Rotterdam

The Netherland’s second city isn’t one to play second fiddle to its arch-rival Amsterdam. The lively, contemporary Dutch port (the largest in Europe) is culturally rich, boasting world-class museums and galleries, and bold, modern architecture. Rotterdam was heavily blitzed during the Second World War, but you will still find little patches of the old city preserved as they were before wartime bombing and what it lacks in pre-war history it more than makes for it its rich maritime and seafaring heritage.

Why cruise Rotterdam

Located on the west banks of the North Sea by the Nieuwe Waterweg, Rotterdam is one of the world’s leading ports and has a wealth of attractions for cruise passengers of all ages to enjoy. Along with its spectacular futuristic architecture and excellent museums, the city also has a lot to offer families, with a zoo featuring the impressive Oceanium (where visitors can walk through an underwater tunnel surrounded by sharks). Royal Caribbean, Fred Olsen and P&O Cruises include Rotterdam as part of their European city break itineraries and tours of the Netherlands.

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What to see and do in Rotterdam

Cube Houses

Rotterdam boasts unique contemporary architecture and perhaps none more so than the iconic Cube Houses. Based on the concept of ‘living as an urban roof’, the innovative residential buildings were designed asymmetrically by Dutch architect Piet Blom to resemble an abstract forest, with each triangular roof representing a treetop. An onsite museum called Kijk-Kubus gives visitors an insight into what it’s like living in a Cube House. Conveniently located next to the Rotterdam Blaak railway station and nearby to the Oude Haven’s (old port) burgeoning restaurant and café scene, you can enjoy a spot of lunch afterwards.

Euromast

Enjoy sweeping views of the city at Euromast. The 185m high tower regained its status as the tallest building in Rotterdam (it is also the highest building in the Netherlands) when the Space Tower was added to the top of the building in 1970. Today, the tower features a hotel as well as a restaurant, which is a great spot for brunch or a romantic dinner with a view.

Erasmus Bridge

One of Holland’s most famous suspension bridges, this striking feat of engineering, featuring a row of 40 steel cables across the water, connects the northern and southern banks of the river Maas in Rotterdam’s city centre. Known as the 'Erasmusbrug' in Dutch, the bridge has also been christened ‘De Zwaan’ (The Swan) by locals due to its distinctive, asymmetrical shape.

Kunsthal

Considered one of Rotterdam’s architectural treasures, Kunsthal is unique in that it doesn’t have its own private art collection, so is constantly changing up its exhibitions, which vary greatly from photography and sculpture to fashion and film. One of its most successful exhibitions was ‘The fashion world of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the sidewalk to the catwalk’ in 2013, a couple of years after the acclaimed ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’ exhibit at the Met in New York. Other museum highlights in Rotterdam include the Museum Rotterdam, which presents items related to the city’s heritage, and the Boijmans Van Beungingen Museum, which features a mix of Old Masters and 20th century artists.

SS Rotterdam

Cruise passengers should not miss out on visiting SS Rotterdam. Also known as ‘The Grand Dame’, the elegant former ocean liner was launched in 1958 and was operated by Carnival Corporation-owned Holland America Line and then Carnival Cruise Line before being taken out of service in 1997. Today she has been transformed into a hotel ship with several restaurants.

Delfshaven

Delfshaven was one of the new neighbourhoods left relatively unscathed by the WWII bombings and subsequently features many historical buildings. The picturesque marina’s canal houses are today home to antique shops and cafés. Potter around these before paying a visit to the Pilgrim Fathers’ Church where the pilgrims gathered in 1620 before journeying to America. There’s also a replica of an 18th-century warship and a city brewery, De Pilgrim, where you can sample authentic Rotterdam beer.

Need to know when travelling to Rotterdam

Getting around in Rotterdam

The Cruise Port Rotterdam is a 15-minute drive from the city centre via Erasmus Bridge. Some ships provide a shuttle, or else you can walk, take a tram or taxi. The terminal is also served by the metro. In the city, public transport is easy to navigate and you can buy one-hour or 24-hour tickets on board, or a rechargeable OV-Chippenkaart (like an Oyster Card), available from dispensers in stations. Alternatively, a Rotterdam Welcome Card, which you can buy from the tourist office for €9, gives you free use of public transport, plus a 25 per cent discount on top attractions.

When to go to Rotterdam

The best time to visit Rotterdam is between April and October, with the peak months being July and August.

Currency

The Netherlands uses the euro. In Rotterdam, You can exchange money at the bank offices or at the GWK exchange offices, located at the city’s Central station. Hotels tend to charge high commissions, but will exchange money. You can find cash machines at almost every corner of the street as well as at most stations, while the major credit cards are accepted in almost all restaurants and larger shops.

Visas

If you hold a British Citizen passport, you don't need a visa to enter the Netherlands unless you’re planning to stay longer than three months.