Rotterdam – Architectural Medley in Europe’s Largest Port

Text: Joshua Paundra

Photos: Joshua Paundra & courtesy of

People rarely put Rotterdam on the top of their agenda as a place to visit on their journey in the Netherlands. Situated by the river Maas, the third largest city in the Netherlands is also known as the largest port city in Europe. Yet, the city is not always about business. Spend a day or two in Rotterdam and you’ll find out what the city has various things to offer.

If you miss city life, the city center offers tempting shops that will bring out the shopaholic side of you. Rotterdam also boasts a large shopping center at Rotterdam Alexander area. However if shopping isn’t in your agenda, go stroll the port for a tour. There are a lot of museums such as the Wereld Museum (world museum) or Maritime museum, which will give you insights and history of Rotterdam.

You can reach Rotterdam very easily via air, land and even sea. Rotterdam-the Hague airport, just north of Rotterdam provides access to many cities in Europe. Those from outside Europe can stop by Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, and continue their journey on a 30 minute-ride on high-speed train to Rotterdam. If you’re crossing from the UK, Rotterdam is accessible by ferry.

What’s a visit to the Netherlands without seeing the windmills? Despite dubbed as a port city, Rotterdam also offers the panorama of a beautiful windmill farm called Kinderdijk. It’s in Kralingse Plas, just outside Rotterdam reachable by a short ferry ride.

As a bustling city, Rotterdam has the privilege to serve varieties of European and International cuisines. Adventurous foodies should sample African food, or affordable Surinamese mixed rice (Moksie Metie) or Rotie (Surinamese savory pancake). There are many Surinamese eateries spread all over the city. But if you want to play it safe, you can always enjoy Chinese food along Mauritsweg and West-Kruiskade, as well as Italian food, such as pasta and pizza, at Vapiano, Happy Italy, or Very Italian Pizza in Blaak. I personally prefer all-you-can-eat spareribs. They serve generous portion of spareribs and you are free to order more. This AYCE spareribs dish is available at Dino’s in the Schouwburgplein or as day’s special at other restaurants. After dinner, you can enjoy the night at pubs or cafes along Nieuwe Binnenweg, Witte de Withstraat, or Oudehaven.

One thing that differentiates Rotterdam from other Dutch cities and perhaps with many other typical European cities is its architecture. As you are wandering around in the city center or strolling in Maasboulevard, you will quickly spot buildings with unconventional design. Major landmarks, such as Markthal, Cube houses, Erasmusbrug and Rotterdam Main Station, will captivate your eyes. Each of these landmarks serves different purpose for the city. Erasmusbrug is a bridge that connects the north and south part of the city. Cube houses are attached houses designed for living. If you’re spending the night at Rotterdam, why don’t you  experience living in one of these cubes by staying at the Hostel situated exactly in this place. Just next to the cube houses, you can find Markthal, one of the latest additions to Rotterdam’s architectural landscape. This new building was opened in 2014 and houses a large market hall with many tempting food and beverages. These unique buildings are located a stone throw away from one another, making it even more convenient for travelers to enjoy Rotterdam. There’s definitely something for everyone in Rotterdam.

But even if you don’t want to take my word to include Rotterdam in your itinerary, you can always rely on how Rotterdam has been awarded with numerous awards. Recently, Rotterdam was awarded as the best city in Europe in 2015 in Urbanism Award and also listed in the top 10 Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2016.