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The Top 6 Locations to Spend Your (First) Time in Rotterdam

Global Ambassador Mateusz explores the best places to visit while studying in Rotterdam at the Erasmus School of Economics. Discover what makes the city so unique and exciting for students from all over the world.

Feb 12, 2018
  • Student Stories
  • Study Abroad in the Netherlands
  • Study Abroad in Europe

The Top 6 Locations to Spend Your (First) Time in Rotterdam

Hi everyone! I’m back again with my second blog about studying in the Netherlands. Rotterdam is one of the biggest cities in the Netherlands. With a population of around 640,000 inhabitants, it is the second largest in the country- right after Amsterdam, our capital.

Studying in Rotterdam means that you always hear the same question: “That’s the city with one of the largest ports of the world, right?” And of course, that’s true, but in Rotterdam you can find much more than its fascinating port. Think: fantastic buildings and architecture, a variety of museums, restaurants and much more to enjoy.

In my second blog I want to take you with me on a journey through my six favorite hotspots and activities in Rotterdam as a student at Erasmus School of Economics.

Markthal & Cube Houses

To start off, two of the most iconic buildings of Rotterdam are not even a few steps away from each other: the Markthal and the iconic cube houses of Rotterdam, both located near Rotterdam Blaak. The Markthal was constructed in 2009 and serves as both an office building and a marketplace.

The market within the Markthal is a great place to visit, since it contains a huge array of shops, stalls, restaurants and bars. It also has a fascinating design with large windowed sections facing out to the surrounding courtyard that allow you to look right through the building. It really is a cool and vibrant place to explore and sample some fine food and drink.

Then, if you turn 180 degrees, you will find yourself looking at the cube houses, which are exactly what they sound like – a set of cuboid houses. These cubes are like no other homes you will ever encounter and may remind you of the computer game Tetris.

The strange shapes make you wonder how the people living there cope with the strange angles of the walls and windows and the outside. Many tourists come by every day to see these strange houses and take pictures in them. If you want, you can even take a look inside of one house that is open for the public, so you can see how the real tenants live.

The Euromast

The Euromast Tower is an observation station that was created in 1960 to provide panoramic views of the Rotterdam skyline. Since then it has been an icon for Rotterdam as the tallest tower in the Netherlands open for public viewing (185m tall with the antenna). Inside the tower you will find a restaurant, a hotel suite, and of course the observation deck.

I find that this is the perfect way to see the sprawling expanse of Rotterdam and its ports. Plus, the entrance fee is quite modest for students. Furthermore, if you are looking for a little adrenaline rush, you can even zip-line or abseil from the tower!

Photo by Commercial Photography Fredography

Windmills (Kinderdijk)

When you think about the Netherlands you, of course, think about tulips, cheese, and windmills. Although it maybe is not technically in Rotterdam, the Windmills of the small village of Kinderdijk lie so close (around 20 km east of central Rotterdam) that it is a must to visit them. The 19 windmills stand proudly alongside the canals. They have been restored to their original condition and are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This truly is a delightful place to visit. The surrounding countryside and network of canals is extremely impressive and iconic in the Netherlands. It also makes for a nice picture to send to your parents!

Museum Boymans van Beuningen

Rotterdam is a city for many diverse people. If you like art, then the museum Boymans van Beuningen is one not to miss. This peaceful and charming museum is located in the Dijkzigt district of Rotterdam and is one of the country’s most important museums of art.

It contains a fine display of decorative arts, sculptures and paintings from many different artists and countries such as works from Van Gogh, Dali, and Rembrandt. Aside from the fantastic collection of art, the building and grounds of the museum are really impressive and a pleasant place to walk around when you want to take a break from all the hard studying.

The Rotterdam Zoo

Another fun activity to do in your free time is to go to the Rotterdam Zoo (also known as the Diergaarde Blijdorp). The zoo is split into several themed areas including a Chinese garden, a Malayan forest, Mongolian steppes and a crocodile river.

The zoo is in great condition and features a botanical garden and aquarium where you can dine if you’re interested! It really is a fantastic place even for students and the wide variety of enclosures and interactive elements will provide hours of fun.

The Erasmus Bridge

When thinking about Rotterdam, most people almost always also think about the Erasmus Bridge.  This monumental bridge spans the Nieuwe Maas and with a length of an impressive 802m, it is the second largest bridge in the Netherlands.

The bridge is nicknamed the Swan due to its large upright mast that resembles the neck of a swan. When you are in Rotterdam seeing this iconic monument of the city is a must, but since it can be seen when cycling by (or over) it when you study in Rotterdam, it is last on my list.