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.
Museum Boijmans van Beuningen
Rotterdam is home to some fantastic museums and art galleries, but Museum Boijmans van Beuningen might just be the best. It houses the personal collection of 19th-century jurist Frans Jacob Otto Boijmans and 20th-century businessman Daniel George van Beuningen, and includes works by Hieronymus Bosch, Van Gogh and Monet, among many others.
Rotterdam’s contemporary cultural attractions, tend to hog the limelight, but don’t miss the opportunity to experience some of the city’s more historic landmarks. Laurenskerk – the Church of St Lawrence – dates back to 1525, and is the last vestige of the city’s medieval architecture. In the summer months, a pop-up patio café sells homemade treats and drinks.
Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art
Another of Rotterdam’s superb art museums, the Witte de With Center has been collating the finest contemporary art from across the world for 25 years. Alongside artworks, the gallery hosts readings, film screenings and more.
Some clues to Rotterdam’s patchwork personality might be found in its maritime history, having long been a meeting point for sailors, trade and cultural ideas. For a unique glimpse into this world, head to the SS Rotterdam, a restored 1950s cruise liner that's now part-hotel, part-museum.
Rotterdam’s port area isn’t all about industry. its Vogelvallei (Bird Valley) area is a 21-hectare nature reserve dedicated to the protection of water birds, with several islands and a sea wall for them to nest on. Expect to spot martins, terns, gulls, bluethroats and more.