the sunday guide to // rotterdam
photo: skitter photo
Our Sunday Guide series travels to cities across the globe, detailing how to enjoy a relaxing weekend break without rushing around ticking off every single tourist destination. Take things slow and enjoy your surroundings as you explore the diverse and creative city of Rotterdam.
Far from simply the Netherland’s ‘second city’; there is much to see and do in Rotterdam that makes it a worthy competitor to Amsterdam when considering a city break. The arts scene is vibrant, diverse and innovative, with an array of independent galleries championing little known and local creatives. Architecture advocates will be in their element with the huge array of interesting contemporary buildings to discover, and foodies will be won over by eclectic street food and Michelin-star restaurants.
Take in Rotterdam at your own pace. Exploring by foot or on a rented bicycle are the best ways to get around whilst being able to admire the sights.
photo: ocean diva
If you’re looking for luxury, style and comfort with views across the water, The Mainport is the perfect place to rest your head during your stay. The five-star hotel features private saunas and Jacuzzi baths in its premium rooms, and also has its own spa where you can indulge in a massage, swim laps in the pool or relax whilst enjoying a Hammam experience. Large open plan rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows and outdoor terraces, allowing guests to relax with the harbour in sight.
One of the best ways to get your bearings in a new city is to wander around and discover your surroundings. Rotterdam is perfect for a casual amble around, as the city is dotted with incredible feats of architecture which make for an interesting walk. You could join a tour of the most interesting structures, but if you prefer to explore at your own pace, simply do your research and plot a loose route online before you set off. Ensure that you don’t miss the Cubis Houses by Blom and the Sonneveld House Museum on your journey.
photo: arch daily
Another extraordinary structure, the Markthal Rotterdam is a gigantic arch-shaped building that opened in 2014 as the beginning of redevelopments to the Laurenskwartier area of the city. The 40-metre high roof contains over 200 apartments, combining the functionality of city living with the bustling social and retail space below. Wander around the diverse selection of food and drink stalls, sampling local wares on your way, whilst marvelling at the scale of the structure.
photo: domus web
There are many intriguing institutions in Rotterdam, besides the examples of dramatic architecture and the array of contemporary art spaces. A fusion of architecture, design and e-culture, the Het Nieuwe Instituut is a fascinating space that is both an incredible structure to admire from the exterior and host to an interesting array of exhibitions that focus on multiple disciplines including fashion and design. After exploring the interior of the building, take some time to soak up the tranquillity of the garden that it sits within.
With its port, rivers and canals, Rotterdam is a city surrounded by water. Do as the locals do, and hire a bike to ride along the waterways, enjoying the fresh air and discovering a different side of the city. Plan your route to take in the city’s newest landmark, the Bobbing Forest, close to the Floating Pavilion at Tillemakade. The forest is a combination of an urban green project and an art installation, displaying twenty floating Dutch Elm trees that have been planted in recycled sea buoys on the water. Once you’ve admired the display, retreat to the nearby floating platform to rest, perhaps enjoy a picnic, and dip your feet into the water if the weather allows.
photo: pop up city
The arts scene in Rotterdam is thriving, and there are an abundance of both formal and informal gallery spaces to explore. The Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art hosts an ever-changing collection of exciting and innovative art works, often focusing on projects with social and political messages. Showroom MAMA is a space for visual culture that focuses on younger artists and the public, providing a space for both exploring the visual arts and developing local talent. Tent is a gallery space dedicated to the presentation of art with topical themes. Spend a slow afternoon drifting between the different galleries admiring the art works.
You’ll find François Geurds' intimate and intricate Michelin-star restaurant, FG Food Labs, in the heart of Rotterdam’s trendiest area, nestled inside the arch of a viaduct. The ever-evolving menu seeks to break the boundaries of contemporary and traditional cuisine, hence the term ‘taste laboratory’ is often used to describe the establishment. Inside, expect to sit back and relax as your every need is catered to during the meal, with waiters willing to suggest the perfect liquid accompaniments to your meal.