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2h37 from Paris, 1h10 from Brussels or 1h53 from Lille by train, Rotterdam has plenty to seduce lovers of big cities. Rebuilt after the war, Rotterdam has emerged as a truly modern city with its innovative architecture, bustling cultural life and cosmopolitan feel. Some like the charm of the cobbled streets and canals which remind of Amsterdam, while others appreciate the city's discipline and modernity similar to Copenhagen's style. One thing is certain: Rotterdam is an up-and-coming destination for a city break.
PS: Upon your arrival by train, don't miss the impressive silver-plated façade of Rotterdam Central Station.
Rebuilt after the war, Rotterdam has emerged as a truly modern city with its innovative architecture, bustling cultural life and cosmopolitan feel. Some like the charm of the cobbled streets and canals of Amsterdam while others appreciate the discipline and modernity of the Copenhagen style. One thing is certain: Rotterdam is an up-and-coming destination for a city break.
These cubic houses, built in 1984 by the architect Piet Blom, are a group of innovative houses in the shape of an inclined cube. Their design is meant to represent a village within a city where each house is a tree, thereby forming a forest. Admire the exterior architecture and have fun taking photos of all the different lines and shapes. If you want to push the fantasy a little further, you can visit the Kijk-Kubus, the show apartment, for only a few euros.
The Erasmus Bridge
The Erasmusbrug allows you to cross the Meuse to join Kop van Zuid. Numerous cultural centres and museums have been set up in the old warehouses of this peninsula, which could well be called 'Manhattan-on-Meuse'. The Erasmus Bridge (140m high) and its elegant swan-shaped structure are a true symbol of the Rotterdam skyline. A short distance from the Erasmus Bridge is the 185m-high Euromast tower, offering panoramic views of the city. Not to be missed.
Spared from bombing, Delfshaven is the sole testament to the Rotterdam of old. This district, located to the west of the city, looks like Amsterdam: small bridges, canals, red bricks and even a windmill... Take a stroll to enjoy an interlude of silence at the end of the day. The canals of Delfshaven are perfect for a visit by bike.
Savour the flavours of Markthal
This impressive public market, the largest in the Netherlands, is an unusual place: 120m long and covered by a 40m high arc. Lively from morning to night, it will put your taste buds to the test: with no fewer than 100 stalls offering fresh bread, tasty cheeses, fish, poultry... The idea? Taste and order a dish at a kiosk and then enjoy it above. What to taste? The poffertjes (small, fluffy pancakes covered with sugar), kibbeling met saus (equivalent to fish and chips) or a fresh herring bun prepared right in front of you.
The Markthal is also home to 200 apartments... Good to know should you want to settle in this cosmopolitan city.
Fenix Food Factory
This restaurant/bar is housed in an old factory. The Fenix Food Factory sells only local products (cheese, vegetables, beer, books, etc.) to be enjoyed on the quay at the water's edge. The place is reminiscent of Camden, London, when the area was littered with food stalls to pick at while taking a stroll.
The Witte de Withstraat
This street is somewhat the place to be in Rotterdam. You will find everything here: hipster cafes, restaurants with flavours from here and elsewhere, vintage boutiques, etc. The Witte de Withstraat is without doubt the ideal place to spend an evening on an ultra-crowded terrace with a relaxed atmosphere.
Rotterdam, the equal of its big sister Amsterdam, is a cultural destination with museums, art galleries and festivals throughout the year. Good to know: The Museumkwartier is a district with many museums including the Boijnmans van Beuningen Museum, the Kunsthal, the Dutch Institute of Architecture (NAi), etc.
Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum
Visit the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum and travel through the history of art. From the Middle Ages to the 21st century, from Bosch to Rembrandt and Van Gogh via Dali and Dutch design, this museum is well worth a visit. Highlights include the famous Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, as well as paintings by Picasso, Courbet or Magritte and Kandinsky.
The Kunsthal dares to be novel, progressive and adventurous: you will find quality temporary exhibitions in more than 3000m² exhibition area. The museum offers up to five exhibitions at a time, whether they are original, dedicated to ancient works, experimental or photographic art.
If you're an art lover, you can also visit the Wereldmuseum (World Museum) which is devoted to the ethnology and cultures of the world, or Het Schielandhuis (Museum of the History of Rotterdam). Don't miss the Photo museum, located on the peninsula of Kop van Zuid.
Lijnbaan and the Beurs district
Just minutes from the Markthal and the cubic houses is the Beurs district. Here you will find all the great classic brands. Its originality lies in the different levels giving the impression of being in a maze.
If you prefer outdoor shopping, head to De Lijnbaan, the city's main thoroughfare, fully pedestrianised.
Oude Binnenweg and Karel Doormanstraat
On one side, the charming Oude Binnenweg, on the other the newer Karel Doormanstraat. Here you will find more intimate shops than on the Lijnbaan. Small shops for clothes, design and home decor.
Since the Netherlands is the kingdom of the bicycle, renting one seems the best option for visiting Rotterdam. Launch yourself into the 'national sport' and get around like the locals. You will easily find bike rentals ranging from €10 to €20 per day.
If you opt for the pedestrian option, treat yourself to a 'water taxi' (about €4 to €5 per person), a quick and fun way to get from one bank to the other.
Convinced? Book your journey!
Ready to explore Rotterdam? The Thalys and InterCity trains will take you straight to the city centre in no time at all. Tip: the earlier you book, the cheaper your tickets will be!
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* Unless expressly stated otherwise, all fares quoted are per person/per leg (VAT included) based on an online reservation for a 2nd class return from Brussels. Please note, terms and conditions apply. Tip: As the number of seats at the lowest fares on Thalys, Eurostar, TGV® and ICE trains is limited, we recommend that you book your trip as early as possible. Most international trains allow reservations to be made from 3 to 4 months before the date of departure (or from 6 months for Eurostar and ICE).
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