The largest European port city has a hard time time winning people over. However, once you see its charm, it becomes easy to see the unparalleled strength of character in this city, which had to be completely reconstructed after the bombings of World War II.
You can discover an architectural ballet and an urban forest reaching towards the sky in unexpected shapes. Similarly to New York, a small area of Rotterdam is home to typical houses lined along the River Maas. Here you will find most of the city's restaurants, bars and coffee shops, filled with tourists.
At nightfall, the European Manhattan reveals its charm. Spotlights light up the buildings in bright colours which are reflected onto the water. The perfect opportunity to board a shuttle boat, whether for a short after dinner walk or to visit the huge container port.
Take the opportunity to leave motor vehicles behind and instead ride a bike like most people in Rotterdam. It is the best way to discover the city.
The small Witte de Withsraat street is the major commercial thoroughfare. It is so full of character that the residents of Rotterdam have nicknamed it "Hipster Street".
To get your bearings in the city and discover all it has to offer, head to the Maritime Museum in the Lauvehaven area, where you can board small passenger ferries. Whether at high or slow speed, it's the perfect way to admire the bold shapes of the Rotterdam's buildings.
Those looking for greenery should head to Parkhaven where they can admire the soaring Euromast Tower. Feel free to wander around the city centre with its many art galleries and shops just waiting for customers.
Like Amsterdam, Rotterdam has many cultural institutions to visit. The Kunsthal Museum, for example, which is home to a variety of temporary exhibitions and a variety of art styles.
For more conventional art, the Boijmans museum exhibits many works by renowned international artists such as Magritte, Deli and Rubens.
Fans of the unusual should head to Blaak Avenue, where they can find the cube houses, atypical dwellings designed to create a forest in the heart of the city. Head to the Wilheminakade to admire the New York Hotel. It is one of the only old buildings in the city. Built on the banks of the River Maas, both its infrastructure and design are old-worldly, with particularly well-chosen decoration.
Surface area : 41526.0 km2
Population : 16663831 inhabitants
Rent a bicycle! Forget renting a car, they're not economic. The city can also easily be explored on foot. Thalys offers very attractive deals for discounted tickets on production of an entry ticket from one of its partners' exhibitions.
Seeing as it is legal, you can pay the "coffee shops" a visit. However, be careful whether you are flying back or not, as customs are strict on taking drugs out of the country. Note that the majority of locals in Rotterdam don't appreciate the hordes of tourists who come for the drugs.
In terms of the weather, try to visit during the spring or summer seasons, as walking the streets can seem a little sad under constant grey clouds.
There are few culinary specialities, other than small croquettes, which are delicious and stuffed with mushrooms and various other ingredients.
The city knows how to show off its cultural diversity. There are so many international restaurants that it will be impossible not to find one that you like. The Bazar, for example, an oriental restaurant from the decoration to the excellent dishes.
Otherwise, Dutch cheeses like Gouda are to be enjoyed without moderation.
As the city is one of Europe's bastions of culture, you are certain to find plenty of artworks and souvenirs from exhibitions to take home with you. There are piles of books on great visionary painters and sculptors. Otherwise, buy some clothes on Hipster Street, even though prices are rather high.