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.
Things To Do In Rotterdam In Winter / 20 Top Picks
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!
Kunsthal – This is the top museum 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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8. 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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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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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