Rotterdam is located in the South of the Netherlands and has approximately 600 000 citizens. Europe’s largest cargo harbour is located in Rotterdam. During World War II Rotterdam was hit very hard and most buildings were destroyed during the war. Out of this tragedy, Rotterdam’s uniqueness arose. Today, Rotterdam is famous for its diverse architecture and outstanding creativity. Rotterdam is only about 70 km away from Amsterdam and there is supposed to be a certain rivalry between these cities. But to us both cities have their individual charm and cannot be compared to each other.
Rotterdam is only about 2,5 hours away from the place where we live right now, but somehow it has never been on our travel list. And in a way it seemed not to be on the list of any of our friends. But one day someone enthusiastically told us about this city, that we, up to that point, only connected to a large harbour and a lot of heavy industry. He told us about the individuality and creativity of this city and so our next travel destination was set: Rotterdam.
As we booked our trip quite spontaneously, several airbnb flats and apartments were already sold out. We decided to choose a rather expensive accommodation (160€ for 2 nights and 2 persons) that was located right on the ‘Witte de Withstraat’. It was a small, but cosy flat (booking: De With Studio’s). On our way to Rotterdam we read several travel blogs about Rotterdam and were quite happy when we found out that the ‘Witte de Withstraat’ is supposed to be one of the most interesting streets in Rotterdam. When we arrived at our accommodation we could clearly see why they wrote this; There are just bars, restaurants and cafés everywhere. Even if our accommodation was a bit pricey, it was the right decision. We were right in the hot spot of Rotterdam. After the check-in we had to find a parking lot. As you might know from other Dutch cities, the parking situation in the inner city parts isn’t really that great. But there is a solution to that – just park your car somewhere outside the city and get back in with the public transport service (P+R). It is important that you keep you day ticket or single ticket that you used on your last day. This ticket is then necessary to prove that you used the public transport system. In the end we only paid a couple of Euros for 3 days/ 2 nights and it was very easy.We have never seen a better park and ride system than the one in the Netherlands.
On our first day we explored the ‘Witte de Withstraat’ and the surrounding of our flat. There are several places right on our ‘home-street’ that we would like to recommend: The café, bar and hostel ‘King Kong’ is very creative with great coffee and cakes. ‘Oliva’ was fully booked every night and is a rather expensive, Italian restaurant. The ‘Bagel Bakery and Burgers’ is a typical, trendy Burger restaurant. We tried the ‘Ballroom’ for some snacks (try the duck and tuna) and for wine and loved the laid-back atmosphere. The ‘Opa’ is a very popular bar for drinks and snacks and has a great interior design. This street in general is great for lunch or dinner and also if you want to go for a drink. There is a large variety of individual cafés, restaurants and bars, but we have to say that they are also quite expensive. Rotterdam in general doesn’t really seem to be easy for travellers with a small budget.
We started both of our next days with a breakfast at ‘Jordy´s Bakery’. The place has several healthy sandwiches, croissants and freshly baked bread. This was the perfect start to exploring other parts of the city. We walked along the ‘Witte de Withstraat’ and came to the ‘Maritim Museum’ and the ‘Havenmuseum’. There is a small harbour between those museums where you can have a look at antique ships. Some of these ships were even turned into cafés or restaurants. It is free and worth a visit. If you continue walking along the Wijnhaven-street you will come to the old harbour. The old harbour is one of the most famous sights of Rotterdam and still consists of some buildings that survived World War II. It is also a great place to have a drink – especially if it is warm outside. Right next to the harbour is the ‘Hogeschool Rotterdam’. It is a very creative part of this university and we loved to have a look at this great building with its individual workshops and projects.
Located very close to the old harbour and the ‘Hogeschool Rotterdam’ is the market hall of Rotterdam. We have seen some market halls during our travels, but never one that could be compared to the one in Rotterdam. It is a very modern building with an outstanding architecture. It looks a bit like a hemisphere with flats around and a market inside. The walls are the foundation of different paintings. You will find first class restaurants, small market stalls, juice bars and much more. We enjoyed eating at a small tapas bar called ‘Pichos’. Try their beef! The market hall was one of our favourite spots in Rotterdam; full of action, flavours and filled with a welcoming atmosphere. Close to the market hall you will find a Vietnamese Restaurant called ‘Little V’. It has very authentic food, a great design and reasonable prices.
A bit further away from the market hall and the old harbour area, is the ‘Fenix Food Factory’. This old factory hall was turned into a creative workspace where alternative start-ups, biological farmers and creative shop owners come together. You can buy your organic food or spices here, have a drink or just enjoy the concept of turning something old into something new. The ‘Fenix Food Factory’ on the other side of the old Holland-America terminal is definitely worth a visit.
Rotterdam always seems to be in the shadow of Amsterdam and is still a hidden secret. This city has changed a lot during the last decades. It is not on the travel list of many Europeans and is therefore not packed with tourists and that’s also a reason why we loved Rotterdam. Even if it is the largest European port, it doesn’t mean that it is only a port. Rotterdam is creative, individual and full of ideas and we will definitely tell our friends about this city.