Spring 2018 in Rotterdam

Check our tips for 25 free things to do in Rotterdam!

Traveling on a budget doesn't mean you have to miss out. Make the most of Rotterdam's iconic architecture, historic waterways and scenic walks all for free. Even the Central Station is a sight to see! Here are our tips on how to get the best of Rotterdam and pay zero, zilch, nada!

1. Erasmus Bridge

The ´White Swan´ or ‘Erasmusbrug’ is an iconic symbol of the city and a famous highlight of Rotterdam's skyline. The white cable bridge was built in 1996 and connects the north and south of the city. Earning the moniker of Little Manhattan, Rotterdam has plenty of amazing architecture to see along the waterfront, and the bridge views of and from ‘Erasmusbrug’ are a (free) must!

2. The Euromast & Het Park

Although you have to pay to enter the Euromast and to visit the top to see the panoramic views, you can enter the ground floor cafe and check out the impressive mast itself from Het Park beneath. Completed in 1960 the 185 metres mast is the tallest tower in Rotterdam and has become a symbol of the city. The park below was built in the 1850s and is a favourite place in Rotterdam to picnic and relax. A great place to visit on a sunny day! 

3. Free Walking Tours

Check out the highlights of Rotterdam and get to know the city on a free walking tour. An awesome way to get out and about and see the famous sights, you can also find out tips from a local guide on the less touristy spots. 

Join one of the Hostel ROOM free walking tours and find out the secrets of the city! The street art tour takes place every Saturday at 3pm and the free talking tours take place on Wednesday and Sunday. There's also a ´Real Rotterdam' tour on Fridays. Check out this link for more information. Feel free to show your appreciation to your tour guide.

4. Explore foody delights at Markthal

Market Hall's signature arch architecture has made this foody heaven a must-see for visitors to Rotterdam. Constructed in 2014 this is multi-use building houses a fabulous food market in the glass center - home to Dutch and International produce and tasty treats. Not only worth seeing just for the building, this is a great place to sample some local dishes, and there are plenty of food stalls that will let you try some of their food for free!

Find out more here

5. See the Cube Houses

In front of the Markthal and Blaak Market are balanced the curious Cube Houses designed by architect Piet Blom. They look slightly like they're upside down and are certainly an Instagram favourite, but the 80's Kijk-Kubus have been a great hit in the Rotterdam line up of avant-garde architecture. Don't miss out on these yellow vertiginous houses - looking is free! 

Entry inside is from 2 euros or you can check out the interiors online!

6. Blaak Market

Make like a local and check out the vibrant atmosphere at the Blaak Market, Rotterdam's biggest market by the old harbour. This is the best place for window shopping with over 400 stalls. Admire the flowers, try some cheese or sweets and check out the bargains and quirky nick nacks on sale. Expect the market to be busy, and covered on rainy days. The end of the day is always best for bargains for those shopping! The market is there only on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

7. Visit Rotterdam Discovery Exhibition

This attraction is aimed at discovering Rotterdam's past and present and creating a journey to the future with thrills and spills. It's housed in the Schielandshuis on Coolsingel and free to enter. 

8. Bike About Town

This is an exciting way to see the city like a local and get to cover more ground than on a walking tour. You can also head a little further out and even get to see some windmills! For this one to be free you need to be here on your bike (or rent one for great value at our Room Reception). There are also lots of friendly Dutchies so you might even be able to borrow one from a new friend!

9. Day of Architecture Rotterdam (over a whole weekend!)

16th-17th

June For architecture fans, the city celebrates the Day of Architecture over the weekend of 16th and 17th June, when all the participating buildings are free to enter! This year the programme focuses on the Maritime District, the Wilhelminapier and Het Land van Hoboken (Museumpark). Find out more here

10. Street Art viewing

Take a look at some of the coolest street art around town- think of it as an outdoor gallery that covers the city! There is an impressive selection of street art and graffiti to seek out around town (some pieces are more elaborate than others). Have a look at these tips from The Hostel Girl for a clue for where to start!

11. Chilling in the Park

Us Dutch are fairly laid back, and we love to make the most of our summer with some quality time chilling out in the park. Rotterdam is a green city and we're lucky enough to have some great options for enjoying the great outdoors. For a park with a view check out Het Park at Euromast, or if you're looking for a hidden garden then find it at Schoonoord. For more of a nature setting then try visiting Kralingse Bos wooded parkland on the lakeside, or spacious Vroesenpark for a neighbourhood park opposite the Zoo.

12. Window Shopping

This sounds like a cheat, but looking and not buying is quite popular in the Netherlands. There's even a Dutch saying for just looking.. 'Kijken, kijken, niet kopen.' Our favourite streets to look at our Meent, Pannekoekstraat, Nieuwe Binnenweg, and Zwart Janstraat. Have a look at what you fancy with a little bit of light shopping!

13. The International Architecture Biennale

1st June to 8th July 2018 

The 8th edition of the International Architecture Biennale begins on June 1st and this year links two cities in two countries; Rotterdam and Brussels. The main exhibition is 7.50 Euros but there are plenty of events, tours and workshops taking place that are free on the programme, such as Wunderkammer Scene Change and the Ghazze, Budel programme on building for refugees. The theme for 2018 examines ´The Missing Link` both between the host cities and the future of the city in terms of resilience, sustainability and climate change.

14. Metropolis Music Festival

8th July 2018 

Metropolis Music Festival takes place 8th July at Zuiderpark, and it's the best place to check out up and coming talent, promoting new bands and artists on a big outdoor stage! There's an eclectic line up of performers for this year's Metropolis, and as we love - it's free entry to go! 

Find out more here

15. Check out Luchtsingel

Calling architecture fans, don't miss out on Luchtsingel! Calling architecture fans, don't miss out on Luchtsingel! This former run-down area of the city connected Central station with the North side of the city and after years of neglect has been regenerated to create a park, public area, the DakAkker and the wooden pedestrian bridge across.

16. Visit Historical Delfshaven

This historic part of the city dates back to the 1760s and survived the bombing which largely flattened Rotterdam. This picturesque harbourside has the well-known landmark of the grain mill (De Destilleerketel) and is lined with typical canal houses and antiques, beer breweries, bars, shops and cafes. The neighbourhood has historic charm and still has windmills you can see! Definitely worth a wander! Find out more about the history here

17. Free Jazz around town

The Famous North Sea Jazz festival has a free fringe festival; North Sea Round Town from June 23rd to July 15th. For jazz, blues, funk and soul aficinados there are plenty of improv concerts and gigs around town that includes free pop-up performances at various venues - for free! Enjoy some of the best live music in town with them, just check out the programme here

For North Sea Jazz festival the weekend of 13th-15th July you can buy tickets online here

18. Free Live Music weekly at Room

With a booming schedule of live music and open mic nights, Room provides a great venue for good music with a lively international crowd at their bar. Open Mic Nights are the last Friday of the month from 9pm, for free! For the music schedule check their facebook events here

19. Eendracht Festival

19th July

This festival is based on having fun, so think music, art, poetry, performances - it's a mix of everything. There's also a pre-party to warm up on 14th July. The festival is free of charge and at the Eendrachtsplein area of town, one day only so don't miss out! Check out their plans for this year here

20. Rotterdam Summer Carnival 2018

24-28th July

Who doesn't love carnival?? The Zomercarnaval, or Summer Carnival in Rotterdam, is an experience not to be missed! Join in with the crowds at the street parades, enjoy the free music performances, the great atmosphere and costumes galore. Traditionally a Dutch Caribbean festival the carnival now welcomes around 800,000 visitors each year to see the drum shows, the Carnival Queen and the street parades. Dig out your feathers and sequins to take part in this multicultural fiesta this summer in Rotterdam (or just show up and enjoy!)

21. World Port Days

7th-9th September

Get a look behind the scenes of the famous port with a weekend of access all areas with World Port Days. With a theme this year of 'Energise' the port is open to visitors to find out about their ambitious future plans for the cleanest port in the world! Find out more here

22. Visit the City Hall Garden

The City Hall is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Rotterdam and encases a lovely garden. An attraction in itself, the garden at the City Hall has become a place to enjoy the sculptures, the rose gardens, throw a coin in the fountain, or just to have some peace and quiet. An oasis from the busy streets, the gardens can be visited year round.

23. The SS Rotterdam

This historic steamship has paid tours around the ship, but can also be visited for free if you just want to have a drink on Rotterdam’s best terrace. The ship is now permanently moored and used as a hotel and for events, but the SS Rotterdam used to make frequent transatlantic voyages as the flag ship for the Holland-America Line since the 1950s. If you're a fan of maritime history or just like being on the water then check out the ship's events or just enjoy the views from the cafe overlooking Nieuwe Maas.

24. Open Monument Day

8th & 9th September

Open Monument Day (Monumentendag) sees the Netherlands open the doors to the public to historic monuments for free around the country. It actually takes place over a whole weekend in September and is designed to educate and build interest in European heritage, historic monuments themselves and their need for preservation. In Rotterdam expect to be able to see live music, special exhibitions and guided tours around the monuments.

25. Visit the Central Library

Rotterdam Central Library is not only an oasis for book worms but also has a great view from the terrace looking over markethal. They also have a giant chess game in the lobby!  

We hope you enjoy our top tips for 25 Free Things to do in Rotterdam, book your bed with us at Room Hostel Rotterdam. We're a proud member of Europe's Famous Hostels, a network of the best hostels for Genuine Backpackers around Europe.