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See the Best Things To Do In Rotterdam In Summer: City Guide and Local Secrets

Rotterdam Erasmusbrug with the Dutch flag during the summer

Looking for things to do in Rotterdam in summer? Keep on reading! The city truly comes alive when the sun is shining in Rotterdam. With unlimited fun activities, modern architecture, cosy havens, plenty of shopping locations and relaxing green park areas – Rotterdam is the place to be! Enjoy the Dutch culture with a bike ride to the city highlights or a sweet treat in the sun. This summer city guide has 20 top picks for you!

This is the ultimate best things to do in Rotterdam in summer and sunshine weather. Written by a local, it includes top highlights and local secrets.

Things To Do In Rotterdam In Summer / 20 Top Picks

1. Explore The Local Markets

As a big fan of the local markets, finding the best deals and rummaging through the goods is always fun at Dutch markets.

Binnenrotte Market – Every Tuesdays and Saturdays you can explore the very large 400+ stall, Dutch market located at Binnenrotte Blaak. As well as the delicious stalls of fish, fruit and vegetables, there are also vintage stalls and clothing. For the best fruit, veg and flower deals, arrive closer to the end of day to grab yourself some extra goodies with some serious discount.

Swan Market – This creative street and lifestyle market is organised several weekends in Rotterdam a year. Think of unique jewellery, local creators, vintage designers, chic accessories, kids stuff, affordable decorations and art. There is always a fantastic atmosphere visiting this market, with some funky live musical performances too. Realistically you could spend all day here in good weather, eating and drinking from some the delicious food trucks.

If you’re visiting on a different day, you can always visit the famous Markthal instead. There are also many things to do in Rotterdam in summer at the Markthal such as visiting the free Tijdtrap exposition. It is an exhibition of archaeological finds from mediaeval Rotterdam, which was actually excavated during the construction of the car park below.

2. Rotterdam Walking Tours

With the increasing number of tourists arriving in Rotterdam, walking tours are also becoming very popular. What better way to stay active in a city by walking!

Rotterdam Pages – A 2-3 hour city tour seeing all the highlights of Rotterdam. Perfect for those looking for an insight into the architecture, history, art and local habits. You will visit places like the Cubic Houses, Markthal and Rotterdam Central Station.

Rewriters – For only a €0.99 you can explore the impressive city street art with only your phone in hand. This 7 kilometres route allows you to stop at the artwork of many local Dutch artists and the occasional international piece. You can download the route too so you don’t have to use your internet to use the route. They also have group tours on the weekends for those wanting more interaction from a true local. What is nice about using an app, is that you can take your own time and combine the route with shopping, eating and taking photos!

Check out our full Street Art Rotterdam post for more!

Free Walking Tours Rotterdam – Guided by three locals, this 2 hour tour gives you an insight into the WW2 history, the Port of Rotterdam, Erasmus of Rotterdam. Furthermore it includes all the highlights Markthal, Cube houses, Erasmus Bridge and the Old Harbour.

3. Water Taxi Trip

As a local this is so fun to get from A to B. Just like a normal taxi, these guys can be found on the River Maas. With over 50 locations to get on board, its great for short distances. I just had to include the Water Taxi in this list as its perfect for quick trips across the river.

You can check our our full post about taking the Water Taxi in Rotterdam here!

Water Taxi in Rotterdam

4. Swim Outside

There are a few places you can actively swim outside during the summer and sunny moments. This is one of the wettest things to do in Rotterdam in summer during the hottest days!

Zevenhuizerplas – Feeling like a beach day? Why not check out Nesselande beach located in the north east of Rotterdam. This child friendly-wide beach is easily reachable with the RET Metro B. Close by are snack bars and an ice cream parlour for a true summer feeling.

Kralingseplas – This lake is much closer to the city with a beach area on the north west area. Perfect for families with young children with a special inclosed paddling pool area close to the beach. There are also swings and climbing activities for when swimming get’s boring. The northern section is for nudest beach, so keep this in mind when looking for a place to place your towel.

Van Mannenbad – If swimming in a lake is not for you, this swimming pool is the next best thing. During the summer months its perfect to visit their outside swimming pool, with grass area for lounging too. It can get popular on really hot day’s its worth getting there when it opens if you want a lounging spot in the sun!

If swimming in in the city of Rotterdam isn’t for you, within 45 minutes you can also be at a North Sea beach by Hoek Van Holland or Scheveningen for the day!

The walkway at Hoek Van Holland

5. Picnic In The Parks

What better way to enjoy summer than by sitting in one of the many green park areas within the city.

Het Park Euromast – This gorgeous well-maintained park can be found at the base of the Euromast (see tip 8). Close to the River Maas and also reachable with the Water Taxi (tip 3), its more peaceful here to picnic at. Find a spot close to the waters edge for a true romantic picnic.

Voesenpark – Every time I visit this park during summer, its always a party! With good crowds of friend groups and people enjoying each others company. Treat yourself to a flavoured water ice or ice cream from the guy walking around with a small stall too, they are delicious!

Lage Bergse Bos – A bit further out of the city but a peaceful place to sit by the water. Here you can also look for Scottish Highland cows that are within the area.

Kralingse Bos – As well as being able to swim here, you can also take a picnic or bring your own BBQ! Summer weekends usually means that this the BBQ area is completely full up with families and friends getting together. Bringing their own chairs, ice buckets, music and sun umbrellas it’s the perfect place for an afternoon of fun and good food. There is a city skyline view from here too.

Dakpark Rotterdam – Open from 7:00am to sunset, this park is situated on the roof area of the stores below. There are many activities and events also held here throughout the year.

If you want to bing a BBQ with your picnic to a park in Rotterdam, make sure you are seated in the permitted BBQ zones, else you will get fined.

Kralingse Bos in the Summer

6. Rent A Bike And Cycle Like The Dutch!

You can rent a bike from a train station and be cycling within 5 minutes! To rent a bike it is only €3.85 per journey (up to 24 hours) with a maximum 72 hour rental period.

Some awesome places you may like to cycle to in Rotterdam are the following locations:

  • De Rotte
  • Delfshaven
  • One of the parks from tip 5
  • Kinderdijk – You can take the bike (for free) with you on the Waterbus to Kinderdijk, the famous UNESCO windmills. Read tip 7 for more info!

As an expat I’m becoming more like my Dutch partner with a road bike now! You can read how it started here!

Our race bikes on the boat to the Biesbosch

7. Boat Trip To The Kinderdijk Windmills

With or without a bike, you can take the Waterbus transportation boat from directly from Rotterdam to the Kinderdijk UNESCO World Heritage site. In total you can find 19 windmills built in 1740. It can be extremely popular during the weekends so try visiting super early, on a weekday or for an evening stroll.

The Windmills at Kinderdijk that you can visit when in Rotterdam

8. Euromast

Take the lift up to the top of the viewing platform of the Euromast. This unique observation tower has the perfect 360 views of Rotterdam. In clear weather you can see up to 30kms / 19miles. The total height is 185m and if your hungry you can have a bite to eat at the top in their restaurant. Looking for a bit of adventure too? You can now also abseil down it!

P.S book your tickets in advance here!

9. SS Rotterdam

This former ocean liner and cruise ship and located in Katendrecht. Now a hotel, restaurant and event location in Rotterdam, you can enjoy a refreshing drink on the deck. Open for tours and as of 2018 they even have an escape room! Else to enjoy a boat tour nearby as even seeing the SS Rotterdam nearby is impressive.

Things to do in Rotterdam in Summer includes a visit to the SS Rotterdam

10. Trompenburg Botanical Gardens

Looking for somewhere more quiet to relax? The Trompenburg Botanica Gardens is a gorgeous place for a wander. There are over 700 different types of rhododendrons and easily a few thousand flowers to view. Furthermore these botanical gardens have a subtropical cacti house and a cosy open tea house for a drink or a piece of cake.

Wisterias at Trompenburg botanical gardens in Rotterdam

11. Visit A Festival

The city is always alive with a new event or festival during the summer. Here is just a small collection of some you can experience.

Day of Architecture – Free and paying tours to explore the city with an architectural focus. It’s for a whole weekend in June so don’t miss out!

Rotterdam Rooftop Days – The clue is in the name! Head up to the highest of rooftops in Rotterdam to the hidden rooftop gardens for a long weekend event in June. There is a weekend ticket for more than 40 buildings to visit, as well as special tours.

Day of the Romantic Music – Organised since 1986, this free festival held at Het Park by the Euromast is full of bliss. Dress up in your most romantic clothes to fit in and a blanket for your picnic. This festival is for 1 day in August.

Pleinbioscoop – This is the largest outdoor cinema held in Europe that lasts for 19 evenings through August. Rent a chair for €1.00 and enjoy a film located at the Museumpark. Many films include latest showings as well as some pure classics worth watching again.

World Port Days (Wereldhavendagen) – The largest annual maritime event in the Netherlands. A whole weekend of celebrations of all types of boats and ships, like navy to container ships. During the day you can climb aboard to see for yourself what it is like. There are also many demonstrations on the water you can watch from the waters edge. Lastly, don’t leave early as there is always a large firework display to enjoy.

For a whole list of events in the city of Rotterdam each month – check out the full events page of the tourism website here!

The Red Apple on the Day of Architecture Rotterdam 2018

12. Hang Out At the Blijdorp Rotterdam Zoo

The zoo is always a fun place to hang out at. Voted as the Most Beautiful Zoo in Benelux 3 years in a row, why not take a look for yourself. Summer is great for a visit as all the baby animals born in spring will be on show in their habitats. 2017 was a successful year with a birth of a rare okapi and black rhino. Book here cheaper tickets in advance to make sure you can visit!

Things to do in Rotterdam in summer like viewing the Baby elephants at the Rotterdam Blijdorp Zoo

13. Explore the Oude Haven

This area of Rotterdam includes the Witte Huis, europe’s first skyscraper! Built in 1898 and now part of the UNESCO Heritage site, its a true wonder to visit. But don’t just stop there, walk the waters edge and find yourself a spot at one of the cosy restaurants below the Cubic Houses. This is a popular spot for a drink and highly recommended from our things to do in Rotterdam in summer list!

14. Cubic Houses

Located close to the Markthal and Oude Haven are the famous yellow Cubic Houses. Can you imagine living in one? Visit the €2 euro museum found in the middle of the houses to experience it yourself. Designed by Piet Blom in 1984, they are a unique city highlight to this day. This is one of the most unique things to see in Rotterdam in summer!

You can check our our full post about visiting the Cubic Houses in Rotterdam here!

Cubic Houses in Rotterdam

15. Europe Largest Harbour Tour

Step aboard one of the Spido cruises for a tour through the harbour. Rotterdam is the largest port harbour in Europe and you can really see it for yourself. Board the boat on time to get yourself a seat in the sun on the roof deck.

The building behind the Spido is ‘De Rotterdam’ – the largest skyscraper in the Netherlands (for now!). You can visit with this unique tour which takes you up to the 31st floor for the views!

Things to do in Rotterdam in summer including the Spido harbour tour in Rotterdam during the summer

16. Find the Buttplug Gnome

In the middle of Rotterdam at Eendrachtsplein you can find a statue officially called Santa Claus, which represents Santa Claus holding a Christmas tree. However, what was not taken into consideration when it was designed is that the Christmas tree resembles a butt plug. This is one of the weirdest things to do in Rotterdam in summer for those wanting a giggle.

Its worth booking a cycling tour for 2.5 hours for the city center of Rotterdam, which will cycle past this very gnome too!

17. Take A Night Time Skyline Walk

As a expat, this is one of my favourite things to do in Rotterdam in summer after or before a late dinner. With the sun setting and the temperature cooling, the skyline comes alive with all the lights. Recommended with a 5km round-route across the Erasmusbrug, Koninginnebrug and Willemsbrug. From the Koninginnebrug you will be able to see in full beauty ‘De Hef’ bridge too, the old train bridge to the city center. De Hef bridge symbolises Rotterdam’s history from before WW2, showing also how old can mix with new.

Rotterdam skyline at night

18. Rotterdam City Secrets

This list could go on as there really is so much to see during the summer (and all seasons really!). But here are some secrets that might not be well known to those visiting.

Hofplein Station – This new cool place to hang out has been created by claiming back the city area of this abandoned train station. Redesigned into restaurant areas below and a walkway above, it provides locals with a different location to relax.

The Suicide Club (NOW CLOSED) – Somewhat a secret location to even many locals, it has an amazing rooftop bar next to the architectural Rotterdam Central Station. Situated in the Groothandels building, this cocktail bar turns into a nightclub at the weekends.

The Street Art scene in Rotterdam is becoming more popular with guided tours, self-guided tours and an app from Rewriters. There are lots of secret locations to view local and international artwork hidden in the city. For all information see our Street Art Rotterdam post for more.

Fenix Food Factory – Located in Katendrecht across the water, this converted space is a culinary hotspot. It’s a popular location all week – except for Monday when it is closed. You can use the Water Taxi from tip 3 to easily get here. This is also one of the top things to do in Rotterdam in summer for a foodie!

Things to do in Rotterdam in summer walking at the Hofplein location

19. Eat Something Sweet

The list of things to do in Rotterdam in summer wouldn’t be complete without some delicious places to eat. Become a true foodie by trying the local Dutch food and sweet treats. Some of the delicious spots to visit are the following.

  • Bakers Dough – Netherlands first cookie dough bar in Rotterdam.
  • Capri IJssalon – Ice ice baby! Local ice cream parlour full of flavours perfect in summer.
  • Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Shop – For all your favourite B&J’s ice cream.
  • Dudok – Try a piece of classic Rotterdam Apple Pie with your tea or coffee.
  • Poffertjessalon Seth – Classic Dutch mini pancakes topped with fruit, sugar, butter or syrup.
  • Ten to Three Bakery – Cupcakes, cakes and cake pops with cute designs.
  • Sue – Sugar free, Gluten free, Lactose free and Vegan treats!

Cookie Dough bar Baker's Dough in Rotterdam

20. Shopping Of Course!

For the final things to do in Rotterdam in summer tip we recommend shopping. Shopping is great for all types of weather and Rotterdam has some lovely locations just for shopping. There are many more than on this list of course, but here are the top shopping streets for the center of the city. 

The Lijnbaan – This pedestrian only street is the oldest shopping street in Rotterdam. It was the first shopping promenade in the Netherlands and also the first car-free shopping promenade in the world. Opened 9th October 1953, many of the top European stores can be found here.

Hoogstraat – Translated literally as ‘High Street’, you can find other popular stores here. Such as a pharmacy, jewellery stores and bookshops. Towards the end you will find the main Rotterdam Library, Binnenrotte Market, the Markthal and those bright yellow Cubic Houses!

Beurs Traverse A.K.A The Koopgoot – This street goes down a level where you can walk from the Hoogstraat shopping street to the Lijnbaan safely underneath the busy Coolsingel street. You can find some of the bigger warehouse stores along this section such as the largest H&M in Europe, C&A, Hudson Bay and the Bijenkorf.

Van Oldenbarneveltstraat / Meent – Here you can shop more exclusive stores and trendy boutiques.

Tip: Stores are open 7 days a week, but on Mondays they’re open from 11:00am. Want to shop at a later time? Visit Rotterdam on a Friday evening as all stores are open till 9pm!

Rotterdam view of Markthal, Rotterdam Library, Blaak and Erasmusbrug at night

Read more of our Rotterdam posts! 

Visit Top Rotterdam Views With Rent The View

Rotterdam Markthal

Rotterdam in Winter

Spring Photoblog of Rotterdam

The Famous Cubic Houses

Rotterdam Museum ’40-’45 NU

Rotterdam Open Monument Day

Rotterdam Rooftop Days

Rotterdam Helicopter Tour

World Harbour Days Festival

Discover the prettiest neighborhood Kralingen

Rotterdam Centraal Station Rooftop Tour

‘De Rotterdam’ Tour – Highest Skyscraper In The Netherlands!

 We hope some of these things to do in Rotterdam in summer have helped you in deciding that Rotterdam is the place to be! Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or want to know more.

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If you have any questions about Things To Do In Rotterdam in Summer, feedback, or looking for travel advice to Rotterdam let us know in the comments!

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  • Reply
    14th July 2018 at 11:09 am

    This is such an incredible guide! There’s so much to do in Rotterdam! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful slice of Europe with us 🙂

    • Reply
      16th July 2018 at 10:48 am

      Thank you for commenting Mikayla, Rotterdam has so much on offer it only felt right to share it all 😀

  • Reply
    14th July 2018 at 11:13 am

    Ahh those windmills! what’s a visit to Holland without seeing one, right? I also loved the yellow stairs. so bold! I’m pretty sure a lot of tourists take a photos on those flights. <3 Holland has always been a part of my bucket list but not exactly Rotterdam. I think you changed my perspective just now 😀

    • Reply
      16th July 2018 at 10:50 am

      Hi Stella, thank you for your kind words. Rotterdam is definitely a little shadowed with the pretty cities like Amsterdam, Utrecht and Leiden, but with posts like these I hope it inspires also more to visit Rotterdam. Even if its just for a day trip!

  • Reply
    14th July 2018 at 2:11 pm

    I am currently planning a trip to the Netherlands especially for cycling as I am an avid biker and love how bike friendly the country is. We will also definitely visit Rotterdam and visit some of the swimming spots you mentioned as well!

    • Reply
      16th July 2018 at 10:55 am

      Thank you for commenting Eniko. Cycling in the Netherlands is definitely an awesome way to visit the city! I plan to do some cycling trips this year and explore more the Netherlands myself too.

  • Reply
    14th July 2018 at 9:16 pm

    Looking up Rotterdam Rooftop Days – sounds really interesting! We have Open Doors Days in the UK for the council/heritage owned buildings but this seems more scenic.

    • Reply
      16th July 2018 at 10:57 am

      Oh that also sounds interesting to visit a few buildings of heritage! Definifely something I Would do. Where in the UK does that happen?

  • Reply
    14th July 2018 at 10:35 pm

    Loved this post! You have a great format that’s so easy to read. I really want to visit and see the windmills! I remember The Amazing Race went to the SS Rotterdam one season, and that’s on my list too!

    • Reply
      16th July 2018 at 10:58 am

      Thank you for your kind words Linnea! I still need to explore the SS Rotterdam better myself, but a trip to NL should always include seeing a windmill 🙂

  • Reply
    15th July 2018 at 6:21 pm

    Great photos and cool suggestions. Need to add Rotterdam to my list 😀

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