From: Rotterdam Travel Guide
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.
Arriving 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.
Arriving by plane. Intercontinental flights and many other international flights use Schiphol Airport near Amsterdam, but Rotterdam 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 access page has information on ground transportation and road connections.
Arriving 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.
Arriving 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.
RET 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.
RET's Travel Passes and Tickets page tells how to ride public transit with such products as the OV-chipkaart (stored-value ticket cards, including a disposable single-trip version) and the more traditional Strippenkaarten, which can be used on public-transit systems throughout the Netherlands.
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, 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 stations on the north and south side of the river, including the popular tourist attractions of Euromast and Delfshaven.
Waterbus 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.)
The 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.
Netherlands 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.
For 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.
See our Rotterdam tours and excursions page for advice about bicycling (including links to local resources).
Driving and parking in Rotterdam
Rotterdam 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.
Copyright © 1996-2013 Durant and Cheryl Imboden and their licensors. All rights reserved.