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What to See in Rotterdam in One Day
Many people visiting The Netherlands are completely unaware of how brilliant Rotterdam is. Amsterdam steals the limelight over and over with its old buildings, pretty canals and party reputation. Rotterdam is often ignored, seen as the less exciting little sister city. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Rotterdam is vibrant and modern. There is quirky unique architecture in every direction you look from houses shaped as cubes suspended up high to a market hall with a huge ceiling mural, spectacular when lit up at night.
Yet many people insist on cramming Rotterdam into a day trip from Amsterdam or a brief overnight stay. If that’s you, I want to make sure you make the most of your day in Rotterdam. And so I wrote this article; What to see in Rotterdam in one day. Hopefully, this sneak peek into this uber-cool city will leave you wanting to see more and planning a longer trip!
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Where to Stay in Rotterdam
If you can be persuaded to stay a little longer in Rotterdam then I highly recommend checking into Sparks Hostel. I stayed in a couple of places in Rotterdam but this was by far my favourite. Whilst technically a hostel, the attention to detail in my private room from the crisp white bedsheets and scandi furniture to the beautiful pale blue floral tiling in the bathroom, made it seem more like a boutique hotel.
There was a lovely communal area continuing the modern scandi design theme with a comfy sitting area and a kitchen which can be used by guests. Breakfast is included and is delicious and plentiful. As for location, Sparks Hostel is just about perfect. It’s extremely central and just a few minutes walk from the central station! Prices start at €26/night. Check it out here!
If you’re looking to splash the cash a bit, check out The Hilton. I was lucky enough to get a tour around The Hilton whilst I was visiting including a sneak peek into the presidential suite! I can confirm it is just as swanky as it’s 5 stars would indicate! The food wasn’t half bad either!
What to See in Rotterdam in One Day – A short itinerary
Rotterdam Tourist Information
Start your day in Rotterdam at the Tourist Information Centre which you’ll find at Coolsingel 114. There’s a great little museum about Rotterdam in the basement where you can watch videos and see a model reconstruction of the city which may help you gain your bearings when you’re walking around!
Here you can pick up a days tourist pass which allows access to all public transport. It will cost €13.50 and allow access to the buses, trams, trains and water buses for 24 hours. Perfect for helping you cram loads into your day in Rotterdam!
Markthal – Rotterdam Market Hall
From the tourist info on Coolsingel, it’s a short walk to the Markthal. This beautiful market hall is a piece of architectural genius! The huge dome building with glass walls at either end has the most spectacular mural painted on the ceiling. A rainbow coloured painting of birds, animals, fruits and insects, lit up at night, this view is fantastic.
The food inside is pretty good too! So make this your stop for breakfast. You’ll find pretty much every type of cuisine represented here so if you really want curry for breakfast, I’m sure you’ll find it! Rather you than me… Personally, I recommend the fruit juice bar for a smoothie!
The Cube Houses of Rotterdam
These are pretty iconic – I’m sure you’ve seen hundreds of photos when you were planning your trip! Another architectural gem just opposite the market hall. These bright yellow and white cube houses built on an angle hurt your brain as you try to work out how it’s possible for people to live inside them! But if you are really curious, why not book to stay there yourself at the Stayokay hostel? Prices start from €28/night to stay at this funky hostel in the quirky cube houses!
Erasmus Bridge (Erasmusbrug)
Next up is the famous Erasmus Bridge. Built in 1996 this cable-stayed bascule bridge (meaning it swings up to let boats past) dominates the Rotterdam skyline. At 802 metres wide and 139m high, it’s pretty impressive. You’ll want to get some nice photos here!
Fenix food factory
Hopefully, you’ll be feeling hungry by now so pop along to the Fenix food Factory. This foodies venue is set within a warehouse in the uber cool up and coming area Katendrecht (formerly famous for prostitution but now more famous for its modern quirky vibe.) The food here was seriously delicious and you can sit outside in the beer garden by the river and enjoy one of the many craft beers on offer.
I can recommend the vegetarian lasagne – it was yummy! Anastazja also recommends the veggie bittenballen!
Consider popping into the warehouse next door full of quirky offices. There are spaces to hire for meetings inside a shed or a greenhouse and you can get your eyelashes cared for inside a giant bubble! Weird and wacky and definitely worth poking your head in!
SS Rotterdam Escape rooms
Not only can you stay onboard this luxurious historic ship at the SS Rotterdam hotel but you can also partake in an escape room game. I love an escape room although admittedly I’m pretty rubbish and if it wasn’t for my teammates, I’d still be rotting in the ship’s basement! But they are always fun and what could be better than an escape room in a boat?!
Hop on a Water Taxi
Water taxies are not included in your transport card but it’s worth paying the €4 for a one-off water taxi. These boats get up some serious speed and are so much fun racing across the river with the wind in your hair before stopping back at The Maritime Museum, convenient for your next stop – the shops!
To get a water taxi, call the number on the board next to the stop and tell them where you want to go. They usually arrive within a few minutes.
Shopping in Rotterdam.
If you have some time left, head to the shops! Head over to Buerstraverse off Coolsingel near to the tourist information centre. There were some lovely looking shops here I would have loved to have explored if I had more time. Rotterdam loves everything modern and quirky and their shops are no different. I have a slight obsession with the clothes store Sissy Boy…
Dinner in Rotterdam
After all of this sightseeing, you are probably starving hungry! I’d love to tell you about my favourite restaurants but alas, most of my time in Rotterdam was spent rushing between events and the travel conference Traverse. But I do know that Rotterdam is renowned for great food so I turned to my travel blogger colleagues to ask for their recommendations. I may just have to go back to try them out myself..!
Frobel recommended by Shelley Twarowski – they employ lots of people with special needs making sure they feel valued in a job – how good is that?! They are also apparently very good at catering to food intolerances!
After you’ve enjoyed dinner, how about heading back to the Markthal to see it lit up at night and treat yourself to a dessert…?!
Why not extend you Netherlands visit and see some other great cities like Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. They are all so different and diverse from each other. Check out this great article for things to do in The Hague.
I hope you’ll find these tips helpful to plan what to see in Rotterdam in one day! Have I missed anything? I’d love to hear about your favourite things to do in Rotterdam!