24 hours in Rotterdam (itinerary) – by A&K
Almost completely rebuilt from the ground after its destruction during World War II, Rotterdam stands out in the Netherlands with its tall skyscrapers and modern architecture.
Besides its unique design, Rotterdam is also famous for a distinctive avant-garde culture that makes it a fascinating destination for anyone visiting the Netherlands.
Below is the 24-hour Rotterdam itinerary that we did with my girlfriend in January 2015.
Rotterdam is located just one-hour away from Amsterdam by train so you can easily visit it by extending your trip to the Netherlands by one or two days. Hope you enjoy!
Step by step
Rotterdam Centraal Station to Witte de Withstraat (city center)
We started the itinerary of our 24 hours in Rotterdam by a stroll through the city center after arriving in Rotterdam Centraal (railway station). The train ride from Amsterdam took us about 1 hour and we arrived in Rotterdam in the beginning of the afternoon by this cold yet sunny winter day.
For someone used to live in Amsterdam surrounded by cute canals with houses rarely higher than 3 stories, what strikes immediately when arriving in Rotterdam is this impression of massiveness and modernity from the surrounding skyscrapers like the Gebouw Delftse Poort and its 151 meters.
We spent some time in Witte de Withstraat, the hip area of Rotterdam with its many design shops, restaurants and cafes.
Erasmusbrug (Erasmus Bridge)
We then went to the Erasmusbrug (Erasmus Bridge). We were advised by a Dutch friend who used to live in Rotterdam that it was the main attraction of Rotterdam and we were certainly not disappointed.
Appropriately nicknamed 'The Swan', the Erasmus Bridge crosses the Nieuwe Maas. From there you pretty much stand at the center of Rotterdam and have a perfect view of the north and south parts of the city.
Kop van Zuid area
We continued our Rotterdam itinerary by walking along the docks on the right after the Erasmus Bridge when you arrive from the north of the city. It is where the Holland America Line boats to New York used to depart from. Nearby is the very iconic building of Hotel New York, former offices of the cruise company and a national heritage site since 2000.
From the docks you have a unique view of Rotterdam's skyline, besides, of course, a cleansing breath of sea air.
In Kop van Zuid is also located the main office of the Port of Rotterdam, the busiest port of Europe that has a lot to do with Rotterdam's 'Gateway to Europe' nickname
Oude Haven (Old Port of Rotterdam), Blaak area
We stayed at the CitizenM hotel located in Rotterdam's Old Port (Oude Haven) near Blaak, one of the largest and most important streets of Rotterdam.
It's a very lively area where old and new meet in the most surprising ways, like with the White House (Witte Huis), Europe's very first skyscraper, and the eccentric Cube Houses.
Dinner at Rosso restaurant
In the evening we had dinner at Rosso, a lounge restaurant/wine bar on Van Vollenhovenstraat. Although the service was quite poor we were delighted by the food. We had quite a tasty carnivore meal with veal filets, steak tartare and some delicious burgers accompanied by a bottle of Chianti Riserva.
Museum Boijmans van Beuningen
The museum has an interesting and diverse collection of paintings ranging from medieval to modern art and features artists like Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Rembrandt, Claude Monet, Wassily Kandinsky, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, René Magritte, Salvador Dalí and Willem de Kooning to name a few.
Interestingly, Boijmans Van Beuningen presents itself as more free-spirited in comparison to Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum whose mission is to showcase almost exclusively Dutch national art. The collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is somewhat dense so count on at least a couple of hours to get through everything.
Bleak and Blaak lunch at Rotterdam Markthal
After that we took a subway to go back to Blaak. There we had lunch in Rotterdam Markthal, a new futuristic structure that opened in October 2014 and hosts a food market but also houses.
The grey and rainy weather didn't showcase Markhal and the area under its best light but we still rather enjoyed it. We were slightly disappointed though by the selection of food shops as we had the impression that there were mainly chains rather than small local kitchens. Nonetheless, we found a good Vietnamese place for lunch where we had beef 'Pho' soup.