It all started with a conversation I overheard between two ladies as I walked down a street in Amsterdam. One of them had just spent a weekend in Rotterdam and she remarked how “gezellig” (a typical Dutch word basically meaning cosy) the city had become and what a lovely time she had. I almost stopped in my tracks when I heard that! Coming from an Amsterdammer, and considering that Amsterdam and Rotterdam are fierce rivals, this verged on blasphemy! Haha! It triggered my curiosity and I made a mental note to spend a weekend in Rotterdam soon. A week later, I found myself in this port city and I couldn’t agree more with that lady!
Rotterdam is a bit of an anomaly in the Netherlands. The city proudly holds the title of being one of the largest ports in the world and it’s arguably the only city in the country that oozes a modern flair coupled with an impressive skyline. I never thought much of Rotterdam to be honest; this can be partially attributed to being an Amsterdam snob myself! 😉 Large swathes of the city were destroyed during World War II. The reconstruction that followed was, in my view, more functional than aesthetically-pleasing, resulting in a rather nondescript cityscape – a sharp contrast to Amsterdam, with its charming canals and historic buildings. However, Rotterdam started to experience somewhat of a renaissance from around the turn of the century. New urban projects spearheaded by various world-renowned architects brought new life and a shiny, new skyline to the city.
I chose the Mainport Hotel, a five-star waterfront hotel in the city centre as my weekend base. The hotel is perfectly situated between the harbour and the Coolsingel, the city’s main thoroughfare, and a stone’s throw from the city’s main attractions and the lively Witte de With quarter.
I booked a harbourview room with a spa – some rooms come equipped with both a Finnish spa and a jacuzzi with a view of the harbour! My room had a gorgeous view of the Leuvenhaven and the city’s iconic Erasmus bridge.
My weekend in Rotterdam
As I only had a weekend, I decided to concentrate on the new architecture in Rotterdam as I set out to explore the city. Follow me as I spent the weekend exploring this vibrant city:
The rain didn’t cease so I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the Markthal and eating at the different stalls. Not a bad thing to do on a rainy afternoon! 🙂
Other things to do in Rotterdam
I only scraped the surface of Rotterdam on this 24-hour visit. This vibrant city has much more to offer visitors. Here’s a list of things I’ve done before in Rotterdam and truly enjoyed:
- visit the fascinating Museum Booijmans van Beuningen (contemporary art) and the Maritime Museum
- go on a harbour cruise from the Spido terminal
- visit the beautiful Van Nelle factory, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Van Nelle factory was once described as “the most beautiful spectacle of the modern age” by the famous architect Le Corbusier
- visit the historic and modern landmarks in the ‘Kop van Zuid’ district just across the Erasmus bridge. My favourite is De Rotterdam, a striking 3-in-1 tower designed by world-renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas
- stroll along the Westersingel Sculpture route, with its intriguing sculptures
- experience the atmosphere of the quaint Delfshaven, a historic corner of Rotterdam most famous as being the departure point of the Pilgrim Fathers to New England in the 18th century
- go up the Euromast for panoramic views of the city and port
- take the waterbus (it stops next to the Spido terminal) to another UNESCO World Heritage site: Kinderdijk. This site, with its 19 18th-century windmills, is famous the world over.
Visit Rotterdam Info for more information and tips for things to do and see in Rotterdam.
Search for hotels in Rotterdam.