Rotterdam is like not one other city within the Netherlands. Or, for that matter, the rest of Europe. Throughout the Blitzkrieg of WWII, the city was near flattened, abandoning little. Rotterdam became a blank canvas which a modern metropolis has since been constructed. All concrete jungle and metal skyscrapers, here's a free and self-guided Rotterdam walking tour you'll want to follow:
Rotterdam walking tour
Rotterdam may be the type of city that you’ll need to dedicate an entire day to exploring. Whether it be as a day trip in the Hague, Amsterdam, or being an overnight stop, there’s an abundance of products to determine and do with regards to Rotterdam. If you’re looking to see a quantity of attractions while in Holland (museums, paid parks, etc), then you may well want to consider buying a Holland Pass.
When booking your route, be sure to get to Rotterdam Centraal (you’ll thank me later!) In order to undertake this walking tour, you’ll want to wear comfortable shoes that you’re able to walk a good distance in. Rotterdam, like much of the rest of Europe, is not a spot for high heels or brand new shoes.
Alternatively, it’s perfectly possible to rent a bicycle during the day and explore the town on two wheels. Bicycle parking is available throughout the city and exploring via bicycle implies that you’ll have the ability to explore the fringes from the city which might well be too much to traverse by walking.
For those who are wanting to get a bite to eat on the way, I recommend finding somewhere within the Cool District. This area of Rotterdam is known for its many bars and restaurants and, despite what you may think, although lots of tourists wander round the area, there are still some good eateries found.
Walking time: 1 hour 8 minutes
Distance covered: 5.5 km
Rotterdam Centraal Station
This walking tour begins where most journeys to Rotterdam start: Centraal Station. All modern architecture and glinting metal, the Centraal station is to be the first taster of the architecture from the city along with a peek at what lies beyond its modern facade.
While it’s pretty apparent that Rotterdam is really a hub for contemporary era architecture, what you may not know is that there is a Picasso statue in the middle of Rotterdam, not far from the Centraal Station. The concrete Sylvette was acquired by the City of Rotterdam following a seven-year deal and weighs some 46,000 kilos.
With ‘cool’ in the name (pronounced ‘coal’ in Dutch), you know that this district will probably be a place worth chilling out in. The place to find most of the best bars, bistros, and brasseries in Rotterdam, the Cool District is how all the locals hang out. Whilst in the Cool District, make sure to wander across the Witte de Withstraat strip.
The most famous resident in the history of the town is really a certain Desiderius Erasmus, a scholar and Dutch Christian humanist who lived from the 15th to 16th-centuries. Anyone who has studied abroad within Europe have likely heard of the person before as one of the top study abroad programmes in the world is known as for him.
Located just steps from the Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk, this is actually the fifth incarnation of a quantity of such statues of Erasmus within the city. So influential of a man was Erasmus that he was the very first non-royal to possess were built with a statue created for him within the Netherlands.
Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk
One of the only buildings to have survived the Blitz of Rotterdam during WWII is the Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk, though it’s worth noting that this ecclesiastical building too, was badly damaged through the bombing. Dating all the way back to the 15th-century, this church is the sole reminder of Rotterdam’s medieval past.
The largest archway in Europe also transpires with house the largest artwork within the Netherlands (an item which is called the Horn of Plenty), as well as being an excellent place to prevent off for any bite to consume. Located somewhere between that old Church and also the Old Harbour, the marketplace hall is home to stall upon stall of Dutch fast food, local produce, and bites to eat from all over the world.
Cube Houses, Overblaak
If you've ever seen a photograph of Rotterdam on Instagram, you’ve likely spied the cube houses. Designed by award-winning Dutch architect Piet Blom and built in the 1980s, there are forty cube ‘dwellings’ in total. Living in a home such as this is said to take some practice since only a quarter from the living space is actually habitable!
Constructed over the Blaak overpass, the tilted cubes are created to be like urban treehouses. For those who wish to catch a peek at what it really may be like to live inside among the cube houses, it’s easy to visit the Show Cube for a price (though, once i visited the home, I did feel like the doorway fee was on the pricier side of things).
If you’re remaining in Rotterdam for a bit more time than the usual day, you might well consider staying in a Cube House on your own. Stay Okay Hostel are available in mostly of the larger cubes on site and also the accommodation is usually pretty well reviewed.
Filled with tall ships and hang against the backdrop from the iconic Cube Houses, that old Harbour of Rotterdam is how all of the locals come to hang out. In the end, it’s here where you’ll find lots of bars and restaurants, such as the award-winning Noah Cocktail Bar and Restaurant.
One from the first tall buildings in Europe is the Witte Huis. Situated on the fringes of the Oude Haven, the Witte Huis (literally translated as ‘White House’) was built between 1897 and 1898 so that they can replicate the Art Nouveau architecture that the architects had so fallen in love with in New York.
Now a National Heritage site, the Witte Huis stands at over forty metres tall and includes ten floors. Today, Witte Huis is definitely probably the most beautiful buildings in Rotterdam and its ground floor functions as a café and restaurant.
For all things maritime-related, the Maritime Museum was founded as soon as 1874 by Prince Henry of the Netherlands. If you want to go to the Maritime Museum, then it’s even possible to get your ticket in advance.
For those who are unsure as to whether they want to spend the money for entrance fee, the adjacent Maritime Museum Harbour features all kinds of open-air installations and attractions. If you want to see a lot more of the harbour, together with a knowledgeable tour guide, then you may well consider booking this Rotterdam Harbor Tour.
Nicknamed the swan (and once in front of the bridge it quickly becomes apparent why!), the Erasmus Bridge is named which are more famous Rotterdammer. During front of the bridge, be sure to take a look at de Rotterdam. This set of three towers are connected via small glass bridges around the upper floors and their construction was only finalised in 2020.