Rotterdam Introduction Walking Tour, Rotterdam

Rotterdam Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Rotterdam

Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the Netherlands. It is located at the Nieuwe Mass channel's mouth, which leads to the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta and the North Sea.

Rotterdam boasts Europe's largest port and is known for its maritime history, culture, and modern architecture. Its waterway location has earned it the name "Gateway to the World."

Rotterdam's history started in 1270 when a dam was built along the Rotte river. It became a city in 1299 when Jan I of Holland granted city rights to Rotterdam. A shipping canal was completed around 1350 and allowed the city to grow into a shipping center.

By the 15th century, Rotterdam had become an essential harbor for international trade between the Netherlands, Germany and England. The importance of Rotterdam harbor was further validated by being one of the six port cities from which the famous Dutch East India Company operated in its early days.

Erasmus was born in Rotterdam and became the icon of an enlightened Rotterdam in 16th century. The enlightened spirits met up in societies, debated politics, and explored modern science.

The Nieuwe Waterweg shipping channel was completed in 1872, and the city continued to grow into the 20th century.

The Rotterdam Blitz during World War II devasted the community and destroyed most of the city center. Since then, Rotterdam has rebuilt with exciting architecture such as The Cube Houses.

To see the older part of the city, visitors can visit the Old Harbor and explore Rotterdam's maritime history at the Maritime Museum of Rotterdam. Old Harbor has many outdoor restaurants and nightlife attractions that overlook the harbor. In addition, guests can visit the 1898 White House, Rotterdam's first skyscraper.

Guests can revisit the city's history at St. Lawrence Church, Rotterdam's only surviving medieval building. The church was damaged during the Blitz but was rebuilt and now hosts museum exhibits.

Shoppers will find an endless amount of opportunities in Rotterdam. Market Hall features a modern design with a horseshoe shape, glass facade, and digitally produced artwork. Witte de Withstraat Street is home to world-famous bars, restaurants, art galleries, shopping, and nightlife.

The Lijnbaan opened in 1953 as Europe's first pedestrian-only shopping area. It remains popular today with a mix of shops and dining options. For a unique shopping experience, head underground on Beurstraverse Street.

Take this self-guided tour to explore Rotterdam's history and culture.
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Rotterdam Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Rotterdam Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Netherlands » Rotterdam (See other walking tours in Rotterdam)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 Km or 2 Miles
Author: kane
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Binnenrotte Square
  • St. Laurenskerk (St. Lawrence Church)
  • Markthal (Market Hall)
  • Kubuswoningen (Cube Houses)
  • Oude Haven (Old Harbor)
  • Maritime Museum of Rotterdam
  • Witte de Withstraat Street
  • Lijnbaan Street
  • Beurstraverse Street
Binnenrotte Square

1) Binnenrotte Square

Binnerotte Square's location was originally underwater as part of the Rotte River. However, the arrival of the Rotterdam-Doldrecht train line in 1871 changed the city's infrastructure and landmarks. A railway viaduct was built, and this area became an open, dry space.

The railway viaduct dominated the area. The market was held in a small corner of the square, surrounded by modest buildings. Unfortunately, World War II bombs damaged the old center. Since then, city planners have worked to create a city center. In 1993, the railway viaduct was replaced by a tunnel, and the area was finally transformed into a large new public square.

Binnenrotte Square hosts the Rotterdam Market Center every Tuesday and Saturday. The market features over 450 stalls, and up to 70,000 people visit the market each week. Visitors and residents can shop for vintage items, books, clothes, fresh produce, fish, household wares, and flowers.
St. Laurenskerk (St. Lawrence Church)

2) St. Laurenskerk (St. Lawrence Church)

Saint Lawrence Church is Rotterdam's only remaining medieval building. Construction began in 1449, and the church was completed in 1525. The church was Rotterdam's first all-stone building. The tower was originally added in 1621 and rebuilt several times.

When the Reformation took place in 1572, the church became a Protestant church.

Bombs heavily damaged the church during World War II. Only the tower and walls survived the Rotterdam Blitz. Residents were divided on whether to rebuild the church or not. However, Restoration work began in 1952 and was completed in 1968. The church is now a mix of original and rebuilt architecture.

The copper choir fence dates to 1713. Visitors can admire memorials dedicated to Kortenaar, Witte de With, and Van Brakel. Italian designer Manzù crafted the impressive bronze doors.

Church services resumed in 1971 when the Laurenpastoraat community was founded. Today, the church hosts Laurenpatoraat and Masskant/Open Grenzen community services.

Saint Lawrence Church is home to a permanent exhibition that focuses on the city's history. The exhibit is spread across 20 different sections in the church's side chapels. Exhibits feature objects and audiovisuals that describe the city's past, the World War II bombings, and the church's reconstruction.

Take a close look at the bronze doors based on the theme of War & Peace, and don't miss the statue of Erasmus out front.
Markthal (Market Hall)

3) Markthal (Market Hall) (must see)

Market Hall is a modern multi-use building that houses apartments, offices, retail space, and the popular market hall. In addition, there is an underground parking garage.

Market Hall opened in 2014 and features an unusual arch design, similar to a horseshoe. The building has a glass facade made up of smaller glass windows. A 34-meter (112-foot) high steel cable structure supports the glass windows. The structure is Europe's largest glass-window cable design.

Market Hall's interior features 11,000 square meters of artwork. Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam created the Horn of Plenty art that shows enlarged fish, vegetables, fruits, seeds, flowers, and insects.

The artwork was created digitally, and the file was so large that the artists used Pixar Studios servers to store the artwork. The artwork was separated into 4000 pieces. Each section was printed on perforated aluminum panels that now decorate the inside of the hall. This impressive artwork is often called The largest artwork in the world and The Sistine Chapel of Rotterdam.

A 10th-century farm was found under the building during construction. In addition, archeologists found a house with two stoves and several fireplaces. Visitors can see an excavation exhibit next to the Market Hall's central staircases.

Market Hall is Holland's largest indoor market. Visitors will find over 100 produce sellers in addition to 15 food shops and eight restaurants. Shoppers can find cheese, fish, produce, poultry, flowers, and plants. Market Hall offers indoor seating if you can't wait to taste your goods.
Kubuswoningen (Cube Houses)

4) Kubuswoningen (Cube Houses)

The Cube Houses are one of Rotterdam's most iconic landmarks. Dutch architect Piet Blom designed the Cube Houses as unique residences. The homes are built as cubes tilted at 45 degrees to optimize the space.

The Cube Houses were originally built in the 1970s in coordination with city planners. Piet Blom designed the houses to look like a forest, with each triangular roof depicting a treetop.

Each Cube House is three floors tall. The first floor has a kitchen and living room. The second floor has two bedrooms and a bathroom. Some residents use the top floor to house a rooftop garden.

The cubes act as a pedestrian bridge and are located in a traffic-free area. The cubes are in a wonderful community with restaurants, cafes, offices, studios, and a children's playground.

Visitors can explore the history and development of the homes at the Show Cube Museum. Adventurous guests can immerse themselves in cube living by renting a cube for the night. Guests will have to get used to living with slanting walls.
Oude Haven (Old Harbor)

5) Oude Haven (Old Harbor)

Old Harbor is one of Rotterdam's oldest harbors, and the first jetty was built around 1350. Unfortunately, World War II bombs heavily damaged the area, and only a few structures survived.

Today, Old Harbor is known as Rotterdam's entertainment center. Old Harbor is a bustling area with cafes and restaurants on the water. Most of the cafes feature outdoor terrace seating so guests can enjoy watching the harbor. Old Harbor is also a popular nightlife area.

The Old Harbor has several traditional sailing boats that remind visitors of this port city's history.

In addition, visitors will notice the 45-meter (148-feet) tall White House. When it was built, it was Europe's first and highest skyscraper. The White House is one of the few structures that survived World War II bombs.

Old Harbor is a beautiful place to stroll day or night and marvel at Rotterdam's ability to merge its long history with modern attractions.
Maritime Museum of Rotterdam

6) Maritime Museum of Rotterdam (must see)

The Maritime Museum of Rotterdam focuses on Rotterdam's maritime and shipping history. Visitors can see modern exhibits and view the museum's extensive collection.

Prince Henry of the Netherlands founded the museum in 1874. The museum features an indoor museum as well as the Maritime Museum Harbour.

The museum has exhibits that young children, parents, and grandparents can enjoy. The Masterpieces section features 25 remarkable objects. The Mataró model is over six hundred years old and is Europe's oldest ship model. Jan Huygen van Linschoten's The Itinerario is one of the world's most important travel journals.

The collection also houses Willem van de Velde's pen and ink drawings in addition to Joan Blaeu's Corpus Christi sea charts.

The Maritime Museum Harbour features the Low Light of the Hook of Holland lighthouse. This red cast-iron lighthouse used to stand at New Waterway's entrance. The Museum Harbour also has steam tugs, a steam sheerleg, and a grain elevator. There are also several inland vessels on display.

Why You Should Visit:
Lots of hands-on things to do and you get to learn about ships, oil platforms and new developments.

Some of the ships in the museum's outer part can also be looked at and explored from the inside for free. For kids, the museum offers an awesome rooftop playground with plenty of ships & boats to climb on.
Witte de Withstraat Street

7) Witte de Withstraat Street (must see)

Witte de Withstraat Street is a trendy street filled with bars, restaurants, cultural centers, and art galleries. The street was named after Witte Cornelisz de With, who was a Dutch naval officer and led many colonial expeditions in the 1600s.

Eatery Bazar is one of Rotterdam's most vibrant and popular restaurants and offers affordable meals. Vivu serves Vietnamese cuisine, and Olivia serves fabulous Italian far. Bagel Bakery is your stop for a casual bagel. Ter Marsch & Co is known to serve the Netherlands's best hamburger.

For a coffee break, check out the Hopper Coffee & Bakery, voted the Netherlands's best coffee bar. Lonely Planet named Cafe De Witte Aap 2009's best bar in the world, and it's a must-see. Cafe De Witte is small, but it's full of character and charm. Stop by for a coffee or enjoy a beer on the heated terrace. The Nieuw Rotterdams Cafe is another hotspot.

The street also has several boutiques and shops. Betsy Palmer is a well-known shoe shop, and RSI The Attraction offers adventure outfitting.

While walking Witte de Withstraat Street, check out the various art galleries. Galerie Ecce offers contemporary art, and Galerie van Eijk features modern art, ceramics, and sculptures. Witte de With Contemporary offers an international collection of modern and contemporary art. In addition to the art galleries, visitors will find stunning art murals in connecting side streets.

Witte de Withstraat Street is home to a lively nightlife scene, where visitors can party until the morning hours.
Lijnbaan Street

8) Lijnbaan Street

Lijnbaan is Rotterdam's main shopping street. The street first opened in 1953 after German bombs destroyed the old shopping district during World War II. Lijnbaan was Europe's first specifically built pedestrian street and was part of the city's modernization plan.

The street is beautifully landscaped with flower beds, statues, trees, benches, and wooden shelters. Shopkeepers in the 1950s were initially concerned that shoppers wouldn't visit a pedestrian-only area, but the street has been very successful. Visitors and residents love the car-free zone and come to stroll and window-shop.

The street declined in the 1980s when some of the original shopkeepers retired. However, in 2010 the street was awarded national heritage status to recognize its innovative postwar architecture. Some of the original wooden canopies and shop fronts have been restored.

The street is a mix of modern fashion chain stores and boutique shops. There are high-end stores as well as more affordable stores. In addition, visitors will find fast food and a variety of restaurants.
Beurstraverse Street

9) Beurstraverse Street

Beurstraverse Street opened in 1993 as a unique shopping area. This excavated passage is located under the main street and is often called the "shopping trench" or "shopping gutter." The passage was created to alleviate traffic congestion when large numbers of pedestrians wanted to cross the street on their way to and from the popular metro station.

Visitors will find over 40 shops including fashion and shoe stores, jewelry sellers, perfume, gifts, and souvenirs. Popular stores include Crocs, Forever21, Hema, H&M, Lacoste, Pandora, Swatch Store, Zara, Lush, and The Body Shop. In addition, there are restaurants and bars in the area. Beurstraverse Street is always a vibrant, lively place to visit.

Because the street is located underneath the main street, it's away from the hustle and bustle of traffic. Visitors can spend several hours browsing all the shops and finding the perfect item or gift.

Walking Tours in Rotterdam, Netherlands

Create Your Own Walk in Rotterdam

Create Your Own Walk in Rotterdam

Creating your own self-guided walk in Rotterdam is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Cheese Shops in Rotterdam

Cheese Shops in Rotterdam

Although many countries claim cheese to be their unique product, Dutch cheeses are indeed an iconic, standalone thing. Amid a cornucopia of different cheeses made in The Netherlands, there are quite a few internationally-famed ones originated in Rotterdam.

It is therefore only natural to find a plethora of specialty shops in the city fit to warm the heart of any cheese lover, be it a finder, a...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles
Delfshaven District Walking Tour

Delfshaven District Walking Tour

Part of the old city of Rotterdam, the borough of Delfshaven – situated on the right bank of the river Nieuwe Maas, is rich in history. Prior to 1886 it had been a separate municipality which grew around the port of the city of Delft.

Delft itself was not located on a major river, so in 1389 a Voorhaven (outer harbor) to the south, along with the Aelbrechtskolk waterpass, had to be created to...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.3 Km or 0.8 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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Just as any other major Dutch destination, Rotterdam is associated with sea, excellent cheeses, marvelous beer, good food and, generally speaking, good taste. A set of gifts from Rotterdam will duly reflect any, if not all, of these qualities. Listed here are some of the items that might prove well...