15 Best Sights in Rotterdam, Netherlands

Maritiem Museum Rotterdam

Witte de With Fodor's choice

A sea lover's delight, the Maritiem Museum or Maritime Museum contains Rotterdam's noted nautical collection. Appropriately perched at the head of the Leuvehaven harbor, it was founded by Prince Hendrik in 1874. The seafaring ways of old Rotterdammers make more sense set against the background of modern and historical maritime objects. The main exhibit on the ground floor is a large model of the Europoort, which shows how the Rotterdam area has developed over the centuries into the major seaport of today. The upper floors are mainly given over to rotating exhibitions on seafaring themes. Children have half a floor dedicated to them, called "Professor Plons" (Professor Plunge), where museum staff are on hand to help with looking through a real periscope, donning a hard hat, and taking to the driving seat of a scaled-down crane, and engaging in many other aquatic and maritime activities. Outside the museum, a dozen or so old tugs and barges are moored along Leuvehaven. The wharf is also home to a number of cranes salvaged from ports around the country, and these are particularly striking when floodlighted at night.


Blaak Fodor's choice
Rotterdam's indoor market is a giant archlike structure that houses 228 apartments in its "shell," and provides a roof for more than 100 permanent food stalls. But the real star is the breathtaking interior—in particular the vast mural of colorful insects, fruit, flowers, and vegetables that fills the curving walls and ceiling. Named Hoorn des Overvloeds (Horn of Plenty), it's the work of Dutch artist Arno Coenen. Originally created in 4,000 separate pieces before being transferred to its current home, it covers an area of 120,000 square feet and has reasonable claim to being the world's largest painting.
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Dominee Jan Scharpstraat 298, Rotterdam, South Holland, 3011 GZ, Netherlands
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Rate Includes: Free, Mon.–Wed., Fri., and Sat. 10–8, Thurs. 10–9, Sun. noon–6

Chabot Museum


This museum displays the private art collection of leading Dutch Expressionist painter and sculptor Henk Chabot, who was active between the two world wars, depicting peasants, market gardeners, and, later, refugees and prisoners.

Museumpark 11, Rotterdam, South Holland, 3015 CB, Netherlands
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Rate Includes: €8, Closed Mon., Tues.–Fri. 11–4:30, Sat. 11–5, Sun. noon–5

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The last remaining nook of old Rotterdam is this old port area, reconstructed to appear just as it was when originally built—an open-air museum with rows of gabled houses lining the waterfront, trendy galleries, cafés, and restaurants. Walk along the Voorhaven, Achterhaven, and neighboring Piet Heynplein and marvel at the many historic buildings. For sights in the environs, check out the working mill of Korenmolen de Distilleerketel (open Wednesday and Saturday, group visits only) and the Oudekerk/Pilgrimvaders Kerk. Tram No. 4 connects Delfshaven with the rest of the city, as does the nearby Delfshaven metro station.

Achterhaven and Voorhaven, Rotterdam, South Holland, 3024 RA, Netherlands

Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen

Opening in 2021, and resembling a giant mirror-clad bowl designed to reflect the Rotterdam skyline, this storage facility for artworks owned by the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is both a stunning reaffirmation of the city's reputation for architectural innovation and yet another symbol of its cultural importance. The adjacent museum is undergoing major renovation that will not be completed until 2026, but in the meantime visitors who cannot wait for it to reopen can tour the depot, with a guide and a guard, and check out the entire 151,000-strong collection—containing works by Monet, Rembrandt, Mondriaan, Warhol, and many others—on pull-out racks. For an alternative view of the city, check out the rooftop garden, which is home to 75 trees.



For a bird's-eye view of the contrast between Delfshaven and the majority of the city, as well as a spectacular panorama of city and harbor, visit the 600-foot-high Euromast. Designed by Rotterdam architect Huig Maaskant in 1960, this was the Netherlands' tallest building for many years. When a new medical facility for the Erasmus University usurped the honor in 1970, an additional 25 feet were added to the tower in six days, restoring Euromast to its premier position. The main observation deck is at 315 feet, but the Euroscoop is a rotating panoramic elevator that will carry you another 300 feet from there to the top of the mast. On a clear day, you can just about see the coast. Thrill seekers can skip the elevator and rappel down from the observation deck (weekends, May–September; reservations at www.abseilen.nl). There's a restaurant at the top, and you can even stay in the tower overnight in one of two special suites, but be warned the prices are as high as the experience. Down below, the park at the base of the Euromast is where many Rotterdammers spend time when the weather is good.

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Parkhaven 20, Rotterdam, South Holland, 3016 GM, Netherlands
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Rate Includes: €10.25, rappel €57.50, Apr.–Sept., daily 9:30 am–11 pm; Oct.–Mar., daily 10 am–11 pm

Het Nieuwe Instituut


Fittingly for a city of exciting modern architecture, Rotterdam is the home of the national architecture institute. The striking glass-and-metal building—designed by Rotterdam local Joe Conen in 1993—hosts temporary displays on architecture and interior design in seven exhibition spaces, giving a holistic interpretation of the history and development of architecture, especially the urban design and spatial planning of Rotterdam. Your museum ticket also includes a visit to the adjacent Huis Sonneveld (Jongkindstraat 12), designed and built in the early 1930s by the architects Brinkman & Van der Vlugt. Considered a classic of Nieuwe Bouwen style, stepping into the period-furnished interior gives a real sense of what ultramodern felt like—in 1933.

Museumpark 25, Rotterdam, South Holland, 3015 CB, Netherlands
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Rate Includes: €14, Closed Mon., Tues.–Sat. 10–5, Sun. 11–5



This "art house" sits at one end of the visitor-friendly museum quarter and hosts major temporary exhibitions. There is no permanent collection, other than the massive, multistory, boxlike center itself, designed by architect-prophet Rem Koolhaas. Opinions about the building are sharply divided: some say the design bridging the gap between the Museumpark and the dike is a clever spatial creation; others consider it an ugly mix of facades (part glass, part brick, and part corrugated iron) that has led to rust, stained concrete, and cracks in the central walkway. The biggest complaint is the lack of elevator, compounded by the hazards of the central ramp, whose steep angle makes this a potential ski slope for wheelchair users. Fortunately, the eclectic exhibitions, usually three or four at any one time, are always fascinating, regardless of the setting.

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Westzeedijk 341, Rotterdam, South Holland, 3015 AA, Netherlands
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Rate Includes: €14, Closed Mon., Tues.–Sat. 10–5, Sun. 11–5

Museum Rotterdam

Dedicated to the city for which it is named, Museum Rotterdam's collection covers 10,000 years of local history, from prehistoric times to the current day. Themes including work, immigration, and religion connect the city's past and present, with objects on display ranging from skull fragments that once belonged to the earliest human settlers in the region, via timbers salvaged from the first dam across the River Rotte, to cutting-edge fashions created by Rotterdam's current crop of top designers. Your ticket also includes entry to the '40-'45 NU permanent exhibition (Coolhaven 375, beside Coolhaven metro station), a multimedia experience depicting life in the city during the war years, which includes a sobering recreation of what it was like to live through a bombing raid.
Rodezand 26, Rotterdam, South Holland, 3011 AN, Netherlands
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Rate Includes: €9, Closed Mon.



A project masterminded by Rem Koolhaas's Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in collaboration with French architect Yves Brunier, this modern urban garden is made up of different zones, extending from the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, and its striking new mirror-fronted depot, to the Kunsthal. The idea is that each part is screened off from the last, creating a new impression—but they're not so radically different from one another as this theory supposes. Don't miss the section just before the bridge, however, where there is a memorial to city engineer G. J. de Jongh. Various artists had a hand in this, with Henk Chabot responsible for the inscription on the wall and Jaap Gidding designing the beautiful mosaic at the base of the monument, which represents Rotterdam and its surroundings at the end of the 1920s. Sculptor R. Bolle designed the bronze railings, with harbor and street scenes from the period when De Jongh was working in Rotterdam.

Museumpark to north, Westersingel to east, Westzeedijk to south, and bounded by a canal on west side, Rotterdam, South Holland, 3015 CB, Netherlands

Oudekerk/Pilgrimvaders Kerk


On July 22, 1620, 16 men, 11 women, and 19 children sailed from Delfshaven on the Speedwell. Their final destination was America, where they helped found the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts. Puritan Protestants fleeing England for religious freedom usually went to Amsterdam, but this group, who arrived in 1608, decided to settle in Leiden, before eventually making the journey to the New World. On July 20, 1620, they left by boat to Delft and then Delfshaven, where they spent their last night in Holland. After a sermon from their vicar, John Robinson—in what has since become this church—they boarded the Speedwell, sailing to Southampton, England; on September 5, they left on the Mayflower, reaching Cape Cod 60 days later.

The church was built in 1417 as the Chapel of Sint Anthonius, then extended and restyled in the late-Gothic period. However, in 1761, the ceilings were raised, and the current style dates from this Regency revamp, when an ornate wooden clock tower was also added. Next to the choir is a vestry from 1819, where you can find a memorial plaque to the Pilgrim Fathers on the wall. The bell tower has a tiny balcony. The church is now owned by the Trust for Old Dutch Churches.

Hours are quite restricted, but group visits can be arranged at other times via the website.

Aelbrechtskolk 22, Rotterdam, South Holland, 3024 RE, Netherlands
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Rate Includes: Free, Closed Sun.–Thurs. and every other Fri., Every other Fri. and Sat. noon–4

Sculpture Terrace


Set along the grassy bank of the Westersingel canal, this outdoor venue exhibits sculptures of the past 100 years. Highlights include Rodin's headless L'homme qui marche (Walking Man), Henri Laurens's La Grande Musicienne (The Great Musician), and Umberto Mastroianni's Gli Amanti (The Farewell), a fascinating jumble of triangular-shape points.

Rotterdam, South Holland, 3015 CB, Netherlands

Sint Laurenskerk

Sint Laurenskwartier

Built between 1449 and 1525, this church is juxtaposed against its modern surroundings. The main organ ranks as one of Europe's largest. Hendrick de Keyser's statue of Erasmus in the square was buried in the gardens of the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen during the war and miraculously survived. The interior contains a permanent exhibition on the church and its place in Rotterdam society. It's possible to climb the church tower for a panoramic view, but only at specific times.

Grotekerkplein 27, Rotterdam, South Holland, 3011 GC, Netherlands
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Rate Includes: Church interior €3, tower €6, Closed Sun. and Mon., Church: Nov.–Mar., Tues., Fri., and Sat. 11–5; Apr.–Oct., Tues.–Sat. 11–5. Tower: Apr.–Oct., Wed. at 2, Sat. at noon and 1:30

TENT/Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art

Witte de With

Two of Rotterdam's best contemporary art galleries share a common address; you can visit one or the other or both. They both have temporary exhibitions showcasing modern art, but TENT has a specific focus on works by local artists. Shows range from edgy, current-event type of stuff to tranquil designs for city gardens. Artists also have a workplace to experiment with new projects.

Witte de Withstraat 50, Rotterdam, South Holland, 3012 BR, Netherlands
010-413–5498-for TENT
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Rate Includes: combination ticket €9, Closed Mon., Tues.–Sun. 11–6

Wereld Museum


On a corner of rustic Veerhaven, surrounded by old sailing boats moored alongside modern yachts, this museum is devoted to non-Western cultures, many of which have had a sizable influence on Rotterdam. The permanent collection features more than 2,000 art objects from Asia, the Americas, Africa, and Oceania. Most of the exhibition space, however, is given over to changing themed exhibitions.

Willemskade 25, Rotterdam, South Holland, 3016 DM, Netherlands
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Rate Includes: €10, Closed Mon., except public holidays and during school holidays, Tues.–Sun. 10:30–5:30