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Rotterdam Oude Haven

ABOVE: Modern architecture, vintage boats, and outdoor dining converge in Rotterdam's Oude Haven, or Old Harbor. INSET BELOW: A life preserver, the Koninginnebrug lift bridge, a life preserver, rappelling from the Euromast, and a dog on wheels.

Rotterdam life preserverRotterdam may be the most underrated--and underpublicized--travel destination in the Netherlands. Despite a population of 600,000 in a metropolitan area of 1.2 million, Rotterdam lies in the tourist shadow of Amsterdam and a host of smaller cities that better fit a foreigner's image of what a Dutch holiday destination should be.

Hotel New York clock towerOur advice: Ignore the cliché-seeking crowds and spend a few days (or longer) in a city where eye-popping modern architecture, historic harbors, museums, parks, and the best view in the Netherlands stand side by side.

Rotterdam Cube HousesRotterdam is a city where you'll find houses that look like tilted cubes, a modern floating hotel amid sailing ships and barges, the chance to rappel from the Euromast, a vintage cruise boat that carries tourists to the UNESCO-listed windmills at Kinderdijk, major events like the Summer Carnival and the North Sea Jazz Festival, and an historic church (the Laurenskerk) where, if you're lucky, you can hear a free lunchtime organ concert.

dog in bike trailerIf you're looking for an eye-popping red-light district, a thriving tourist drug scene, or flotillas of tour buses, Rotterdam may leave you disappointed. But if you like watching ships, riding ferries, bicycling and dining along the water, exploring museums, or admiring innovative architecture and urban design, Rotterdam is worth an extended visit. As a bonus, Rotterdam is a convenient base for visiting Delft, Gouda, the Hague, Utrecht, and other nearby cities.

Planning your trip to Rotterdam:

We've divided this Rotterdam Travel Guide into 12 pages, each on a different topic. To begin planning your visit, continue to Rotterdam architecture and art, or use the links in the navigation table at the bottom of each page.

Next page: Architecture, art

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

About the author:

Durant Imboden photo.Durant Imboden is a professional travel writer, book author, and editor who focuses on European cities and transportation.

After 4-1/2 years of covering European travel topics for, Durant and Cheryl Imboden co-founded Europe for Visitors in 2001. The site has earned "Best of the Web" honors from Forbes and The Washington Post.

For more information, see About Europe for Visitors, press clippings, and reader testimonials.