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

Things To Do In Rotterdam in Winter - snow walks!

Looking for things to do in Rotterdam in Winter? Keep on reading! The city truly stays alive when the rain is pouring in Rotterdam. With unlimited fun indoor activities, modern architecture, cosy havens, plenty of shopping locations and a large choice of museums – Rotterdam is the place to be! Enjoy the Dutch culture with a trip to a museum, visit the city highlights and have a warm treat at a local restaurant. This winter city guide has 20 top picks for you!

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

Did you click on the Rotterdam in Winter guide when your are actually looking for the Rotterdam in Summer guide? Click here!

Photo taken in Rotterdam Netherlands January 22nd of the first snow of 2019

Things To Do In Rotterdam In Winter / 20 Top Picks

1. Museums

Museums are perfect for wintery days in the city. Heres a list of some top ones we recommend but you can find a whole list here:

Rotterdam Museum ’45-’49 NU – This museum is a must for those wanting to learn the history of Rotterdam during WW2. The museum is very well done showing personal belongings and other artefacts. Highly recommended.

Cubic houses (check out tip 4!) – Want to see what it’s like to live in one of the famous yellow Cubic Houses? For only €2 euro per person you can.

Dutch Pinball Museum – With one fixed price you can stay as long as you like for some pinball action!

Depot and Kunsthal – This is the top for all museum lovers when visiting Rotterdam. With top exhibitions worth visiting for no matter the weather!

Mairtime Museum – Explore the shipping world of the Netherlands with a visit to this museum. Learn the maritime past and present of the Rotterdam Port, as well as one of the many special interactive exhibitions.

Nederlandse Fotomuseum – A beautiful museum collection with many temporary exhibits worth visiting.

Rotterdam Museum '40-'45 is one of the recommendations of things to do in Rotterdam in Winter

2. Go Swimming

It’s not just the sunny days you can swim in Rotterdam. There are 15 public pools you can visit for a session of swimming or relaxation, perfect for couples or families too. My top swimming pools in the city are the Van Mannenbad and Oostelijk Zwembad. Both with 25 meter pools inside that allocate swimming lanes for different swimming speeds.

Van Mannenbad – This pool has a better controlled swimming temperature perfect for training. I believe it is one of the most well known swimming pools in Rotterdam, with many sponsored events and a recent refurbishment. They have a separate pool for children to learn and play in. What I love about the Van Mannenbad is that they also have an outside swimming pool too if you dare to go outside in the cold. What I love about swimming here? You can relax in their sauna room too!

The Oostelijk Zwembad – This pool is the oldest swimming pool in the city, built in 1932. Also with a recent refurbishment, it’s been kept in the original style. I feel that Oostelijk Zwembad has a much warmer pool, possibly because they have an adjoining smaller pool used for childrens swim classes.

Here is a list of all 15 public pools you can visit in the city of Rotterdam.

Swimming inside at the Van Maanenbad as one of the Things To Do In Rotterdam In Winter

3. Grab A Bite To Eat

What better way to keep dry and warm than to find yourself sat at a relaxing restaurant for a bite to eat. There are many restaurants to choose from in Rotterdam, with a very international atmosphere. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Rotown – Delicious healthy lunches and dinners for a decent price!
  • Apartt – Cook your own steak on a hot plate here. I personally love this place, pricey but high quality meat and a romantic atmosphere.
  • Lilith – All day pancakes and plenty of vegan choices!
  • Jarmusch – An American style diner
  • Arzu – All day breakfast, high teas and red velvet pancakes with white chocolate!
  • Bagels en Beans – Top place for a bagel with plenty of toppings choice.

Looking for something more sweet and instagrammable to eat in Rotterdam? Check out tip 19 from this list!


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4. Cubic Houses

The Cubic Houses are one of the top highlights to see during your visit to Rotterdam. In Rain or Shine they are always awesome to check out. These yellow iconic blocks can be found close to the famous Markthal. Make some time and walk around the whole area of the Cubic Houses, while spotting the famous Witte Huis and Oude Haven close by. The Cubic Houses are not to be missed from the things to do in Rotterdam in Winter.

Cubic houses in Rotterdam is a must see visit!

5. Shopping Koopgoot, Lijnbaan & Alexandrium

Shopping is great for all weather, diving into the stores to keep warm and dry while shopping the latest trends. The city center will be buzzing no matter what the weather is. Take a stroll through the Koopgoot and the Lijnbaan in Rotterdam. Or hop onto the Metro or train towards Prins Alexander for shopping at the mall Alexandrium. Here you have many of the same stores as in the city center but within a sheltered mall.

Things To Do In Rotterdam In Winter

6. Vintage Shopping

As well as shopping in all the normal shops at locations from tip 5, you should also check out the following stores if you prefer vintage shopping.

Cheap Fashion – Located on the Meent in the city center, they have a large collection of clothing. Think of original vintage shirts, leather jackets, flowery dress and all round classic styles.

Very Cherry – Located on the Binnenrotte, this small but welcoming store has a great collection of vintage style clothing for ladies. Prices can vary but always worth checking out for that modern but vintage look. Many pieces are retro-inspired and less vintage so you can always check out their website first before the visiting the store for more.

Sister Moon – Located on the Nieuwe Binnenweg, they have some beautiful pieces to be found.

Vidi Vici- Located on the Botersloot, this store is 1 minute away from the Markthal in the same street as Very Cherry. They have some vintage pieces from the 60s for a cheap price!


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7. Markthal

This horseshoe shaped market hall is the perfect foodie’s paradise no matter what the weather is. A combination of sweet treats, healthy choices, international restaurants and some small supermarkets, you are spoilt for choice on where to look and eat at first!

I always treat myself to a yummy fresh donut or some chocolates to take back with me home. The Markthal decorates the front of the glass entrance each year with a Christmas tree too.

We have a separate post about the Markthal here!

Markthal Rotterdam is one of the top foodie highlights to visit all year round, with snacks bars to restaurants to feed those cravings.

8. Visit The Local Library

Looking for some new reading material or a place to warm up during a rainy visit to the Market? The Central Library at Blaak, opposite the Markthal, is great for that. You can relax with a drink at the cafe or explore the different levels for a book to read. There is a large chess board inside the entrance, which is usually being played by the older population on their days off. But take a seat and enjoy the game and join in if you can!

TIP: The entrance is filled with all latest advertisements and free newspapers of whats happening for the current month such as museum expositions, theatre shows or films at the cinema.

Things To Do In Rotterdam In Winter - the local library

8. Miniworld Rotterdam

Want to explore the whole city in a short amount of time? Miniworld Rotterdam is the perfect place to see all the highlights in miniature form. Opened in 2007, it is the largest miniature world in the Benelux. Experience what 1 day of Rotterdam looks like with their 24min exhibition, seeing the 19.000 lights go off at sunrise to them coming back on at sunset.

For those visiting with children, you can participate with searching for many fun scenes that have been hidden in the mini city of Rotterdam! Plan your visit using their website for more information.

Things To Do In Rotterdam In Winter - miniworld Rotterdam

10. Ride the Restaurant Tram

New for 2018, the Restaurant Tram offers a delicious 4-course menu that includes alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. You dine in the 1968 luxurious tram while touring the city of Rotterdam on a course of 2.5 hours. The Restaurant Tram also provides a visit at the Tram Museum. For now, you can only dine in the tram every Friday night from 19:00 to 21:30, so make sure you reserve your spot in advance. You start at the base of the Erasmusbrug by the Willemsplein. Just don’t be late, as they will leave exactly on time to be in schedule with all the other trams during that time.

Photo source from Brazzo.

Things To Do In Rotterdam In Winter -

11. Pebbles Cat Cafe

It took me a while to visit the Kattencafe, so when I finally had time I spent as long as possible here. The Pebbles Kattencafe can be found on the Hoogstraat just a few minutes walk from the Markthal. Prices are not too expensive, with a few extra euros for the Cat Tax. The Cat Tax goes towards the food, care and vet bills of the cats at the location. What better way to spend an afternoon relaxing?! This is a cosy location of things to do in Rotterdam in Winter!

We have a full post about the Pebbles Kattencafe here!

One cat relaxing about the board games at the Cat Cafe

12. Catch A Film At The Cinema

You could visit the main cinema chain company in the Netherlands which is called Pathe, but we recommend a different one. A more cosy, inviting and friendlier staff can be found at Cinerama located at West Blaak. It’s has an old style glass entrance and a black and white advertisement above with the latest films. The top movies at the time can be seen here, but also the less well known films and classics.

Things To Do In Rotterdam In Winter - A trip to the cinema!

13. Join An Event or Festival

There are a few events you can join during the winter months in Rotterdam. Here are just a few;

Ijsvrij Park Festival – Warm wintery drinks, ice skating and live music! Check out tip 14 for more information.

International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) – This festival can be visited in January, a two week long film festival showing many films that have been chosen for the international audience. The festival includes many top films produced by upcoming directors.

Blijdorp Winter Festival – Located at the Van Nelle Fabriek, this festival is perfect for techno, hiphop en live music fans. Their line up usually includes local and international artists. Don’t worry about food as there are food trucks too!

The National Fireworks – Winter isn’t complete without starting the new year with fireworks! On December 31st you will find the national fireworks complete with live music and VIP events near the Erasmusbrug.

Things To Do In Rotterdam In Winter

14. Go Ice Skating

There are two main places you can go ice skating in Rotterdam during December. Firstly, you can visit the Ijsvrij Park Festival located at the Euromast Park. This wintery scene allows you to rent ice skates, listen to good music and drink delicious hot chocolates. They also have weekend programmes allowing you to join a Friday night silent disco and a family day on Saturdays with extra events for children. Their Sunday programme includes live soul, jazz and funk music.

Secondly, you can visit the popular Skating Rink which is open from 1 December 2018 till 27 February 2019. They have a 400 meter skating area and a fun area. Don’t worry about needing your own ice skates as you can rent some here at the location. They also organise curling and silent discos that you can join!

If you are lucky, you may also be able to walk on the natural ice near the Euromast too! Photo source here.

Ice Skating at Het Park by the Euromast - Things to do in Rotterdam in Winter

15. Take A Chilly Walk For Pancakes

Nothing better than to get out in the freezing cold and snow for a fresh wintery walk (or cycle if you prefer!). Many parks in the area are open all year round with the Kralingsebos being very open and pretty. If your lucky, the lake will have frozen over allowing locals and tourists to walk on the naturally made ice. But for the warmth, head to the De Nachtegaal pancake house to the north east of the lake. With over 25 toppings to choose from, you will be spoilt for choice for your pancake. A typical Dutch favourite is a pancake with bacon, cheese and syrup!

Pancakes at the pancake house in the Kralinngse Bos

16. Spido Harbor Tour

Take the Spido harbour tour during the winter, where you can enjoy a warm tea, coffee or a typical mug of Dutch chocomel with whipped cream while enjoying a tour of the harbour. This is a great choice from our things to do in Rotterdam in Winter as you can sit inside and enjoy the tour in the warm.

The Spido harbour tour in Rotterdam during the summer

17. Cosy Hot Chocolates By An Open Fire

Within the Oude Haven you can find yourself a cosy spot for a hot chocolate, with a blanket and an open fire. It’s the perfect location to meet up with friends and enjoy the chilly winter weather. Grab yourself a seat facing the beautiful Witte Huis. You can always see the Cubic houses from here too!

Snow during winter in Rotterdam

18. Visit A Christmas Market

As well as finding the tallest Christmas tree in Rotterdam at City Hall, the whole city will be festive. There is a Winter Fair in Rotterdam Ahoy that you can attend. The event has all things wintery that you can think of, such as a winter village, workshops, shopping and food areas for your wintery mulled wine.

The biggest market for Christmas you can actually find just a short Waterbus boat ride or train trip away to Dordrecht. Less than 30mins at that! The Dordrecht Christmas Market is actually the biggest in the Netherlands and always fun to visit! We recommend this as one of the top things to do in Rotterdam in Winter.

Other things you can do relating to Christmas in Rotterdam:

  • The Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish churches also host a weekend where you can join and buy Scandinavian products.
  • Dutchies love visiting the cinemas during the Christmas holidays too! See tip 12.
  • Eat Gourmetten with your family and friends!
  • Late night shopping – The few days before December allows the shops to extend their opening hours and are open till late at night. Boxing Day (26th) has been recorded as one of the busiest shopping days for Rotterdam in previous years.

P.S if you are wanting to eat somewhere special for Christmas Day, make sure you book in advance as many places are advertising as early as end of October.

One of the food stalls at the Dordrecht Christmas Market

19. Wintery Street Art Tour

Even though this Rotterdam Street Art post is written for the summer months, you can take the same street art tour during winter. Yay! Walk the self guided tour with the website or app, or book a walking tour with them to truly experience the street art scene in Rotterdam. Just make sure you wrap up warm with your hat, scarf and gloves!

Street Art Rotterdam can be viewed with a tour or self guided.

20. Experience Oliebollen

One thing that you cannot miss during Things to do in Rotterdam in Winter is to eat traditional Dutch Oliebollen. These deep fried balls of dough can be found from the stands dotted around the city from end of November to New Years. They are traditionally eaten on New Years Eve, but I always buy a few extra for breakfast for the 1st week of January. This is our top foodie things to do in Rotterdam in Winter!


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Read more of our Rotterdam posts! 

Visit Top Rotterdam Views With Rent The View

Rotterdam Markthal

Rotterdam in Summer

Where To Stay In Rotterdam

The Famous Cubic Houses

Rotterdam Museum ’40-’45 NU

Spring Photoblog of Rotterdam

Rotterdam Open Monument Day

Rotterdam Rooftop Days

Rotterdam Helicopter Tour

World Harbour Days Festival

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

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

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  • Reply
    26th October 2018 at 10:21 am

    Ik bedenk me nu dat ik eigenlijk nog nooit in de winterperiode in Rotterdam ben geweest. Ook die cubic huizen heb ik ook nog (steeds) niet gezien! Nu ik ze weer zie denk ik oh ja haha. Leuk artikel! 🙂

    • Reply
      28th October 2018 at 2:57 pm

      Bedankt voor jou comment! Moet je zeker een keertje komen kijken! 🙂

  • Reply
    27th October 2018 at 2:17 pm

    As a Scottish redhead I am struggling a little backpacking Australia at the moment due to the heat haha so I am LOVING this Winter themed post!! The restaurant tram looks so fun and loving all your snowy pictures!

    • Reply
      28th October 2018 at 9:10 am

      Thanks for commenting Lauren, the restaurant tram sure is a treat! Thank you 🙂

  • Reply
    Catherine’s Cultural Wednesdays
    27th October 2018 at 2:39 pm

    Very timely, we were just pondering a jaunt to the Netherlands in December …. The Hague or Rotterdam was our question. Will show this around!

    • Reply
      28th October 2018 at 9:11 am

      Lovely to hear you are considering visiting! It can be lovely during the winter months. And just a short 20mins train ride away from the Hague if you were to visit both!

  • Reply
    27th October 2018 at 7:26 pm

    I love that go swimming is the second suggestion. I wouldn’t think if that as a winter activity. Love the street art.

    • Reply
      28th October 2018 at 9:12 am

      Thank you for commenting Sue. We like to keep active during winter and swimming is the perfect (the sauna too!), which is why it is high on our winter list! 🙂

  • Reply
    Josy A
    27th October 2018 at 8:01 pm

    All that food looks aaaaazing.

    I used to hate travelling when it’s cold, but I seem to slowly have been converted. Now I am keen to get out and see things in the snow and rain. Anway, whatever the weather, how could anyone resist a visit to the Kattencafe!? 😉

    • Reply
      28th October 2018 at 9:14 am

      Thanks Josy! I’ve always been a big fan of travelling in winter, to winter destinations too. Some places have a whole different atmosphere to summer months. Rotterdam is just as awesome either way, especially with places like the Kattencafe and the unlimited choices of museums.

  • Reply
    Jade Johnston
    28th October 2018 at 2:48 am

    Rotterdam is such a cool city. I went there many years ago for a music festival and it was awesome. It has a reputation for being ugly, but I like all the cool modern styles.

    • Reply
      28th October 2018 at 9:16 am

      Hehe I think some people still think its ‘ugly’ as they are expecting the city to be the same as Amsterdam or Delft with the beautiful canals. I love the history of the city and how it has a more modern architecture vibe personally. Day trips to the other cities I always love though!

  • Reply
    Stephanie Rumore
    31st October 2018 at 8:34 am

    OMG OLIEBOLLEN WAS MY FAVOURITE FOOD IN HOLLAND! I am so bummed I didn’t read this sooner as I would’ve loved to visit De Nachtegaal pancake house when I was living an hour away, but it’s always nice to discover hidden secrets about a place that you never knew!

    • Reply
      14th November 2018 at 1:54 pm

      Thanks for commenting Stephanie! Did you grow up here or stay here once? There are Oliebollen stalls now that it is November, so I’ve already been eating some!

  • Reply
    Kitiara Pascoe
    31st October 2018 at 10:20 am

    I’d never considered Rotterdam as a place to visit, let alone in winter! But actually it looks super cool and ice skating there would be amazing. It’s so close to the UK too, I feel like I should add it to my list! Thanks 😀

    • Reply
      14th November 2018 at 1:53 pm

      You definitely should! Rotterdam can be easily combined with Amsterdam, Leiden, Utrecht and more cities too with the good train connections we have 🙂

  • Reply
    31st October 2018 at 1:44 pm

    A highly informative article on Rotterdam, it is also very detailed . Though it is not on my list but if I have plans I know where to go for info. Thanks you .

    • Reply
      14th November 2018 at 1:49 pm

      Thanks for commenting Usha 🙂

  • Reply
    31st October 2018 at 2:38 pm

    Another place I have just discovered now though your post. Cool suggestions and area to visit.

  • Reply
    31st October 2018 at 4:49 pm

    What a fantastic post- I would never have thought of Rotterdam as a winter destination but you’ve certainly changed my mind! Lilith looks amazing btw

  • Reply
    31st October 2018 at 5:01 pm

    Aah I love Rotterdam and miss it so much. I lived there for 3 months (during spring) and had an amazing time. I’d recommend all the things you wrote to do in spring and summer too (except ice skating haha). This was like a walk through a memory lane. Loved the post 🙂

    • Reply
      14th November 2018 at 1:50 pm

      Haha yes the ice skating might be a little different in Spring and Summer time 😀 Thanks for commenting Ketki!

  • Reply
    31st October 2018 at 7:44 pm

    Wow well I’ve never considered visiting Rotterdam until now! It looks so cool and there is so much to do – thanks for all the ideas, sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in winter and be unsure about what to do.

  • Reply
    Joy Generoso
    1st November 2018 at 7:19 am

    It’s good to know about these indoor activities to do in Rotterdam during winter. I haven’t been to Rotterdam yet but I would love to visit the city during summer or spring so my husband and I can enjoy outdoors. Winter or not I definitely devour all delicious food I can find in the city. That pancakes made me salivate.

  • Reply
    1st November 2018 at 7:20 am

    What a varied guide, I love it! I have never been to Rotterdam but hope to one day after reading this. Those cubic houses look unreal! Do people live in them?

  • Reply
    Mohana and Aninda
    1st November 2018 at 8:54 am

    Ooooo that pancake! & that kitty <3 Thanks for this grand list of things to do in winter. I'd also love to try a 4-course meal in a tram…such a novel concept.

  • Reply
    14th November 2018 at 11:05 am

    Ik las op de site iets over zwemmen, met namen van zwembaden, maar ik denk dat je met Van mannenbad , het van Maanenbad bedoelt, bij het Zuidplein.

    • Reply
      14th November 2018 at 1:39 pm

      Thank you for your Mees! The Van Maanenbad is in Rotterdam Noord with the address as Van Maanenstraat 8, but there are a few pools in Rotterdam south near Zuidplein to swim too 🙂 Here’s the link to the Van Maanenbad https://vanmaanenbad.nl/

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