Best things to do in Rotterdam: a two-day itinerary

Our home town Rotterdam is one of the highlights of any visit to the Netherlands. The city known for its modern architecture, worldclass museums, trendy hotspots, stunning street art and urban vibe is one for your bucketlist. Make sure to plan in at least a day to visit Rotterdam, but two days would be even better. Our two-day itinerary for Rotterdam will show you all the best things to do in Rotterdam. Besides the main attraction in Rotterdam, we’ll give you the best tips for where to stay, how to get to Rotterdam and the best restaurants in Rotterdam.

How to get to Rotterdam from Amsterdam or the airport?

Rotterdam and Amsterdam aren’t far apart – as most things in the Netherlands actually. It’s easiest to get from Amsterdam to Rotterdam by train. The fast train takes you from the Amsterdam central station to the one in Rotterdam in half an hour. The only stop in-between is at the Schiphol Airport.

You could drive yourself from Amsterdam to Rotterdam, but keep in mind parking is expensive in the city center – in both cities actually.

We already mentioned the Schiphol Airport, so when arriving at Schiphol, just take the fast train Rotterdam. It’s easy and very convenient. Rotterdam has its own airport though – the Rotterdam-The Hague Airport. The bus will bring you to the Rotterdam central station in about 20 minutes.

The best hotels in Rotterdam

Let’s address another question: where should you stay in Rotterdam? The city has many great hotels to book, but you might want to pick one of the more unique hotels in Rotterdam. How about sleeping in a Rotterdam icon, a cottage on the water, an old cruise ship, a design hostel or a historic warehouse? Find out about the 12 best hotels in Rotterdam according to locals.

Best things to do in Rotterdam: a 2 day itinerary by locals

One day in Rotterdam

Day 1. You will probably arrive by train in Rotterdam, as the Dutch railway network is the best way to explore the country. Make sure you take a look at our brand new train station right away. It is called the “Kapsalon” by the locals, as it looks a bit like the aluminum container in which a Kapsalon – a typical Rotterdam snack of fries with shawarma – is usually served.

From the station we are directing you to one of our favorite breakfast spots with a stunning view of the city: Op het Dak (‘On the Roof’) in the Schieblock! From there you can walk around the yellow Luchtsingel (‘Air bridge’) that connects the rooftop garden of Op het Dak with the old train station at the Hofplein. It’s a very instagrammable spot you’ll probably have seen when researching your Rotterdam trip.

Read more: we wrote a blog about the 25 best places to have breakfast in Rotterdam. Of course Op het Dak is included.

We continue our way at the well-known Coolsingel. At the time of writing, the Coolsingel is opened for construction to become the largest pedestrian promenade in Rotterdam. Walk along the construction site and admire the beautiful city hall and old post office – two monumental buildings that miraculously survived the bombardment of the city at the beginning of the Second World War. The city hall can be visited with a free guided tour – just e-mail them in advance – and otherwise the inner garden is almost always open for visitors.

Then take a look at the Koopgoot (‘Shop gutter’), but please skip this well-known crowded shopping street. There is a much nicer shopping area next on the route: the Witte de Withstraat! We recommend taking a look at the shops Danny de Cactus and Collectiv by Swan. Have a cup of coffee at Hopper, but please resist the cafes and wine bars for the moment. I promise you we will return here later today for some drinks.

Walk to the end of the Witte de With in the direction of the Museum Park, as it is time for some culture! Do you like modern art like we do? Then the Kunsthal will probably have an exhibition that you might like. Or do you prefer the old masters? Go to the Rotterdam icon Boijmans Van Beuningen.

Read more: we wrote a blog about the best museums for modern art in the Netherlands, including the ones in Amsterdam in Rotterdam of course.

After walking, shopping and a museum, you might feel a bit hungry. A beautiful location for a late lunch is Dudok in the Park, right next to our next destination: the Euromast. From the Euromast, you have an amazing view of Rotterdam! And are you a bit adventurous? You can also abseil from this famous attraction. How cool is that!

Now it is time to head to the Maas river that flows through the city and to exchange the north for a piece of south Rotterdam. What is the best way to get there? Take the watertaxi from the Euromast to Katendrecht (taxi stop Provimi)! Make sure you have your eyes open during this thrilling boat ride, so you can spot the SS Rotterdam and the historic Hotel New York.

After arriving at Katendrecht, head to the Fenix Food Factory, where you can enjoy the great coffee at Stielmans, the best bread Jordy’s Bakery and some local Rotterdam beer at Kaapse Brouwers. As it’s time for some afternoon drinks, so we recommend you to try some of the unique beers on the tap of Kaapse Brouwers. Order a plate with Moroccan dips with bread from Mister Tanger. Enjoy!

Read more: the best place to have drinks in Rotterdam? Read our blog for the 25 best cafes and bars in Rotterdam.

Finish your day at one of the great restaurants in this area. Choose one of the hotspots on the Deliplein behind the Fenix Food Factory – Ceviche y Maas, the Sailor and the Girl, Kwiezien and Deli Bird are recommended – or head back to the Witte de Withstraat. Take another water taxi to the other side (taxi stop Leuvehaven) and walk to the Witte de Withstraat, where we can highly recommend the burgers of Ter Marsh, Italian food at Oliva or a taste of the Middle East at Bazar.

If you want to go out tonight, you are already in the right place. Are you going for beers at Reijngoud or the Bierboutique? Or do you prefer a good glass of wine at NRC or wine bar Het Eigendom? Don’t forget to visit De Witte Aap, world-famous by its top position on the Lonely Planet list of best cafés in the world.

Day 2 in Rotterdam

Dag 2. Time for breakfast! Depending on where you spend the night, we advise you to have a breakfast at Breakfast in Rotterdam (Blijdorp), By Jarmusch (just east of the center), Lilith (west), Kate (Katendrecht) or coffee bar Nine Bar. Then it’s time to score a rental bike! Do you have a personal public transport pass with a public transport pass? Then you can pick up an public transport bicycle at both Rotterdam-Blaak and the central station. Bike to the Erasmus Bridge, also nick-named De Zwaan (‘The Swan’). Interested in the Rotterdam ports? Under the Erasmus Bridge you can find the Spido boat for a – perhaps somewhat touristy – boat tour through the ports.

Cycle along the Maas for a while and enjoy the Rotterdam skyline. Then go to Harvest Coffee Brewers – Sebastiaans favorite spot – for the best coffee in town. Tip: with good weather you can sit down at the water in the back of this coffee spot! Then climb on your bike again to visit some other icons of the Maasstad. Go to the Laurenskerk – another survivor of the bombardment – and consider whether your fear of heights allows you to climb the tower. Then the famous Kubuswoningen (‘Cube houses’) are on our tour! Did you know that one of the houses in this Blaakse Bos (‘Blaak Forest’) by Piet Blom is open for visitors?

Then it is time to visit the new Markthal, which you probably already spotted from the cube houses. Don’t just focus your eyes too much on all stalls, as you don’t wanna miss the impressive artwork on the ceiling. How convenient is it that it is around lunchtime right now! In the Markthal you can enjoy some Rotterdam fries at Bram Ladage and a unique Dutch snack at the Kroketloket, but of course Asian street food, tapas or other delicious food as well. If the tourist crowds in the Markthal are too much for you, there are of course great spots in the area. We love to go to Picnick, Pierre, Tea Lab, Lot & Daan in the Oude Haven or the highly popular Italian sandwich restaurant Guiliano. Do you want to do some shopping while you’re here? The Meent and Pannekoekstraat have some of the best hotspots of Rotterdam. We recommend Keet, Hay, De Bonte Koe (chocolate!) And Home Stock.

Time to get back on your bike! We are now leaving the city center to visit one of the off the beaten track places in Rotterdam: the Kralingse Bos. Here you can walk in the woods or along the lake with a beautiful view of the Rotterdam skyline, watch deer in the Hertenkamp and visit a working spice mill! In the evening you can enjoy delicious Italian food at Osteria Vicini. But if the weather is good, it is much more fun to get a barbecue and some food at the Albert Heijn in Kralingen to have your own barbecue party at the Plas.

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