Rotterdam is the second city here in the Netherlands and has a whole history and character very different from big sister Amsterdam. Famous for its modern architecture that flows around the River Maas – creating the biggest port in Europe, Rotterdam is also known for hosting a variety of annual events and festivals making it a lively city to visit any time of year. With a maritime history and so many waterfront viewpoints, this city is great to explore by boat, on foot, and by bicycle (of course!)
We stepped into ROOM Hostel Rotterdam to find out from the local and international staff what makes Rotterdam unique for them, and why this city is so hot right now on the tourist map. A stone’s throw away from the famous Erasmus Bridge and with harbour views, we sat down with the best coffee in town in the cosy ROOM Hostel bar to find out from the experts…
Staff member Angela is from nearby Westland and has now become a Rotterdam local. She says that Rotterdam is unique because its easy to navigate size makes it an ideal place to live and visit.
"Rotterdam is really different from other cities here. It is unique because it’s so liveable – it’s iconic in terms of the city’s modern architecture and skyline (and of course this is epitomised in the Erasmus Bridge) – but it’s also spacious. The city is easy to enjoy and to live in, not just for tourists to view it, but there is room for everyone.
Also if you’re visiting Rotterdam then don’t miss out on one of the famous events taking place! There are so many in the city year round, but for me - I love the Zomercarnaval (summer carnival) which is the most lively and colourful event of the year. The Rotterdam Marathon is also very cool to see and to follow the route around the city- everyone gathers on the side lines to cheer on the runners, and of course King’s Day is a huge celebration here as everywhere in the Netherlands.”
Owner Monique is a Rotterdam local and she feels like this second city has all the advantages of not being overcrowded but retaining international appeal.
"For me Rotterdam is completely different to any other city in the Netherlands. It’s young for a city and the tall architecture gives the city a very metropolitan feeling; but it is still small. Everything is easy to reach by bike or walking, and there are lots of amazing parks and festivals, which the city is famous for, but it’s not overcrowded with tourists yet."
Melanie is from a nearby small town from Rotterdam - so for her- Rotterdam is her local big city where she has spent the past two years. She explains that to her Rotterdam feels like a city with a lot of things to do and see, especially as it’s beautiful just to walk around because of the architecture and to just enjoy the local culture.
"There are so many things to do in Rotterdam! There are world class museums, the architecture is astounding, there are tours so you can discover and see everything, buzzing nightlife with fun bars and live music. Something not to miss is the transport by boat around the city - which is a novelty! There are also nice parks to enjoy, really tasty food, beautiful panoramic views from the top of the Euro Mast, shopping, and so much more! I think this variety of cultural activities and so many things to do for a city this size makes Rotterdam really special."
Pablo is from Spain but has lived in Rotterdam for 4 years and organises the awesome live music events and concerts at Room Hostel. He enjoys chilling out in the beer gardens and parks, especially Het Park and Deliplein. He thinks it’s the character of Rotterdam that makes it unique.
"For me I think it’s a combination of how a city can have a lot of hype and expectation of what it is like to live in or visit, while still retaining its own character and without selling out. Everyone knows about the architecture and port but when you see it, it really is impressive. The city also has maintained its individuality and its character makes it unique. There is so much to do in Rotterdam, but it doesn’t feel like a tourist trap destination like other places. The thing that makes Rotterdam a special place to visit is that it is ‘real’!"
Solveiga is from Latvia and has been living in Rotterdam for 6 years. She has all the tips for the best places to find it in town – just ask her at reception! She thinks that it’s the people in Rotterdam that make it so unique.
"The port and crazy architecture symbolise the city, but for me it’s the people and the atmosphere that make it really unique. Rotterdammers truly love Rotterdam. People here are more laid-back and a bit more real, than, say in Amsterdam. I find it funny that they enjoy black coffee and bitter beer!"
In Rotterdam the history has shaped the city to make it what it is today. It never stops evolving and is full of surprises. Ten years ago Rotterdam didn't have the reputation it does today and may have seemed less attractive to tourists, but now it's a hub for not only tourism but also international students and expats who want to live here.
For me one thing that definitely makes it unique is the never ending traffic in the Maas river, due to it being the biggest port in Europe here in Rotterdam. There are water buses, water taxis, tour boats, ships, cargo ships and so much more!”
So there is the lowdown from the locals! These are some reasons why Rotterdam is so unique to visit, from the Room Rotterdam star staff who live here! If you’re visiting Rotterdam then book your bed at the best hostel in the city here.