Rotterdam is an exciting and versatile city with a down to earth attitude and a fenomenal modern architecture. Being the town where I live, I’d be happy to show you around the most iconic buildings (Hotel New York, Cube houses), the nicest terraces (Oude Haven), beautiful parks (Kralingse bos) and even an authentic Dutch quarter which you will certainly love (Delfshaven).
As you might know, Rotterdam used to have a beautiful historic center with typical Dutch town houses, an old harbor and even some mills. During the Second World War, on the 14th of May 1940, the city was destroyed by German bombs. This disaster laid the city completely in ruins, however it paved the way for Rotterdam to become a very unique city. Here, architecture and atmosphere are completely different from other mayor towns in the Netherlands. Rotterdam is vibrant, constantly moving, new buildings arise (indoor market Markthal) and there’s room for new creative initiatives which make this city very attractive to visit and live. It’s not without reason that Lonely planet named Rotterdam one of the most promising cities to visit in 2014! With aprroximately 176 nationalities living in this town, you can litteraly find the world cuisine at your doorstep.
I’ve been living in the city centre for almost 6 years now. As a citizen of Rotterdam, I love to explore the coolest spots that are scattered all over town, find the hidden gems and having multicultural dining experiences at the many great restaurants and eateries. While walking or cycling around Rotterdam you just can’t resist capturing the city’s most iconic buildings in stunning photographs. So before you check out my favorite spots below, take a look at my city photos!
ROTTERDAM – MY ORANGE SPOTS – part 1
First class maritime heritage…
One of my favorite quarters in Rotterdam is Leuvehaven. With its historic cranes, the Maritiem Museum, the iconic red lighthouse and the Havenmuseum, the area of Leuvehaven is inextricably linked to its maritime origins and industrial heritage. At night, the cranes are gorgeously illuminated which makes this area look spectacular. Every half an hour, a water taxi departs from the Leuvehaven platform to the quarter Kop Van Zuid. A one-way ticket to Hotel New York costs around € 3,40 and is definitely worth your money! Next to Leuvehaven lies the Wijnhaven, opposite to the Martitiem Museum, lies a red lightship called Vessel 11. For many years this ship has served as a restaurant. Currently it houses a British restaurant called Vessel 11. The ship has a very nice terrace overlooking the area of Leuvehaven. Tip: next to the ship there’s a HotTug, a mobile wood-fired huttub which is quite unique and fun to spot!
WITTE DE WITH
The cool district of Rotterdam…
The Witte de With street, the most vivid and arty street of Rotterdam the city is the place to spot young and creative locals who hang out at the many nice cafés and restaurants. My favorite spot is restaurant Bazar with its tasty north African cuisine and one thousand and one nights interior. Proeflokaal Rijngoud is excellent for beer tasting a quick bite at their terrace. Blender is known for its fine cocktails and is perfect for clubbing at night. If you’re more into wine, you should visit the trendy bar Het Eigendom, Hamburg for best hamburgers in town and last but not least, de Witte Aap which once has been nominated as best European Cafe. The NRC Cafe is also nice to visit for its terrace and food, same as the terrace of Worm, next to NRC cafe.
Witte de With is known for its specialty shops as well. Marlies Dekkers has her main shop in this street (lingerie), at Seventyfive they sell the coolest sneakers and for modern art lovers there’s Sowroom MAMA, modern art museum TENT and several nice art galeries such as Galerie Van Eijck and ABABA (a platform for artists to show and sell their work). If you’re looking for a place to stay, book a room at the recently renovated A Small Hotel or King Kong Hostel where you can rent a bicycle for € 10 per day.
For art and design aficionados…
Adjacent to the Witte de With street lies Museumpark which forms the artistic heart of Rotterdam. Here, you’ll find the mayor museums of Rotterdam with outstanding exhibitions and art collections. You can perfectly combine your visit to Witte de With street with the museum area. A real must is Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam’s main museum with a beautiful permanent collection and changing exhibitions. Then there’s the Kunsthal designed by the famous Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas with high level art exhibitions. Het Nieuwe Instituut (architecture and design museum) is nice to visit if you’re interested in architecture. Don’t forget to have lunch at their nice cafetaria and a drink at their lovely terrace during the summer.
Several times a year the area of Museumpark hosts the popular Swan Market, a lifestyle and art market attracting a mere young public for its diverse offer of local handmade jewellery, vintage, design, fashion and art works. While wandering through the market, visitors enjoy some live music and good food at the food stands.
KOP VAN ZUID & HOTEL NEW YORK
The Kop van Zuid is becoming one of the most popular spots in Rotterdam frequented not only by tourists, yet also by local folks. This area, situated on the opposite side of the city centre which you reach by crossing the Erasmus Bridge and the river Maas, has plenty of things to offer. Think of Hotel New York from which the passenger ship Holland America Line used to depart to New York. The hotel has been renovated and houses a great restaurant with a terrace and magnificent views on the river. The contrast between the old architecture of the hotel and the surrounding skyscrapers that have recently been build is stunning. The Kop van Zuid houses a cinema and theatre in one (Lantaren Venster), the Nederlands Fotomuseum (photo museum) and a Cruise Terminal from which cruise ship passengers arrive and depart to different destinations. This location is also used for events and the popular Friday afternoon drink “Frank Borrel”, taking place every last Friday of the month. Then there’s this majestic building that you can barely miss, “De Rotterdam” designed by Rem Koolhaas. This is the largest multifunctional building in the Netherlands with 60.000 m2 of office space, 2 restaurants and a 4-star Hotel NHOW and NHOW bar. My favorite restaurants are ONO where you eat Japanese food in style and Maria Bonita with its Brazilian cuisine and fancy cocktails. Before taking the water taxi down town, don’t forget to cross the bridge to Katendrecht, another upcoming neighbourhood with Fenix Food Factory (local brewery and artisan shops) and Deliplein where you’ll find more great restaurants and Walhalla Theatre.
Rotterdam’s most charming harbor
The Oude Haven (translation Old Harbour) is the first original harbour of Rotterdam, located between the famous Cube houses and the Westermeijer (1898) , a building that once used to be the tallest skyscraper of Europe. Oude Haven is one of my favourite places to hang out when the sun is shining: this places is crowded with terraces overlooking the water and authentic boats where people actually live and hang out their laundry. If you’re in for some beer tastings, I recommend you to sit down at Dutch Maritime Pub or het Witte Huis, in the Westermeijer building. For cocktails and happy hours you can either visit Stockholm (they serve delicious food as well) with it hip interior design or Elite. If you’d care for a good lunch, visit Nelson and order their delicious Panini’s or cheese platters to accompany a glass of wine.
Part 2 is coming soon!
Read more about Rotterdam and get inspired to visit my home town 🙂