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Updated: 31 January 2023
Several people planning a trip to the Netherlands spend a little time in Amsterdam before going to their next big European capital city. I personally think you should spend at least 5 days in the Netherlands, and extend your stay and see the country’s smaller cities.
So, are you not sure why you should take a day trip to Rotterdam? Then you’ve come to the right post, my friend! I loved Rotterdam and want to spread appreciation for this underrated city in the Netherlands.
So let’s start planning right now!
Is a Rotterdam Day Trip Worth It?
You might be asking yourself why should you even visit Rotterdam at all? Doesn’t Amsterdam already have everything you need to see and do?
Now I adore Amsterdam. Seriously, I love it! However, if you have extra time to spare, you should also share your attention with other Dutch cities including Rotterdam. I have my reasons.
Firstly, in summer, Rotterdam is still fairly uncrowded compared to other areas of the Netherlands. Meaning you can take your time and explore without tourists overrunning you at the big attractions.
For instance, I liked walking near all the boats outside the Maritime Museum without tour groups knocking into me to snap pictures. It was a breath of fresh air.
Furthermore, like other major Dutch cities, Rotterdam has fantastic public transit in place so seeing all the highlights is quick and easy. You won’t struggle to get around when seeing Rotterdam in one day.
And, okay, let’s be real: is Rotterdam adorable and charming like Delft or Haarlem? Well no. Much of Rotterdam (something like 80%) was destroyed in World War II. So you won’t find much Old World Charm here. And I think the industrial nature of the city turns off visitors.
Nonetheless I still think it’s worthwhile to visit a contemporary powerhouse European city to gain full appreciation of the destination you’re visiting. I know I’ve changed my attitude on this topic.
A Day Trip to Rotterdam: My Impressions
Ahhh, as you know, I’m all about full transparency on this blog. I like keeping it real – which is sorely needed in the travel industry.
So I have a confession. Originally, I didn’t want to go to Rotterdam at all. Not even a little bit.
In all honesty, I’m notoriously bad at skipping “second cities,” because I try and avoid all things industrial and modern on my trips to Europe. For example, I haven’t visited Glasgow yet even though I’ve already been to Scotland twice and often proclaim it’s my favorite country.
I know, I know. Judge away.
However, on my trip to the Netherlands, I was convinced to give Rotterdam a chance at the last minute. And I’m so happy that I did!
Rotterdam’s modernness felt super cool and sleek. As I’ve said, I loved the area around the Maritime Museum, and thought the harbor tour was fascinating (more on that later)! I also felt safe exploring this large city. I could’ve spend even more time seeking out funky street art. You all know I adore street art.
Anyway, thanks to Rotterdam, I have a better appreciation for “second cities,” and am more likely to give them a chance in the future.
Your Guide for a Rotterdam Day Trip from Amsterdam
Combining Rotterdam and Other Cities
Time to break down the practicalities of trying to visit Rotterdam in one day.
To start with, I know most tourists base themselves in Amsterdam so I’m going to discuss that scenario first.
It’s possible to independently visit Rotterdam or stop at the city as part of a larger group tour. For instance, you’re able to take a full day tour combining Rotterdam, the Hague, and Delft from Amsterdam if you’re extremely limited on time and “want to see it all” in a single day. Busy, but feasible.
As you know if you’re an avid reader of this blog, I’m not the type of traveler who hates on guided tours. I firmly believe they have their time and place. I’ve taken plenty of the time.
At the same time, though, I have to admit that Rotterdam is easy enough to reach on your own without the help of a guided tour. Go on your own and your time is yours. Public transportation in the Netherlands is that amazing.
How to Travel to Rotterdam on Public Transit
Some basic directions. To reach Rotterdam, go to Amsterdam Centraal Station and take the Intercity train to Rotterdam. Intercity trains are a little more expensive than local ones, but you’ll save time instead of money. It’s well worth the extra cost depending on your itinerary.
If you’re on a budget, Flixbus is an affordable option that leaves Amsterdam Centraal every hour. The bus takes longer, but it’s cheaper too.
All in all, taking a Rotterdam day trip from Amsterdam is an easy task with public transportation.
Staying in another nearby city? No problem! Rotterdam is only a ten minute direct train ride from Delft. I think it takes just as much time from The Hague, too. Since Rotterdam is a well-populated city with plenty of commuters, connections are both fast and frequent. You don’t have to worry about car rentals or other nonsense like that.
5 Reasons to Take a Rotterdam Day Trip
Time for the “meat and potatoes” of this post! Here are my five reasons to take a Rotterdam day trip! Ready to take notes? I hope so.
Now, full disclosure (again), I sadly didn’t have time to make it to the Euromast Tower which provides some of the best views of Rotterdam.
I skipped it mostly because the weather didn’t want to cooperate as you can definitely tell in some of these pictures, haha.
However, I’ve heard amazing things about the Euromast Tower so if you visit Rotterdam on a clear and gorgeous day, then I’d definitely make the trip and take lots of cool photos. From my harbor cruise, I also saw brave people scale the outside of tower using ropes, but I don’t know if that activity is something you can sign up for or not, haha.
Anyway, without further ado, here are my five reasons to take a Rotterdam day trip.
Go on a Rotterdam Harbor Tour
My Rotterdam Harbor Tour was the highlight of my visit. I’m serious, you guys. In my personal opinion, one of the top reasons to take a day trip to Rotterdam is to experience a harbor tour.
Why? Because the port of Rotterdam is the largest port in all of Europe. Seriously, folks, the endless cranes and ships boggle my mind. Day trippers are understandably drawn to the port every single day.
I took a tour around the port with Spido Harbor Tours. This tour also wasn’t sponsored in any way. I just had a great time.
While you’ll probably be fine booking upon arrival, it might be a good idea to utilize your time by booking tickets in advance for your harbor cruise! You won’t have to wait in line and you’ll already have a slot reserved on the ship.
On the Harbor Tour, you’ll not only have great views of Rotterdam’s skyline, but you’ll also learn about the shipyards and docks. The cruise takes 75 minutes so you’ll have a thorough education about Rotterdam’s port.
Eat Lunch at Rotterdam Market Hall
Do you love food markets? Can you sample all sorts of cuisines for hours without getting full? Then seeing Rotterdam in a day is a great idea, because you can devour tons of yummy treats in the Market Hall.
This hall is very accessible using public transportation, but keep in mind that the closest station to Rotterdam Market Hall is Rotterdam Blaak, not Rotterdam Centraal Station.
What’s especially cool about Rotterdam Market Hall is all the artwork. You’ll see fruits, vegetables, seeds, and other delicious items adorned on the inside of the building. You need to take pictures.
Another interesting fact is that the building is also home to several residential apartments! I’m kinda sorta jealous of these people, haha.
Rotterdam Market Hall is crowded during peak eating periods so pack your patience for your visit. This is the only place where I felt a little closed in by all the tourists. Figured I should warn you.
See the Iconic Erasmus Bridge
Whenever visitors think of Rotterdam, Erasmus Bridge instantly springs to mind. It is the icon of Rotterdam. And it’s easy to see why when you stand next to the bridge in person.
Time for a little history. Construction of this gorgeous light blue steel bridge was completed in 1996. Again, Rotterdam’s an epicenter for modern European style, and Erasmus Bridge is the perfect example.
On my own trip, I took so many pictures of Erasmus Bridge. If I had gone a sunny day, I would have found a cool bar to sit at and stared at the bridge for awhile. It’s so pretty. Maybe I just love bridges?
If the weather’s nice, book yourself on a bike tour that crosses the bridge from Kop van Zuid to the more historic Delfshaven. Delfshaven was one of the few areas in Rotterdam spared by the WWII bombing. Here you can discover a taste of what Rotterdam used to look like.
You’ll also have wonderful views of Erasmus Bridge on your harbor tour.
Read More: 7 Best Day Trips From Amsterdam
Visit an Interactive Maritime Museum
As you know, Rotterdam’s vibrancy is based around its gigantic port. So it makes sense that there’s a museum dedicated entirely to naval history.
So book your tickets to the Maritime Museum and learn something new! Inside, the Maritime Museum has several great permanent exhibitions with tons of objects, including the oldest model ship in all of Europe.
However, I think the true fun exists outside. Nearby the museum, you’ll next want to explore the Maritime Museum Harbor. This area boosts a great number of historical vessels and cranes that are still in working order. There are modern ships as well as boats dating all the way back to the early 20th century.
Take your time in the Maritime Museum Harbor.
Soak Up Modern & Contemporary Europe
Last but not least, Rotterdam is home to some incredibly cool modern architecture. Your camera will get a work out here.
My personal favorites were the Cube Houses of Rotterdam. As some you probably can guess, these funky houses were originally built in the 1970s. I had so much fun imagining living in one of them.
Another great example of contemporary architecture is the Euromast Tower that I mentioned in the beginning of this post. Construction ended in 1960, and now the concrete tower soars over 606 feet! Crazy.
Simply spend time walking around Rotterdam and take in all the buildings. You’ll never know what gems you’ll discover on your journey throughout the second city of the Netherlands.
Rotterdam in One Day: Final Words & Tidbits
After reading my suggestions, I hope you’ll take a day trip to Rotterdam on your next big adventure to the Netherlands. I had a great time.
As I wandered the city, I spotted some other cool activities that a visitor could potentially do with a day trip to Rotterdam. For example, I spotted a group of guys who rented a boat that had a hot tub on board. Nothing screams “wellness” more than a floating hot tub!
In addition, several water taxis and rib boats jetted up and down the harbor, and watching them bounce over the waves exhilarated me, even though I wasn’t on board. Without a doubt, adventure seekers will definitely have a good time in Rotterdam, haha.
Ultimately, I suggest doing your research ahead of time and prioritizing what you want to see and do.
Happy travels and enjoy Rotterdam!
I hope I convinced you of all the great reasons why you should take a day trip to Rotterdam on your next adventure to the Netherlands! Have you ever been to Rotterdam? What would you see and do here? As always, thanks for supporting my work!