Rotterdam Sightseeing and Attractions
From: Rotterdam Travel Guide
ABOVE: A view of the Nieuwe Maas River from the Euromast.INSET BELOW: Citoplan's map of the city center.
In Rotterdam, as in many cities, there's an easy way to see the sights: Get a map, such as the tourist office's free Citymap Rotterdam or Citoplan's more detailed Rotterdam Uitgebreide Centrumkaart, and go walking. Although Rotterdam covers a wide territory, most of the city's sights and attractions are easy to reach on foot.
The free Citymap Rotteram is especially useful for sightseeing because it has suggested walking routes (shown with dotted lines), numbered bus and tram lines (blue or red lines), Metro stations, and drawings of major buildings and attractions. It covers most of the city center, from the Oude Haven, Cube Houses, and Willems Bridge on the east to Delfshaven on the west.
(Delfshaven is an historic district where the Pilgrims began their journey to America in 1620; it was untouched by the bombing that destroyed most of central Rotterdam in 1940.)
Many of Rotterdam's best sights are on or near the water: Rotterdam is the busiest port in Europe, and as you walk along the Nieuwe Maas, you'll see freighters, tugboats, barges, water taxis, regional ferries, sightseeing boats, and pleasure boats going up and down the river.
You'll also see many of Rotterdam's most important architectural landmarks like the silver Erasmusbrug and the dark red Willemsbrug (the city's two most important modern bridges), the Rotterdam Cruise Terminal, the Witte Huis or White House (Europe's oldest high-rise building), and dramatic skyscrapers.
During your walks, be sure to visit the small historic harbors that date back to the sailing-ship era--such as the Oude Haven (Old Harbor), the Wijnhaven (Wine Harbor, with the H2otel floating hotel), the Bierhaven (where apartment houses share the quay with barges and wooden boats), and the Leuvehaven (site of the Harbor Museum, the Maritime Museum, and a large collection of historic ships, boats, cranes, a lighthouse, and other maritime objects).
The Euromast is popular with tourists and locals alike, and with good reason: It's the tallest building in the Netherlands, with great views from several observation decks, including the "Euroscoop" at the top of the mast (185m or 607 feet), which is reached by a rotating elevator. The Euromast also has restaurants, two suites for well-heeled overnight guests, and opportunities for thrill-seekers (abseiling, or rappelling, and "rope sliding").
Farther up the river, Tropicana is a subtropical indoor water park with activities that range from water slides and minigolf to an "aquaspa" for beauty buffs. (Tropicana's Web site is in Dutch only, but Google Translate will help you decipher the text.)
The Laurenskerk, which was restored in the 1950s after being badly damaged by World War II bombing, is in the city center next to the public market. You can visit the church free (though you may be tempted to spend money in the small gift shop and café inside).
The SS Rotterdam--Holland America Line's fifth passenger ship named after the city, and predecessor to the current ms Rotterdam--is being restored as a tourist attraction, hotel, and event center. Restoration was still underway when we published this travel guide in late 2009, but the Steamship Rotterdam Foundation's information center may be worth a visit if you're a ship fan.
The Rotterdam Port Experience is an interactive tourist attraction next to the Spido sightseeing boats near the Erasmus Bridge. It's geared to kids, teenagers, and families, wih a minimum recommended age of 8.
Railz Miniworld is the largest indoor "miniatureworld" in the Netherlands, with 70 model trains and a total track length of more than 1.5 km (1 mile). Even the clock is a scale model: Days run 24 minutes, so you can see the sun go down and thousands of lights come on even during a morning or afternoon visit.
If you're a fan of plants and wildlife, consider visiting the Trompenburg Gardens & Arboretum (Web site in Dutch only) or the world-class Rotterdam Zoo (a.k.a. Diergarde Blijdorp), which has an oceanarium, an arctic "Ice Cave" for polar bears, and enough other attractions to draw some 1.5 million visitors per year.
Feyenoord, the Rotterdam soccer football team, has a Feyenoord Museum and guided tours at De Kuip stadium. The Web pages are in Dutch, so we'd suggest e-mailing [email protected] to confirm the availability of English-language tours before heading for the Stadion railroad station south of the river.
Finally, Rotterdam's most whimsical attraction must be the Walk of Fame, which is South Holland's answer to Hollywood. "Europe's Biggest Starboulevard" has hand- or footprints and inscriptions by celebrities like Johnny Cash, Lionel Richie, Carl Lewis, and Dick Bruna. Look for it on Schiedamsedjk, at street level next to the Harbor Museum.
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