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Rotterdam Transportation

From: Rotterdam Travel Guide

water taxi photo

ABOVE: A water taxi on the Nieuwe Maas.

Getting to Rotterdam

Rotterdam is in South Holland, 59 km (37 miles) south of Schiphol Airport and about 77 km (47 miles) from Amsterdam.

NS trainArriving by train. NS, or Netherlands Railways, operates several trains per hour between Amsterdam and Rotterdam. From Amsterdam Centraal Station, travel time to Rotterdam CS averages 59 minutes (or 43 minutes on the high-speed Thalys trains that connect Amsterdam, Schiphol Airport, Brussels, and Paris.) From Schiphol Airport, travel time is 41 minutes on normal direct trains and 26 minutes on Thalys. The NS journey planner has an interactive timetable.

Tips for train travel:

  • You'll save 50 cents by buying train tickets from the easy-to-use touch-screen machines in railway stations, including the station at Schiphol Airport. The machines don't accept banknotes, so bring a supply of euro coins or a credit card with a PIN.

  • Rotterdam Blaak StationMany trains from Amsterdam and Schiphol continue past Rotterdam Centraal to the Rotterdam Blaak station and beyond. (Rotterdam Blaak is close to the Stayokay hostel and is convenient to hotels near the waterfront between the Erasmus and Willems Bridges.)

Rotterdam AirportArriving by plane. Intercontinental flights and many other international flights use Schiphol Airport near Amsterdam, but Rotterdam The Hague Airport does have direct flights to a number of European destinations--some seasonal, and others year-round. (The main operators are KLM, Transavia, and a regional airline for business travelers, VLM.) The airport's Accessibility and parking section has information on ground transportation and road connections.

  • Rotterdam bus 50 at WilhelminakadeTip: RET Airport Shuttle bus 50 is the quickest transit route into the city, with stops at Rotterdam Centraal Station, Rotterdam Blaak Station, and Wilhelminakade (in front of the Cruise Terminal, shown in the inset photo).

Hoek van Holland ferriesArriving by ferry: Stena Line operates several ferries each day between Harwich, England and the Hook of Holland, which is downriver from Rotterdam. P&O North Sea Ferries operates ferries between Hull and Rotterdam Europoort.

Rotterdam Cruise Terminal signArriving by cruise ship: The Rotterdam cruise terminal is on the Holland Amerikakade, across the Erasmus Bridge from the city center. It welcomes about two dozen cruises each year. See the Cruise Terminal Rotterdam page in this guide for more information, and browse the "Departures" section of our ms Rotterdam cruise photos for images of a journey from the cruise terminal to the North Sea.

Arriving by car: Several motorways converge on Rotterdam from the north, south, east, and west; you can get free maps and directions from the interactive Via Michelin journey planner.

Local transportation

RET logoRET is the main public-transportation operator in Rotterdam. It was founded in 1878 as a streetcar company (Rotterdamse Elektrische Tram); today, it carries more than 600,000 passengers a day on a multimodal transportation network that includes buses, trams, a metro system, and a new fast ferry.

Rotterdam Metro StationRET's Tickets and fares page tells how to ride public transit by paying single fares or  by purchasing one-, two-, or three-day travel cards.

For hands-on help and purchases, visit the RET's sales and information counters in Rotterdam Centraal Station, at the Beurs Metro station in the central shopping district, and in the RET Serviceshop at Coolsingel 141.

Other local services include:

Watertaxi Rotterdam signWatertaxi Rotterdam, which is especially convenient for getting between Leuvehaven, in the city center, and the Hotel New York by the cruise terminal. The water taxis (which are actually shared-ride water minibuses) offer frequent daytime and evening service to many boarding places on the north and south side of the river, including the popular tourist attractions of Euromast and Delfshaven.

Rotterdam Waterbus ferryWaterbus fast ferries, which connect central Rotterdam with the windmills at Kinderdijk, Dordrech, and other points upriver on the Nieuwe Maas. (Use Google Translate to interpret the Dutch-language Web site.)

Aqualiner ferry to RDMcampusThe Aqualiner ferry (click "Tidjden" for a timetable) between central Rotterdam and the RDM Campus, a new "Research, Design, and Manufacturing" facility where entrepreneurial companies and technical schools work together on innovative projects.

NS train in Rotterdam Centraal StationNetherlands Railways, which operates trains for commuters, business travelers, and tourists throughout the region (including trains to such cities as Delft, Utrecht, Den Haag, and Amsterdam).

Depending on how close you are to a railroad station, an NS train may be faster than local transit for reaching outlying points within the city like the Feyenoord football stadium at Stadion station, which is on the south side of the river beyond the Blaak and Zuid stations.

Taxis (the automotive variety) are available at Rotterdam Centraal Station, the airport, and other locations; you can also order cabs from Rotterdamse Taxi Centrale or Taxi St. Job.

Tuk Tuk taxi in RotterdamFor a more exotic and economical cab ride, hire a three-wheeled stadstaxi (city taxi) from Tuk Tuk Company. You can phone ahead for a Tuk Tuk cab, and you'll pay per passenger on a zone system.

Bicycling

Bicycle photoSee our Rotterdam tours and excursions page for advice about bicycling (including links to local resources).

Driving and parking in Rotterdam

Rotterdam parking signRotterdam is a post-World War II city, for the most part, with an efficient road network and good separation between cars, bicycles, and pedestrians. Thanks to excellent public transportation and the Dutch willingness to use transit, car traffic generally moves smoothly outside of rush hours. Still, we'd recommend parking your car and relying on shoe leather and transit for sightseeing.

The Gemeente Rotterdam's English-language Parking in Rotterdam page tells where you can park free on the outskirts and how to use public parking within the city.

Next page: Cruise Terminal




Top photo: Jan van der Ploeg.
1st, 8th, 12th, 15th inset photos: Corstiaan van Elselingen.
14th inset photo: Maike Boot.