With a contemporary art scene, fantastic food and pulsating nightlife, Rotterdam has it all.
The Netherlands' second city it may be, but Rotterdam's contemporary art scene, fantastic food and pulsating nightlife mean it makes a strong case for the title of coolest. With The Hague and Gouda just a stone’s throw away, there’s plenty to do in the surrounding area too.
The bicycle rules in the Netherlands, and Rotterdam is no exception. There’s no end of bike rental shops where you can pick up some wheels. You'll also find a wide choice of guided tours that take in a range of the city’s attractions while teaching you about their history; alternatively, you can explore by yourself. The Roaming Rotterdam route, marked on green signs throughout the city, takes in landmarks such as Laurenskerk and the Erasmus Bridge.
Rotterdam is a green city, with plenty of parks and open spaces. One of the best-known is Het Park, a beautiful space of tree-lined lawns next to the Euromast tower – great for a morning run. Zuiderpark, in the south of the city, is the largest public park in the Netherlands and offers more options when it comes to outdoor activities, with tennis courts, hiking trails and cycle paths. For something a little different, check out the Fun Forest Climbing Park, a high-ropes course with ladders and rope swings.
As the name of Rotterdam’s airport suggests, it also serves the city of The Hague. It's so close that it makes up a single metropolitan area with Rotterdam and can easily be reached within half an hour’s metro ride of the city centre. As the Dutch seat of government and home to international judicial institutions, The Hague is full of beautiful palaces and civic buildings.
The Hook of Holland
Rotterdam may not immediately bring to mind sun, sea and sand, but there’s a very good beach not far from the city centre at the Hook of Holland. Rotterdam Beach is a huge stretch of sand that's great for a dip during summer and bracing walks in winter.
Cheese-lovers rejoice: the historic city of Gouda, birthplace of the cheese of the same name, is just 20 minutes outside Rotterdam by car or bus. There’s plenty of opportunity to sample the local speciality, and to learn about it at the Cheese and Crafts Museum.