If you’re still doubting why you must absolutely visit Rotterdam, here are our top 5 reasons:
Reason 1; The Rotterdammers themselves
Let’s just start off with the people living here, the Rotterdammers themselves. Rotterdam has a very diverse population with over 180 nationalities. A little over half the population has a foreign background and made this city into an absolute melting pot. Many of those newcomers might not feel that they are Dutch, but they often feel that they are true Rotterdammers.
One of Rotterdam’s many nicknames is “De Werkstad”, basically meaning “The Working City”. Rotterdammers are known as a hard-working bunch, probably because of two main reasons; The fact that Rotterdam is a port city with (in the past) a lot of manual labourers. Plus the fact that Rotterdam had to rebuild the complete city center after World War II.
Rotterdammers have a can-do mentality. They are usually very direct and not easily offended. Their humor is often sarcastic and is very important in daily life. They love to make jokes about each other, but never in an insulting way. At least, that’s how they feel about it, but people not from this city might feel otherwise.
The average Rotterdammer is very down-to-earth and does not tend to feel that he or she is better than someone else. It’s not weird to go to a bar in Rotterdam and see a rugged dockworker having a chat with a sharp dressed lawyer.
Reason 2; The stunning architecture
Rotterdam has always been a pioneer in the world of architecture. Already back in 1898 the city finishes construction of what is called the first skyscraper of Europe; Het Witte Huis. Built in art nouveau style, the office buildings stands 12 floors tall. In the decades after the construction the buildings became taller and taller.
The biggest catalyst of the construction of highrises in the city, is a real tragic event. In 1940 the entire city center was left devastated by the Nazi Luftwaffe, after dropping over 1300 bombs on the city. A completely new city center had to be built and the city became a playing ground for achtitects.
Nowadays 7 of the 10 tallest buildings in The Netherlands are located in Rotterdam. The tallest one is the newly built Zalmhaven Tower, which measures 215 metres. Next to the higrises a lot of less tall architectural highlights can be found throughout the city. The Cube Houses, the Central Station and the Markthal are just some examples of the bold architecture that makes this city so great.
Reason 3; The unique festivals and events
Just like every big city, Rotterdam has a good offer of festivals, and some of them are quite unique. One of the most typical events for the city is the Wereldhavendagen (World Port Days). It’s a large annual multi-day event in the first weekend of September. The aim is to give the public a glimpse behind the scenes of the biggest port of Europe. For example through ship visits, demonstrations on the water and presentations by port companies. The event attracts close to 500,000 visitors every year.
Another typical festival is Rotterdam Unlimited and celebrates the multicultural aspect of the city. The main event of this festival is the Street Parade and attracts close to a million visitors. The parade includes brass bands and thousands of dancers from mostly Caribbean and Latin American descent.
A way smaller, but still unique event is the Dakendagen (Rooftop days). An event that pays tribute to the first Dutch city with an actual skyline. A lot of the towers are open for public and you can visit many roofs or penthouses throughout the city for free.
Reason 4; The flourishing food scene
Rotterdam has developed a thriving food scene in the last decades. The architectural icon Markthal is the first indoor food market of the Netherlands. Next to close to a 100 stalls selling fresh produce, restaurants and bars are also to be found in the building.
Another food market well worth a visit is the Fenix Food Factory. In an old warehouse a market was set up with mainly local produce. Also located in the building is the brewery Kaapse Brouwers, which is famous for selling the best Rotterdam beer in the World!
If you have a little more money to spend there are a dozen of restaurants with one or two Michelin stars. Chef François Geurds’ even runs two restaurants with the prestigious stars. The 2-star FG Restaurant and the 1-star Food Labs, the latter focusing completely on experimental cooking.
Since Rotterdam is very multicultural, as mentioned before, you can visit restaurants from pretty much any foreign cuisine. Peruvian, Ethiopian, Mongolian or Libanese, just think of any culture and you can bet there’s a restaurant in Rotterdam serving it’s gastronomic highlights.
Reason 5; The collection of outdoor art
Next to a couple of top class museums like the Boymans-Van Beuningen, the Kunsthal or the New Institute, there is plenty of art to be found in the streets themselves. Commisioned paintings and poetry on buildings, but also a free open air art gallery right in the city center.
On the Westersingel close by to the Central Station there is an art gallery stretching all the way to the Museumpark. You’ll find a lot of sculptures in many different styles. The most famous of them all is “Santa Claus“. Nicknamed the Buttplug Gnome, this provocative 5-metre tall sculpture is by far the most photographed piece of art in the entire city.