of art. The stored artworks are housed in several special rooms where the climate is adapted to the different materials.
You can also see how artworks are restored or prepared for transport to another location.
On the top floor you have access to the roof terrace where you have an amazing view of Rotterdam. The building’s special mirror cladding also makes this the perfect photo spot.
Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen is the world’s first publicly accessible art depot. This iconic building is located next to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Museumpark.
Discover Rotterdam by bike
Discover Rotterdam like a true Dutchman by bicycle. I already mentioned that cycling in Rotterdam is not as easy as it seems because of the busy traffic. That’s why I thought a guided bike tour was a great idea. This way I could follow the guide without having to worry about where I could and couldn’t cycle.
We did the 360 degree bike tour via Inside Rotterdam. This route passes some of the most iconic sights in Rotterdam such as the Central Station, Markthal, the cube houses and the Erasmus Bridge.
But that’s not all! Through this bike tour you get a 360-degree view of the city. You’ll also discover more about its origin, architecture, social issues, … So you really get to know Rotterdam in all its contradictions and ambitions.
Admire Rotterdam from above
Another special way to discover the city is through a Rotterdam roof tour also via Inside Rotterdam.
Did you know that Rotterdam has the most flat rooftops in the Netherlands? This is a result of the bombing during the 2nd World War.
The roof tour takes you on 4 rooftops of different buildings that are normally limited or not accessible. From these rooftops you have a phenomenal view of the skyline of Rotterdam.
But that’s not all. Flat rooftops lend themselves to different uses. Through this roof tour, we could see how different buildings set up their rooftops in their own way. Some made it into a meeting room, others created a green sustainable rooftop, …
This way you get to know Rotterdam from a different perspective.
Can’t get enough of the bird’s eye view of Rotterdam? Then you can also climb the tower of the Laurenskerk through another tour hosted by Inside Rotterdam.
After an exhausting climb of more than 300 steps, you arrive at the top of the church tower where you have an amazing 360-degree panoramic view of Rotterdam. This was by far the rooftop with the most spectacular view. So the tough climb up the narrow, spiral staircase was well worth it.
The most amazing hotspots in Rotterdam
Rotterdam is a city with plenty of great hotspots where you can take a break with a coffee, enjoy a drink, dine scrumptiously, dance and even sing. Here I share some of my personal favorites.
The best coffee at Heilige Boontjes
The best coffee of Rotterdam can be found at Heilige Boontjes. Are you like me, not a fan of coffee? Then there are plenty of alternatives on the menu. Especially the chocodelux looked very tasty.
Besides delicious coffee and tasty prepared dishes, the Heilige Boontjes has an important mission. Here locals with certain problems are employed. At the Heilige Boontjes they get the chance to learn a trade where they can develop their talents. In this way, these young adults can regain a role in society.
This beautiful initiative started as a collaboration between a police officer Marco and former thug Rodney who now works as a reintegration expert and social and community educator. The funny thing is that Heilige Boontjes is located in an old police station where Rodney was in jail a long time ago. When he went to tour his new premises, he found his name engraved in the wall in one of the upstairs cells.
This aside, Heilige boontjes is a cozy place to hang out and definitely worth a visit during a weekend in Rotterdam.
Food sharing at Café Apéro Deli Diner Marseille
Café Apéro Deli Diner Marseille offers classic French and Mediterranean dishes in an authentic setting. You can go there for lunch or dinner. The delicious, small dishes lend themselves perfectly to food sharing. This way you can taste as many different flavors as possible.
The menu includes chickpea panisse, richly filled fish soup, confit de canard, celeriac steak, steak frites, baguette merguez frites, moules frites, oysters, fruits de mer,… I can definitely recommend the shrimp croquettes. Be sure to leave some room for dessert because all the pastries are homemade and delicious! Definitely try the lemon cake, it is finger-licking good.
Gastronomic dining at Restaurant Putaine
Can it all be a little bit more and luxurious? Then you absolutely must dine at Restaurant Putaine.
While floating from the largest sustainable office in the world, you can enjoy an absolute fine dining expierence consisting of small seasonal dishes with surprising flavors and high-quality products.
All this while enjoying phenomenal views of the Rotterdam skyline.
Going completely wild at Dikke Mic
Going totally crazy is possible at Dikke Mic. This is the place to be for a fun night of Karaoke.
Inspired by the small Asian streets and alleys, there are several small karaoke rooms in the basement. Each room has its own theme. So you can go wild with your group without anyone seeing and especially hearing you.
This is a great activity for a girls trip or bachelor party during a weekend in Rotterdam.
By the way you can also enjoy delicious Asian street food here.
Next to Dikke Mic you will find Mooie Boules. A great place where you can go for a game of jeu de boules.
Rotterdam is definitely a great destination for a weekend getaway close to home. You can not only enjoy a mix of architectural styles, but also soak up culture in one of the many museums or sights. You will also find plenty of hotspots where you can enjoy drinks or dinner. Although Rotterdam was not on my bucket list, I was pleasantly surprised by this city. So I am already planning my next visit.
What wouldn’t you want to miss on a weekend in Rotterdam? Let me know in the comments below.
Do you want to explore more of The Netherlands, then definitely check out:
- The perfect day trip to Giethoorn
- A weekend in Leiden
- The perfect day trip to Zaanse Schans
- A romantic getaway in the Netherlands – area of surprises
- Holland land of Water: unique things to do in Zeeland and South Holland
Thank you for reading
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