Rotterdam is the second largest city in the Netherlands and the largest European port city. When tourists plan their itinerary for the trip to the Netherlands they always include Rotterdam in the list of the must-see cities in this small European country. Annually, almost four million people from all over the world visit Rotterdam.
At the same time there is hardly anyone out there who is ready to see what Rotterdam has to offer. We are all used to the fact that almost every city in Europe has a historical downtown – the Old City as one of the main tourist attractions. That is why we want to go to Europe in the first place – to experience a special atmosphere of the Old World, to transport ourselves to the Middle Ages if only for just a few moments.
Nothing of this will be available to you in Rotterdam. But you will find out that hotels here are sold out almost at all times. Here is a tip: if you decide to go to Rotterdam, book a hotel well in advance.
Rotterdam differs from other Dutch cities, and even from the rest of Europe because there are hardly any historical sights left. The city was completely destroyed during the World War II. As a result, you will not see here paved narrow streets of the Old City roamed by locals since the 14th century. Instead you will see broad avenues, magnificent shopping malls, interesting architecture.
And then you will understand why Rotterdam deserves the name Manhattan on the Maas. In some way the city looks like New York, some people will tell you it reminds them of London and maybe a little bit of Shanghai. Everyone will find here something special and absolutely unique to satisfy their passion for travelling. Rotterdam is beautiful in a very amazing way, from cube houses near the Blaak Subway Station and to the river walk with great views at the Erasmus bridge.
What Area is the Best to Stay in Rotterdam?
Of course, tourists would like to know where to stay in Rotterdam in order to enjoy the visit to this unusual for Europe city. Here it makes sense to consider a few districts connected to the main sights of the city:
Let’s take a look at each district in more detail.
Central District of Rotterdam is confined within streets Coolsingel, Hofplein, Weena, Schiekade, Blaak and Mauritsweg. It also includes quarters located near Rotterdam’s railway station.
The central district is home to offices of large international companies, shopping malls, numerous restaurants, shops, and cafes. If you choose a hotel in this district, you will be always be in the heart of events and still pretty close to nearby districts and main attractions of this city.
The central district of the city boasts unusual architecture futuristic buildings are there with the only purpose – to surprise and amaze. And they do it well. The most famous buildings in this district are cubic houses near the Blaak underground station (this is very close to the riverside area of the city) and whimsical structures near central station of Rotterdam.
In the city center you should visit cathedral Sint-Laurenskerk and the Town Hall – the largest one in the Netherlands.
Good hotels in this district include the following: Holiday Inn Express Rotterdam and The Manhattan Hotel Rotterdam near the central station. If you prefer apartments, a great option for you is Urban Residences Rotterdam – designer apartments in the heart of Rotterdam.
Northern Island and the Riverside Area
Rotterdam is divided into a few small islands and peninsulas by rivers and canals. Locals and tourists especially like the Northern island (Noordereiland) and island Feijenoord. These two islands have been artificially separated a while ago. Noordereiland is connected to the central district via the Willemsbrug bridge. The main attraction on the Noordereiland is the old railway bridge De Hef. It is not in use nowadays but the city’s government has officially recognized the bridge and the entire island as a historical monument, and the entire territory is now protected by the state.
Near the Noordereiland you will find the Riverside District. It is not an official name of the district. It rather describes its geographical location. It is the area near the river with numerous havens, the best-known being the Old Haven (Oude Haven). This district is bordering on the central district, and just between these two districts you will find the famous cubic houses and the Maas embankment with the city beach in summer.
Here you will also find the Maritime Museum founded by Prince Henry of the Netherlands; near the museum there is another landmark – the ‘Destroyed City’ memorial to commemorate the bombardment of Rotterdam during the war and the destruction of the Old City.
In this district you can also enjoy magnificent views of Rotterdam from the observation tower Euromast. If the weather is nice, you will also be able to see the Hague.
Finally, the Erasmus bridge is another unique architectural structure designed to surprise and impress. The bridge connects Kop van Zuid with other districts of Rotterdam.
The district itself is not that large but definitely very impressive. If you want to live in a modern district with picturesque views, then the riverside area of Rotterdam is definitely something you would appreciate.
Here I recommend taking a look at such hotels as Mainport Design Hotel (a five-star hotel on the bank of the Maas river with a very convenient location between the central district, the riverside district and the haven area), citizenM Rotterdam (in the near proximity of the Blaak underground station and cubic houses, just a five-minute drive away from central station).
I also recommend apartments MyCityLofts – Cocoon.
If there is a historical district in Rotterdam, it is Delfshaven. This part of the city has been preserved better than the rest of Rotterdam and presents a glaring contrast to other districts. Here you will see old buildings, a real wind mill, a historical brewery, and even some narrow streets that are so common for old European cities.
Besides, this small but nice district has a good number of shops, cafes, and restaurants, so there is everything you need to enjoy your stay.
Other landmarks of the district include Het Witte Huis the first skyscraper in Europe and the Old, or Pilgrim, Church (Oude of Pelgrimvaderskerk). Between Delfshaven and the central district you will find a small quarter that can be named the Museum Quarter, just like a similar one in Amsterdam. For example, the famous Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen with a unique collection of Flemish paintings is located here. Kunsthal – the arts center that hosts exhibitions of classical and modern art – is also located in this area just like a number of other prominent museums: the Photography Museum, the Natural History Museum.
Delfshaven is perfect for those tourists who are not ready to experience the avant-garde in its full power, and would rather like to enjoy the historical atmosphere of Rotterdam.
Good accommodation options here include hotels Stroom, Port, and B&B Plek voor Pelgrims. All of them are located within an easy walk from the Erasmus bridge and the museum quarter. You can reach the city center and the riverside area on foot in just 20-30 minutes or by public transport.
Kop van Zuid District
The Kop van Zuid district is located on the opposite bank of the Maas river. This is a small modern district near Noordereiland and the Erasmus bridge. It will be perfect for travelers who would like to stay away from all the hassle of the city but still be within an easy reach from all tourist attractions.
There are not many hotels here. I would recommend to take a closer look at the hotel nhow Rotterdam with amazing views at the Erasmus bridge and hotel New York with incredible views of the avant-garde city landscape of Rotterdam.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Hotel in Rotterdam
When choosing a hotel in Rotterdam you should pay attention to only two things: the district and the time of booking.
All districts worth mentioning from a tourist’s perspective have been discussed in this article. You are the one person who can decide which district will be the best for you. If you want to experience the historical atmosphere of Europe, then your choice is Delfshaven; if you want to live on the banks of the river canals, or a haven, choose the riverside area, and if you want to have amazing views but away from all the chaos of the city, then Kop van Zuid is perfect for you. Finally, if you want to be in the heart of the events and you are fine with crowds, certain amount of chaos, and futuristic views out of your hotel room, then book a hotel in the central district.
You should also keep in mind that there are not many hotels in Rotterdam, but the tourist flow to the city is constant, that’s why it is recommended to book a hotel well in advance, or you will have to exclude Rotterdam from your itinerary, and that – trust me – would be a huge mistake.