Holland's second-biggest city after Amsterdam, Rotterdam is surprisingly modern. With most of its main buildings destroyed during WWII, the city had to start from scratch, and now boasts stylish architecture and a new energy that strikes everyone that visits.
Home to the busiest harbour in Europe, Rotterdam is also one of the most important trading centres in the world, located at the crossroads of major road, rail and water links. Busy shipping, iconic bridges and quayside promenades flanked by pavement cafes help to create a city that is both industrial and charming in equal measure.
Rotterdam is served by its own airport, located just 8km north-west of the city centre, which connects to a limited amount of destinations across Europe, including London, Manchester and Paris.
Regular buses provide a cheap way to travel into the city centre, with a journey time of around 20 minutes. Alternatively, reliable taxis can be booked in advance through Rotterdam Taxis.
An alternative way of reaching Rotterdam is by flying to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport,which is linked to Rotterdam by trains with a journey time of around 1 hour.
Rotterdam enjoys a fairly temperate climate, with warm summers, but rarely uncomfortably hot. Temperatures during the summer months average at around 20C – hot enough for locals to head to the city’s popular artificial beach.
If you’re heading to Rotterdam in the winter, expect temperatures of around 5C throughout December and January, with rain a fairly regular occurrence too.
The historical district of Delshaven is home to an authentic reconstruction of an 18th-century windmill, which attracts a vast number of visitors each year, and is a much photographed landmark.
Rotterdam Zoo is one of Europe's oldest zoological gardens, dating back more than 150 years, and is one of the city’s most popular attractions.
The Arboretum Trompenburg park is set around 17 acres and offers respite from the bustle of the city centre. Founded in the early part of the 19th century, the park contains specimen trees and shrubs, springtime bulbs, and seasonal attractions which can be enjoyed whilst strolling along the pretty pathways.
If you’re lucky with the weather, there are a handful of sandy beaches just a short journey from the city centre. Situated in between Willems Bridge and Erasmus Bridge is an artificial sandy beach, which attracts both tourists and locals alike. Boompjeskade Beach enjoys a scenic location along the banks of the Nieuwe Maas, while other popular stretches of sand can be found in Hoek van Holland and near to the Zeeland coastline.
Notable art galleries in Rotterdam include the Kunsthal, located at the southern end of the Museumpark. Each year, around 20 temporary exhibitions visit this gallery space, which is an impressive building in its own right.
The Maritime Museum offers displays relating to the city's harbour, including some stunning models and artefacts. Nearby, the Openlucht Binnenvaart contains a sizeable collection of boats, with visitors able to observe boat restoration close up.
There are several chain stores on the lively Nieuwe Binnenweg, while close to the Centraal Station the West Kruiskade is useful for food shopping, with a number of grocery stores located here.
For international cuisine, you should head to the Aelbrechtskolk, Geldersekade, Gravendijkwal and the Mauritsstraat, where several restaurants specialise in foreign dishes.
Visitors wanting to see traditional Dutch windmills will enjoy visiting the village of Kinderdijk, located close to Rotterdam. If you’re planning a trip, try to do so for one of the Saturdays in July and August when all of the village’s 19 windmills are in full operation.
The city of Dordrecht lies 25km from Rotterdam, at the meeting point of the Oude Maas River, and boasts numerous charming canals and a busy port. The town's character is also enhanced by its 17th- and 18th-century architecture.