The 6 Best Things to Do in Rotterdam

Markthal Rotterdam
Markthal Rotterdam

With its industrial history and identity as Europe’s largest shipping port, Rotterdam isn’t the sexiest city in the Netherlands. But scratch the surface and Rotterdam has a lot more to offer than meets the eye. From one of the continent’s best food markets to great contemporary architecture, Rotterdam is worth visiting. To give you an idea of how to spend your time there, here is a list of the 6 best things to do in Rotterdam.

Visit the Markthal Rotterdam
The first indoor food market in the Netherlands, the giant Markthal Rotterdam is also one of the most impressive food markets in Europe. Housed in a horseshoe-shaped modern building with colorful walls and huge windows, the Markthal features 100 fresh produce units, 15 food shops, and 8 restaurants. It’s a great place to graze on Dutch cheese, chocolate, and other local produce, or sit down for a coffee or light meal.

Go to the Cube Houses
Right next to the Markthal, Rotterdam’s Cube Houses are some of the most famous buildings in the city. Much of Rotterdam was bombed during World War II, and these houses are just one of the many modern architectural works that Rotterdam is now famous for. Their cubic form and yellow facades are as eye-catching as they are confusing to the mind, and figuring out how they all fit together is part of the fun. If you’re feeling brave, you can even stay in a Cube House that has been converted into a hostel.

Have lunch at Hotel New York
One of the few surviving historic buildings in Rotterdam’s city center, the majestic Hotel New York is the former head office of Holland America Line, a company that operated ships that took many people from Europe to the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Today the building is a trendy hotel, complete with a great seafood restaurant and bar. It’s worth a visit to have lunch overlooking the Maas channel.

Go to a Museum
Rotterdam has no shortage of museums, and no matter what you love there’s something for every taste. The Netherlands Photo Museum is the national museum of photography, and is a great place to get a glimpse of famous photographic works. It’s right next to the Hotel New York, so is easy to combine a visit with a trip there. Elsewhere, the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is one of the oldest museums in the Netherlands, and houses one of the world’s best collections of prints and drawings.

Wander through Delfshaven
One of the only parts of Rotterdam to be spared bombing during World War II, Delfshaven is a great neighborhood in which to explore historic Dutch architecture and soak up old world ambiance. Stroll along the canals and explore the pretty courtyards, then go shopping in Delfshaven’s many boutiques or have a coffee in one of the area’s cafes.

Take a Boat Tour of Rotterdam
Given that Rotterdam is Europe’s largest port, it only makes sense that the city would offer boat tours. These sightseeing excursions are a great way to see the highlights of the city and learn about the history and architecture that have made Rotterdam what it is today.

The 8 Best Things to Do in Utrecht

Houses in Utrecht

Utrecht is often overlooked in favor of larger Dutch cities like Amsterdam and Rotterdam, but this picturesque part of the Netherlands is worth a visit for its scenic canals, colorful markets, and great design. To help inspire your travel itinerary, here is a list of the 8 best things to do in Utrecht.

Climb the Dom Tower
The tallest church tower in the Netherlands, the 112-meter (369-foot) Dom Tower in Utrecht is the focal point of the city and a great landmark. Visitors can climb the 465 steps (there is no elevator), to get a view of the historic bells and 17th-century Hemony carillon. The tower galleries offer spectacular views of the city and the greater provincial area.

Visit the Rietveld Schroder House
Located on the outskirts of the city center, the Rietveld Schroder House is one of the most famous architectural works in Utrecht. Designed in the 1920’s by Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld, the house is a great example of modern architecture and the De Stijl movement. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, too.

Have Coffee at One of the City’s Stylish Cafes
Utrecht is as stylish as Dutch cities come, and there’s no better place to witness this than at one of the city’s many cafes. Many of Utrecht’s canals are lined with hip purveyors of coffee and cake, and when you need a break from sightseeing you can pop in and do as the locals do. In 2011, the De Rechtbank cafe was named the best outdoor cafe in the Netherlands, so make sure to stop there while you’re visiting.

Cycle along the Canals
There’s nothing more Dutch than cycling. If you want to live like a local in the Netherlands, you’ll have to cycle like one, too. Rent a cycle from your hotel, hostel, or the train station and cycle along Utrecht’s pretty canals and through its leafy parks and gardens.

Go to the Market
Utrecht has great markets that sell everything from food and drink to Holland’s famous tulips. Don’t miss the flower markets at the Oudegracht and the Janskerkhof, the cloth market at the Breedstraat, and the regional market at the Twijnstraat. If you’re looking for a market with a wide variety of goods for sale, the weekly goods market at Vredenburg is the biggest market in Utrecht.

Visit the Museums
Utrecht has no shortage of museums, and the city has one for every taste. The Centraal Museum is the best place to start, as it contains the most diverse collection of all of the city’s museums. From classical to modern, design to history, its eclectic mix offers a great variety of things to discover. Additionally, the dick bruna huis museum displays the famous Dutch rabbit Miffy as well as a permanent retrospective of Dick Bruna’s work. It is part of the Centraal Museum along with the Rietveld Schroder House.

Visit the Dom Church Garden
The Pandhof garden of the Dom Church in Utrecht is one of the most beautiful inner courtyards in the Netherlands. The garden dates from 1390 – 1440 and was renovated in the late 19th century. A monastery garden with medieval style, it features a fountain, statues, and manicured green hedges, and is surrounded by a 15th-century cloister. The Pandhof garden has great views of the Dom Tower and church, and is a great place to sit on a sunny day in Utrecht.

Go Vintage Shopping
Utrecht’s canals are lined by a surprising number of vintage shops, and the city punches above its weight when it comes to vintage shopping and style. Whether you’re looking for the perfect pair of winter boots or a great summer dress, you can find it in Utrecht.

Top 5 Places to Visit in the Netherlands

Flowers at Keukenhof Gardens
Keukenhof Gardens

While most visitors to Holland head straight for Amsterdam, there are a lot of other great places to visit in The Netherlands. From small cities to seats of government, pretty gardens to seaside towns, the country has a surprisingly diverse mix of travel destinations on offer.

To give you an idea of what’s out there and help you narrow down the choices for your trip, here is a list of the top 5 places to visit in The Netherlands.

The most famous city in The Netherlands, Amsterdam needs no introduction. Known for everything from its red light district to its world-class art museums, the city has something for everyone. Amsterdam’s lively nightlife scene attracts partiers, and its laid-back cycling culture draws those that want to explore the city’s iconic canals by bike. If you want more ideas for how to spend your time in Amsterdam, check out the Top 10 Things to Do in Amsterdam list.

Often overlooked in favor of other cities in the country, Rotterdam is nonetheless one of the best places to visit in The Netherlands. It is the second largest city in Holland, and has great museums, architecture, and cafes. The city is also home to an abundance of artistic treasures and great shopping.

Keukenhof Gardens
If you’re visiting The Netherlands in the springtime, one of the best places to visit is Keukenhof Gardens. Its tulip fields are know throughout the world for having some of the prettiest flowers in Europe, and a trip to see them is a great way to celebrate the onset of spring.

Often considered one of the prettiest cities in Holland, Delft is a great place to visit for lovers of history, culture, and ceramics (yes, it’s home to the famous blue Delft pottery). Visitors can take canal boat tours, climb the tower of the city’s New Church for great views of the old town, and go on guided walks to learn about the history of the city.

The Hague
The Hague is the seat of government for The Netherlands, and is an important city both administratively and culturally. Visitors can stroll through the famous market squares, enjoy great shopping and restaurants, and admire the many monuments and historic areas of the city. There are also great art museums and architectural treasures to admire.