Cities across the world offer tourists unique opportunities. Each city has a different pulse and atmosphere. No two are the same. And that’s not a bad thing — quite the opposite. Even within the borders of the same country, cities may vary so much that you’d think you were in another country.
In the Netherlands, Amsterdam is presumed to be the ultimate city to visit. It has a reputation that precedes it, which makes it a tourist favorite. Its famous pot cafes and Red Light District have made Amsterdam a city you can’t afford to miss on your European odyssey.
But what about Rotterdam? This lesser-known Dutch city is underrated, and tourists who don’t visit it are missing out. That’s because Rotterdam is actually Holland’s best city. Some might argue that this is a bold statement, but if you visit Rotterdam, you’ll soon see that it’s true.
Here are just some of the reasons that Rotterdam should take precedence if you’re visiting the Netherlands:
- Rotterdam offers a more multicultural approach. It is a city that has embraced diversity. Instead of trying to make immigrants conform to the Dutch way of living, the city has embraced their differences. This has made it a welcoming destination for Muslim immigrants, who have often been at the end of a hostile reception in other cities. Rotterdam’s first Muslim mayor, Ahmed Aboutaleb, was elected in 2009. This set a precedent for Rotterdam to be known as a progressive, integrated city. The city streets reflect the residents’ predilection for inclusivity with ethnically diverse shops. The streets teem with people from all over the world who have chosen to make this jewel of a city their home.
- Rotterdam is an architectural wonder. For lovers of different building styles, Rotterdam boasts some magnificent contributions to the field of architecture. The city was almost entirely destroyed by bombardment in the Second World War. It had to be rebuilt. Over the decades, different architects with different influences were encouraged to express their creativity when designing unique buildings. These buildings have become iconic in Rotterdam’s beautiful skyline. Some of the most famous buildings are the cube houses. These were the brainchild of Piet Blom, an architect born in Amsterdam. Erected in the 1980s, these homes are prime examples of thinking outside the architectural box.
- The city of Rotterdam has made some brave decisions about its infrastructure. For example, when the city was being rebuilt, the canals were reconsidered. Just like Amsterdam is today, Rotterdam was once dominated by canals. However, it decided to fill them in and turn them into roads. Some canals do remain. The result? A city where the traffic flows more effectively but the remaining canals retain some of its old-world charms.
- Rotterdam is a must for gin-lovers. Some of the world’s first gin distilleries are situated in Schiedam. This used to be a small town on the outskirts of Rotterdam. However, as the city grew, Schiedam was absorbed into the city limits. You can still visit the old distilleries. Gin is a popular drink in Rotterdam, and the odds are favorable that you’ll taste some varieties that you’ve never heard of before. At a local hotspot, The Ballroom, you can order one of 50 variants of gin with a tonic made in house. A G&T will never be the same after you’ve visited Rotterdam.
Here are some of the top attractions in Rotterdam:
1. The Old Harbor and Maritime Museum
Rotterdam has a rich naval and maritime history. You can explore this with a visit to the Old Harbor, which boasts many restored historic boats. The Maritime Museum provides the visitor with an insight into the city’s relationship with the sea and its many waterways.
2. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
This art center offers the tourist a wonderful collection of artwork and shows examples of European decorative art across the centuries. It features paintings from the 14th to 16th century as well as plenty of modern art.
3. Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk
This is about all that’s left of Rotterdam’s medieval past. The other buildings from the period were decimated during World War II. This gothic church dates back to the 15th century. It was damaged during the air raids of the war but was lovingly restored afterward.
4. Die Markt
This market was opened in 2014. It is a covered market with high, arched ceilings that give it a sense of openness and space. You can buy fresh fruit and vegetables there. It also boasts a variety of restaurants representing a myriad of ethnicities.
One of the best things about Rotterdam is its public transport infrastructure that runs seamlessly. Rotterdam is also a city with great parks, and it accommodates those who prefer to travel by bicycle or on foot.