Rotterdam, a city that dances to the rhythm of innovation and culture, invites you on an adventure unlike any other.

Nestled in the heart of the Netherlands, this vibrant metropolis is a haven for urban explorers, art aficionados, and everyone in between. From the architectural marvels that pierce its skyline to the lush, green parks that offer a tranquil escape, Rotterdam is a city that promises to captivate and enchant.

Let’s embark on a journey through the 15 best things to do in Rotterdam, weaving through its streets, and uncovering the soul of this dynamic city.

1. Explore the Cube Houses (Kubuswoningen)

Imagine a world where conventional architecture is turned on its head—literally. Welcome to the Cube Houses of Rotterdam, or Kubuswoningen, a complex of tilted cubic homes that defy gravity and imagination alike. Nestled at the Overblaak Street, these architectural wonders designed by Piet Blom stand as a bold statement against traditional housing. Each cube is tilted at a 45-degree angle, resting upon a hexagon-shaped pylon, creating a forest of abstract trees in the heart of the city.

Visitors can step inside the “Show Cube,” a fully furnished museum house, to experience the interior of these peculiar dwellings. Though the exterior may seem bewildering, the interior reveals a surprisingly practical and cozy living space. With an entry fee granting access to this architectural marvel, the Cube Houses offer a glimpse into Rotterdam’s innovative spirit.

Cube houses, Rotterdam
Cube houses, Rotterdam | @7kenderi8

2. Marvel at the Markthal

A stone’s throw away from the Cube Houses unfolds another of Rotterdam’s modern marvels—the Markthal. This stunning market hall isn’t just a place to buy fresh produce; it’s a masterpiece of modern Dutch architecture and art. As you step inside, your gaze will inevitably rise to the colossal artwork that adorns the interior—a vivid tapestry of fruits, vegetables, and flowers that seem to cascade from the ceiling, aptly named “Horn of Plenty.”

The Markthal is not just a feast for the eyes but also for the palate. From delectable Dutch cheese to exotic spices, the array of stalls offers a culinary journey around the world. Whether you’re in the mood for a quick bite or shopping for fresh ingredients to cook a feast, the Markthal delivers an unparalleled food experience.

Markthal, Rotterdam
Markthal, Rotterdam | @erik_verbeeck

3. Stroll along the Erasmus Bridge (Erasmusbrug)

Linking the northern and southern parts of Rotterdam, the Erasmus Bridge is more than just a feat of engineering; it’s a symbol of the city’s resilience and forward-thinking. Known affectionately as “The Swan” due to its graceful asymmetrical design, this striking bridge offers panoramic views that are a photographer’s dream.

A stroll along the Erasmus Bridge is a journey through Rotterdam’s heartbeat, with the bustling harbor on one side and the modern skyline stretching out on the other. It’s a place where the city’s industrious past meets its innovative future, making it a must-visit landmark for anyone looking to capture the essence of Rotterdam.

Erasmus Bridge in the Netherlands
Erasmus Bridge |

4. Visit the Rotterdam Zoo (Diergaarde Blijdorp)

A world of wildlife awaits at the Diergaarde Blijdorp, one of the oldest zoos in the Netherlands, offering an immersive journey through diverse habitats from around the globe. From the majestic African savannah to the mysterious Amazon rainforest, each exhibit is designed to provide not only a home for its inhabitants but also an educational experience for its visitors.

Families can delight in watching the playful antics of polar bears in the Arctic section, or marvel at the grace of giraffes roaming the African plains. The zoo also prides itself on its conservation efforts, working tirelessly to protect endangered species and educate the public on the importance of biodiversity. With a range of ticket prices and discounts available for online booking, a visit to the Rotterdam Zoo promises a fun-filled day for visitors of all ages, making it a perfect addition to your Rotterdam itinerary.

Giraffe spotting at Rotterdam Zoo
Giraffe spotting at Rotterdam Zoo | @thedutchblondie

5. Discover the Kunsthal

Art lovers, prepare to be intrigued and inspired as you step into the Kunsthal, a Rotterdam gem that defies the traditional museum experience. Nestled within the lush greenery of the Museumpark, the Kunsthal is renowned not only for its striking architecture by Rem Koolhaas but also for its dynamic approach to art exhibitions. With no permanent collection, the venue continuously transforms itself, showcasing everything from avant-garde fashion to contemporary art, and historical retrospectives.

The Kunsthal’s exhibitions cater to a wide range of interests, making it a cultural hub that encourages visitors to explore the vast spectrum of human creativity. Whether you’re captivated by the latest in digital art or drawn to the delicate brushstrokes of classical paintings, the Kunsthal offers a refreshing perspective on the art world. Its innovative exhibitions are complemented by interactive installations and educational programs, designed to engage and inspire audiences of all ages.

Accessibility is a key aspect of the Kunsthal experience, with entry fees varying by exhibition but always aimed at being inclusive. This approach ensures that art is accessible to everyone, reflecting Rotterdam’s democratic spirit when it comes to culture and the arts. As you wander through its ever-changing halls, the Kunsthal invites you to embark on a journey of discovery, challenging perceptions and igniting the imagination.

Kunsthal, Rotterdam

6. Take a Spido Harbor Tour

No visit to Rotterdam would be complete without experiencing the lifeblood of the city—the port. Known as one of the world’s largest and most innovative ports, a Spido Harbor Tour offers an unparalleled view into the maritime operations that have shaped Rotterdam’s identity. Departing from the foot of the Erasmus Bridge, these tours navigate through the complex waterways, providing a fascinating glimpse into the industrial heart of Rotterdam.

As you glide past massive container ships, historic shipyards, and cutting-edge logistics centers, the tour guides share insights into the port’s history and its pivotal role in global trade. The Spido Harbor Tour not only showcases the technical marvels and the sheer scale of port operations but also highlights Rotterdam’s commitment to sustainability and innovation in maritime logistics.

With various tour options available, from short excursions to extensive journeys through the port’s most impressive areas, there’s a Spido experience for everyone. Whether you’re a maritime enthusiast eager to learn more about the logistics that power our world or simply looking for a unique way to see the city, the Spido Harbor Tour offers a memorable adventure that connects you to the heart of Rotterdam.

Spido boat tour

7. Climb the Euromast

For those who seek to touch the sky and capture the city in a single gaze, the Euromast stands tall as Rotterdam’s beacon of adventure. Rising 185 meters above the ground, this observation tower offers the most breathtaking panoramic views of Rotterdam and beyond. On a clear day, the sprawling cityscape unfolds before your eyes, while the bustling port and the winding river Maas tell tales of the city’s industrious spirit.

The adventure doesn’t stop at the view. For the thrill-seekers, the Euromast also offers an adrenaline-pumping abseil experience, descending from the top of the tower to the ground. For those who prefer a more serene experience, the tower’s restaurant offers a chance to dine with the stars, serving delicious meals against the backdrop of the city’s twinkling lights. The entry fee to the Euromast is a small price to pay for the unparalleled views and unique experiences it offers, making it a must-visit landmark in Rotterdam.

Euromast, Rotterdam
Euromast, Rotterdam | @_timostevens


8. Explore Historic Delfshaven

Step back in time as you wander the cobblestone streets of Historic Delfshaven, a charming district that survived the bombing of World War II, preserving the essence of old Rotterdam. This picturesque area, with its historic buildings, ancient bridges, and serene canals, offers a peaceful respite from the modern city’s hustle and bustle.

Delfshaven’s rich history is not just in its architecture but also in its stories. It was from this very place that the Pilgrim Fathers set sail for the New World in 1620, marking an important chapter in history. Today, visitors can explore the Pilgrim Fathers Church, browse through quaint antique shops, or enjoy a local brew at one of the traditional Dutch pubs. Delfshaven provides a unique blend of history, culture, and relaxation, making it a perfect addition to your Rotterdam adventure.


Delfshaven | @herman_van_den_berge

9. Visit the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Art and history intertwine at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, a treasure trove of fine arts, decorative arts, and design. Housing a collection that spans from the Middle Ages to the 21st century, the museum boasts works by masters such as Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Dalí, offering a comprehensive overview of Western art history.

The museum’s dynamic exhibition program ensures there’s always something new to discover, whether it’s contemporary installations or thematic exhibitions that explore the intersections of art, design, and society. The Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is not just a place to view art; it’s a space where art comes to life, engaging visitors in dialogues that transcend time and geography.

With a commitment to accessibility and education, the museum offers various ticket options and free entry days, inviting everyone to explore the depths of human creativity. Nestled in the heart of the Museumpark, the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen stands as a testament to Rotterdam’s rich cultural landscape, making it an essential destination for art lovers and curious minds alike.


Boijmans Van Beuningen
Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen | @in.rotterdam

10. Enjoy the nightlife on Witte de Withstraat

As the sun sets over Rotterdam, the city doesn’t slow down; it transforms. The epicenter of this transformation is Witte de Withstraat, a vibrant artery pulsating with the energy of Rotterdam’s nightlife. This street, known for its eclectic mix of bars, restaurants, art galleries, and clubs, offers something for every nocturnal explorer. Whether you’re in the mood for a laid-back evening sipping craft beers at a cozy pub, or a night of dancing until dawn at a trendy club, Witte de Withstraat is where Rotterdam’s diverse cultures and flavors come alive.

The street’s atmosphere is electric, with street art adorning the walls, and the air filled with the mingling aromas of international cuisines. It’s a place where art meets leisure, and history blends with modern urban culture. Recommendations come with a wink here; from the city’s best cocktails to secret DJ sets, Witte de Withstraat promises an unforgettable night out. It’s not just a nightlife hub; it’s a cultural experience, embodying the spirit of Rotterdam.

Witte de Withstraat
Witte de Withstraat |

11. Tour the SS Rotterdam

The SS Rotterdam, also known as “The Grande Dame,” is a testament to the golden age of ocean liners. Now permanently moored in the Maas River, this iconic ship offers a unique glimpse into maritime history. Visitors can explore the beautifully preserved interiors, from the engine rooms to the opulent passenger quarters, and even stay overnight in one of the ship’s original cabins.

Guided tours provide fascinating insights into the life onboard during its heyday, making it a captivating experience for history buffs and maritime enthusiasts alike. The SS Rotterdam also serves as a cultural venue, hosting a variety of events, exhibitions, and performances throughout the year. With its rich history and continued role in Rotterdam’s cultural scene, the SS Rotterdam is a landmark that bridges the past and present of maritime adventure.

SS Rotterdam
SS Rotterdam |

12. Experience the Fenix Food Factory

For a taste of local Rotterdam life, there’s no place like the Fenix Food Factory. Situated in the revamped warehouse district of Katendrecht, this culinary collective is a haven for food lovers. The factory is more than just a market; it’s a community space where local artisans share their passion for food. Visitors can sample a wide array of products, from freshly baked bread and artisan cheeses to craft beers and organic produce, all sourced locally.

The Fenix Food Factory is not just about consumption; it’s about connection. It offers a laid-back, communal atmosphere where visitors can sit by the waterfront, enjoy a meal, and soak in the views of the Rotterdam skyline. Workshops and food tours are also available, providing insights into the art of food production. The Fenix Food Factory embodies the spirit of Rotterdam’s culinary scene, blending tradition with innovation in a setting that’s both rustic and contemporary.

Fenix Food Factory
Fenix Food Factory | @namjamassy

13. Stroll through the Rotterdam Botanic Gardens (Arboretum Trompenburg)

Nestled in the city’s bustling heart lies an oasis of tranquility: the Rotterdam Botanic Gardens, also known as Arboretum Trompenburg. This verdant paradise is a treasure trove of plant species, from exotic orchids to ancient trees, meticulously curated over centuries. A leisurely stroll through its pathways reveals themed gardens, serene ponds, and lush landscapes, offering a peaceful retreat from urban life.

The gardens serve not only as a haven for biodiversity but also as an educational resource, with guided tours and workshops that delve into the fascinating world of botany. Whether you’re a gardening enthusiast or simply seeking a quiet moment amidst nature, the Rotterdam Botanic Gardens provide a refreshing escape, inviting visitors to slow down and savor the beauty of the natural world.

14. Discover the Street Art Tour

Rotterdam’s urban landscape is a canvas for creativity, home to an ever-evolving collection of street art that adorns its buildings, bridges, and alleys. Embarking on a Street Art Tour is like walking through an open-air gallery, where every corner turned unveils striking murals and intricate graffiti that tell stories of the city’s culture, history, and aspirations.

The tour guides are passionate locals who provide insights into the artists’ backgrounds and the meanings behind their work, making it a captivating experience for art lovers and curious minds alike. From vibrant depictions of local heroes to abstract compositions that challenge societal norms, Rotterdam’s street art scene is a testament to the city’s vibrant and inclusive spirit, celebrating creativity in all its forms.

15. Attend the North Sea Jazz Festival

For music lovers, the North Sea Jazz Festival is an event not to be missed. Held annually in Rotterdam, this prestigious festival has earned a reputation as one of the world’s leading jazz events, drawing artists and audiences from across the globe. But the festival’s scope extends far beyond jazz, encompassing a wide range of genres, including soul, funk, blues, and world music, making it a celebration of musical diversity.

The festival’s stages have been graced by legends and rising stars alike, offering a rich tapestry of sound that resonates with the soul. Beyond the music, the festival atmosphere is electric, with workshops, art exhibits, and culinary delights, creating a immersive cultural experience. Attending the North Sea Jazz Festival is not just about witnessing performances; it’s about being part of a global community united by the love of music.