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It may be outshone by Amsterdam in the cutesy canal department, but on all other levels Rotterdam has just as much to offer visitors as its major rival to the north. Having suffered enormous damage during the WWII, it was forced to reinvent itself in peacetime, and rather than rebuild in old styles it went for the modern look. Today it has grown into an internationally renowned centre for innovative architecture. As a major port city, it also has a vibrantly beating heart and boasts a colourful melting pot multicultural history that stretches back centuries.
Rotterdam’s literal high point is the Euromast, a 185m-high tower built in the 1950s. The observation deck at the top has unparalleled views.
While much of the city is modern, the historic Delfshaven district made it through the war largely unscathed, and offers a rare window into the past.
Showcasing Rotterdam’s position as a capital of architecture, the Nederlands Architectuurinstituut (NAI, Netherlands Architecture Institute) contains exhibits on the big names of both Dutch and international architecture, from Rem Koolhuis to Le Corbusier.
The Kunsthal is a museum without a permanent collection. Instead it hosts several temporary exhibitions at a time, covering a wide range of usually fascinating themes.
Museum Boijmans van Beuningen
The city’s top gallery, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen has a rich collection of Dutch and Flemish art, from Hieronymous Bosch, via Rubens and Rembrandt to Piet Mondriaan.
Rotterdam’s main shopping drags are Lijnbaan and Beurstraverse, where you will find most things you need. The city’s unofficial design centre is along Witte de Withstraat, which is lined with a quirky range of unusual shops and art galleries. The best department store is the Bijenkorf (Coolsingel 105, 0800 0818), which has designer label items, accessories and household goods. For more alternative fashion items, head for Nieuwe Binnenweg, or Van Oldenbarnveldtstraat. Held on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, the huge outdoor market on Binnenrotteplein, near Rotterdam Blaak station, has everything under the sun on sale at its more than 500 stalls.
Food & Drink
Consistently receiving rave reviews and spoken of as Rotterdam’s best restaurant, the sleek and trendy Ivy (Lloydstraat 294, 010 425 0520) serves magnificent innovative modern Dutch creations from its open kitchen. If you can’t decide what to order, the tasting menus run up to 11 courses. If classic seafood in refined surroundings is more to your liking, then the intimate Zeezout (Westerkade 11b, 010 436 5049) could be just the thing you are looking for. Or for something more high-tech and totally off-the-wall, head for Izkaya (Lijnbaan 42, 010 281 0910). You order its wide range of pan-Asian dishes by selecting from your interactive table, which doubles as a touch-screen menu.
Rotterdam has many good bars. For something traditional, visit De Pelgrim (Aelbrechtskolk 12, 010 477 1189) in historic Delfshaven, a lovely old café that is also the tap for the adjacent brewery of the same name. The more modern Floor (Schouwburgplein 28, 010 404 5288) has a pretty beer garden at the back, and several of the city’s main theatres, cinemas and concert venues are located on the same square. For something livelier, Rotown (Nieuwe Binnenweg 17-19, 010 436 2669) has live bands most nights. But for the biggest names, the Ahoy (Ahoyweg 10, 010 293 3300) hosts global stars as well as touring shows such as Cirque du Soleil.
Rotterdam The Hague International Airport Information
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