The Netherland‘s Rotterdam has a reputation as a working city and is often overlooked by travellers in favour of Amsterdam. But a dynamic nightlife, daring architecture and accessible attractions are helping steer the city to new heights and no one is more proud than the friendly locals.
Here’s what to see in Rotterdam.
The Rotterdam Port
Make sure you visit the port, the biggest in Europe and where, between 1880 and 1920, hundreds of people jumped ship to America and Australia in search of a better life. It was pretty drab back then, but it’s certainly pulled its socks up with a string of vibrant waterfront cafés and bars.
Check out the Euromast, a 185m-tall lookout tower designed to resemble a ship’s mast. The Netherlands’ highest tower offers fabulous views and, for the adventurous, a chance to abseil back down it.
Rotterdam is plugged internationally for its modern architecture. The post-war reconstruction of the city brought a mix of handsome and hideous buildings but with each project the skyline continues to change for the better. One of the more innovative is the Kijk-Kubus residential village, filled to the brim with cube-shaped homes. A show cube is set up for tourists to have a sticky beak at how one can comfortably live in such an oddly shaped abode.
Bars, clubs and dance parades
Rotterdam has some of the funkiest night spots in Europe, and draws a host of big-name DJs to its parties. Head to Witte de Withstraat, Nieuwe Binnenweg or Stadhuisplein to find the coolest bars in the city. And then there’s the legendary Fit For Free Dance Parade (ffwdheinekendanceparade.nl) in August, when 40 trucks loaded with DJs and dancers tour the streets.
Visit the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, home to an art collection that includes works by Dutch masters such as Van Eyck, French painter Monet and his fellow Impressionists, and more contemporary artists and designers.
WHEN TO GO: Anytime. The climate is similar to the UK.
GETTING THERE: KLM flies direct from London to Rotterdam.
VISAS: South Africans need a Schengen visa.
CURRENCY: Euro. 1 GBP = 1.14 EUR.
LANGUAGE: Dutch, but most people speak English.
GETTING AROUND: Jump on a retro tram or hire a bike. There are dedicated cycle lanes so you can cruise through the city without worrying about traffic – not advisable after a visit to a ‘special café’ though.
GOING OUT: A beer costs about €5.
ACCOMMODATION: Dorm beds from €17, hotel rooms from €70.
GET MORE INFO AT: holland.com