Rotterdam was certainly the city that surprised me the most on m first trip to Europe. Unknown for many, Rotterdam is an amazing modern city perfect for a day trip. On this post you’ll find all the information you need for spending one day in Rotterdam.
On this post you will find:
When I travel I like to spend time visiting cities that aren’t always the most popular or touristic ones. That’s why in my first trip to Europe, after spending 2 days in Amsterdam, I decided to visit Rotterdam for one day. My original plan was to head straight to Brussels. But when the date of my trip was coming closer, I found out Rotterdam was home of great modern architecture. I couldn’t resist it, it was only an hour away from Amsterdam. I wasn’t leaving Netherlands without visiting Rotterdam.
Rotterdam is an important city in the Netherlands, known for its modern architecture and its port, which is the largest one in Europe. The city is a great modern contrast compared to the canal streets of Amsterdam. Although there are parts of the city where you can see typical dutch houses, the city is mostly filled with skyscrapers and stunning architecture.
I visited Rotterdam on a Sunday morning so the streets were deserted, as you will notice in most of the photos. You might experience this in many european cities. On Sunday mornings many shops are closed and there is almost no people on the streets until midday.
How to get to Rotterdam
- Train: The easiest way to get to Rotterdam from any other city in Netherlands is by train. The trip from Ámsterdam is just 30/40 minutes long and ir costs around €15/20. Some sites where you can book train tickets in Europe are: Omio, B-Europe, Rail Europe and Eurostar.
- Bus: the cheapest option to get to Rotterdam is to take a bus. The bus trip from Amsterdam takes about 1h/1h45 and costs around €5. Some sites where you can book bus tickets in Europe are: Flixbus, Omio and Eurolines.
- Plane: Rotterdam has an airport which is located 5 km away from the city centre. If you’re traveling from other country, this might be the most convenient way to get to the city. I recommend using Skyscanner and Vueling to find the cheapest plane tickets.
- Private transfer: if you want to just relax you can book this private transfer from Amsterdam to Rotterdam.
- Take a tour: If you prefer to have everything organized, you can take a day tour from Amsterdam. There are many options available on GetYourGuide like this full-day tour to Delft, Rotterdam, and The Hague which includes the transportation, guide, a cruise in Rotterdam and a visit to Madurodam.
How to get around Rotterdam
The best way to get around Rotterdam when visiting the city for just one day is to walk. The main places to visit in Rotterdam are located in the same area of the city and a walking distance from each other.
Even so there are some places that are located further away from the city centre (like the Euromast tower). In this case you can use Rotterdam’s public transport which is excellent and connects all the city.
All the public transport in Rotterdam is managed by RET company and to use it you will need a public transport card (you can use it on any transport except on the ferry). This card can be bought at any metro station or at Albert Heijn markets.
There are different passes available which are useful for tourists. For visiting Rotterdam in one day I would recommend getting any of these: 2 hour pass for €4,00 / 1 Day pass for €8,00. More information on Rotterdam’s public transport here
Here’s what to do in one day in Rotterdam:
- Rotterdam Centraal Station
You will probably start your visit at Rotterdam Centraal Station, the main railway station in the city. The station is an amazing modern building, which is not common in Europe so it’s definitely worth checking it out, even if you don’t arrive to the city by train.
This bridge is just a few minutes away from Rotterdam Centraal Station so you can visit it as soon as you arrive or just before you leave Rotterdam. It is a 400 metre long pedestrian bridge which runs across roads and connects 3 different parts of the city. It gives you the chance to see the city from a unique perspective.
Another awesome thing about Luchtsingel bridge is that it was supported financially by people who donated money and in exchange got their names inscribed in the wooden boards of it. If you love photography as much as I do, this is a great spot to spend some time.
- The Cube Houses of Rotterdam
One of the most iconic sites in Rotterdam are the Cube Houses. Designed by dutch architect Piet Blom in 1984, the cubic houses are a row of 38 small cube-shaped houses, all containing three floors. The space created inside and in between the different houses is surreal!
You can actually visit one of the houses which is open to the public. If you are interested in architecture I recommend you do it, it’s totally worth it. The entrance fee is €3 and opens daily from 11 am to 5 pm.
One of the Cube houses is a hostel where you can spend the night if you want to have a complete experience of the Cube Houses.
If you’re interested in taking a walking tour in Rotterdam: this tour includes the entrance to the Cube House.
- The port of Rotterdam
Rotterdam is not only made of modern and crazy buildings, there are also some “typically dutch” parts of the city. One of them is Oude Haven, Rotterdam’s oldest port and a nice place for a stroll. Rotterdam is home to Europe’s largest port and also one of the most important ones in the world.
In the new port of Rotterdam you will spot the SS Rotterdam, a former ocean liner and cruise ship that sailed across the world since 1959. The ship is now a hotel permanently moored in the Katendrecht peninsula and has been restored keeping its original interior.
After visiting the Cube Houses, you can walk along Rotterdam’s harbor where you can see the port life combined with the incredible modern architecture. The Erasmusbrug is a great example of this. Designed by Ben Van Berkel, it is a 800-metre-long bridge that connects the south and north parts of the city.
Museums in Rotterdam
You can also enjoy Rotterdam’s culture by visiting its museums. Kunsthal Museum, is an interesting building designed by the dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. It is a contemporary art museum. More info at Kunsthal’s website
Just beside Kunsthal there is a big beautiful park, and at the end of it you can find the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum which houses a collection of works by Salvador Dalí, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, and Rembrandt among many others. More info at the museum’s website
A must stop if you visit Rotterdam in one day is Markthal. This fascinating building is a residential and office building and has a giant Market Hall in the middle of it. The roof of the hall is adorned with artwork of giant fruits and vegetables and you can find all types of actual food inside.
In De Markthal you can find over 100 food stalls so it is the perfect stop for lunch or dinner.
To have the best views of Rotterdam, you should visit Euromast tower. The observation deck at 185 meters high gives you a spectacular 360º panoramic view over Rotterdam. You can also have dinner at the restaurant.
The Euromast is open every day of the year from 9.30 am (April to September) and 10 am (October to March) to 6 pm. You can buy your ticket to Euromast observatory here.
- Bike around the city!
What’s a better way to see a city in the Netherlands than by bike? If you like the idea you can take this 2.5-hour bike tour where you can learn about the highlights of Rotterdam with a guide.
Other things to do in Rotterdam:
- Rotterdam: private tour with a local.
- Rotterdam: De Rotterdam, Cube Houses, Watertaxi and Markthal
- Rotterdam Walking Tour and Harbor Cruise
Rotterdam Welcome Card
If you’re planning to visit many of the city’s attractions or are staying more than one day in Rotterdam, it might be convenient for you to get the Rotterdam Welcome Card which includes unlimited travel on all the RET public transport network and discounts at the city’s top attractions and restaurants. The city can be bought for 1, 2 or 3 days. More information about the Rotterdam Welcome Card here.
Where to stay in Rotterdam
If you have enough time to spend a night in Rotterdam, I would definitely stay in one of the Cube Houses. I think this is an incredibly unique place to stay that you won’t find in other cities. There are several ways of staying at a Cube House:
- Stayokay Rotterdam: As I mentioned, one of the houses is a hostel. Click here to check out Stayokay prices.
- Cube House Rotterdam: If you prefer something more private, one of the owners rents a house on Booking. It is a fully equipped apartment with an amazing view of the city. Click here to check out Cube House prices.
- NH Atlanta Rotterdam Hotel: a very nice hotel located in the city center with shops and restaurants nearby. Price of NH Atlanta Hotel in Booking.
Is one day enough to see Rotterdam? Of course not. In fact, I don’t think one day is enough to see Rotterdam, nor any other city in the world. But yes it is possible to spend one day in Rotterdam and enjoy many of the city’s attractions.
I hope this post has helped you plan your one day trip to Rotterdam. If you have any other questions please feel free to email me or leave a comment below.
Other Europe posts that you might like:
- How to spend 2 days in Amsterdam
- Planning your first trip to Europe – Useful Info & Tips
- Useful travel resources and discounts
- The best free museums in London
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