South Holland, Netherlands
If you wish to vacation in the Netherlands, Rotterdam is a delightful holiday destination that offers something for everyone. This flourishing riverside city is not only famous for its striking modern architecture, but also for its vibrant culture and world-class dining.
On Ferryhopper, you can learn what to do and see in Rotterdam, and discover our top vacation tips, favorite delicacies and interesting activities. Gather inspiration for your trip, learn how to travel to Rotterdam by ferry and book your tickets online!
The iconic Cube Houses of Rotterdam
Vacation in Rotterdam
Rotterdam is the industrial and commercial center of the Netherlands. Amsterdam's sister city is a hotspot for travelers looking for a unique experience. The last few years, more and more young visitors and hipsters choose Rotterdam as their destination, partly thanks to the city’s warehouse food markets, concept shops and vibrant nightlife.
Entirely rebuilt after the infamous Rotterdam Blitz during WWII, the city is known for its modern, experimental architecture and has turned it into a hotspot for sustainable urban design. In addition, Rotterdam is home to some of the best museums and galleries in the Netherlands.
In short, whether you’re a foodie, culture-vulture or just looking for a relaxed city break, Rotterdam has something for everyone. As for the best time to visit Rotterdam, the summer stands out for its mild temperatures that allow visitors to easily explore its streets.
How to get to Rotterdam
You can travel to Rotterdam by car, bus, plane, train or ferry. With domestic and international flights, Rotterdam The Hague Airport connects the city to a number of destinations. It is located about 15 minutes from the heart of Rotterdam.
If you want to get to Rotterdam by train, the Rotterdam Central Station connects the city with every corner of the Netherlands, as well as France, Belgium and the United Kingdom. If you choose to travel to Rotterdam from other Dutch cities by car, it will take approximately 1 hour to get from Amsterdam to Rotterdam and about 30 minutes to get from the Hook of Holland to Rotterdam.
Alternatively, you can reach Rotterdam by ferry. There are ferry crossings connecting Rotterdam to the United Kingdom. Traveling by ferry may take longer but you can embark your vehicle. For a more comfortable trip, we recommend that you book a cabin and enjoy the fascinating crossing and breathtaking views. Discover more about ferries to Rotterdam below!
What to do in Rotterdam
First, head for breakfast to the city’s state-of-the-art Markthal, which opens its doors after 10:00 and features more than 30 stalls. Wondering what a typical Dutch brunch includes? Bread with sprinkles, ham, cheese, and boiled eggs! Yummy, right?
From here, you can walk to several other famous sights. You’ll be amazed by Rotterdam's world-class architecture, urban design and vibrant street life. Take the time to explore the city’s numerous museums, galleries and other attractions that make the area so popular, such as the famous Cube Houses or the iconic Erasmusbrug.
There’s also plenty of shopping and dining options for those looking for a more relaxed experience. Everyone should take a stroll down Witte de Withstraat with its independent stores, cocktail and beer bars. This is also a hotspot for colorful street art and graffiti.
Next, explore the city’s many green spaces. Rotterdam is full of beautiful parks and gardens, making it the perfect place for a leisurely stroll or a picnic. Kralingse Bos is the best park, featuring a lake where you can rent small sailing boats and go swimming in summer (beware of the nude-friendly beach). Don’t forget to take a boat tour around the city’s many waterways or to visit nearby destinations including Dordrecht and the Kinderdijk windmills, a UNESCO heritage site.
The famous windmills at Kinderdijk, South Holland
Sightseeing in Rotterdam
Rotterdam is sure to offer an unforgettable sightseeing experience. From the iconic Erasmus Bridge to the Markthal, visitors can admire the unique skyline of Rotterdam dominated by a series of skyscrapers, modern buildings, cranes, and cargo ships.
Here is a list of the best attractions in Rotterdam:
- The Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam’s largest museum established in 1849
- The Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art
- The Natural History Museum Rotterdam
- The Markthal (market hall), an iconic part of the city’s urban landscape
- The Smog Free Tower, which improves the city's air quality
- The Euromast tower, gives a breathtaking panoramic view from 185 m up
- The swan-shaped Erasmus Bridge, connecting the north and south sides of the city
- The Luchtsingel Bridge
- The Witte Huis, the most famous pre-war building in central Rotterdam built in 1898
- The Church of St. Lawrence (Sint Laurenskerk), the only remaining piece of medieval architecture that survives in Rotterdam
- The SS Rotterdam, a recreational vessel containing a hotel, several restaurants and visitor center
- The windmills at Schiedam, the tallest windmills in the world
The Markthal in the historic center of Rotterdam
Nightlife in Rotterdam
Rotterdam is renowned in the Netherlands for its diverse nightlife and is full of classic pubs, glamorous cocktail bars, world-class clubs, and intimate concert venues that are guaranteed to keep your spirits high.
After nightfall, check out the bars and clubs lining Witte de Withstraat. Here’s where you’ll find most of the locals. The Nieuwe Binnenweg street in Delfshaven, home to some of the city's most popular cafés and clubs, has a similar vibe. Visit Toffler or BAR for a more electronically orientated nightlife. There are also numerous LGBT-friendly bars and clubs located between the Churchillplein, Westblaak and Van Oldenbarneveltstraat.
Tip: this southern Dutch gem is also known for its festivals, such as the International Film Festival in January, the North Sea Jazz Festival in July, as well as the Summer Carnival.
Food in Rotterdam
More diverse than most Dutch cities, there’s a wide variety of excellent international cooking in Rotterdam, from Spanish tapas bars to Chinese and Indonesian restaurants. Here you’ll also be able to taste, of course, a few of the most delicious Dutch dishes.
Some of the most finger-licking Dutch dishes and products to try on your trip to Rotterdam are:
- kapsalon (fries, meat, melted gouda cheese, greens, and garlic sauce)
- stamppot (mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables)
- nieuwe haring (new herring served with pickles)
- appeltaart (traditional Dutch apple pie)
- oliebol (oily ball)
- poffertjes (small puffy pancakes)
Tip: the Katendrecht is now the city’s foodie center, housing more than 20 restaurants and bars.
The delicious kapsalon, a popular dish in Rotterdam
Useful information about Rotterdam
Rotterdam is the second largest city in the Netherlands, with highly developed tourist services and year-round activities.
Whether you plan to stay for a night or several days, Rotterdam has a variety of accommodation options to suit your style and budget. If you want to go sightseeing, the best area is the City Centre and the Cool District. If you’d rather stay in a family-friendly area, we recommend the peaceful Rotterdam Noord. For something more historic, Rotterdam’s Delfshaven neighborhood around its port and quays is your best option.
As for health care, there are several public hospitals as well as private clinics in Rotterdam’s center and suburbs.
Tip: for something more fancy, we recommend Rotterdam’s famed Hotel New York. Even if you decide not to stay here, it’s definitely worth a visit since it is recognised as a national monument, due to its beautiful, Art-Nouveau inspired architecture.
Important phone numbers for your stay in Rotterdam
Here are some useful contacts for your trip to Rotterdam:
- Port Authority of Rotterdam: +31102521010
- Police Station Rotterdam-Zuidplein: +319008844
- Rotterdam Medical Center: +31107040704
- Rotterdam Tourist Information Center: +31107900185
- Rotterdam International Airport: +31104463444
- European emergency number: 112
Transportation in Rotterdam
Much like the rest of the Netherlands, Rotterdam’s primary means of getting about is on two wheels. Most roads around the city have clearly marked bike lanes while some other areas are completely car-free. You can rent a bicycle through the city’s Donkey Republic bike-hire scheme.
Alternatively, Rotterdam also has an excellent public transport system, provided by the RET. You can easily get around the city by bus, tram and metro. There are 5 lines and all of them intersect at Beurs station, the biggest metro hub. Trams and buses cover all the neighborhoods and connect the monumental Centraal Station with surrounding towns. Another fun way to get around Rotterdam and make the most of its riverside location is by water bus or water taxi.
Tip: for unlimited travel on public transport and up to 25% discount at museums and restaurants, make sure to purchase the Rotterdam Welcome Card.
Ports in Rotterdam
Located at the delta of the rivers Rhine and Meuse, in the province of South Holland, the port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe and one of the busiest in the world. It’s home to the massive Europoort facility.
The journey time between the port and the city center by car is around 20 minutes and covers a distance of approximately 23 km. Alternatively, the nearest light rail station to the port is the Willemskade station, while the nearest bus stop is the Katendrechtsestraat stop.
The port of Rotterdam, the largest port in Europe
Rotterdam ferry: schedules and tickets
The ferry from Hull to Rotterdam connects the United Kingdom with the Netherlands. Normally, there are up to 7 weekly crossings between Hull and Rotterdam that are operated by P&O Ferries all year round and the ferry trip lasts from 11 to 11.5 hr.
Tip: another option is to take the ferry from Harwich to the Hook of Holland operated by Stena Line. It will take you just 30 minutes to travel from there to Rotterdam.
Stunning view of Rotterdam by night
Where to book ferry tickets to Rotterdam online
Currently, it is not possible to book tickets from Hull to Rotterdam on Ferryhopper. In the meantime, we invite you to check out our Map of Ferries and find out all available ferry connections to the beautiful Netherlands.