Rotterdam is one of the largest cities in the Netherlands and is one of fascinating history, culture, art and entertainment. It is also the largest port in the world for the amount of shipping it deals with every year, surpassing even New York.
Many people visit Rotterdam and find it to be extremely modern, with tall sky scrapers and sleek, square designs. The reality is that Rotterdam can be divided into three major areas: the areas that remained after World War II, the areas that were built during World War II and the areas that were built after World War II.
Rotterdam was bombed flat during the war, with the exception of one neighbourhood in the West of the city, Delftshaven and two buildings in the centre: the post office and the town hall. These buildings stand side by side and were spared as the Germans did not know which building was the town hall. The town hall needed to remain intact due to the information it contained on the inhabitants of Rotterdam.
Consequently, after the bombing, many people lost their homes and the government set out to rebuild emergency homes as soon as possible. As Delftshaven in the West remained untouched, it was felt building near here would be the safest option. Hence, the Witte Dorp (white village) was built, which is a collection of blocks of flat that are all made of white stone and are all four storeys high. This is because planning laws require a building of more than four storeys require an elevator.
The rest of Rotterdam was slowly but sure rebuilt, and Rotterdam prides itself on having some of the tallest buildings in Rotterdam, all made by famous architects.
Things to See and Do in Rotterdam
Rotterdam has been the cultural capital of Europe, and quite rightly so. No matter what season of year you come to Rotterdam, there will be something exceptional for you to do. There is, of course, Blijdorp, the zoo in Rotterdam. This zoo is divided into sectors representing each of the continents. Then there is the Euromast, Rotterdam’s answer to the Eiffel Tower and the Maas Tunnel, which is a tunnel you can pass through on foot or bicycle as well. Rotterdam is also famous the world over for its skyline, which is particularly beautiful at night.
Summer is probably the best time of year to visit Rotterdam, due to its vast amount of free festivals and activities. During the summer months, you will find the street artist festival, the open cinema festival and the Dunya festival, which is a multicultural festival where you can enjoy music, food, artefacts and clothing from different cultures around the world. There are also many parks in Rotterdam that you can visit for a leisurely stroll.
Shopping in Rotterdam is truly amazing. The main shopping street, the Lijnbaan, was historically only accessible for those of high social standing and this is still reflected in the shops on that street, where prices are extortionate. However, the Lijnbaan leads out to many other shopping streets, where you will find a variety of small and large shops where you can find clothing, music, toys and anything else that may be to your liking.
Restaurants and Nightlife in Rotterdam
Rotterdam has a vibrant nightlife. Going out in Rotterdam can be a long and exciting evening, starting in one of the many pubs and bars around the Stadhuisplein, the Oude Binneweg or the Nieuwe Binneweg, all within walking distance of each other. There are bars offering live music, such as the two Irish Pubs, pubs where music is prohibited, pubs that have catered for famous existentialists and philosophers, wine bars, and many, many more.
Following drinks in the pubs, you could visit one of the many nightclubs, such as NightTown. Once the nightclubs close, usually around 4 in the morning, the after party pubs and clubs will open, that remain open until 8 in the morning. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the nightlife doesn’t start in Rotterdam until around 11 o’clock at night!
Both local and international food is available in Rotterdam through many restaurants and snack bars. One restaurant that is very well priced and should not be missed is the Hotel New York, where you can arrive with a small ferry and from where you can enjoy the Rotterdam sky line. A dish that should not be missed is the prawn special, which will be presented to you on a bed of ice.
Transport in Rotterdam
If you are visiting Rotterdam, you could be very pleasantly surprised at the efficiency of public transport. Like in any other country, trains can sometimes be delayed, but generally trains are reliable. Furthermore, public transportation is quite cheap in Rotterdam, particularly if you purchase a “strippenkaart” for your transportation on buses, trams and metros. These cards allow you to travel for a set amount of time in a zone (or multiple zones, depending on what you punched on your strippenkaart) without having to buy new tickets.
Rotterdam offers buses, trams and metro, and these run across the entire city. This means you could enjoy all the different areas that Rotterdam has on offer by taking a tram ride from the north to the south for example. Whilst doing that, you could marvel at the dedication Rotterdam has to art, and you will find art springs up in very interesting places, such as in floating platforms in one of the canals, which is particularly well appreciated by the geese and ducks, of course!
Rotterdam is a fascinating city to visit that offers something for everybody. Whether you like art, museums, nightlife, food, history or just to relax, Rotterdam is the place for you. It is also reasonably central in the country, meaning you could take day trips to other interesting areas of the Netherlands without having to take too long – one of the great benefits of a small country! Scheveningen and Hoek van Holland, for example, are two of the Netherland’s best beaches and are at just a half hour train ride away from Rotterdam.