Our 3-day plan for Rotterdam

04 January 2020

While Amsterdam and Rotterdam are two of Holland’s most popular destinations, the two couldn’t be more different from one another. Often mentioned as 010 (“nul tien” in Dutch) after its regional code, Rotterdam sends off very modern, almost futuristic vibes because of its many architecturally interesting buildings. I’m normally more eager to visit old historical towns, but Rotterdam definitely felt like a breath of fresh air. It’s a great city to spend a long weekend, especially if you’re into lots of shopping and good food.

We arrived at our hotel, The James, on Friday night and then we had three full days to see the city. We planned to visit a different part of the city each day, making sure we’d get a good mix of the touristic must-sees and the more undiscovered spots.

DAY 1: Rotterdam North


Vintage shopping in the Zwaanshals quarter

The first morning we had breakfast at Bertmans, a local favorite close to our hotel, and then paid a visit to plant store Stek before heading north. We started our exploration in the Zwaanshals quarter, which is truly a treat if you love vintage shopping. It’s full of small independent shops like Betje Krul, Margootje Vintage and Ding&Dingen, and for an in between caffeine fix there’s Hopper Coffee. You also can’t miss the street next to Zwaanshals, called Zaagmolenkade: this is rather the place for designer clothing or afternoon tea at Lof der Zoetheid. 

Beer tasting at Brouwerij Noordt

After all that shopping, it was time for a good pint. We’d arranged to take a tour and do a beer tasting at Brouwerij Noordt. Just like in Belgium, craft beer is quite a thing in Rotterdam and this local business makes about 15 different types of beer in their little brewery located in the middle of Zaagmolenkade street. The tour guide (and owner) enthusiastically showed us around the place and afterwards we could order any two beers of our choice at the bar up front. They were quite good, and unsurprisingly more than the foreseen number followed. 

DAY 2: Rotterdam South


Breakfast at Bas Bakt and lunch at De Foodhallen

We started off our second day at Bas Bakt, an artisanal bakery in the artistic Witte de With Quarter. There we indulged on a lovely breakfast plate with fresh bread, croissants and jam – a real hit! Then after some strolling we crossed the Erasmus bridge to head to the Kop van Zuid, a super modern neighborhood full of eye-catching high rise buildings. Both the Dutch photo museum and the indoor food market De Foodhallen are located on this peninsula. We happily filled our stomachs in the latter, trying stuff from all the different stalls like truffle croquettes, bakpau and traditional Dutch ‘bitterballen’.

A walk through Het Park and view from Euromast

Back on the other side of the bridge, we took a walk through the stunning and one of the oldest parks in Rotterdam. In Het Park you can also find the Euromast towering high above the trees. This is the most popular spot to get a panoramic view over the city. To avoid a long waiting time, we didn’t go up there until sunset, which gave us a stunning sight of the setting sun on one side and the moon rising on the other. Such a beautiful experience!

Escape room fun and burgers

As is becoming a habit of ours during a citytrip, we ended the night tackling an escape room. At Escape010 you can book an escape for 2 people for an actual reasonable price and the ‘Book of Mystery’ theme immediately spoke to us. Though escaping the room turned out to be too big of a challenge, the setting was really well-made and there were some amazingly clever clues to be found! Ending up back where our day had begun, we celebrated our heavy efforts with a delicious couple of burgers at Ter Marsch & Co: a cozy burger place in the Witte de Withstraat.

DAY 3: Rotterdam Central


A visit to the Kubuswoningen and Markthal

For our last ‘breakfast’ we gave in to our sweet tooth cravings and ordered cake and coffee at Nine Bar. It was just a 5-minute walk from our next stop: Piet Blom’s Cube Houses (“Kubuswoningen” in Dutch). These 38 cube-shaped houses are probably the most famous architectural attraction in Rotterdam, with one ‘show cube’ serving as a museum for visitors – a rather strange thing to see! Also nearby is the Markthal, another food market with an almost equally remarkable horseshoe design.

Shopping in the Koopgoot and Meent street

We spent the afternoon browsing the shops in and around Meent street like concept store Keet and interior favorite Hay. Then after a late lunch at Ristorante Napoli, we ended up in the Koopgoot: a unique shopping area below street level in the heart of Rotterdam where the larger retail chains are located. Sadly this marked the end of our trip as not much later we'd be catching our train homewards!

All addresses mentioned: 

Bertmans | Karel Doormanstraat 292
Hopper Coffee | Zwaanshals 474
Lof der Zoetheid | Noordplein 1
Bas Bakt | Hartmansstraat 22A
Foodhallen | Wilhelminakade 58
Ter Marsch & Co | Witte de Withstraat 70
Nine Bar | Botersloot 44A
Markthal | Ds. Jan Scharpstraat 298
Ristorante Napoli | Meent 81A

Stek De Stadstuinwinkel | Nieuwe Binnenweg 195B
Ruby Lee and the vintage factory | Nieuwe Binnenweg 255A
Margootje Vintage | Zwaanshals 276B
Betje Krul | Zwaanshals 344
Ding&Dingen | Zwaanshals 508
Keet | Oppert 2a
Hay | Haagseveer 99

Brouwerij Noordt | Zaagmolenkade 46
Nederlands Fotomuseum | Wilhelminakade 332
Euromast | Parkhaven 20
Escape010 | Diergaardesingel 67A
Kijk-kubus | Overblaak 70