Rotterdam, the gateway to Europe, is Netherland’s second largest city and a port that is overlooked by tourists and travelers alike for embarkation and pre/post cruise vacations.
With Amsterdam’s international attention with the fading red light district, architecture and historical sites, Amsterdam still stands as a glimpse into the Netherland’s past, however, Rotterdam exceeds that in modern history, pioneering in architecture and being an excellent centre point to see other sites before or after cruising.
Whether you are taking a river cruise from Amsterdam or jumping on the MS Rotterdam out of Rotterdam, the short 20-minute train ride south from Schiphol Airport is worth the trip for any history buff. Rotterdam is filled with museums echoing the long history including the leveling of the city by Hitler’s bombs in 1940.
What still stands today are few unique buildings like Laurnskerk and Witte Huis to name a few. Also, the tours including the Hotel New York paired with the SS Rotterdam are close together on the south side of the harbour that embrace its history.
Not only do the two hotels share commonalities, the Holland American Line shares within it too.
Embark on today’s MS Rotterdam (named after the SS Rotterdam) which sets sail from Rotterdam and tours Western Europe throughout the summer. The options are endless to walking tours, canal tours, and museums to embrace the city’s history.
Along with history comes architecture. Rotterdam and the architecture go hand and hand, and how they have come to blend the old and new is remarkable.
Did you know that when the city was being rebuilt after the war, the ‘older looking’ buildings you see today were actually mimicked through old photos of the original houses?
The city and harbour were rebuilt and as the years passed by, the new buildings went up including the Erasmus Bridge which is the focal point of the city, Euromast and the Cube Houses blended with the mimicked houses of the past, Laurenskerk and the Witte Huis make for an interesting afternoon of touring the city.
Finally, Rotterdam is wonderfully located in the centre of many sites and locations to see outside of Rotterdam.
For example, Rotterdam’s Central Station is easy to navigate through.
With that, it is only a two-hour train ride to Brussels, Belgium and an hour to Antwerp, Belgium. The river that runs through Rotterdam and connects to the remainder of Europe, the Maas River, moves to the east.
Tourists doing a pre or post cruise vacation can jump on the Kinderdijk Tour Boat that takes you to Kinderdijk, a UNESCO Heritage Site and harbours some of the oldest and largest windmills in Holland. The tour is three hours.
In addition to the above options of touring the area, you shouldn’t miss out on Amsterdam at all. If a tourist decides to take on something different and stays in Rotterdam, just jump on the train and head north.
Amsterdam Centraal Station is located walking distance to all main sites that can be seen in a day in Amsterdam. This makes for another reason that Rotterdam should not be overlooked.
In the end, the main country’s attraction being Amsterdam, is worth the stay.
However, do not let the next silent attraction steer you away from exploring. Rotterdam being a functioning port for departure for Holland America, and being so close to Amsterdam by train allows the gates to open and let your curiosities be answered.
With the city enriched in history from centuries long ago to a more modern history that changed the face of Rotterdam, it will bring an eye-opener to any visitor. Embracing the blended architecture by staying in the Euromast over-looking the Erasmus Bridge will bring it all together. It is a site that will take your breath away!
All only to be complemented by the daily activities to welcome the culture, history, and uniqueness of Rotterdam, whose motto is known as ‘Sterker door strijd’ or ‘Stronger by struggle.’
Rachel Tripp is a vacation and cruise consultant with the local Expedia CruiseShipCenter.