Rotterdam Mini Cruise: 24-Hour Guide to the Gateway of Europe

Vibrant, eye catching and picturesque; Rotterdam is not only one of the world’s largest ports, but home to amazing feats of architecture, maritime heritage and Europe’s leading indoor food market. For those pressed for time in this incredible city, we have put together an itinerary of essential sights to ensure you make the most out of a day trip to Rotterdam.

Morning wanderings

Rotterdam Town Hall Netherlands

The main street of Coolsingel is a great place to kick off your Rotterdam adventure, with expansive breakfast options available just a short stroll along. After you’ve grabbed an aromatic coffee from one of the alternative coffee houses, take in the sights along the canal – you’ll see the Stadhuis, Bijenkorf department store and more on your travels.

Lunchtime landmarks

Cube Houses Rotterdam Netherlands

A 15-minute walk will bring you to the Oudehaven area, home to the Witte Huis (White House), a ten-storey art nouveau structure built in 1898. Once Europe’s tallest building, the expansive views from its rooftop are a sight to behold. Surrounded by idyllic restaurants serving delectable mussels and fresh fish, this is the perfect point to stop for a bite to eat.

After a leisurely lunch, stretch your legs by heading to another must-see piece of architecture in the city’s iconic cube houses. Rotterdam has been magnificently rebuilt in the past 60 years due to extensive damage suffered during WWII, and these innovative structures are a fascinating insight into the possibilities of urban living. Nearby, you’ll find the city’s only remaining medieval building, the Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk, a church dating back to the 15th century and home to three historic Danish organs.

Afternoon explorations

Erasmus Bridge

Next, head a short distance south to the Maritiem Museum, which has housed exhibitions on the history of shipping and seafaring since its 1873 opening, including a breathtaking reconstruction of a 2,000-year-old vessel.

From there, follow the Schiedamsedijk road south to the Erasmus Bridge, which spans across a section of the Nieuwe Maas river. Characterised by its remarkable swan-like neck, which stretches 139 metres high, you can enjoy this unmissable sight on foot or from Rotterdam’s famous waterbus.

Round off your day in style

Rotterdam Markthal
Credits: Ossip van Duivenbode

After all that sight-seeing, food will be the only thing on your mind – and where better to satisfy your cravings than at Rotterdam’s newly built Markthal? Impossible to miss, this spectacular food market’s 40-metre arched roof is a sight to behold, and a clear staple of creators MVRDV, who are renowned for building structures that appear to breach the laws of physics. The colourful, cartoonish mural on its ceiling is a playful, quintessentially Dutch addition, and with 100 stalls to choose from, you will be spoilt for choice when purchasing the best local produce. The Markthal is also home to a number of exceptional restaurants serving dishes from the Netherlands and all over the world. Sit back, relax and enjoy a delicious meal whilst watching the hustle and bustle continue around you.

If this has inspired you, check out our adventure page for more great ideas.