Located just inland from the North Sea along the Netherlands’ west-central coast, Rotterdam is a city of about 700,000 residents that’s also one of the busiest seaports in Europe.
It’s also one of the continent’s most international cities and is purported to have foreign residents from nearly 200 different countries.
The city was founded nearly 800 years ago. In addition to an abundance of significant historical attractions, it’s also a regional center for maritime commerce, art, cuisine, and architecture.
Due to massive bombing during World War II, it features one of the youngest and most impressive skylines in the region.
Below are 15 of the best tours of Rotterdam.
1. Rotterdam Highlights 2 ½-Hour Bike Tour
If you’ve just spent hours on an international flight or days crammed into a tiny cabin on a massive cruise ship, hitting the streets and exploring on a bicycle may be just the ticket.
In just 2 ½ hours, guests and their guide will see many of Rotterdam’s highlights, including Market and City halls, the Central Station, and the famous Erasmus Bridge that connects the northern and southern portions of the city separated by the river.
The tour proceeds at a moderate pace that’s appropriate for cyclists of most ages. Along the way, there will be ample opportunity for breaks, photo ops, or just enjoying a relaxing cup of coffee.
2. Architecture Walking Tour
For those working with limited time, it’s possible to see and experience much of what makes Rotterdam so unique in just a few hours.
This two-hour walking tour focuses on the city’s impressive architecture and is a good fit for most travelers of modest fitness levels.
Tour highlights include the Lijnbaan, Market Hall, and Erasmus Bridge. At each stop, participants will benefit from their guide’s insider knowledge of local history and culture.
Most guests are amazed that the downtown area is so packed with impressive buildings, each of which has its own unique story that would probably be missed by those showing themselves around.
3. Rotterdam Highlights 2-Hour Walking Tour
Strolling along broad sidewalks in the relatively flat coastal city of Rotterdam is an educational and invigorating activity that’s suitable for visitors of all ages.
This two-hour guided walking tour focuses on Rotterdam’s highlights and is an inexpensive option for those traveling on a budget.
Guests will have the opportunity to rub elbows with locals and get up close and personal with impressive architecture and significant works of art, all while seeing many of the city’s most iconic attractions.
For first-time visitors, walking tours like this are a great way to get an overview of the city’s layout before striking out on your own.
4. Present and Past Rotterdam Neighborhoods Tour
Rotterdam is full of distinct neighborhoods that combine elements of the old and new that most visitors find intriguing.
Guests of this history and future tour will benefit from their guide’s local knowledge of neighborhoods like Katendrecht, which in years past was most well-known for its opium houses, brothels, and seedy dive bars.
The tour also explores Wilhelminapier, as well as Rotterdam’s Chinatown, which was one of the first Chinese immigrant enclaves anywhere in Europe.
This tour is an excellent option for those interested in discovering hip bars and eateries, trendy galleries, and other cultural and historical hotspots that often get overlooked.
5. Private Rotterdam Tour with Cube House Admission
On this popular two-hour tour, guests will explore Rotterdam with a private guide at a relaxed pace, while experiencing things from a street-level perspective.
Tours include a number of stops at prominent city attractions like Town Hall, Erasmus Bridge, and the towering Cube House Museum.
At each stop, the tour guide will impart interesting tidbits of local history, like the fact that the majestic St. Lauren’s Church was almost totally destroyed by allied bombs in the beginning years of the Second World War.
Tours meet at a convenient central location and include museum admission and the services of a professional guide.
6. Dutch Food Walking Tour
Though it’s not as famous as other European cuisines like Italian and French, the Dutch food scene has experienced a renaissance in recent years.
After meeting their guide at the city’s Central Station, inquisitive eaters will embark on a culinary excursion into several distinct neighborhoods.
In addition to stopping at cafés, street food stalls, and markets, guests will learn about the city’s history, culture, and traditional local specialties.
Tours are wheelchair accessible, include multiple tastings, and can be fast-paced or relaxed, depending on the ages and interests of guests.
Various start times are available as well.
7. Euromast Lookout Tower Ticket
Rotterdam sports one of Europe’s newest and most impressive skylines and the Euromast tower is one of its most notable features.
The observation tower was constructed in the ‘50s and ‘60s. At nearly 600 feet high, it is one of the tallest structures of its kind in Europe.
The views from the uppermost vista area are nothing short of breathtaking, and there’s no need to enlist the services of an expensive guide to appreciate them.
Depending on the weather, it’s often possible to see more than ten miles into the countryside to the east and the North Sea to the west.
8. Private Tour with a Local
Customizable tours with local guides are great ways for new visitors to get the most bang for their limited time and hard-earned travel dollars.
Guests who sign up for this tour will get picked up from their Rotterdam accommodations. Before heading out, they’ll explore the neighborhood in which they’re staying.
Those who are already familiar with their surroundings can choose to meet at a central location to maximize their experience.
Tours can vary from two to four hours depending on the desires of participants and can focus on artistic, cultural, or historical attractions – or a combination of all three for a more well-rounded experience.
9. Old Town and Harbor Exploration Game and Tour
Tours that offer elements of suspense and intrigue are becoming popular ways to explore new places in unconventional and engaging ways.
After slipping into their role as a secret World War II-era agent, participants of this unique tour will set out on a mission to solve a mystery and see some of the city’s most iconic attractions in the process.
Tours typically take a few hours, but since they’re self-guided, guests can spend as much or as little time at each site as they’d like.
They’re great activities for traveling groups and families with kids in need of exercise, excitement, and mental stimulation.
10. Rotterdam Walking Tour and Harbor Cruise
The cluster of cubist houses near Rotterdam’s port are among the city’s most unique architectural structures.
The designer envisioned them as a sort of urban, humanmade forest that most visitors find stunning and impressive.
Before departing on the cruise portion of the tour, guests will also explore the Old Harbor area, which is home to the Town Hall, St. Lauren’s Church, and the vibrant shopping area around Market Hall.
After a few hours on foot, guests will take to the water, where they’ll relax in comfort while cruising the scenic harbor for slightly more than an hour.
11. Eye Catcher De Rotterdam and Wilhelminapier Rooftop
Rotterdam is widely regarded as one of the most architecturally unique and significant cities in the world.
A number of tours focus exclusively on the city’s buildings, and the Eye Catcher is one that tends to steal the spotlight.
This tour is the perfect opportunity to experience this fantastic building with a professional guide, who’ll describe its design, construction, and the architectural elements that make it so impressive and timeless.
Tours last an hour, offer guests incredible views and photo ops from the Wilhelminapier Rooftop and include a discount drink voucher to be enjoyed when the tour is over.
12. Center and South Walk with Speedboat Ride
Whether you’re in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, or Rotterdam Harbor, speedboats are exhilarating ways to see lots of sights quickly while getting one heck of an adrenaline rush in the process.
This tour includes both walking and boat portions and gets underway from a convenient location near the recently rebuilt Central Station.
Highlights include St. Lauren’s Church, Market Hall, and the Cube Houses, after which it’ll be time to head to the docks to the waiting speedboat.
On its way to additional attractions, the boat will pass under Erasmus Bridge and by some of the city’s premier real estate, dominated by high-end homes, trendy restaurants, and exclusive shopping districts.
13. De Rotterdam, Cube Houses, Water Taxi, and Market Hall
Combo tours that offer lots of variety are becoming increasingly popular with savvy travelers intent on getting the most out of their short vacations.
On this 2 ½-hour whirlwind tour, guests will learn about the spectacular Wilhelminapier Eye Catcher De Rotterdam, cruise under the majestic Erasmus Bridge, and take in unobstructed views from the Pakhuismeesteren rooftop.
The tour’s walking portion includes stops at the Cube Houses and a meet and greet with a local foodie and entrepreneur in the Market Hall.
Tours begin just before lunch, include the services of a local guide, and set out from the city’s Central Hall.
14. Rotterdam and The Hague Tour with Visit to Ceramics Factory
After meeting their guide in a central location, guests will board a private van for The Hague, which is just north of the city.
The Hague is home to the International Court of Justice and is comprised of impressive buildings, the Eternal Peace Flame, and the Noordeinde Palace.
Participants will learn about important trials that have taken place over the decades, explore the expansive grounds, and before heading back to Rotterdam, make a side excursion to a famous ceramics plant.
Tours last a full day and include some Rotterdam attractions, like the Market Hall and Central Hall in the afternoon.
15. WW2 Private Day Trip from Rotterdam
The city of Rotterdam and the Netherlands, in general, were often front-and-center in major campaigns of the Second World War.
On this guided full-day tour, guests will tour the city and country visiting historic attractions like Rotterdam’s White House, City Hall, St. Lauren’s Church, and a number of installations that played essential roles in Operation Market Garden in 1944.
The tour covers lots of ground, but there’s ample time to explore each site, ask questions, and stop for a drink or a bite to eat if guests need a break.
For history lovers and veterans of World War II, it’s the perfect way to spend an educational and poignant day.