It is obvious that Rotterdam is a city full of eyecatchers. The city's skyline is filled with icons and as you stroll through the centre, your eyes will wander from one architectural gem to the next.
To make your life a little easier during your visit to Rotterdam, we share the absolute highlights below that you should not miss. You will find these eyecatchers scattered throughout the centre, which means it is the perfect reason for a day of exploring.
Also useful: read this article with 10x Must sees in Rotterdam.
The city's business card: the Erasmus Bridge. A real eyecatcher, because whatever you search for online about Rotterdam, this graceful white bridge pops up everywhere. Of course the beautiful Rotterdam skyline is nothing without the Erasmusbridge. The connection between the centre and the south, where thousands of cars, cyclists and walkers travel to and from every day.
What's the best way to admire this impressive bridge? Our tip is to take a walk along the Maas and cross both the Erasmus Bridge and the Willemsbrug. That way you can see it in every possible way: from the centre, the Noordereiland, the Willemsbrug and from the Erasmus bridge itself. And of course we prefer to do this during sunset, for the best photos!
Unsuspectingly, you leave the metro or train from Blaak station and step into the open air. You are immediately surprised by a rather impressive piece of architecture: an enormous gray arch with dozens of windows and a colourful ceiling. Also known as the Markthal.
The Markthal is a fairly new addition to our city. It was in 2009 that construction started and a new icon was born. Did you also know that large-scale excavations of medieval objects were carried out during construction? Think of vases, tools and cannonballs. They kept this piece of the Middle Ages in the Markthal in a very cool way, by means of a Time Staircase that runs through the Markthal.
Of course, the outside is already a real eyecatcher, but once inside you will also be amazed. Spread over the ceiling and connecting the walls, artist Arno Coenen has really outdone himself. Colourful flowers and fruits cover the inside of the Markthal and this piece of art is therefore also known as the Sistine Chapel of Rotterdam.
This 150 meter high viewing tower has become a permanent part of the Rotterdam skyline. Perhaps not the most modern building in Rotterdam, but it certainly stands out. And the view from the Euromast? That is also an eyecatcher.
The Euromast is very accessible to the public. You can have a bite to eat in their restaurant, sleep in a suite or take the Euroscoop all the way to the top for a panoramic view. And for the real daredevils there is the possibility to abseil from the Euromast.
Would you rather admire the Euromast from a distance? Then go to the Park, located next to the Euromast. The Euromast stands out beautifully among all the greenery and you have the ideal backdrop to see this impressive tower shine.
Firstly, the Central Station is a real eyecatcher because of the aluminum roof. Can’t be missed. But in addition to the silver shiny material that covers the station, it also has a very remarkable asymmetrical shape. If you stand right in front of the station, on the square, you will see a huge point rising up, pointing to the centre.
Did you know that thanks to the aluminum roof, Central Station has been nicknamed “Station Kapsalon”? The name translates to ‘barbershop’, however that’s not what the Rotterdammer means. Another meaning of ‘kapsalon’ is the small aluminum containers filled with fries, shoarma and cheese that you eat on a Saturday after a night out.
Another fun fact is that the new station has kept some elements of the old station. One that is not to be missed is the large clock that adorns the facade. In addition, two old sculptures (‘speculaasjes’) have been placed above the tunnels.
The City Hall of Rotterdam is quite striking. Not only because of the impressive stately building that’s located in the middle of the Coolsingel, but also because the architecture is so contrasting with modern Rotterdam as we know it. This is because the City Hall is one of the few buildings in Rotterdam centre that survived the bombing of the Second World War. What remains is therefore a historic building that will amaze you.
Did you also know that the City Hall is freely accessible to visitors? The City Hall is built in Beaux-Arts style, with Byzantine, Romanesque and Art Deco influences and the facade is adorned with historical sculptures and symbols with hidden meaning.
Once inside, you'll see more of these sculptures and hidden symbols, such as the coat of arms of Rotterdam with the accompanying spell. If you want to be surprised, we recommend that you also visit the garden of the City Hall, as this is really a hidden green spot in the city, where beautiful flowers and plants cover the facades.
This architectural phenomenon should of course not be missing from this article. But what makes them so special are the unusual shapes. It seems impossible to live in it, but nothing could be further from the truth. The cubes consist of 38 residences and 13 business cubes, where you can have a lot of fun with a little creativity and adaptability.
Are you curious what that looks like on the inside? You can visit the Kijk-Cube. But it is also a great idea to spend the night in a Stayokay hostel located in one of the cube houses.
A real world first, because the Boijmans van Beuningen is the first museum to make its entire collection accessible to the public. And of course they needed a nice depot for this. And it sure is beautiful. This forty meter high mirrored building was designed by architect Winy Maas and is one of the most unique eyecatchers that the centre of Rotterdam has to offer.
What does this mean for your visit? The depot has no exhibitions, like the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum does. However, you can - independently or with a guide - browse through no fewer than 151,000 art objects. You can also learn a thing or two about conservation and restoration here; a unique extra that you don't normally get in a museum.
You can also visit the roof terrace of the Depot, for a view over Rotterdam. Or to have a bite to eat in their restaurant.
Rotterdam is a city full of contrasts. Old and new come together and this makes for interesting streets and buildings. An example of this is the Timmerhuis, which, together with the old Stadstimmerhuis, forms a complex that you probably want to have a look at while you’re here.
Just behind the Meent and behind the City Hall, you will find this huge building in the shape of cubes and with a glass and steel finish. Unfortunately, it is mainly the outside that we can enjoy, because inside the spaces are filled with offices and apartments. However, as a visitor you can have a drink at BrewDog, where you sit on a beautiful terrace right below the Timmerhuis.
Have you ever thought about who designed all these eyecatchers? For instance, these architects have contributed to the Rotterdam skyline.
One of the coolest places in Rotterdam, where you are guaranteed to feast your eyes on, is the Kop van Zuid. For this you only have to cross the Erasmus Bridge. While you walk, cycle or drive over the bridge, you can already see why the Kop van Zuid is a real eyecatcher. Several buildings in different architectural styles reach to high heights and are simply not to be missed. However, a building that may be less high, but just as impressive, is Hotel New York.
This hotel used to be the office of the Holland America Line and the place from which about half a million people sailed across the ocean. The building is now a national monument, housing a hotel, restaurant and bar. Very accessible to visit and to go back in time for a bit.
Right next to Hotel New York you will find another eyecatcher: the World Port Center. This building immediately catches the eye when you cross the Erasmus Bridge from the city centre, thanks to its round shape.
The World Port Center was designed by the British Sir Norman Foster, the architect who was also responsible for the design of London Stansted Airport, the extension of the Reichstag in Berlin and the Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank in Hong Kong, just to name a few. A metropolis such as Rotterdam could of course not be missing from this list.
Characteristic of the building is the semicircular U-shape and the large windows. Unfortunately for visitors, but for the offices that are located there this offers a beautiful view of 180 degrees over the Port of Rotterdam!