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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 RotterdamNehallenia returns from a 3-hour excursion to Kinderdijk, and a bicyclist takes to the air.

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.

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

Kinderdijk cruise boatOur own favorite tour (until it was suspended recently) was the Rebus Shipping Company's Kinderdijk cruise aboard an old-fashioned two-deck excursion boat, the Nehalennia. The leisurely three-hour trip took visitors to the UNESCO-listed windmills at Kinderdijk, which is upriver from Rotterdam. Nehalennia's itinerary now consists of a two-hour Rotterdam harbor tour, but if you'd like to visit Kinderdik, you can get there by Waterbus.

Day trips by boat

In addition to its standard harbor cruises, Spido offers day cruises to the new Maasvlakte 2 port project across from the Hook of Holland.

On these longer cruises, the spoken commentary is in Dutch only, but English- or German-speaking passengers are given 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 a journey planner and prices.

  • Tip: To save money, buy rail tickets from the easy-to-use touch-screen ticket machines in train stations or purchase your tickets online. (Mobile tickets are available for smartphone users.)

Bicyle tours

extreme bicycling RotterdamUrbanGuides offers guided city tours and day trips, including a variety of bicycling tours.

If you'd rather explore the city on your own, visit the tourist office's Rent a bike in Rotterdam page. Also see Peter Hilton's Rotterdam Cycling Routes, which has detailed step-by-step directions with photos for several tours in and around Rotterdam.

Next page: Museums

Rotterdam travel guide:
Architecture, art
Sightseeing, attractions
Tours, excursions
Hotels, hostels
Restaurants, cafés
Music, festivals
Cruise terminal
Tourist information

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