After writing lots of Rotterdam posts, I now realise that a Rotterdam Bucket List is a fun way to explore the city, checking off the things you have seen! Rotterdam has a vast amount of things to do and see, so depending on the time you have to visit, you need to pick the most unique or enjoyable things based on your interest.
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Rotterdam Bucket List – Museums
The city of Rotterdam has at least 20 museums that all have something different to explore.
- Kunsthal Rotterdam – With many changing exhibitions, the Kunsthal Rotterdam will definitely have something you may be interested in.
- Museum Boijmans van Beuningen*
- Nederlands Fotomuseum
- Rewriters Street Art – This one is not a museum, but for sure worth your walking time, checking out all the local street art. There are many walking routes to explore, that include original old street art to recently new art work from the famous Pow Wow Street Art festival.
- Maritime Museum – Learn all about maritime past and present, in their fun interactive rooms and permanent exhibitions. You will also learn all about Europe’s largest port of Rotterdam!
- Dutch Pinball Museum – The name is already a giveaway of what this museum includes, your visit will allow you to play on all the traditional pinball machines!
- Museum Rotterdam
*P.S this museum will move to Depot Boijmans, which will be opening in September 2020!
Rotterdam Bucket List – Attractions
The city has lots of attractions to choose from, so it was actually hard to pick only these ones for our Rotterdam bucket list. I have listed what I think are the top ones to see if you are short on time, as these are all perfect to do within 2 or 3 days based on your preferences and interests.
- Euromast Observation Tower – For 360° views, this is the place to be! The Euromast is open all year around and located in Nieuwe Werk district. Not only can you enjoy the views, but you can eat, drink and even sleep here if you want!
- Diergaarde Blijdorp Zoo – Open since 1857, the Blijdorp Zoo will be a success for a fun day out.
- Climb the Sint-Laurenskerk Church Tower – As well as visiting the beautiful church that survived World War Two, this beautiful church has a tower that you can climb for a few euros. It’s a nice location for some city views next to the shopping streets!
- A Spido Boat Tour – Join a tour to see the 24/7 open working port of Rotterdam and learn all about the Largest Harbour in Europe. It heads near the Maasvlakte, which is another great place to visit if you have the time!
- The SS Rotterdam – Whether you fancy a tour through the ship, join an escape room, or a drink on their terras, the SS Rotterdam is great to visit. This ship has been retired since September 2000, but now enjoys her permanent residency in her home town.
- Miniworld Rotterdam – It’s exactly what you think from the name. A mini world of Rotterdam right in front of you. If you have kids, this is a fun interactive attraction allowing you to see the whole of the city within your visit.
- Cubic Houses – These funky cubes are houses, built in 1977 for the first residents. There is one museum cube house that you can visit for only a few euros! Well worth a visit.
Well you may already know many of these typical Dutch foods, but did you know that some of them are originally from Rotterdam? Such as the Dudok Apple Pie and the famous Kapsalon dish? The full food bucket list for Rotterdam includes these as well as other must try snacks!
- Poffertjes / Pancakes
- Dudok Apple Pie
- Kapsalon (Rotterdam Centraal Station is nicknamed after one of these!
I have a full Dutch food post here!
Rotterdam Bucket List – Iconic Must Sees
This Rotterdam bucket list of iconic must sees is something you could totally do within 1 day. A walk through the city can take you through all of these, while of course finding somewhere nice to eat along the way. These must see locations in Rotterdam I find are the top unique things, sharing the city’s history and characteristic features!
- Cubic Houses – Like mentioned above in the attractions, the Cubic Houses deserve a place on our Iconic Must Sees list too. Don’t you think? Since they are pretty unique after all and a top thing to see!
- Erasmusbrug – This beautiful bridge, nicknamed The Swan, was completed in only 1996. It is one of the most important landmarks in Rotterdam, with the city’s official logo also including it. It is in total 802meters in length and with its special design, it can accommodate trams, cars, bikes and pedestrians. So this Iconic must see is well worth checking out. If you are lucky, you can also join a tour to go in the basement of the bridge and learn how it works from below!
- Hotel New York – This National Heritage building was once the former office of the Holland America Lines company. However these days you can enjoy a drink on their terrace, stay the night or simply enjoy the river Maas views.
- Markthal – For anyone who loves food, should find themselves walking under the pretty artwork that is on the ceiling, trying and buying the local food and enjoying the warm atmosphere inside the Markthal.
- De Hef – This iconic train bridge, opened in 1927, is actually called the Koningshavenbrug. Publicly well known by its nickname, it was once the main train track between Rotterdam and Breda. You cannot walk over it, unless when on a tour, but its pretty cool to see!
- Rotterdam Centraal Station – Officially reopened in March 2014, the beautiful new train station accommodates on average 110,000 passengers daily. Nice to know, check out the original letters and clock on the front of the station, taken from the original station that was built in 1847. As well as the many shops and restaurants to visit, you can park your bike here to catch a train, tram or metro. Furthermore, depending on when you are visiting, there might be a tour for the roof!
- City Hall – Located on the famous Coolsingel street in Rotterdam, the city hall is an iconic must see as it survived the bombings of WW2 after it was built in 1914.
TIP: If you visiting the Netherlands for the first time, check out this Lonely Planet Netherlands guide that is great for all up to date information and recommendations for the country! Else they have a brand new Lonely Planet Amsterdam guide book for the capital, as well as a pocket-sized Lonely Planet Pocket Rotterdam for Rotterdam, which I also own and can highly recommend.
Of course no city would be complete without having any nature parks, so here are the top Rotterdam bucket list nature parks that I can recommend checking out.
- Het Park – Close to the Euromast, its great to combine these together!
- Trompenburg Gardens – This pretty paradise should be on everyones list who loves to find themselves in nature. They have a lovely walkway through all the plants, a cactus greenhouse and a lovely little cafe to enjoy a drink.
- Historical Garden Schoonoord – Free, little and cute gardens to explore and relax in!
- Lage Bergse Bos
- Kralingse Plas – Perfectly located in the friendly neighbourhood of Kralingen, this lake area is ideal for a catch up with friends (tip: enjoy a BBQ here), a walk around or quick dip for a swim. It’s also very pretty in all seasons!
Wondering what the city looks like in Spring? Check my latest Spring Rotterdam 2020 for inspiration!
Rotterdam Bucket List – Architecture
As the city history of Rotterdam includes the bombings of World War Two, which mostly flattened the city (p.s check out Museum ’40-’45 NU for more about this), the city is very modernized and living in the present. It might not be the top place in Europe for #Architectureporn that you can find on twitter, but it sure is a place to check out since the last few years.
- De Rotterdam – With a height of 149.1 meters and 44 floors, this is a must see building in Rotterdam. You can walk right under it, and even visit the cafe/restaurant for the view of the Erasmusbrug and city skyline.
- Depot Rotterdam – This new building is open in 2020 and has such an amazing mirrored facade.
- Markthal – This food hall paradise has been open to the public since 2014. There are apartments on the horseshoe design, with the inside market full of delicious local produce and restaurants.
- Montevideo – This building is 139,5 meter high and located next to the historical Hotel New York on the Wilhelminapier.
- Cubic Houses – You can check all about these famous yellow blocks of houses here!
- Timmerhuis – Located behind the City Hall of Rotterdam, this jenga style building opened in 2015.
- McDonalds Coolsingel – Yep, you read that right! This McDonalds, located on the Coolsingel, is the …. and even won an award for the …
Just For Fun
No bucket list would be complete without some pleasant but enjoyable things to see or do right? These fun things is mostly to enjoy the city as much as the other Rotterdam bucket lists – which are easily combinable!
- Ride In A Water Taxi – The Watertaxi is a fun transportation in the city of Rotterdam. For example, if you are checking out Hotel New York from our Iconic Must See’s, enjoy a boat ride there or back from the city center!
- See A Seagull Eating Chips – bonus points if they are your chips from the famous Bram Ladage chip shop in Rotterdam!
- Catch The Erasmusbrug Open – This one is for sure fun, as it usually opens only once a day and not always at the same time. Since it depends on the boats passing. However if you do catch it, it only last’s around 7 minutes! Else, you can always check out a tour of the underneath of the Erasmusbrug if you are visiting during the Architecture Weekend event!
- Eat A Slice Of Dudok Apple Pie
- See 19 Windmills At Kinderdijk – Okay so this one is not technically close to the city center, but a short boat ride or drive can get you here easily for a few hours. Kinderdijk has a lovely path through along the water’s edge to see them all too.
- Climb the Witte Huis – Run by volunteers, you can climb to the top on special days. You can see what it is like here on my other post!
- Enjoy A Drink At The Nhow – This is one of the great places to enjoy a refreshment with the city skyline as your view. They offer some lovely drinks and snacks, with an outside terras as well as inside.
Check Out My Other Netherlands Posts
As you can see, the city of Rotterdam has a vast list of things to see and do. We could have totally added way more to these lists per category. However I hope that you still explore your interests too outside of the bucket list recommendations we shared.
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Thank you for sharing my Rotterdam Bucket List post!