Rotterdam, Netherlands

Rail Guide to Rotterdam

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Local languageDutch
Country Netherlands


Arguably Rotterdam is most famous for its port, which is Europe’s largest. As with so many other waterside areas, the inner-city docklands areas have been transformed over recent year into popular areas with busy pavement cafés, innovative architecture, stunning bridges and a fantastic selection of shops, restaurants and bars.

Aside from the country’s capital, Amsterdam, Rotterdam is the second largest city in The Netherlands with over 600,000 people living in the city and around

four million visitors being attracted to its sights and attractions annually. The city’s cultural life is very rich and dynamic offering inhabitants and visitors a variety of museums that cover almost everything including modern art, historical treasures, architecture, photography, ships and even exotic animals! Among Rotterdam’s most popular museums are the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, the Netherlands Architecture Institute, the Kunsthal, the Wereldmuseum (World Arts Museum), the Maritime Museum, the Netherlands Photomuseum and the Historical Museum of Rotterdam.

As an important European port, Rotterdam was a specific target for bombings during the war and was therefore heavily impacted by it. As a consequence of this Rotterdam today is a great destination for fans of modern architecture since the damage that was inflicted on it meant it had to completely rebuild itself in the latter part of the last century.

Things to do

The Kinderdijk Windmills attract visitors from all over the world. Since 1997, the site of 19 windmills has been on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. The windmills are situated in Ablasserwaard, about 10 km from the city centre of Rotterdam, but Kinderdijk is accessible by public transport and even by boat.

The windmills were built between 1738-1740 in order built to pump out the redundant water from the polder, through channels, to the river Lek. Today, modern technology has taken over the windmill's functions, but they still remain a very special part of the Dutch landscape. Tourists love the visitor’s windmill where you can explore the insides of a fully working windmill, preserved in its original form. The miller that operates the windmill, provides visitors with further information.

The cube homes (Kubuswoningen) are an absolute must see if you’re in Rotterdam, not only for fans of modern architecture but also just the curious.

Piet Blom designed the kubus (cube) homes in an attempt to recreate a village atmosphere within a big city. The KijkKubus is the fully furnished museum home in the Blaakse Bos, its interior was specially designed to give visitors an impression of what life in a cube home can be like. A great number of models, photo panels and screens offer additional information.

Sightseeing while enjoying a Dutch pancake buffet! The tour on the

Pannenkoekenboot (pancake boat) will take you along the river Maas from the Euromast to the end of the Maasboulevard. The tour last for about an hour, tickets including the pancakes and various fillings are 12 Euros.

Rotterdam Zoo (Diergaarde Blijdorp) is one of the country’s most popular daytime attractions. In the zoo, you can explore parts of the world and you get to see a great number of all sorts of interesting animals. Diergaarde Blijdorp’s special feature is the Oceanium. There, you get the chance to see exotic fish, puffins, playful sea otters, snakes, sharks and jellyfish, and, you can discover the’Falkland Islands’, the Emperor Penguins’ terrain: there, you can walk across moving ice floes with the penguins swimming by below your feet!

The Euromast in Rotterdam is the country’s highest lookout tower. It was built in 1960 in honour of the international garden festival, the Floriade. High-speed automatic elevators take visitors up to the platforms, where you’ll have a sensational view of the city. In the ‘Space Cabin’ you can experience the sensation of a rocket launch, it gradually spins in orbit up to a height of 185 meters.

In between the city's Willems Bridge and the Erasmus Bridge there is an artificial sandy beach which, though created only in the last few years, has already become a major attraction for both tourists and locals. Boompjeskade Beach is situated along the banks of the Nieuwe Maas, but there are other similar beaches such as the sandy stretch at Hoek van Holland, Oostvoorne or Renesse both around the Zeeland coastline.

The Arboretum Trompenburg Park covers around 17 acres of land and is a perfect alternative to Rotterdam’s busy centre. The Arboretum was founded in the early 19th century and offers a wealth of specimen trees and shrubs, along with many seasonal attractions and springtime bulbs.

Local transport

Rotterdam has an efficient network of buses, trams, water taxis and metro that provides excellent connections. Cycling is also an extremely popular method of transport in the city and it’s a nice way to get around.

Rotterdam was actually one of the first Dutch cities to have a metro system operating. Its current system consists of two main lines, the Erasmus Line (Rotterdam Central station - Albrandswaard Hoogvliet - Spijkenisse) and the Caland Line: Ommoord-Nesselande-Capelle aan den IJssel.

Rotterdam’s tram system has 10 different lines and therefore means that most areas are well connected. in addtion there are 38 different bus lines in Rotterdam. The city services are provided by RET (Rotterdamse Electrische Tram) and by ARRIVA and Connexxion which serve the neighbouring towns and villages.

Recommended places and events to visit in Rotterdam

Event (During July)
Zomer Carnaval Various venues around Rotterdam