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.
Arriving at Rotterdam The Hague Airport
Rotterdam The Hague Airport (RTM) is around 3.5 miles (6km) northwest of central Rotterdam. The airport’s location means it’s easy to get into the city centre by bus. Directly outside the arrivals hall you’ll find a bus stop, where the number 33 bus will pick you up and take you to Rotterdam Central Station in the city centre – a journey of around 20 minutes. Buses run from 0600 to 0016 and depart every 15 minutes or so; a single journey costs €3.
You can also get from the airport into the city centre using the metro. Meijersplein metro station is a short distance from the airport; you can either walk from the airport, which takes around 20 minutes, or get the number 33 bus, which is much quicker. Line E from Meijersplein takes you to Rotterdam Central Station in around seven minutes.
There's also a taxi stand right in front of the terminal – a ride into Rotterdam should cost around €20 to €25.
It’s easy to get around Rotterdam, thanks to the city’s extensive and efficient public transport system. The quickest way of getting around is on the metro. Rotterdam’s metro system is made up of five lines, labelled A to E, which span the whole city and beyond – line E goes as far as The Hague.
Rotterdam also has an extensive tram network, with all lines converging at Rotterdam Central Station. Trams run between 0500 and 0030 on Monday to Saturday, and from 0700 to 0030 on Sunday. A great way to travel around the city is on tram line 10, known as the Historic Tram Line. This is a renovated vintage carriage that passes many of the city’s most famous attractions.
If you’re planning on making several journeys over the course of a day, a good option is to buy an RET Tourist Day Ticket, which allows you to travel across the public transport network on one ticket for a day.
Taxis are a convenient way to get around Rotterdam and can be hailed all over the city; bike taxis are another good way to get around – they're covered to keep you dry, and are rather smarter than the typical bike rickshaw you might be expecting.
If you’d rather have the freedom of driving yourself around, car hire is a good option. Book your hire car in advance for pick-up at the airport.
Museumkwartier: for culture
No prizes for guessing what goes in on Museumkwartier – modern design institutes, contemporary art galleries and collections of Dutch Old Masters are just some of the highlights in this neighbourhood jam-packed with fascinating museums. The Natural History Museum is as fascinating for adults as it is stimulating for kids, with a whopping 400,000 items detailing all corners of the earth from prehistory to the modern day. The Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, meanwhile, houses the vast personal art collection of a 19th-century jurist and includes masterpieces by the likes of Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Dali.
Witte de Withkwartier: for contemporary art
Known as the city’s ‘axis of art’, the Witte de Withkwartier area in Rotterdam's Centrum neighbourhood is home to several cutting-edge artistic institutions. TENT is a hub for Rotterdam’s contemporary art scene, while the Witte de With Center goes further afield, bringing together current artworks from around the world. If you're interested in the avant-garde, then head to Worm (open Wednesday to Saturday) where you’ll find all manner of creative movies, music and workshops to delve into. By night, the area becomes a bustling hive of activity, with punters flocking to its many highly rated bars, pubs and restaurants.
Katendrecht: for eating and drinking
The little neighbourhood of Katendrecht, an almost-island surrounded on three sides by the water of the Nieuwe Maas river, was previously the city's Chinatown. Today it's home to an ever-expanding roster of pop-up food stalls and trucks, hipster cafés and breweries – it’s a great place to pick up a gourmet burger and go for a sunset stroll along the waterfront. The SS Rotterdam is open to visitors as a monument to Katendrecht’s maritime past.
Central European Time (GMT +1) and Central European Summer Time (GMT +2)
Languages: Dutch (English is very widely spoken)