Rotterdam is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city featuring cutting-edge architecture, an innovative dining scene, and top-class art museums. We on the Locating Imagination team are excited to welcome you to Rotterdam, and we’ve put together a bit of information about the city so you can get to know it a little better.
There are many ways of getting to Rotterdam from abroad. You can fly to Rotterdam The Hague Airport from many destinations in Europe, and from there it’s only 15 minutes away from Rotterdam Centraal Station. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, one of Europe’s major transport hubs, is 25 minutes away by high-speed train, or approximately 1 hour by standard train. Eindhoven Airport, serviced by many low-cost airlines, is approximately 70 minutes away.
Rotterdam’s main train station is the recently-renovated Rotterdam Centraal (a sight worth seeing in itself), which has frequent train connections to the Netherlands and beyond.
Via car, Rotterdam is accessible via the A13, A15, A16, and A20 motorways.
As befitting a port city, you can also get here via ferry: the Stena Line from Harwich, UK arrives at Hoek van Holland, a 30-minute train ride from Rotterdam Centraal, and P&O Ferries runs from Hull, UK to Rotterdam Europort, where a direct shuttle bus takes you into the city center.
Rotterdam boasts an extensive public transport system, consisting of metros, trams, and buses.
There are five lines on the Rotterdam metro, covering the greater Rotterdam area. The Erasmus University campus is closest to the Kralingse Zoom station, on the A, B, and C lines. Trams and busses service most areas of the city.
All public transport (as well as trains) uses the OV-Chip Card, which is available at sales points, top-up machines and information kiosks at the metro stations, the RET-Service Shop, post offices, Primera shops, Tabac&Gifts shops, ROTTERDAM.INFO (tourist information office), VVV Rotterdam Info Café and via www.ov-chipkaart.nl. Disposable cards can be loaded with hourly, daily, or multi-day unlimited passes.
If you’re going to be staying around, we also recommend the Rotterdam Welcome Card (https://en.rotterdam.info/visitors-info/rotterdam-welcome-card), which features discounts at 50 attractions, museums, restaurants, and entertainment venues, as well as a 1, 2, or 3-day transport pass.
You can learn more about the Rotterdam public transport at the RET website: http://www.ret.nl/en/nc/homepage.html
Or, you can rent a bicycle and get around as residents do! Centrumbikes (http://www.rotterdamrentabike.nl/) and Zwaan Bikes (http://www.czwaan.nl/huurprijzen.htm), as well as other companies, rent bikes with daily rates, and many hotels and hostels offer bikes to their guests.
Things to Do
Rotterdam is a great place to visit, featuring world-class museums, shops, restaurants, and cutting-edge architecture. We’ve put together a few recommendations for those sticking around outside of the conference:
To get a good sense of the city, check out its many bridges (as befitting a port city). The Erasmus Bridge and the Willemsbridge are particularly characteristic, and both can be walked over. You can also head up the Euromast for a view over the city, or just check out the beautiful park surrounding it (known simply as Het Park, ‘the park’).
Museumpark is not only the site of Rotterdam’s most famous museums, but a beautiful park and sculpture garden in itself. The Museum Boijmans van Beuningen features a range of art, from medieval to contemporary, and works by some of the Netherlands’ and the world’s most famous artists, including Rembrandt, Claude Monet, and Mark Rothko. The Kunsthal, housed in a design by Rem Koolhaas, focuses on modern and contemporary art with rotating exhibits.
Blijdorp Zoo is one of Europe’s oldest, opening in 1857, and was made a national architectural monument in 2007. It has recently opened new enclosures for its okapi and lions, and also boasts, among many other exhibits, polar bears, red pandas, and a bird show. Leonieke especially recommends the ‘Steppeslurfhondjes’ – the black and rufous elephant shrews.
Rotterdam Blaak is the architectural heart of the city, featuring the newly-opened Markthal, with many exciting food options, and the famous Cube Houses. The streets surrounding the area also boasts great restaurants, bars, and shops – we particularly recommend Beijing Bao, Bokaal, and the terraces around the Oudehaven (Old Harbor), Rotterdam’s first harbor, with restored ships, classic houses, and new buildings.
Kop van Zuid and Katendrecht are up-and coming areas of the city, located directly on the Nieuwe Maas. Don’t miss the Hotel New York, former headquarters of the Holland America Line, or the Fenix Food Factory, a former warehouse now housing multiple local Rotterdam food businesses, including Jordy’s Bakery and the Kaapse Brouwers brewery.
De Hofbogen, formerly a train station and viaduct, is another spot worth visiting. Accessible via a wooden bridge from Rotterdam Centraal, it boasts design shops, bars, restaurants, and coffee houses. Don’t miss Groos, dedicated to products from Rotterdam artists and businesses.
Witte de Withstraat is Rotterdam’s artistic and cultural hotspot, featuring art galleries, bars, and world restaurants. Nieuwe Binnenweg is another nice street for shopping and eating.