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.
Food and drink
Thanks to its maritime history, Rotterdam has an eclectic food scene, which is well represented in its markets. The most memorable of these is De Markthal, a huge, modern horseshoe-shaped building that comprises luxury flats circled around an indoor market. Inside you’ll find 100 fresh food vendors, as well as several restaurants and pop-up stalls.
Cheese should feature prominently on the menu in any trip to Rotterdam. Besides nearby Gouda, where you can sample the eponymous produce, Rotterdam itself has a rich cheese heritage. Learn all about it at De Kaashoeve, a traditional cheese emporium stocking classic Dutch produce. Be sure to try the Old Rotterdam, a local cheese that's aged longer than a lot of Gouda for a stronger flavour.
As well as regional ingredients, there are a few unique dishes that are worth a try while you’re in Rotterdam. Patatje oorlog are chips served with the ubiquitous mayonnaise, as well as raw onions and, more unusually, satay sauce – a hangover from Dutch colonialism in Indonesia. Look out for bitterballen too – a typical Dutch beer snack, these croquettes are usually filled with beef.