These are my personal tips -based on experience and research- for a great experience in Rotterdam! This resulted in a good list of tips! You can click on the bold text to get to the Google Maps location of the establishment.
De Beren A very easy-going restaurant, only found in the Rotterdam area. They serve well-known spareribs, chicken satays and vega(n) food. If you’re lucky you will see their food delivery staff on their scooters wearing fluffy bear helmets!
Gracy’s Serving great burgers and milkshakes in 50’s American dinner style on Rotterdam’s ugliest square.
A restaurant on the Kaap square in Old Dutch fashion and in the Kaap’s spirit: you eat what they serve. (They can adjust the menu for you if you have any intolerance or allergies, just give them a call in advance).
Kroketloket If you are in Holland, you need to try a ‘kroket’. The Kroketloket has all the flavors you could ever wish for.
Bram Ladage Take your kroket from the Kroketloket, walk to the Bram Ladage in the Market Hall and try some proper and thick fries from the Rotterdam snackbar chain Bram Ladage. You will not get any better fries elsewhere in the Netherlands!
DUTCH SNACKS & SWEETS
Kroket It’s the best snack we have, period.
Kapsalon A truly multicultural dish from the inhabitants of Rotterdam. Turkish kebab, Belgian fries, Dutch cheese and Indonesian sambal. We love it so much, we nicknamed our Central Station after it!
Drop You will love it or hate it. There’s nothing in between.
(FOOD) MARKETS & ATYPICAL RESTAURANTS
Fenix II The first food market in Rotterdam, with great food, good breweries and a wonderful view on the Rotterdam skyline. It’s wonderful at dusk!
Spirit A vega(n) buffet restaurant where you pay for the weight of your plate. A food heaven for vega(n)s and people with food intolerance/allergies, as everything is specified. They also have a community centre with e.g. yoga and an ecological supermarket.
Markthal The most well-known food hall in Rotterdam. Look up, look around you and look down! Under the escalators down to the parking garage there are mostly unknown little displays with Rotterdam’s earliest artefacts dug up when the Market Hall was built.
Hottugs in Leuvehaven The Dutch cold weather doesn’t always allow wearing a bikini, but when you rent a Hottug (a hot tub in a tiny little boat), it’s bikini weather all year round!
Speedo & Water Taxi
The best views of Rotterdam are, of course, seen from a boat. You can take a ride on the river and even in to the harbor!
Abseiling from the Euromast One of the best views of Rotterdam is seen from the Euromast. While you are there, you might as well take the leap.
BARS & NIGHTLIFE
Bird If you need a good restaurant: Bird. If you want to go to a good convert: Bird. If you want to dance all night: Bird. Basically, if you want to have a good night: Bird!
De Kaapse Café’s
If you want a true old school, yet Rotterdam sailor’s cafe experience, I highly recommend you an evening in the many cafes on the Kaap squares. A good old school night is guaranteed and a ‘Kopstootje’ is a must try!
NY Basement (Higher End) In the basement of Hotel New York is a higher end restaurant and wine & cocktail bar, with live jazz music. It’s a beautiful venue on a stunning historic location where thousands of immigrants left to start a new life abroad.
Danny de Cactus The most curious, wonderful, extraordinary, magnificent, spectacular shop full of treasures from all corners of the earth. The owner is the most true Rotterdammert you’ll ever meet.
A big shop filled with crafts and wares from multiple small and upcoming entrepreneurs and developers in the Rotterdam area. You can find the small market at Gnome Butt Plug.
Rataplan If you know me, you know I love me a local thrift shop. I bought the most amazing 70’s floor vase here and the treasures don’t stop there. A thrift store run and visited by true Rotterdammers.
MUSEUMS & HISTORIC SITES
Museum Rotterdam – Location Coolhaven Museum Rotterdam has a second, but lesser known location on the Coolhaven. In my opinion this is one of the best museums in Rotterdam and a must visit if you want to know more about the second world war in Rotterdam and experience the Rotterdam Blitz in a sound room.
Wind Korenmolen ‘De Distilleerketel’ A windmill in the middle of Rotterdam? Yes! You can find one in the historic neighborhood of Delfshaven, which is a lovely part of the pre-war Rotterdam.
Kijkkubus Take a peek in Piet Blom’s controversial modern look on living in a city for only 3 euros!
PARKS / EXTRA
Kralingse Bos One of the best known parks in Rotterdam, for a reason! Take a walk in the forest or rent a canoe on the Kralingse Plas.
Zuiderpark The biggest park of Rotterdam, with lovely designed walking paths, playgrounds and an outdoor training & fitness area on walking distance from subway station Zuidplein.
If you don’t mind traveling a little outside of Rotterdam, you can find beautiful Dutch nature everywhere. One of my favourites is the Rhoonse Grienden on the Meuse river. Here you can see beautiful nature, loads of birds and the effects of the tidal currents on the landscape.