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Rotterdam Tours and Excursions

From: Rotterdam Travel Guide

Spido harbor tours Rotterdam

ABOVE: Spido operates 75-minute harbor tours throughout the year, plus longer excursions (up to 6 or 7 hours) during high season. INSET BELOW: A Spido sightseeing boat passes ms Rotterdam,  Nehallenia returns from a 3-hour excursion to Kinderdijk, and a bicyclist puts her foot down at a pedestrian crossing.

Local tours and excursions

Rotterdam's center is small enough, and the tourist office's free Citymap Rotterdam and other materials are good enough, that you can enjoy most of the city's sights on your own. (See Rotterdam Architecture & Art and Rotterdam Sightseeing & Attractions.) Still, some sights are best seen by boat, especially if you're interested in the Port of Rotterdam.

Spido tour boatSpido has operated sightseeing boats in Rotterdam since 1919, and its modern vessels offer 75-minute harbor tours with multilingual commentary throughout the year. In addition to cruising in the city center, the tours offer a look at container-handling facilities, dry docks, and ships in Europe's busiest port.

During July and August, Spido also has longer "extended harbor tours" on certain days and "summer evening tours" on Saturdays.

A newer company, Splashtours, offers 60-minute land and water tours in a custom-built amphibious bus. The tour is popular, so book online to get a seat.

Kinderdijk cruise boatOur own favorite tour is the Rebus Shipping Company's Kinderdijk cruise aboard an old-fashioned two-deck excursion boat, the Nehalennia. The leisurely three-hour trip takes you to the UNESCO-listed windmills at Kinderdijk, which is upriver from Rotterdam.

Day trips by boat

In addition to 75-minute and seasonal 2˝-hour harbor cruises, Spido offers day trips by boat to the outer reaches of the Europort in July and August.

On these longer cruises, the spoken commentary is in Dutch only, but English- or German-speaking passengers can ask for written translations. The fares include apple pie and coffee upon boarding and a buffet lunch.

Tours to other cities

From Rotterdam, you can easily reach Delft, Utrecht, Den Haag (The Hague) and other nearby cities by train. See the Netherlands Railways Web site for timetables and prices.

  • Tip: To save money, buy rail tickets from the easy-to-use touch-screen ticket machines in train stations. The machines don't accept banknotes, so you'll need a handful of euro coins or a credit card with a PIN.

Bicyle tours

Rotterdam ByCycle offers guided city tours and day trips.

extreme bicycling RotterdamIf you'd rather tour on your own or aren't traveling with an entourage, bring a bike or hire one at Use-it, at the bike-rental facility at the Rotterdam Centraal train station, or from your hotel or hostel.

To plan your self-guided trip, see Peter Hilton's Rotterdam Cycling Routes, which has detailed step-by-step directions with photos for several tours in and around Rotterdam. For longer trip itineraries, search for Rotterdam cycling maps at Bikely.com.

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Top photo: Spido Havenrondvaarten.
4th inset photo: Netherlands Board of Tourism and Congresses.