How to spend the day in Rotterdam
In line with my Impartial colleague Helen Coffey – and many of the journey media, let’s be trustworthy – Rotterdam is having a second.
Bombed out through the Second World Battle, the Netherlands’ second metropolis took its clean slate and created eye-popping starchitecture full of Europe’s coolest firms. Latterly, it opened new eating places, inns and breweries. Chuck in a brand new Eurostar route, which connects London St Pancras with Rotterdam Centraal in simply over three hours, and also you’ve obtained the best day journey.
There’s a playfulness to Rotterdam and like Europe’s different second cities, it’s half the worth. (And no, it’s not wherever, and it’s undoubtedly not Amsterdam.)
Though this thrilling harbour metropolis has greater than sufficient to entertain you for a weekend, it’s additionally doable to see in only a day. Right here’s the way to do it.
08.15: Go away St Pancras
The primary Rotterdam-bound Eurostar of the day pulls out from the buffers at 8.15am. After whizzing by way of the Kent and northern France lowlands, we zip by way of Brussels and into the Netherlands. We’re travelling in Enterprise Premier, so have stocked up with shiny magazines within the St Pancras lounge – which ranks as the most effective lounge I’ve ever stepped foot in. The espresso! The croissants! The magazines!
12.30: Pull into Rotterdam Centraal
Why are all European stations so a lot better than British ones? Rotterdam’s central station, designed by an area agency and formed like a scalene triangle pushed on its facet, is as environment friendly and organised as town itself. The bonus with travelling on Eurostar is that you’re dropped proper within the centre of city. No faffing about with airport trains or an costly taxi right here.
The station plaza funnels all the way down to Mauritsweg, a large boulevard dotted with idea shops (peek into Susan Bijl’s vibrant plastic bag store, well-liked in Japan) and the modernist yellow and pink Die Unie cafe.
12.40: Ogle the Santa Clause sculpture
“Ogle” being the operative phrase right here, because the sculptor behind Santa Clause, American Paul McCarthy, is understood for incorporating phallic symbols into his items. It’s the very first thing that catches the attention on the festive statue in Eendrachtsplein: a slender “pine tree” in Santa’s hand appears to be like like something however. When you’ve seen it, it’s arduous to have a look at anything.
We snicker, however public artwork is taken extraordinarily critically in Rotterdam: phallic Santa is considered one of greater than 1,000 public artwork items within the metropolis.
Cross the busy tramway to Rochussenstraat and also you’ll discover town’s first severe creative hit: Huis Sonneveld, a residing museum that was as soon as the high-architecture house of native manufacturing unit director Albertus Sonneveld. It manages to be each luxurious and useful on the identical time: the turquoise-everything rest room with double sinks is price lingering over.
Oh, and there’s a Picasso piece on the finish of the road, after all.
13.30: Wander Witte de Withstraat
If you wish to have time, you come to Rotterdam’s Witte de Withstraat – extra particularly, make a beeline for speakeasy Café De Witte Aap, immediately recognisable by its vibrant monkey mural exterior and a daily look on the planet’s finest bar rankings. For one thing grander, head to the stately NRC cafe, housed in an outdated newspaper workplace.
Fairly than getting boozed up (it’s only one.30pm in any case), we duck into the Witte de With Centre for Up to date Artwork, which homes two flooring of up to date artwork and sculpture. To keep away from the €6 entry payment, go to on Friday from 7pm onwards.
We don’t want to remain, but when we did, we’d be reserving into stylish King Kong Hostel with its snappy pavement seating, hammocks and what can solely be described as twisty steel artwork inside.
14.00: Get a watertaxi across the harbour
Rotterdam grew up across the water. Its port, the busiest in Europe no much less, gave rise to town’s development as an industrial hub, and in addition offered the canvas for a spectacular post-war constructing growth.
After zipping out of the Leuvehaven port on a speedy yellow-and-black Spido watertaxi, it’s arduous to know the place to look: on the Wilhelminapier there’s Rem Koolhaas’ blocky De Rotterdam workplace block, the slender Montevideo residential tower and the gorgeously artwork nouveau Lodge New York. The boat sometimes dips into the interior harbour, wherein we discover the luxurious Veer Harbour yacht membership and the old-school Tropicana swimming membership, now styled as a restaurant and a bar.
14.30: Really feel dizzy wanting on the dice homes
Put together to really feel greater than a little bit dizzy staring up on the banana-yellow, 45-degree-angle dice homes of architect Piet Blom. These high-density items had been designed within the Nineteen Seventies to maximise area inside and beneath. At present some can be found for hire on Airbnb – we make do with a unusual Instagram shot from beneath.
15.00: Snack on the Markthal
Rotterdam has no scarcity of spectacular structure, however the slate-grey and glass horseshoe-shaped Markthal maybe takes the highest spot. Contained in the 11,000m-sq indoor market is a dreamy, childlike Pixar-style illustration referred to as Hoorn des Overvloeds (Horn of A lot). Beneath the enormous cartoonish fruit, bugs and seeds are food and drinks stalls plying native snacks. That is the place to snaffle gin and tonic at Obba’s Foodbar, sausage at Monsieur Saucisson and quite a lot of native Rotterdam cheese…
15.30: Pour your self a beer at Thoms Brewery
Rotterdam has been quietly establishing itself a fame as a craft beer hub. The Thoms Stadsbrouwerij brewery has a 42m picket bar (Rotterdam’s longest, so no have to really feel responsible about propping your self up on it) and particular person tables with pour-it-yourself faucets. Bar snacks embody the Dutch must-eat beef ragu bitterballen (finest described as spherical croquettes) and squeaky cubes of Rotterdam cheese.
16.30: Early dinner at FG Meals Labs
OK, so it’s a really early dinner. However we’ve solely obtained the day, and Rotterdam’s foodie scene is criminally underrated. Buried beneath a railway arch not removed from Rotterdam Centraal, this one Michelin-starred restaurant (confusingly, there’s a extra formal two Michelin-starred place subsequent door) serves scrumptious French-South American fusion plates. The half-Dutch, half-Aruban chef, who labored with Heston Blumenthal, favours the identical bonkers combos: chocolate with caviar, pigeon with cherry and almonds. The one downside is you’ll must inhale it to get again to the station in time.
17.58: Prepare again to Brussels
Whereas the outbound practice to Rotterdam is direct, the return leg includes a Thales practice and a change in Brussels to the Eurostar, though plans are afoot to make the hyperlink direct.
21.33: Return to London St Pancras
The one downside with only a day journey is that I really feel we’ve solely scratched the floor of this fascinating second metropolis. I’m already planning a return – however over a weekend this time.
One-way fares to Rotterdam from £35 with Eurostar (eurostar.com). Trains run from London to Amsterdam (by way of Rotterdam) twice every day.
For extra details about visiting Rotterdam, go to en.rotterdam.information.