The Ultimate City Break Rotterdam Guide with Kids
Europe Holland/The Netherlands City Break

The Ultimate City Break Rotterdam Guide with Kids

Why visit Rotterdam, Holland

Rotterdam is a post-apocalyptic futuristic city 40 miles south of Amsterdam. I understand this sounds like the opening line of a movie, but it’s real. During World War II, (1940- 1945) the city of Rotterdam experienced massive bombing raids that leveled the entire city. Nothing was left except a few homes and the St Lawrence Church.

By Unknown – http://www.archives.gov/research_room/arc/ ARC Identifier: 535916; U.S. Defense Visual Information Center photo HD-SN-99-02993 [1], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=196261
The city decided to rebuild better than it was before. There seemed to be no thought of nostalgically rebuilding the old city,[47] as it would be at the expense of a more modern future.

And modern it is. Here are 6 reasons why Rotterdam is the Netherlands, best kept secret.

Mind bending architecture

I’m not into architecture. I don’t seek out buildings when I”m traveling. However, in Rotterdam, you cannot help but marvel at the buildings. Instead of buildings, Rotterdam looks like art sculptures that people happen to live in, work in or frequent.

 

Rotterdam Centraal Station
Rotterdam Markaal. (Market)
Cube Houses of Rotterdam

 Plenty of Green-space

Surprisingly, although it does live up to its reputation as an industrial port city filled with imposing architecture, Rotterdam is also one of the greenest cities in the Netherlands.

 

Art is everywhere. Creativity

Rotterdam has a rich cultural life. Renowned museums, art institutions and galleries display the most controversial art, both old and new. Outdoors you also come across the most beautiful artworks and graffiti.

 

Water Taxi’s and Water buses.

I think it’s a cool way to get around.

 

Water Taxi Rotterdam

Skyline with great city views.

Rotterdam Skyline. And They’re still Building

 

Canals and water everywhere.

Multicultural

I found Rotterdam to one of the most multicultural cities in Europe.

Rotterdam is also a multicultural melting pot that revels in its diversity. With a population where 50% are non-Dutch or have only one Dutch parent, there is  a large presence of people from North Africa, Turkey and the former Dutch colonies: Indonesia, the Dutch Antilles and Suriname.

Rotterdam’s multicultural vibe is on display every year at its Zomercarnaval (summer carnival). Every July the annual 3-day Caribbean carnival, reminiscent of the carnival in Rio de Janeiro, makes its way through the streets of Rotterdam, bringing close to one million visitors from around Europe to see the vibrant and colorful costumes and floats and to dance in the streets to the Latin rhythms. As a Caribbean, I will be back for CARNIVAL!!!

 

How To Get To Rotterdam

Option 1: Fly Directly into Rotterdam

Rotterdam has a small regional airport apx. 15 minutes from the city center (Rotterdam Central Train Station). It’s easy to get to by train, bus, taxi or Uber. Airlines that fly into Rotterdam airport:

Transavia We loved taking Transavia. It was only going home, but everything went well and the plane was comfortable. See our review of Transavia.

British Airways

Vueling

Tui

CityJet

Jetairfly.

Option 2: Train

One of the fastest and easiest ways to get to Rotterdam is to travel by train.  Intercity trains hailing from every corner of the Netherlands make a stop at Rotterdam Central Station, including the high-speed train.

When travelling from France and Belgium, you should take the Thalys (it runs ten times per day). When travelling from the United Kingdom, you will arrive by Eurostar (and transfer to the Thalys in Brussels).

Approximate travel times from various cities, domestic and abroad:

FromTravel TimeTrain Operator
Amsterdam27 MinutesIntercity Direct
Schiphol25 MinutesIntercity Direct
Breda25 MinutesIntercity Direct
Antwerp32 MinutesThalys or Intercity Direct
Brussels1 Hour 10 MinutesThalys or Intercity Direct
Paris2 Hours 40 MinutesThalys

 

You can find more information about routes, departure times and prices on www.ns.nl (domestic travel), www.nsinternational.nl (from and to destinations abroad) and www.thalys.mobi (Thalys).

 

Interrail or Eurorail

Another option is to use Interrail or a Eurorail pass for unlimited train travel. You can buy a pass for one country, all of Europe or 2 – 3 countries. There are two programs Eurorail and Interrail. Eurorail is the pass for non-EU residents and the Interrail is for EU residents. The great thing about Eurorail and Interrail is, Kids are FREE!!!

For The Netherlands, you would purchase a Benelux Pass.

The Eurail Benelux Pass is your key to exploring Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg by rail.

  • The comfortable and fun way to explore the Benelux countries.
  • Arrive in the center of each city ready to start exploring.
  • Visit popular destinations like Amsterdam, Brussels and Bruges.
  • NEW: Includes the Eurostar train between Brussels and London!

 

Traveling with a family, the interrail or eurorail passes makes traveling with a family through Europe fun and affordable. I love traveling by train and the kids will too.

Interrail Benelux Pass for EU Residents 

Eurail Benelux Pass For Non EU Residents

 



Option 3: Car

Rotterdam can easily be reached by car, using the A4, A13, A15, A16 and A20 motorways. Exits to Rotterdam Centrum are clearly marked on signs. You can find up-to-date information about traffic, congestion and accidents from the ANWB national motor association (Dutch). Or check VanAnaarBeter (Dutch) for the latest news on roadworks in this region.



 

Option 4: Boat

Obviously, any true port city can be reached by boat! You can travel to Rotterdam by ferry from the United Kingdom. P&O Ferries and Stena Line offer regular ferry services between the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

Stena sails from Harwich, England to Hook of Holland, and it takes 30 minutes to travel from there to Rotterdam.

P&O sails from Hull to Rotterdam Europoort.

De Jong tours operates a shuttle service between Rotterdam Europoort and the city.

More information:
P&O Ferries www.poferries.com or call +3110 714 54 64
Stena Line www.stenaline.nl or 0900-8123 (€ 0,35 per call)

 

What To Do In Rotterdam

PANCAKE BOAT TOUR ROTTERDAM

The Pancake boat Rotterdam is a fun dining and sightseeing attraction, and is great for families with kids. And don’t forget to bring your grandparents! During the river cruise you can discover the river Maas and the harbour of Rotterdam. This large river boat offers a perfect homely setting for an all-you-can-eat meal of delicious pancakes! Not a good idea if you’re on a diet…

How awesome is a pancake cruise?

Splash Tours

 

 

First it’s a bus, then it’s a boat, then I’m losing my mind.

The Splashtours tour of the city will take you to the most exceptional and beautiful places in Rotterdam, followed by the “splash”: a spectacular dive into the Maas River. Suddenly the bus turns into a seaworthy vessel, sailing down the river with spectacular views of the city skyline! The Splashtours Rotterdam city tour lasts about 60 minutes.

 

Rotterdam Zoo

One of Europe’s most beautiful zoos. Wander through different parts of the world in one day. Discover fascinating animals. Diergaarde Blijdorp is a zoo in the northwestern part of Rotterdam, one of the oldest zoos in the Netherlands. In 2007 it celebrated its 150th anniversary.

Rotterdam Zoo

Explore the city by Bike. Here is our experience riding a bike in Rotterdam. Warning, not for the faint of heart.

Explore the city by boat. Here is our trip on the water taxi.

Water Taxi Rotterdam

Museums

Kunsthal Rotterdam – A phenomenal diversity and abundance of art.

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen – An unbelievable journey through western art history.

Maritime Museum Rotterdam – Dive into the maritime history of Holland

Het Nieuwe Instituut – A complete overview of Dutch architecture.

Wereldmuseum – All the world’s wonders in a day

and more.

Euromast

Euromast is an observation tower in Rotterdam, Netherlands. You have a great view over the entire city, plus they have a snack bar, dinner area. You can even sleep at the top.

Parks –

Het Park. Our Visit to Het Park. An  idyllic park in the middle of Rotterdam.

Plaswijckpark

Visit Amsterdam – Our Day Trip to Amsterdam

Visit the Beach

Yes, Rotterdam has a beach!

Hoek van Holland

Sea, beach, dunes, promenade, harbour, polders and attractions: Hoek van Holland is very versatile. In the summer it’s a pleasant, bustling seaside resort but Hoek van Holland is also attractive to visit in the other seasons: with a great cultural offering, a diverse hinterland, and giant ships from the international Port of Rotterdam passing by.

Where To Stay

Mainport Hotel

 

 

Or Search for another hotel in Rotterdam

 

Where To Eat

Supermarkets

There are many supermarkets in Rotterdam, usually within walking distance from where you are. I would ask at your accommodation. There are no large mega supermarkets in Rotterdam. But, there is Aldi’s.

Markaal

Markaal is an large indoor market in Rotterdam. I recommend visiting. There are many different restaurants and food stalls. We bought the best spices from the spices stall (I don’t remember the name). When we got home we use the spices religiously until finished. Now we’re sad.

There are so many restaurants to choose from in Rotterdam. You have many different types of food form cultures all over the world. You also have various price ranges.

View a list of Restaurants https://en.eet.nu/rotterdam/child-friendly

Temperature & Weather

The Netherlands have a bad reputation when it comes to weather. Most people think the weather is terrible. Rotterdam gets cold in the winter, warms up during the spring is hot in the summer and cool in Autumn.

We were in Rotterdam the first week of June. It was warm and sunny for 2 days, then intermittent sunshine and rain for 2 days. The weather changes fast, so be prepared to dress in layers so you can add and take clothes away as the weather permits. For example, the morning can start cloudy and rainy, and a few hours later, it can be bright sunshine and hot.

Climate data for Rotterdam The Hague Airport
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Record high °C (°F)14.1
(57.4)
16.7
(62.1)
23.8
(74.8)
27.1
(80.8)
31.3
(88.3)
33.0
(91.4)
35.0
(95)
34.9
(94.8)
32.1
(89.8)
26.0
(78.8)
18.5
(65.3)
15.1
(59.2)
35.0
(95)
Average high °C (°F)6.0
(42.8)
6.6
(43.9)
9.9
(49.8)
13.5
(56.3)
17.5
(63.5)
19.9
(67.8)
22.2
(72)
22.1
(71.8)
18.9
(66)
14.7
(58.5)
9.9
(49.8)
6.6
(43.9)
14.0
(57.2)
Daily mean °C (°F)3.6
(38.5)
3.7
(38.7)
6.4
(43.5)
9.1
(48.4)
12.9
(55.2)
15.5
(59.9)
17.8
(64)
17.6
(63.7)
14.8
(58.6)
11.2
(52.2)
7.3
(45.1)
4.2
(39.6)
10.4
(50.7)
Average low °C (°F)0.8
(33.4)
0.5
(32.9)
2.6
(36.7)
4.3
(39.7)
7.8
(46)
10.6
(51.1)
13.1
(55.6)
12.8
(55)
10.6
(51.1)
7.5
(45.5)
4.2
(39.6)
1.4
(34.5)
6.4
(43.5)
Record low °C (°F)−17.1
(1.2)
−16.5
(2.3)
−13.4
(7.9)
−6.0
(21.2)
−1.4
(29.5)
0.5
(32.9)
3.6
(38.5)
4.6
(40.3)
0.4
(32.7)
−5.1
(22.8)
−9.0
(15.8)
−13.3
(8.1)
−17.1
(1.2)
Average precipitation mm (inches)69.1
(2.72)
57.9
(2.28)
64.9
(2.555)
42.6
(1.677)
58.3
(2.295)
65.2
(2.567)
74.0
(2.913)
81.0
(3.189)
87.1
(3.429)
90.1
(3.547)
87.1
(3.429)
78.3
(3.083)
855.6
(33.685)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm)1210129910101012121313131
Average snowy days65420000002422
Average relative humidity (%)88858378777979808486898983.1
Mean monthly sunshine hours62.583.8124.0174.9213.9203.6213.1196.6137.6106.960.446.71,623.8
Source #1: Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (1981–2010 normals, snowy days normals for 1971–2000)[23]
Source #2: Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (1971–2000 extremes)[24]

 Getting Around

Public Transportation

Rotterdam is a compact city and a walking is often the best way to get around the city, but if you travel further, Rotterdam offers an excellent public transport service. But with kids in tow, you may want to take the metro.

The metro in Rotterdam is the most efficient way to travel in Rotterdam because there’s a metro station nearby in most of the cases. You can use the metro to travel around in Rotterdam but also to surrounding cities like Capelle aan den IJssel, Spijkenisse, Hoogvliet, Rhoon and even to the beach in Hoek van Holland. Metro line E takes you even to The Hague.

Another popular way of public transport in Rotterdam is the tram. The tram is very useful for short distances and takes you to locations which are not covered by metro. You can take the tram to travel to the south of Rotterdam for example, because the metro does not reach everywhere. There are special high-speed trams available which will quickly take you there. Buses in Rotterdam also take you to places where the metro doesn’t run including surrounding cities. The metro, bus and tram stops are clearly indicated and on electronic signs you can see how long it takes before the next ride starts. The biggest transport hub in Rotterdam is Central Station, followed by Rotterdam Zuidplein and Rotterdam Blaak, where different ways of public transport are connected together.

You need a travel chipcard if you want to travel with public transport in Rotterdam. You can buy this card at many places including the service desks and ticket machines at the stations. Travelling with a travel chipcard is very comfortable because you can change between the different ways of public transport without having to buy a ticket each time. Tourists can also buy the Rotterdam Welcome Card or the Tourist Day Ticketwhich combines free public transport with discount on attractions and museums in Rotterdam and other locations.

Water Taxi

Booking a water taxi in Rotterdam

The Rotterdam water taxi operate the super fast so called Maas taxis with a capacity of 8 to 12 passengers. You can book a water taxi service online or by phone one day in advance. If you want to make a reservation the present day, book by telephone. Their telephone number is written on the information panel at the water taxi landing stages in Rotterdam.

Rates Water taxi Rotterdam

The cost for a water taxi ride appears on your screen if you book online. Water taxi Rotterdam uses a fixed transport fee: this rate depends on the number of passengers and the distance covered. A short boat trip for two costs about €12 and an additional €2,50 per passenger on top.

Ferry Service Hotel New York Rotterdam

Water taxi Rotterdam also operates slower classic boats on a fixed schedule between Hotel New York, the historic Veerhaven at the Maritime Quarter and Leuvehaven near the Maritime Museum Rotterdam. This ferry service departs every 15 minutes from the Northern shore to the Southern shore of the river Maas and is competitively priced: €2,90 to Veerhaven and €3,60 to Leuvehaven. Children get a discount. Operating hours: Monday to Thursday: 9 am – 11 pm and Friday to Sunday: 9 am – midnight. Reservations for the Watertaxi HNY are not necessary.

Water taxi stops in Rotterdam

The water taxi has about 50 landing stages along the Maas in Rotterdam, but also in greater Rotterdam. The Water taxi Rotterdam has a stop at most tourist sites like historic Delfshaven harbour, the Euromast panorama tower, the historic Veerhaven, the famous Hotel New York in Rotterdam, museum steamship ss Rotterdamsoccer stadium Feyenoord, the Maritime Museum and the Old Harbour of Rotterdam.

Rotterdam sightseeing by boat

You can also book a water taxi to make a scenic tour through Rotterdam. Tours are offered along the skyline of Rotterdam from 15 to 90 minutes.

 

Uber

Taxi

How much will it cost

Average cost to visit Rotterdam per person, per day. Even if you are counting a young child, count the child as a person.

Low $60.00 per person, per day

Average $120.00 per day

This includes cost of accommodation, transportation, activities and food. This is a ball park figure of how much it would cost to take a trip to Rotterdam.

So, for a family of 4 who goes to Rotterdam for 3 nights

Low $60.00 x 4 = $240 x 3 = $720

Average $120 x 4 = $480 x 3 = $1440

When you are booking hotels, activities etc, keep these numbers in mind to see if you are on the right track. You can be higher or lower depending on your class of hotel, how expensive or inexpensive your food choices and if you have a self catering apartment and cook most of your meals.

Pin it For later. The ultimate guide to Rotterdam

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