Travel Guide: Rotterdam – The Modern Getaway


Monday, Jan. 7 – By Laura Nijhuis

As a student, it’s nice to travel during the breaks. However, as a student, you also don’t have tons of money to spend. So why go travel abroad when your own country has a lot to offer?
In the Netherlands, there are many different cities to visit. Most people would immediately go to Amsterdam: the Dutch capital. It makes the most sense to go there but if you don’t like old buildings, you might want to consider Rotterdam. Rotterdam is the is the second-largest city and a municipality of the Netherlands and has the biggest harbour of Europe.

How Rotterdam came to be

Rotterdam originated around 1270 in the province of South Holland. The name comes from the period when the residents of the Maas and Rotte rivers area began to build a dam in the Rotte. In 1340, Rotterdam was granted city rights. Then they began with the construction of city walls and canals and grew to become an important trading place.

In 1872, the Nieuwe Waterweg was constructed. The construction connected Rotterdam to the ocean, causing the city to expand rapidly. The city, which is also known as the ‘Gate of Europe’, benefited from the German economy which was growing very fast at the time.

In May 1940, during World War II, Rotterdam was bombed. However, they started rebuilding the city fairly soon after. It was successful though; Rotterdam became the biggest harbour in the world. The then modern metro system and housing became a symbol for the city. This is how Rotterdam became the modern city it still is today.

Rotterdam after bombing
The city was torn apart after the 1940 bombings © Historiek

Euromast, Markthallen and much more!

Rotterdam is a nice city where you can admire the modern buildings, but of course, that’s not something you’d want to do for several days.

First of all, it’s time to conquer that fear of heights! The Euromast is the highest building
in the Netherlands with 185 meters and can be found in the southwest of Rotterdam. And guess what? You can go all the way to the top and
get a 360 view! No worries, there are elevators available, so your legs won’t be sore afterwards. Personally, I’d recommend going in the evening. When the sky is dark, the view over the city is magical. After taking in the view, you can have
a drink or eat dinner at the restaurant and enjoy that magical view for a bit longer. This is an ideal place to go with friends or your significant other.

Secondly, there are several museums in the
city. And there’s some good news for students: most of them have a student discount! With the many museums, there’s something available
for everyone. For instance, there is a museum
of Natural History where you can find out
more about animals that have walked on this earth for only €3,50. If you’re more interested
in photography and art, you’d feel more at
home next door at the Kunsthal. It’s a bit more expensive, but also a lot bigger. With a ticket, you are free to roam through the exhibitions and become inspired by all the artwork. The most popular museum in Rotterdam is the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. This museum often exhibits older artworks, which is great if you’re more of a fan of old-school paintings.
There are many more museums that are definitely worth a visit, so do consider doing something cultural on your trip!

Rotterdam has a lot of places to explore. Here’s a quick shortlist of the must-sees in the city!

1. Euromast
Highest building in the country

2. Erasmusbrug
Popular bridge, especially pretty at night

3. Markthallen
Great place to taste different foods

4. Kubuswoningen
Houses shaped as cubes in an unexpected way

5. Museums
Learn about Rotterdam, view art and enjoy!

“The first thing you notice when walking into Rotterdam is how modern the buildings are. You almost imagine yourself being in another country when in Rotterdam”

– Tristan Seubers, 21

(Student from Groningen)

A place to stay without breaking the bank

As a student, you won’t have tons of money to spend. Luckily, Rotterdam has a few good budget hotels to offer.

If you’re into trying new things, you might want to check out CityHub Rotterdam. The rooms,
or hubs, are private. However, the bathrooms are shared with other guests. This means that you lose some privacy, but gain the feeling of a community. It mixes the concept of a hotel with that of a hostel. It’s more social, and if you’re into that it’s a great place to stay. From €39,- a night it’s still on the cheap side and a great place for students and ideal for groups of friends.

Want something simple and compact for a great price? You should visit EasyHotel! With rooms starting at €38,- a night, it’s a great place to stay in a central part of the city. Most activities are nearby and the public transit is also close. The rooms are compact and nothing special, but your room is where you spend the least time (awake) anyway.

A way through the city

These days, we all have Google Maps on our phones, so finding the way shouldn’t be too difficult. However, public transport can be a bit difficult if you’re not familiar. Rotterdam is very different to Groningen when it comes to public transport; they barely use buses. The best way to get through Rotterdam is by walking or riding the tram. Since the city itself is quite compact, your feet or a bike will suffice most of the times. Though, if you’d like to visit places that are just beyond walking distance (such as the Euromast), Rotterdam has many trams. They work just like buses; trams travel between A and B and use numbers for the lines. Just like the bus stations, the tram stations have maps where you can see where the different lines go. Don’t be fooled by the colors though! In Groningen, different buses have different colors. In Rotterdam, many trams have advertisements on them, meaning that their colors change from time to time.

Now go on and explore the city!