Rotterdam is really a vibrant city that’s sure to surprise and entice you in equal measure. Full of must-see attractions and world-famous architecture, there’s additionally a whole other side towards the Dutch city that’s worth exploring. Here’s your guide to the best of secret spots in Rotterdam, the futuristic city of the Netherlands!
Much like the Belgian town of Antwerp, Rotterdam has an equally interesting pedestrian tunnel that takes the cyclist/ pedestrian/ vehicle below the Maas River, connecting two sides of the city. Constructed in 1937, the tunnel was opened in secret in 1942 in a bid to hide the tunnel’s existence in the Nazis.
Maastunnel may be the oldest car tunnel within the Netherlands and is a multilayer passage, meaning that cyclists, cars, and pedestrians all cross underneath the water on several levels. Its rectangular and tiled interior give the tunnel a classic feel, as do the old wooden escalators leading deep into the ground.
Witte Huis in Rotterdam may be the first skyscraper in Europe
Though it may not seem like it today, the pretty Witte Huis (literally translated into English as ‘White House’) is the oldest skyscraper in Europe! Located on the edge of the Oudehaven (Old Port) in central Rotterdam, your building was one of the only places in the city to flee the bombings of WWII. Constructed in the Art-Nouveau style throughout the 1920s, your building stretches 10 storeys into the air
Erasmus Statue, Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk
If you’ve investigated studying abroad in Europe, then no doubt you’ll have heard of the Erasmus scheme. This programme is named for Desiderius Erasmus, a Dutch scholar who was born in Rotterdam in the 15th-century and went on to teach in the University of Basel in Switzerland.
Well, as a commemoration for that city’s most well-known resident, around the lawn in front of Rotterdam’s Cathedral, there’s a statue dedicated to the great academic. This is actually the oldest statue in the Netherlands and dates completely to around 1622, which makes it close to four hundred years of age!
A piece of the old Rotterdam city wall, Blaak Station
If you’re searching for much more historical sites in Rotterdam, then you need to look no further than the Blaak Station. Situated somewhere between the impressive Markthal and also the Rotterdam Cube House, once underground, you’ll soon find a small slice from the former Rotterdam city walls.
Close to Rotterdam Station and missed by many tourists towards popular attractions, the Luchtsingel is a wooden walkway that is raised high above the pavement. The world’s first bridge available to become funded by crowdsourcing, the walkway was built so as to function as a safe passage above the streets connecting the Northern and Central districts of Rotterdam.
Paul McCarthy’s Santa Claus
One from the ruder great finds of Rotterdam is Paul McCarthy’s, Santa Claus. Commissioned through the Town of Rotterdam in 2001, the artwork was made by American artist, Paul McCartney, for any square close to the Opera House and it is supposedly a Father christmas holding a pine tree.
However, truth be told, the piece was never approved to stay in the Schouwburgplein and was to spend the coming years touring the town. In 2008, Santa Claus was moved to the Eendrachtsplein, where it can be seen today.
Much like Düsseldorf in Germany, Rotterdam comes with an abundance of street art worth discovering. Other street art in the city you should be sure to take a look at during your stay features a work by Picasso and plenty of incredible murals. More sculptures are available in the strangest of places, including the Wall Relief in the bricks by Henry Moore.
The Cube House Hostel, Staykay Rotterdam
Though the Cube House of Rotterdam isn't exactly a hidden gem (actually, it’s one of the must-see destinations in the city!), what you may well not know is that you can book a stay in among the topsy-turvy yellow boxes. Stayokay Rotterdam is well-reviewed, is actually the place to find incredible architecture, and is close to most of the city’s major attractions. Check prices and availability here.
Fenix Food Factory
While everyone ought to make their method to the Markthal for just one of the best indoor eating and marketplaces in Europe, what many don’t know is that another culinary experience
Tips for visiting Rotterdam
If you're planning a vacation to the second largest city within the Netherlands, then there are a number of things you should know before you go. Firstly, don't opt for any prior expectations of the items you will see in Rotterdam! The city is much like no other place you likely will see in The Netherlands and constitutes a good way from which to take day trips to the rest of the country.
In order to become familiar with the town on the more local level, I highly recommend exploring the city on foot via this self-guided walking tour. Whilst in the Netherlands, you'll likely also want to cycle around because this is the best way to explore the flat country. However, be familiar with the truth that many bikes don’t have gears and also have a backpedal!
Finally, while Rotterdam is definitely an escape from the hustle and bustle from the crowds of Amsterdam, the town can still get pretty busy! This is also true of the peak season (summer) when events like Summer Carnival take place. As a result, you'll want to book your place to remain as far in advance as you possibly can. Check for the very best Rotterdam accommodation rates.