After we had left our stop in Amsterdam as part of our river cruise with VIVA Cruises, a stop in the modern port city of Rotterdam was on the agenda for the rest of the day. Rotterdam certainly doesn’t win a beauty award, but there are a few interesting corners that we found on our walk across the city.
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Things to know about Rotterdam
The port city of Rotterdam is located at the mouth of the Rhine into the North Sea (Rhine-Meuse Delta), is with about 650,000 inhabitants after Amsterdam the second largest city in the Netherlands and has the largest seaport in Europe.
Rotterdam was founded in 1230 as a small fishing settlement on the River Rotte. After it was granted town rights in 1340, the city rapidly developed into a rich trading city due to its favorable geographical location. The port grew larger and larger and developed in 1853 due to the construction of the Nieuwe Waterweg, a lockless open canal to the North Sea, the largest port in Europe and an important port of imports and exports. The Second World War hit Rotterdam hard: the city was almost completely destroyed by German bombs in 1940, so that hardly anything remained of the historical heritage – except for a few more massively built buildings. Only four years later, the Germans destroyed large parts of the port facilities. Due to its location and convenient shipping lanes, the city soon managed to regain its place as one of the most important ports in the world.
Today, Rotterdam is the leading industrial and commercial city in the Netherlands, especially in the maritime and maritime sector. But also the mechanical engineering, the woodworking industry, the automotive, chemical industry, electrical appliance construction and textile industry as well as petroleum refineries, oil, margarine, soap, chocolate factories and coffee roasters characterize the economic life of the city.
The landing stage of viva TIARA
With our ship VIVA TIARA we moored very centrally at the jetty Boompjeskade, so that we could reach all sights in Rotterdam on foot from here. We had a total of twelve hours to explore the city, because our layover time in Rotterdam was from 11 am to 11 pm.
The most beautiful sights & photo spots in Rotterdam
From our pier we could easily reach all the sights of Rotterdam in one day on foot and on our own. We started by exploring the city center, then walked to Delfshaven and took a harbor tour in the late afternoon.
The cube houses
Strange, but somehow original – there is no other way to describe the yellow-coloured cube houses in the city centre of Rotterdam, each standing on a top. The hexagon houses are an architectural project by Piet Blom and were built in 1984. One of these cubes, the Kijk Kubus, can be visited for an entrance fee – we found that super interesting, because we could get an insight into how to live in such a house under these architectural conditions.
The Market Hall
Just a few meters walk from the cube houses, we discovered the horseshoe-shaped market hall built in 2014. The building is architecturally very impressive, but the market hall itself somehow reminded us more of a large food court than a classic market. When standing in the market hall, it is worth taking a look upwards, because the ceiling consists of a glass mosaic with 4,000 colored shards and represents a still life with fruits, vegetables and insects.
At the Grote Kerkplein is the Gothic Laurenskerk, one of the few medieval remains of Rotterdam. Built in the 15th century, the church was badly damaged in World War II, but was able to be rebuilt in the 1960s and 1970s.
The Museum Boijmans van Beuningen & the Museum Park
One of the most important Dutch art museums and the largest art museum in Rotterdam is the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, which opened in 1849. The museum has become known above all for the fact that over 50,000 works have been donated to it by 1,700 collectors in recent decades. Today, the collection includes about 150,000 works from the Middle Ages to contemporary art. The museum has been closed since 2019 due to renovations and is scheduled to reopen in 2026. Behind the museum is a beautiful museum park, which invites you to walk and linger.
The Het Park & the Euromast
Het Park is one of the oldest parks in the city and is located west of the city centre on the banks of the Nieuwe Maas and in the immediate vicinity of the Delfshaven district. We particularly liked the colorful flower beds, otherwise the park is not special. The highlight is probably the observation tower Euromast, which was built in 1960 and with its 185 meters is the highest tower in the Netherlands. At an altitude of about 100 meters there is a panoramic restaurant and even two hotel suites.
The historic Tuin Schoonoord
On the northeastern edge of Het Park we passed by chance the historic garden of Schoonoord. From the outside, the entrance to the small garden looked relatively inconspicuous, but made us curious, so we went inside. This was also a good decision, because the park is very beautifully landscaped, densely overgrown and surprised us with a beautiful water lily pond. A real oasis in the middle of the big city!
Street Art in Rotterdam
When we stroll through cities, we always keep our eyes open for street art, because we just really like it. And lo and behold, we were also able to discover some beautiful murals in Rotterdam. Really cool we found the “Rotterdam. Make it happen.“-Wall in the Delftsestraat or the graffiti in the Delftsehof.
An absolute highlight for us was the walk through the Delfshaven district, because it is one of the few districts of Rotterdam that remained intact during the bombing raids in the Second World War. Around the historic museum harbour there are beautiful canal and merchant houses, renovated old town houses, a windmill and a historical museum on the history of the city. We really liked the atmosphere with the many ships along the canals.
The district is also famous for the fact that the pilgrim fathers from England gathered here in the 17th century for their crossing to North America. In the pilgrim church at Aelbrechtskolk they celebrated their last service before departure.
The most beautiful photo motif for us in Delfshaven are the canal houses on the Havenstraat which are best seen from the opposite side of the canal (Lange in Google Maps).
A harbour cruise in the port of Rotterdam
In the late afternoon we just caught the last departure of a harbor tour. We had opted for the provider Spido, where we paid 15.25 EUR per person for the 75-minute round trip. From the pier at Willemsplein we first passed the Erasmus Bridge and the former main building of the Holland America Line until we turned into the container port. Here we did some laps and got a nice insight into the lively operation of the huge harbor.
The Port of Rotterdam handled 436.8 million tonnes of goods last year. This makes Rotterdam by far the largest port in Europe. Particularly impressive is that the port and the port-related economy employ about 320,000 people; of these, about 60,000 work in the actual 100 km² port area.
More Sights & Photo spots
During our walk through Rotterdam we were able to discover many other sights, such as the “Witte Huis” at the old port, which was built in 1898 with 10 floors and a height of 43 meters and was thus the first skyscraper in Europe.
The modern architecture of the city is also reflected in the new main station, which has a very unusual shape. But also in other places we could see the works of well-known architects, such as the three 150-meter-high towers of the “De Rotterdam”, which together form a vertical city with apartments, offices and shops.
A splash of color in the city is the yellow Luchtsingel bridge, a 400-meter-long pedestrian bridge that connects three neighborhoods. It is interesting that this bridge was financed as part of a crowdfunding campaign: With a contribution of 25 EUR you could “buy” one of 8,000 bridge planks, which was then given your own name.
After walking across Rotterdam for half a day and seeing the most important photo spots and sights, we have to admit that the city unfortunately did not convince us. We didn’t really like the area around the city center, only with the Delfshaven, the extraordinary cube houses and the historic garden of Schoonoord the city could score with us.
A map with all the sights in Rotterdam
On the following map at Google MyMaps we have marked the most famous sights & photo spots in Rotterdam. We were able to orient ourselves well at these points during our tour through the city. Of course, Rotterdam has many other attractions worth seeing! If we have forgotten an important sight or a special photo spot, please write it to us below in the comments 🙂
All travel reports of our river cruise on the RhineFor one week we were on the Rhine with VIVA TIARA from Düsseldorf and got to know some of the most beautiful places in the Netherlands. From the pretty harbor towns of Deventer and Kampen, we continued to Enkhuizen and Hoorn, where we crossed the largest lake in the Netherlands - the Ijsselmeer. From here, our ship took us to the two metropolises of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, on to Dordrecht and the world-famous windmills of Kinderdijk, and finally to the city of Nijmegen.
VIVA Cruises - Our cruise ship VIVA TIARA
Deventer - Sights & Photo Spots of the Hanseatic City
Kampen - Things to do in the former Hanseatic City
Enkhuizen - Historic harbor town on the IJsselmeer
Hoorn - Things to do in the historic town
Amsterdam - The most beautiful photo spots & sights
Rotterdam - The most beautiful sights & photo spots
Dordrecht - Sights & our walking tour in the city
Kinderdijk - The 19 windmills of Kinderdijk in Holland (UNESCO)
Nijmegen - Sights of the oldest city in the Netherlands
Düsseldorf - Sights & the most beautiful photo spots