I came in 2003 for my studies and stuck around ever since. The city was so different when I first was here. It had a bad reputation, but look what happened. The city is booming and I feel part of it. I love the contrast in Rotterdam between old and modern. I love the port mentality of its people. You will find friends anywhere, because in its pure soul Rotterdam is still just a little village with some big ass skyscrapers.
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.
An absolute must do in Rotterdam is taking a Water Taxi! It is a cool, cheap and fast way of getting across the river. A nice tour is from Leuvehaven to Hotel New York. The river Maas is so important to Rotterdam, going over it is like paying tribute to it! And seeing the skyline of the Wilhelminapier from a boat is fantastic! Around Hotel New York you will find some of Rotterdam’s best restaurants.
On the Witte de Withstraat there is very nice place called Proeflokaal Reijngoud. They have a cozy atmosphere, an excellent collection of beers and their ‘bitterballen’ are one of the best.
Authentic Dutch food
If you want to try traditional Dutch food, like stamppot, you can check out Haagse Bluf, over by the Meent, across Dudok. Which is a really fine place also, very authentic Rotterdam. Great apple pie!
But what if you ask about real authentic Rotterdam food? Go for a ‘Kapsalon’! A true international blend, like Rotterdam itself. Doner meat, French fries, Dutch cheese, lettuce, tomato, garlic sauce and hot sauce. A popular dish for the late hours. The best Kapsalon is being served over at Jaffa’s, on the Witte de Withstraat. On my tour I’ll tell you the story behind it!
I wasn’t a fan of the Markthal from the beginning, but I’ve come to love it. It is lively, colourful and there is food from all over the world. At every little stand they will let you try things before you buy. I usually leave the Markthal with a stuffed belly.
If you’re in Rotterdam on a Saturday or Tuesday be sure to visit the big main outside market, right in front of the Markthal. It’s the best way to meet the people of Rotterdam, because everybody is there. Bring some coins and try some of the (affordable) food.
My favorite is De Schouw. It is one of the older pubs in the center of Rotterdam (est. 1940) and definitely the most authentic one on the ‘hip and happening’ Witte de Withstraat. Sip some beers or ‘jenevers’ with Rotterdam’s architects, journalists and poets.
I find it very hard to find good bars with live music. Although it is getting better with places like Bird and Grounds. But on any Friday or Saturday you’ll always be able to listen to a nice band performing over at the Paddy Murphy’s Irish Pub on Rodezand 15.
You can spend all night on the Witte de Withstraat and have a great time. But if you want to head out to a real party, get yourself an uber or a rental bike and check out the parties in the outskirts. Abandoned harbor spots host some of the best techno parties. On the south side of Rotterdam there is Maassilo and Now&Wow. On the west side of Rotterdam there is a cool venue called Weelde and Keilecafé.
Rotterdammers love to read. When book store Donner went bankrupt, thousands of Rotterdammers put together their money to reopen it in the renovated old bank of ABN Amro on the Coolsingel. It’s a beautiful building and has a rich collection of books and gifts!
I don’t like to spend too much time in museums. But there is a museum in Rotterdam that takes you only 10 minutes to visit. The Kijk-Kubus is just an open house in our famous cube house project. One of the best ways to really experience how it is to live there!
Walk a little further and you’ll find a beautiful park, actually called The Park, because it was once Rotterdam’s first and only park. Besides beautiful trees, flower fields and cozy teahouses, this is your way to the Euromast, giving you the best view of the city.