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Top 15 Unique Things to Do in Rotterdam

Unique Things to do Rotterdam
Dennis Moller | Unsplash
Unique Things to do Rotterdam
Dennis Moller | Unsplash
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From must-see attractions to hidden gems.

Looking for some of the best places to visit in Rotterdam? Look no further! Discover our list of top things to do and see in Rotterdam. We’ve left some of the bigger and more touristy things to do off the list. Sure, the Euromast is pretty unique to Rotterdam and the Erasmusbrug is definitely a one-of-a-kind sight. But we wanted to highlight some lesser-known activities and local attractions too, so you can get beneath the surface of this trendy Dutch destination.


Marvel at the architecture of the Cube Houses

Unsplash

We’re pretty sure this is already on your Rotterdam to-do list, but we couldn’t not include this in a list of unique activities in the city. Where else are you going to find a bunch of bright yellow cubed houses!? 

This mind-boggling landmark is a must-see in Rotterdam. Even if you don’t go inside the Kijk-Kubus Museum, where you can experience what actually living in one of these houses is like, a trip to Rotterdam wouldn’t be complete without laying your eyes on this famous architectural marvel. If you’re super keen, book a night with StayOkay who have a hostel in one of the big cubes.

Discover some retro gaming history at the Dutch Pinball Museum

Dutch Pinball Museum

Let's kick off the hidden gems with this unique museum experience in the centre of Rotterdam. The Dutch Pinball Museum is exactly that: a museum, all about pinballing, in the Netherlands. We haven’t got to the good part yet though. You can actually play on the machines during your visit!

Forget your usual museum trips where you wander around stuffy art galleries or spend all your time reading. Discover all you ever wanted to know about pinball and more, as you explore their collection of over 100 pinball machines. This museum is perfect for lovers of arcades and all things retro. We love this museum as a rainy day activity and it’s one of our fave alternative things to do in Rotterdam. Check it out! 

View modern art for days at the Kunsthal

Tom Parnell | Flickr

Speaking of stuffy art galleries, the Kunsthal is NOT one of them! As far as modern art museums go, this Museumpark native is pretty cool. With no permanent exhibitions, Rotterdam’s Kunsthal is a breath of fresh air providing visitors with a unique experience each time they visit. 

Hosting 5 different exhibitions at once, expect cool visuals and interesting takes on a variety of arty and cultural topics. The Kuthshal building itself, designed by the famous Dutch architect Rem Koolhaus, is also worth a look for anyone interested in architecture. Guided tours are available to learn more about the museum inside and out. This is one of the best places to visit in Rotterdam for modern art fanatics. 

Go on a cruise to nowhere on the SS Rotterdam

Live the World

Obviously SS Rotterdam is going to be a unique Rotterdam attraction, but the overall experience is pretty one of a kind too! After sailing for 41 years, this classic 20th century cruiseliner is now stuck in Rotterdam. Lucky us! Now we get to explore it for free, enjoy a drink or dinner, have a go at an escape room or even stay the night!

As we said, you can hop on board for **free**, but if you want to discover the unseen bits, join a guided tour. The one that takes you to the engine room is great for anyone who wants to know a bit more about the boat’s history and how it all worked back in the day. Then, grab a drink on the top deck, by the pool and enjoy the views. 

Explore a different side of the city on a Rewriters Street Art Tour 

Kian Lem | Unsplash

Go on a proper urban escapade! Explore Rotterdam’s vibrant street art scene on a tour with Rewriters Rotterdam. Discover the city’s urban art by neighbourhood, on either a guided or self-guided tour.

Rewriters have created a handy app with 10 self-guided street art walking routes that’ll take you all over the city. From 4 to 10km, they’re suitable for anyone and everyone who’s interested in seeing this colourful side of the city. Want to delve a bit deeper and know a little more about Rotterdam’s urban art-scene? Opt for a guided tour instead. A street art tour in Rotterdam is a unique way to see the city and get off the beaten path to understand its arty culture.

Visit a foodie and architectural Valhalla in the Markthal

Modes Rodríguez | Flickr

This is another one that was probably already on your list, but this really is a must-see in the city. Even if you don’t go inside, Rotterdam’s Markthal is a sight to behold. This sustainable, and totally unique building, is made up of a giant arch of apartments and two huge glass windows on either end.

What makes the Markthal even more unique is that the ceiling is one huge piece of art, fittingly called the ‘Horn of Plenty’. Why? Because, inside is the Netherlands’ largest indoor market! With restaurants, bars and fresh food stalls during the market, it's a super popular foodie spot. This is one of the best things to do and see in Rotterdam!

Experience an arty world-first at Depot Boijmans

Ossip van Duivenbode | Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen

This is sort of the epitome of unique attractions in Rotterdam. It is literally the first of its kind in the world. Oh, and it looks SO COOL. Depot Boijmans is an architectural wonder and the first publicly accessible art storage facility in the world. There are over 150,000 pieces of artwork in The Depot!

Wander around and see how art is preserved or join a special guided tour to experience the 5 different climate controlled areas where the artworks are stored. Head up to the tree-covered rooftop for fantastic city views or a bite to eat from Restaurant Renilde.

Wander a Historic City Spot at Delfshaven

Desire Kranenburg | Unsplash

We’ve added Delfshaven to this list for serving us up a special bit of Dutch history that you won’t find anywhere else in the city. This picturesque inner-city harbour is full of old boats, charming streets, antique shops and café terraces. 

One of the only parts of the city to survive the WWII bombardments, this isthe historic heart of Rotterdam. See where the Pilgrim Fathers gathered to set sail for America in 1620 and the birthplace of Dutch maritime hero, Piet Hein. Head here for some quintessential Dutch vibes in Rotterdam.

Try street golf at Café de Ooievaar

Visual Stories Micheile | Unsplash

Visiting Delfshaven is one thing. But how about turning its bridges and cobbled streets into your very own urban golf course? Pop into Café de Ooievaar and try out their street golf experience. They provide you with all your golfing gear and a map to navigate your way around a carefully curated Delfshaven course.

There are 9 “holes”, which are just different objects and locations that you need to hit or pass with your ball. Warm up before or celebrate after with a drink at Café de Ooievaar and enjoy the authentic Dutch vibes. If you’re looking off the beaten track things to do in Rotterdam, you’ve found one. 

Laugh at the infamous Rotterdam Santa Claus

Fred Romero | Flickr

Also known as the *ahem* ‘buttplug gnome’. Well, that’s what the locals call it anyway! The infamous sculpture struggled to find its home in the city when Rotterdammers came up with this descriptive nickname. After protests by disgruntled local businesses, the gnome finally came to rest in Eendrachtsplein.

The artwork, which is supposed to be Santa Claus holding a pine tree, was commissioned by the city of Rotterdam and was created by American artist Paul McCarthey. Come along and see what all that fuss was about! It's pretty close to other city centre attractions too.

Discover 1930s ‘modern’ design at Sonneveld Huis

Johannes Schwartz | Het Nieuwe Instituut

Walk back through history and see what ‘modern’ looked like in the 1930s at Sonneveld Huis. One of Musuempark’s museums, the house shows off the best of 20th century Dutch Functionalism inside and out. If you’re interested in interior design or architecture, check it out!

Wander around this incredibly restored and preserved house. Get the audio tour to learn more about Sonneveld Huis’s design and the family who once lived there. There’s also a kid-friendly audio tour for the little ones. 

Stare up at Europe’s first skyscraper at the Witte Huis

Unsplash

What did a ‘high rise’ look like in the 19th century? Head on over to Rotterdam’s picturesque Oudhaven to find out. The Witte Huis is one of the city’s few historic, architectural gems. Even if you’re just there for a quick look and a photo, it's one of the best things to see in Rotterdam.

You’ll find it in a convenient spot, right behind the city’s famous Cube Houses. Oudhaven is a good place to stop for a bite to eat on one of the water-front terraces and the Witte Huis itself has its own ‘grand café’. 

See the old HQ for the Holland-America Line at Hotel New York 

Visual Stories Micheile | Unsplash

The iconic old HQ for the ‘Holland Amerika Lijn’. This now-hotel stands out from the crowd in contemporary Rotterdam and takes us back a few hundred years. Surrounded by the futuristic buildings of the Kop van Zuid district, it is impossible to miss Hotel New York and its 19th century architecture.  

Hotel New York used to be an important place for cross-Atlantic emigration. The ‘Holland Amerkia Lijn’ sent hundreds of thousands of emigrants from the Netherlands to North America in the 19th and 20th century. Now the building has been transformed into a characterful hotel with a restaurant, outdoor terrace and great city views. 

Explore Rotterdam’s best park at Kralingse Park

Visual Stories Micheile | Unsplash

We’ve got to include the best green space in the city. Kralingse Park is an urban oasis just a short bike or tram ride away from the city centre. If you’re looking to get out of the hustle and bustle of the modern metropolis, head over to the park.

Go on a woodland walk, have fun on the lake, enjoy the view of Rotterdam’s skyline or try one of the parks café’s and restaurants. It's not often you can feel totally immersed in nature in a big city. If you’re looking for an escape to nature, Kralingse Park is the best place to visit in Rotterdam.

Discover Europe’s largest port at Maasvlakte 2

Live the World

Rotterdam’s massive port is getting even bigger! Even if this is a way away from the city centre, it technically counts as Rotterdam because it is part of the port expansion, aka Maasvlakte 2. So we’re taking it because it's a damn unique activity. We promise, a tour of an industrial port is way more interesting than it sounds!

Explore this enormous industrial playground and discover the ins and outs of the giant world of international shipping. Learn all about the river, the port and its sustainability projects at the kid-friendly, interactive information centre, FutureLand. Or get up close and personal on a boat tour.

Want even more things to do in Rotterdam? We’ve got loads more activities for you to check out on our map.


Live the World map banner

From must-see attractions to hidden gems.

Looking for some of the best places to visit in Rotterdam? Look no further! Discover our list of top things to do and see in Rotterdam. We’ve left some of the bigger and more touristy things to do off the list. Sure, the Euromast is pretty unique to Rotterdam and the Erasmusbrug is definitely a one-of-a-kind sight. But we wanted to highlight some lesser-known activities and local attractions too, so you can get beneath the surface of this trendy Dutch destination.


Marvel at the architecture of the Cube Houses

Unsplash

We’re pretty sure this is already on your Rotterdam to-do list, but we couldn’t not include this in a list of unique activities in the city. Where else are you going to find a bunch of bright yellow cubed houses!? 

This mind-boggling landmark is a must-see in Rotterdam. Even if you don’t go inside the Kijk-Kubus Museum, where you can experience what actually living in one of these houses is like, a trip to Rotterdam wouldn’t be complete without laying your eyes on this famous architectural marvel. If you’re super keen, book a night with StayOkay who have a hostel in one of the big cubes.

Discover some retro gaming history at the Dutch Pinball Museum

Dutch Pinball Museum

Let's kick off the hidden gems with this unique museum experience in the centre of Rotterdam. The Dutch Pinball Museum is exactly that: a museum, all about pinballing, in the Netherlands. We haven’t got to the good part yet though. You can actually play on the machines during your visit!

Forget your usual museum trips where you wander around stuffy art galleries or spend all your time reading. Discover all you ever wanted to know about pinball and more, as you explore their collection of over 100 pinball machines. This museum is perfect for lovers of arcades and all things retro. We love this museum as a rainy day activity and it’s one of our fave alternative things to do in Rotterdam. Check it out! 

View modern art for days at the Kunsthal

Tom Parnell | Flickr

Speaking of stuffy art galleries, the Kunsthal is NOT one of them! As far as modern art museums go, this Museumpark native is pretty cool. With no permanent exhibitions, Rotterdam’s Kunsthal is a breath of fresh air providing visitors with a unique experience each time they visit. 

Hosting 5 different exhibitions at once, expect cool visuals and interesting takes on a variety of arty and cultural topics. The Kuthshal building itself, designed by the famous Dutch architect Rem Koolhaus, is also worth a look for anyone interested in architecture. Guided tours are available to learn more about the museum inside and out. This is one of the best places to visit in Rotterdam for modern art fanatics. 

Go on a cruise to nowhere on the SS Rotterdam

Live the World

Obviously SS Rotterdam is going to be a unique Rotterdam attraction, but the overall experience is pretty one of a kind too! After sailing for 41 years, this classic 20th century cruiseliner is now stuck in Rotterdam. Lucky us! Now we get to explore it for free, enjoy a drink or dinner, have a go at an escape room or even stay the night!

As we said, you can hop on board for **free**, but if you want to discover the unseen bits, join a guided tour. The one that takes you to the engine room is great for anyone who wants to know a bit more about the boat’s history and how it all worked back in the day. Then, grab a drink on the top deck, by the pool and enjoy the views. 

Explore a different side of the city on a Rewriters Street Art Tour 

Kian Lem | Unsplash

Go on a proper urban escapade! Explore Rotterdam’s vibrant street art scene on a tour with Rewriters Rotterdam. Discover the city’s urban art by neighbourhood, on either a guided or self-guided tour.

Rewriters have created a handy app with 10 self-guided street art walking routes that’ll take you all over the city. From 4 to 10km, they’re suitable for anyone and everyone who’s interested in seeing this colourful side of the city. Want to delve a bit deeper and know a little more about Rotterdam’s urban art-scene? Opt for a guided tour instead. A street art tour in Rotterdam is a unique way to see the city and get off the beaten path to understand its arty culture.

Visit a foodie and architectural Valhalla in the Markthal

Modes Rodríguez | Flickr

This is another one that was probably already on your list, but this really is a must-see in the city. Even if you don’t go inside, Rotterdam’s Markthal is a sight to behold. This sustainable, and totally unique building, is made up of a giant arch of apartments and two huge glass windows on either end.

What makes the Markthal even more unique is that the ceiling is one huge piece of art, fittingly called the ‘Horn of Plenty’. Why? Because, inside is the Netherlands’ largest indoor market! With restaurants, bars and fresh food stalls during the market, it's a super popular foodie spot. This is one of the best things to do and see in Rotterdam!

Experience an arty world-first at Depot Boijmans

Ossip van Duivenbode | Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen

This is sort of the epitome of unique attractions in Rotterdam. It is literally the first of its kind in the world. Oh, and it looks SO COOL. Depot Boijmans is an architectural wonder and the first publicly accessible art storage facility in the world. There are over 150,000 pieces of artwork in The Depot!

Wander around and see how art is preserved or join a special guided tour to experience the 5 different climate controlled areas where the artworks are stored. Head up to the tree-covered rooftop for fantastic city views or a bite to eat from Restaurant Renilde.

Wander a Historic City Spot at Delfshaven

Desire Kranenburg | Unsplash

We’ve added Delfshaven to this list for serving us up a special bit of Dutch history that you won’t find anywhere else in the city. This picturesque inner-city harbour is full of old boats, charming streets, antique shops and café terraces. 

One of the only parts of the city to survive the WWII bombardments, this isthe historic heart of Rotterdam. See where the Pilgrim Fathers gathered to set sail for America in 1620 and the birthplace of Dutch maritime hero, Piet Hein. Head here for some quintessential Dutch vibes in Rotterdam.

Try street golf at Café de Ooievaar

Visual Stories Micheile | Unsplash

Visiting Delfshaven is one thing. But how about turning its bridges and cobbled streets into your very own urban golf course? Pop into Café de Ooievaar and try out their street golf experience. They provide you with all your golfing gear and a map to navigate your way around a carefully curated Delfshaven course.

There are 9 “holes”, which are just different objects and locations that you need to hit or pass with your ball. Warm up before or celebrate after with a drink at Café de Ooievaar and enjoy the authentic Dutch vibes. If you’re looking off the beaten track things to do in Rotterdam, you’ve found one. 

Laugh at the infamous Rotterdam Santa Claus

Fred Romero | Flickr

Also known as the *ahem* ‘buttplug gnome’. Well, that’s what the locals call it anyway! The infamous sculpture struggled to find its home in the city when Rotterdammers came up with this descriptive nickname. After protests by disgruntled local businesses, the gnome finally came to rest in Eendrachtsplein.

The artwork, which is supposed to be Santa Claus holding a pine tree, was commissioned by the city of Rotterdam and was created by American artist Paul McCarthey. Come along and see what all that fuss was about! It's pretty close to other city centre attractions too.

Discover 1930s ‘modern’ design at Sonneveld Huis

Johannes Schwartz | Het Nieuwe Instituut

Walk back through history and see what ‘modern’ looked like in the 1930s at Sonneveld Huis. One of Musuempark’s museums, the house shows off the best of 20th century Dutch Functionalism inside and out. If you’re interested in interior design or architecture, check it out!

Wander around this incredibly restored and preserved house. Get the audio tour to learn more about Sonneveld Huis’s design and the family who once lived there. There’s also a kid-friendly audio tour for the little ones. 

Stare up at Europe’s first skyscraper at the Witte Huis

Unsplash

What did a ‘high rise’ look like in the 19th century? Head on over to Rotterdam’s picturesque Oudhaven to find out. The Witte Huis is one of the city’s few historic, architectural gems. Even if you’re just there for a quick look and a photo, it's one of the best things to see in Rotterdam.

You’ll find it in a convenient spot, right behind the city’s famous Cube Houses. Oudhaven is a good place to stop for a bite to eat on one of the water-front terraces and the Witte Huis itself has its own ‘grand café’. 

See the old HQ for the Holland-America Line at Hotel New York 

Visual Stories Micheile | Unsplash

The iconic old HQ for the ‘Holland Amerika Lijn’. This now-hotel stands out from the crowd in contemporary Rotterdam and takes us back a few hundred years. Surrounded by the futuristic buildings of the Kop van Zuid district, it is impossible to miss Hotel New York and its 19th century architecture.  

Hotel New York used to be an important place for cross-Atlantic emigration. The ‘Holland Amerkia Lijn’ sent hundreds of thousands of emigrants from the Netherlands to North America in the 19th and 20th century. Now the building has been transformed into a characterful hotel with a restaurant, outdoor terrace and great city views. 

Explore Rotterdam’s best park at Kralingse Park

Visual Stories Micheile | Unsplash

We’ve got to include the best green space in the city. Kralingse Park is an urban oasis just a short bike or tram ride away from the city centre. If you’re looking to get out of the hustle and bustle of the modern metropolis, head over to the park.

Go on a woodland walk, have fun on the lake, enjoy the view of Rotterdam’s skyline or try one of the parks café’s and restaurants. It's not often you can feel totally immersed in nature in a big city. If you’re looking for an escape to nature, Kralingse Park is the best place to visit in Rotterdam.

Discover Europe’s largest port at Maasvlakte 2

Live the World

Rotterdam’s massive port is getting even bigger! Even if this is a way away from the city centre, it technically counts as Rotterdam because it is part of the port expansion, aka Maasvlakte 2. So we’re taking it because it's a damn unique activity. We promise, a tour of an industrial port is way more interesting than it sounds!

Explore this enormous industrial playground and discover the ins and outs of the giant world of international shipping. Learn all about the river, the port and its sustainability projects at the kid-friendly, interactive information centre, FutureLand. Or get up close and personal on a boat tour.

Want even more things to do in Rotterdam? We’ve got loads more activities for you to check out on our map.


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