Rotterdam is besides one of the largest ports in the world also the second largest city in the Netherlands and has a lot to offer to visiting tourists. Rotterdam, a city with a rich history, has a population over 600 thousand and is densely inhabited. Whether you’re interested in shopping, architecture, art or an adventurous nightlife, Rotterdam has it all. Rotterdam is located in the province of South Holland.

Tip: Be sure to check out my section on things to do in Rotterdam!

History of Rotterdam

The History of Rotterdam is a fascinating story of war and commerce. Now a center for world trade it had its beginnings as a humble fishing village. Although the area had had some settlers since, at least 900AD, it really only took of in terms of population and fishing in 1283, when the Count that held sway over the area insisted that all the local landowners, who had their own dams and defenses against the sea, on the delta that made up the area, linked them all together to make one large sea defense that kept the area much safer and allowed for more building and trade. Then the name Rotterdam was first used ( as in dam for the river Rote ), and it was given its charter ash a city. Trade was further increased, in 1340 when a new canal was dug to give better access to the Dutch hinterlands.

The New City

The city, although the city walls had been built in 1358, was still subject to being overrun, by the army of the “Cods” when Rotterdam had backed the losing Hook army. The city found itself being occupied again in the “Eighty Years war”, in 1572  when their Spanish overlords invaded, despite being temporarily beaten back by the rebel army, after the Dutch had taken to a reform version of Christianity. The Spanish left again, before too long, to fight more enemies elsewhere, and Rotterdam reverted back to the rebels and in doing so captured a lot more of the trade until Amsterdam chose the side of the rebels and again garnered the majority of trading activity.

The admiralty was established in the city in 1586 and the Dutch East Indies company in 1604. This led to the city once more acquiring some status in the worlds of politics and commerce. The city was occupied next by the French in and around the turn of the 19th century, which brought about a downturn in trade and wealthy for the city. After the French left, Rotterdam grew rapidly and so became a center for world trade in the European, American and African markets.

The Modern Era

Rotterdam suffered in both the first world war and The Great Depression of 1929,but was nearly laid waste in the Second World War by the invading German occupiers and also by badly targeted Allied bombing that almost destroyed the center of the city.

However after the war a plan was set out to rebuild Rotterdam as a modern European city with wide roads and separate areas for different uses such as, banking, housing and shopping. This expanded with more housing being built to accommodate the rising population, to make the city as it stands today.

Transportation in Rotterdam Netherlands

Rotterdam is a hub for world trade and transport and as such it is only fitting that it should have a world class transport system. There are very good transport links for both resident and tourist alike. All transport in Rotterdam whether it is the metro, bus, tram or train is usually clean, efficient and on time.

Rotterdam Central Station
Rotterdam Central Station

Transport and Fares

The main transport provider in the Rotterdam are is the RET, or the Rotterdam Transport company, who run the RET buses, trams and metros. Fares are usually pre-paid on to and OV chip card. Probably the best thing if you are visiting Rotterdam and intending to do much traveling in the city is to take the unlimited travel option.

You can get all of your travel for one day for 7 euros, for 2 days for 10.50 euros and 3 days for14 euros. If your journey will not take too long , it might be cheaper to get the travel pass for 1 hour for 3 euros, for 2 hours for 3.50 euros and for 2×1 hour rides for 6 euros.

The single use chipcard is probably the best card for the tourist to get, they are available for sale all over the city from shops, post offices, top up machines and the tourist information service. A good way to save some money is to get the Rotterdam Welcome Card, which will also give you an OV chip card and also save you money when you go to restaurants, theaters, museums and a range of other attractions around the city.

Although the normal transport services cease running at around midnight, on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays you are able to travel by RET BOB buses. They depart from the areas around nightclubs and other attractions and cost 5.50 euros for a single ticket.

Taxis In Rotterdam

Taxis in Rotterdam, or for that matter throughout the Netherlands are clean, efficient and well regulated. They charge set fares that are the same everywhere in the country. You can find taxis at the many taxi stands around the city, or you can phone and arrange to be picked up or you are also able to flag them down in the street.

If you are driving to Rotterdam, but do not want to drive in and around the city, it can get very congested, then there are free park and ride schemes on the main roads coming in to the city. The city is accessible by a number of motorways. If you prefer renting your own vehicle while staying in Rotterdam there are rental cars available in the city center, and parking is available at various locations.


If the open air is more your style then consider seeing the city on the seat of a bike. There is a network of well maintained bike paths throughout the city and during fair weather it can be an enjoyable way to get around.

The cost of renting a bicycle is extremely economical and can be had started at €6.50 per day, depending on the size and type of bicycle you are seeking. Get some fresh air and exercise while you pedal your way around this beautiful city.

Water Based Transportation

If you are looking for a way another great way to get around the city, consider using one of the various water taxis or water buses. There are a number of different options available depending on your destination and starting point.

Water Taxi Rotterdam

The water taxi, operated by HNY, shuttles between the Hotel New York and the Leuvenhaven subway station, and the Veerhaven. This service is offered 7 days a week from 9am till midnight, with costs starting at €2.90 for an adult.

There is also the ferry called the Aqualiner that offers quick service to various points around the city, or the Waterbus ferry. The Waterbus ferry also allows passengers to bring along their bicycle free of charge. The service times and prices vary depending on a number of factors, so be sure to check with the line before boarding.

Rotterdam Tourism

Rotterdam is not, perhaps, the first place that you think of when planning a holiday in the Netherlands. But despite being a hub of world trade and commerce, this modern city has much to offer the tourist. Since its humble origins as a fishing port when the dam of the Rotter was first built in the 13th century it has been a center for trade and a hub of the shipping industry. But, although its history would point to this, Rotterdam has very little in the way of traditional market, housing , and commerce areas. These areas were largely destroyed by invasion and bombing during the Second World War, and thereafter the city was rebuilt to a new street plan with wide roads and now soaring modern architectural gems.

Although a city built on trade it still has a good amount of interesting parks and spaces, for those wishing to gain some peace and quiet. The city also has a good selection of museums and art galleries for those looking for culture. including the fascinating Maritime Museum and the Wereldmuseum that houses an interesting and eclectic collection of art from all over the world.

Architecture and Attractions

For those with a head for heights the Euromast provides a great panoramic view of the city and more especially some of the fine and striking architecture on the Wilhelminapier. The first viewing platform takes you to 100 meters, then you can go a further 85 meters if you have the courage. For a change of scene Rotterdam zoo, which has been voted the best zoo in the Netherlands, makes for a good day out. It has a large aquarium, many different displays of animals and birds and some wonderful shows, such as the seal show, and the bird show. There is a great theme and amusement park at Plaswijk Park where there are activities such as, go carting, swan boating a patting zoo, a large new play area and many other attractions it has enough to do for a whole day out.

Euromast Rotterdam

Shopping and Nightlife

Rotterdam has great nightlife as you would expect in such a modern city. Near to the center you will find Stadhuisplein has many bars and clubs located nearby and the “student area” where you can get a great night out without breaking the bank.

One of the best shopping areas in Rotterdam is the Alexandrium, it is a little way from the center of the city but well worth a view, as it has a great selection of shops and also bars and restaurants for a good lunch. If markets are more your thing, you would do well to visit the Blaak Markt which has excellent street food and clothing and wonderful displays and selections of flowers.

You might have to look a little harder to see the attractions in Rotterdam than in some of the more obvious tourist hotspots, but if you take the time you will be well rewarded with  wonderful features and attractions.

Parks in Rotterdam Netherlands

Rotterdam is a very green city, and a great place to visit as a tourist. In contrast to the way that many think of Rotterdam, as an international port concerned with the movement of goods and people, it has many open spaces and parks and caters well to those looking for some peace and quiet with nature and away from the busyness of the city.

The Museum Park is a small park with museums around it and is ideal for those taking in some of the culture that the museums have to offer. Walking around it you will find the Chabot museum, the Art Hall, The Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum and the The Netherlands Architectural Institute . The park has many fine sculptures in it and is near to the Open Air Cinema.

Kralingse Wood

To say that this is just a wood is to fall short of what is actually on offer to nature lovers here. Kralingse Wood covers a huge area and is much larger than any of the other parks and also is thought by many to be the most beautiful. It is greatly enhanced by the large lake,(Kralingse Lake) that is within it’s boundaries. Being a wood there is, of course, a huge amount of trees to wander around and picnic by. But if fancy a little more stylish cuisine then there are some fine restaurants around the edge of the lake.

Zuiderpark Rotterdam
Zuiderpark Rotterdam

Zuiderpark is a large garden and park with many facilities such as sports clubs and outdoor swimming pools, as well as ponds, fields and some wonderful walks with which to while away an afternoon. Built around the Ahoy’ buildings it is a large park that caters mainly to residents of Zuid and the surrounding areas.

The Park

The Park is possibly not the most inspiringly named park, but it does, at least leave you in no doubt as to what to expect. The Park is in fact a very beautiful and well laid out garden that also encompasses many ponds, tree’s and some interesting buildings, such as the Heerenhuy’s and the Norwegian sailors church. There is also a very fine cafe in the gardens for those that require some extra energy for the walks around The Park.

There are many fine parks in Rotterdam and it is well worth taking some time to explore them as they will certainly enhance any visit to the city.

Rotterdam Pictures (pictures by Roy Kersbergen)

Rotterdam - Terrraces at the canalRotterdam - pedestrian bridge Rotterdam - Havensteder Rotterdam - Erasmusbrug Rotterdam - Deloitte and AKD building Rotterdam - Cube Houses Rotterdam - Cube Houses with reflection