It’s no coincidence that Lonely Planet have named Rotterdam one of their top 10 cities in the new best in travel 2016 awards. I went to find out more about this port in the Netherlands and had the best weekend of exploring. There is so much I want to say about this place. There will be another few blog posts but I want to do a quick top ten things you cannot miss in Rotterdam.
Here are my top ten picks:
1. Explore modernist buildings like Van Nelle Factory and Huis Sonneveld
I had a great tour, courtesy of UrbanGuides, of the Van Nelle Fabriek Factory. A fairly odd thing to do on a weekend morning but great to understand what happened during the rebuild of Rotterdam. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and encompasses the idea of the modernist and ideal factory of the era. Huge facades of glass and steel were rare at the time and the way of work was totally changed by the open plan, completely visible factory floors.
Sonneveld House is also a beautiful example of modernism from 1930s. The rules were broken and new architecture emerged in a bold and contemporary way. It was a brave reconstruction and tells the story of the people as much as the buildings.
2. Take a walk along the waterfront and across De Zwaan
Erasmusbrug and the waterfront were my favourite place to walk outside. I loved seeing it by day and lit up at night. A stunning area to enjoy.
There are wide open spaces all around the city and great parks. Grab a bicycle and go for a ride in woodland or around the fantastic cycle lanes all over the city. Basically, get outdoors!
3. Go to a lookout point such as Euromast
There are so many shapes, colours and a vibrant landscape to enjoy and the best way to do this is from a viewpoint. I had great views of the city from the Van Nelle tea room. Another great place to try is the Rotterdam Euromast. This is an observation deck and also houses a restaurant.
4. Visit a museum
From art to fashion to history, there is a huge variety of places to go and information to soak up. Too much for one weekend, I’d love to do some more of this when I return. One of my favourite parts was #ProjectRotterdam in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen mixed with more traditional paintings from artists such as Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Dali.
I walked through a very striking instalment below. What do you think – fun or terrifying? I’m still scared of clowns!
5. Go to the cube houses
The most fun I had and the most unique part of the city for me. This is a must for any architecture fans, photographers or lovers of all things quirky. A great playground of shape and colour but also incredibly innovative and able to be lived in. I’d seriously consider staying in the hostel cube house next time.
6. See the city from the water and explore water projects
Water is a very important element and also poses a huge challenge for Rotterdam. There are frequently events and pioneering projects on the water. Being surrounded entirely by water and with around 90 percent of the city under sea level, Rotterdam faces potential problems. In true Dutch style, this is not a barrier, it’s an opportunity.
I had just missed the bobbing forest art installation on the water and this summer there will be a floating farm. The farm will hold forty cows and produce 1,200 litres of milk. Another project coming in 2017 is RiF010; an urban surfing experience. These examples show the innovation happening and how quirky this city can be.
7. Enjoy the food scene with lots of great coffee shops and restaurants
I took this particular feat on like Man Vs Food. It was necessary to have a coffee/food break every few hours. This place is turning into a real European foodie contender. I’m sure it won’t be long before the scene becomes known throughout the country and beyond. It was a great surprise. My top five places to eat is coming soon but here is a quick delicious example of a salad for starters
8. Go to Witte de Withstratt and find great street art
In fact, just go to this street! Its the coolest place with coffee shops, bars and restaurants as well as independent shops. Add art and music and you having a great atmosphere. I spent part of each day here as it is close to Museumplein and was walking distance from my hotel. There are some great budget places and a supermarket too.
9. Visit Delfshaven and find out about historic Rotterdam
A lovely haven of calm and typical Dutch architecture. Delfshaven is a beautiful area and the stories behind the buildings were fascinating. There remains the Pilgrim Fathers Church which was the beginning of the journey to England and then America for the ship Speedwell which joined the Mayflower. This is the area that survived the Rotterdam Blitz during World War Two and endures today.
10. Support independent Dutch businesses like Fenix Food Factory and GROOS
GROOS is a department store with only products from Rotterdam and Fenix Food Factory is a collaboration of several food retailers who come together in a very industrial part of the city for this unique space. There are so many independent stores and creative venues. Entrepreneurs are constantly pushing boundaries and think of new ways to use spaces and design unique products. You will not be bored!
Tell me about your visit if you go to this great city. What do you think of my top ten things to not miss in Rotterdam?
A big thank you once again to Rotterdam Partners for hosting me in the city. I had so much fun!