I couldn’t wait to see the cube houses, the market hall, the Erasmus bridge, and the modern architecture of this lovely city. It is the biggest port city in Europe. And, it was bombed during the second world war. Do you know which city I am talking about? It’s Rotterdam, the second-largest city in the Netherlands. I did not know about the many facets of Rotterdam until I put it on my itinerary during my 50 days trip to Europe in the year 2019. I was in Brussels in Belgium and wanted to see a bit of the Netherlands too. I had a packed itinerary and all I could manage were two days for a country so beautiful as the Netherlands. I zeroed on Giethoorn and Rotterdam. 1 day in Rotterdam did not feel enough but it turned out to be a delightful trip. The city is abundant with modern architecture and art in all forms. Here is my first impression of Rotterdam.
How do you travel from Brussels to Rotterdam?
I travelled with my friends and we had booked an early morning Flixbus. Many buses ply from Brussels to Rotterdam. They cover the 74 miles (119 km) long journey in nearly 2 hours and 15 minutes. The bus journey is extremely comfortable. But in case you like trains, even that is available and the average journey time reduces by 20 minutes. A train from Brussels to Rotterdam takes 1 hour and 55 minutes. The Rotterdam Centraal Station, the main railway and bus station in the city is huge and very modern in itsdesign and style.
Also, don’t miss the chance to reach Rotterdam by sea if you get. It boasts of a port, which is the biggest seaport in the whole of Europe. Rotterdam is only an hour away from Amsterdam so a lot of people prefer to come by road as well. It has very well-connected public transport.
We Reached Rotterdam at 8:30 in the morning
The city was quiet and peaceful. We did not want to stick to any kind of itinerary. My friends and I wanted to enjoy the day, eat good food, get some pictures clicked and see the port city on foot. We began by strolling around the station and the nearby market that was gradually showing up signs of activity. We had to wait to grab some coffee before the shops opened. The city was catching up at its own pace.
In the latter part of the day, the visit to the cube houses was definitely on my mind. A friend was joining us from Germany so we had planned on an Indian lunch. Also, I was excited to discover how Rotterdam has risen like a phoenix, after being heavily bombed in World War II.
First Impression of Rotterdam
After spending the very first hour in the city, I could make out that it is different and unique. The city was given new birth and it has evolved into a refreshingly beautiful one. It was evident that the minds of various planners and architects had come together to build a strikingly impressive and futuristic city, from scratch. Most of the buildings have a very contemporary facade. And they strike a lovely balance with the buildings that define the past of the city. Rotterdam has lots of wall art, statues and murals made from metals and I really loved them all. If I had to make my opinion about its buidlings, I would say they are extremely artsy as well as functional.
Yes, there is an old part too which gives a great opportunity to peek into its history. It is called Delfshaven or Rotterdam West. People often go to see this area because it remained unaffected and untouched during the bombings. So the old canal houses and old architecture are still intact and one gets to see what the city looked like before the war.
We Walked for 6-7 Hours in Rotterdam
Every city has a vibe and that can be best discovered by exploring it on foot. It helped me notice the little things about both, the old and modern architecture, the different artistic things put up around the whole city, the way people cycled around, things that they were shopping for, or the books they had kept outside their houses for free pick.
We walked towards the Coolsingel St. to see some of the historical buildings. We stopped to see the City Hall, the former Post Office, and the Rotterdam Museum. There were shops on both sides of Coolsingel Street and they were opening. We also saw the Rotterdam’s famous and controvertial Santa Claus.
We also stumbled on Westersingel Street’s park and the beautiful canal. The park had a lot of artwork and sculptures. We basked in the sun for some time and googled our way towards Blaak Square to enjoy the architectural marvels. It also has some great restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops. On the way, I clicked a lot of street art, colorful buildings, small markets, etc.
We strolled around casually and made headway towards the Cube House and the De Markthal. When you are at the Cube House, don’t miss the Pencil house and the White house. We also took a lunch break at an Indian restaurant called 91 Spices. We had been in Europe for 3-4 weeks and were craving an Indian palette.
I had no idea that Rotterdam had one of the world’s largest paintings inside a market. It is a 36,000 square feet of artwork depicting animal and plant life inside the indoor market De Markthal. It is called Arno Coenen‘s “Horn of Plenty“. Because of its size, it has also earned a very popular nickname called “Sistine Chapel of Rotterdam“.
12 Things That You Can’t Miss in Rotterdam!
- The one-of-its-kind Cube House is a must-visit. The houses were designed by a Dutch architect, Piet Blom. They have a very unique concept of urban planning as well as the house looks like a top of a tree from above. The yellow colour is fascinating and you must visit one of the houses, called Kijk-Kubus.
- Don’t miss the Pencil House and the Witte Huis (or White House), the first high-rise building in Europe, just close to Cube Houses.
- Rotterdam’s Old Harbour and the Mass ririverfronthould be on your walking tour. One can’t miss the port area when its the biggest one in Europe.
- Walk inside the Centraal Station. Check the tourist information center and other shops. If you wish to use the local transport for 1 day or more, you may buy the Rotterdam Welcome Card here.
- Euromast is an observation tower at a height of 185 meters. It gives a 360-degree view over Rotterdam. It is quite fun to see afar from a bird’s eye view. On some days, you can see Antwerp.
- It is fun to walk around the markets as it gives an idea of what people love. Rotterdam’s Market Hall, Markthal is a very pretty open-air market. I loved the building for its horseshoe shape and unique architecture. This market has apartments as well. People live there, right above the cafes, shops, and live markets. And it houses an amazing piece of art.
- St. Lawrence Church, one of the oldest Gothic buildings is quite a landmark. It shows the Medieval age architecture of Rotterdam.
- Look for the Luchtsingel pedestrian bridge near the Centraal Station itself.
- Rotterdam’s City Library is also very popular. If you are fond of old buildings and books, you must visit them. It has a very interesting interior in comparison to its exterior.
- The spectacular 800-meter long Erasmus Bridge (Erasmusburg) is the latest fascination of the travellers.
- One ust try the stroopwafels, aka caramel waffle cookies and cheese in Netherlands.
- Blaak Square is unmissable for its architecture feast.
Rotterdam is a far different experience than what you may have seen in other cities in the Netherlands. Do share your experience of it.