Rotterdam is divided into 14 stadsdelen (boroughs) and towns, each with their own history, culture and atmosphere. Some of the more popular neighbourhoods in Rotterdam are:
This is the absolute city center, where you will find most of the hotels. It’s also the area that was heavily bombed during the Nazi air raid of 1940, so do not expect a lot of historical buildings from the Dutch golden ages. But what can you expect?
A modern city center with many highrises and a large pedestrian-only shopping district, called De Lijnbaan. And probably the absolute center of Rotterdam nightlife, the Witte de With street. Located there is the bar called the Witte Aap (White Ape), which was voted best bar of the World in 2013 by the readers of Lonely Planet. Next to the Witte Aap there are also numerous other bars and restaurants.
Some top tourist attractions that can be found in the Stadsdriehoek are the Markthal, the cube houses and the Maritime Museum.
The Oude Westen (Old West) is one of the most diverse neighbourhoods of Rotterdam and has several unique districts on it’s own. Two main cultural arteries run through the neigborhood, the West-Kruiskade and the Nieuwe Binnenweg. The West-Kruiskade, close to the Central Station, is famous for it’s multicultural vibe. When you enter the street you’ll notice a lot of Chinese owned businesses, which makes the street also the center of Rotterdam’s Chinatown.
Next to Chinese businesses you’ll find shops, bars and restaurants from cultures all over the world. From Vietnamese restaurants selling Pho and Bánh mì, jewelers specialising in Surinamese gold to Moroccan stores selling traditional Maghreb wedding dresses.
The Nieuwe Binnenweg is also very multicultural but has a more hip and alternative vibe to it. One thing you’ll notice are the many barbershops located in the street. The most famous of them all being Schorem. Next to the barbershops there are also a lot of bars and cute little shops te be found. And probably the most popular cake shop of Rotterdam, Koekela.
Delfshaven is one of the oldest parts of Rotterdam. That’s basically because Delfshaven used to be a town on it’s own and grew around the port of the city of Delft. That city itself was not located on a major river, so in 1389 a harbour was created about 10 kilometres due south of the city, to be able to receive seafaring vessels. This settlement was named Delfshaven (“Port of Delft”).
Delfshaven was annexed by Rotterdam in 1886 at its own request. Nowadays it’s one of Rotterdam’s boroughs and has close to 75,000 inhabitants. It still contains a small, but well-preserved historic centre with modest museums, a brewery you can visit and a various pubs and restaurants. One of the more famous pubs is also one of the oldest of Rotterdam; Café de Ooievaar. A typical Dutch style “bruine kroeg”, in a sense the low countries’ equivalent of the famous Irish pub.
Historic Delfshaven is somehwat of a hidden gem, since it’s kind of hidden in the western part of Rotterdam. You wouldn’t see too many tourists here. But it has charm, and is well connected to the public transport network. Definitely a place to consider when looking for a hotel or cosy Bed and Breakfast.
Kralingen is probably one of the most popular neighbourhoods of Rotterdam. It’s also one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods of Rotterdam, at least, the eastern part is. Basically you can divide Kralingen into three parts. East for the well-to-do, center for the students and west for the working class. Eventhough there is ofcourse the inevitable gentrification going on and housing prices are on the rise.
There are a couple of stately, but still cosy avenues and streets to be found, like the Hoflaan and the Avenue Concordia. Like already mentioned there are a lot of students living in Karlingen, due to the fact that the Erasmus University is also based in Kralingen. On the Oostzeedijk there are many popular bars and restaurants and because some cater for the students are often reasonably priced.
Also located in Kralingen is the Kralingse Plas, a rather big innercity lake with a forest around it. The water is mainly used for watersport, fishing and recreational activities. Several sport associations are located around the lake, including rowing, sailing and fishing. It’s therefore a very popular spot for Rotterdammers on hot summer days.
Not really a neigbourhood, but a sort of small peninsula, the Wilhelminapier is a highrise hotspot. It’s basically just a small piece of land with two main streets and 4 alleys between them. Doesn’t sound too fancy, but believe us, it’s an interesting place to stay. The Wilhelminakade, the northern quay, used to be the place where large ocean liners would leave for the United States and became the country’s symbol of emigration. The quay is also the location of Rotterdam’s cruise terminal.
On the western tip, called het Koninginnehoofd, Hotel New York is located. This building used to be the headquarters of the HAL (Holland Amerika Lijn) until the last ocean liner left in 1971. In 1993 it was renovated and transformed to a hotel and large restaurant. Within no time it became a very popular spot for either tourists as locals.
On the small piece of land of the Wilhelminapier you’ll find bars, restaurants, the National Photographic Museum and the NHOW hotel. A design hotel, located in the biggest building of The Netherlands, De Rotterdam. If you’re looking for a hotel-room with a spectacular view, the NHOW is a great choice.
Eventhough a small peninsula on the south bank, this area is well connected to the public transport network with a subway-tram junction at the entrance of the Wilehlminapier on the western side.