When you think of The Netherlands your mind automatically goes toward Amsterdam. However, if you fail to visit this sister city just an hour train ride from the more well known capital you are missing out. Rotterdam is surprisingly easy to navigate by train, car or foot.
Day 1 — I usually spend the first day in city getting the lay of land. Considering the fact that we’d been on a 10 hour journey we weren’t really ready to hit the ground running. Our hotel, Ibis Rotterdam City Center, while not exactly in the city center was conveniently located near the famed Markt Hall and Piet Blom’s Cube Houses. It was also within walking distance to the Rotterdam Blaak train station. Our room wasn’t ready for check-in when we arrived, despite requesting an early check-in, so we dropped our bags off and headed over to the Markt Hall to eat. After taking a much needed nap….for 4 hours, we cleaned up and went back out for a stroll. This city is a living testament to Instagram photos. There’s a picturesque building, view, canal or sunset around every corner.
Day 2 — We started the day walking from the hotel to the trendy Witte de With neighborhood. There are tons of restaurants, shops, bars and coffee houses. After roaming around, taking pictures of and with the street art, we stopped and had tea at the Hopper Coffee Bar.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it 100 times, I LOVE a Hop on Hop Off bus! If you aren’t comfortable taking public transportation in a foreign country I think it is a great, affordable way to get around the city while learning a bit of history. The tour in Rotterdam isn’t that extensive, there are only 6 stops. However, they are strategically placed at all the relevant locations. The Markt Hall, which was closest to our hotel was stop #6. Our goal was actually to get to the Kop van Zuid — Cruise Terminal which is the location of the Food Hallen, the Hotel New York and the SS Rotterdam which is a former cruise ship that has been turned into a hotel. The bus also takes you to Rotterdam Centraal Station, the Euromast and across the famed Erasmus Bridge. The last bus picks up at 4:30p at stop #4. We ended the day back at the Markt Hall searching for dessert.
Day 3 — This was by far my favorite day. We decided to be adventurous and rent a car to drive to Kinderdijk, Delft and The Hague. We started the day in Kinderdijk, a mere 30 minute drive from Rotterdam. Kinderdijk is best known as the city of windmills. For €8 you get to tour the windmills, visit the museum and watch a film on the history of the city and Dutch water management. From Kinderdijk we drove another 30 minutes to Delft. Delft is best known for the for the manufacturing of Delftware, hand-painted blue-and-white pottery. We spent a short amount of time walking around the city center which still retains several 14th century buildings. We had fish and chips and the best fried muscles I’ve ever had. After lunch, we drove 30 minutes to The Hague. The Hague is the is the administrative and royal capital of the Netherlands and its seat of government. That’s interesting and all, but we wanted to go to the beach. The Hague sits on the coast of the North Sea. Although it was fall and not exactly beach weather, we spent a few hours soaking in the sun and the beautiful view of the water.
We loved Rotterdam so much we extended our stay by a night. We moved from the Ibis to the H2otel, a floating boutique hotel in a former barge. Rotterdam has such a different, more laid back feel than Amsterdam. I highly recommend spending a few days in this sister city on your next trip to The Netherlands.