One thing's for sure, when visiting Rotterdam you won't run out of things to do. If only stopping by for a short time (like I did) then you're likely to leave feeling like there's so many more little local spots still to be discovered. Let my Top 3 tips do their best to help you to avoid FOMO at all costs:
If you thought that Rotterdam was all endless glass, steel and concrete – leaving the really pretty stuff to the capital, Amsterdam – then think again. A short walk away from the main hub will lead you to the pleasant area of Delfshaven, which (as you've probably guessed from the name) previously belonged to the municipality of nearby Delft. Part of Rotterdam since 1886, Delfshaven is a local haven away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of this big city: its quaint cobbled streets and harbour sure to satisfy those in search of a little bit of the stereotypical Netherlands experience (and, oh yes, it even has a windmill!) Take time to hang around the harbour for a while and soak up the scene. Stopping off to sup on a beer from the local brewery Stadsbrouwerij De Pelgrim is recommended – not only is the beer first-rate, but its location right on the canalside makes it the perfect spot for a little people watching.
2. NEW YORK, NEW YORK
No, I'm not suggesting you hop on a plane to the Big Apple but rather, that you head towards Rotterdam's famous Hotel New York. The former head office of the Holland America Line, where thousands of people used to head off to North America in search of a different life, the building has been lovingly restored and now is a hotspot for people to mingle, mix and be. Take a peek inside, be transported back in time and perhaps even stay a while (although I didn't have time to partake, I've heard that the Afternoon Tea is pretty darn good!). However, my focus here isn't actually the hotel itself, but rather what lies in front of it. The grassy expanse in front of the hotel offers some of the best views of Rotterdam, so pull out a deckchair – or simply plop yourself down in an empty spot – sit back, and admire the cityscape.
3. MARITIME MUSEUM
I'm a big fan of the outdoors, and of free experiences, luckily for me Rotterdam's Maritime Museum combines both. Although the main museum is indoors and requires an entrance fee, there's an entire outdoor harbour museum which anyone can wander around completely for free. On a sunny day it's pleasant to stroll around and see ships and cranes of all shape and sizes, each taking you a little bit further back in time through Rotterdam's maritime history. Wandering can be thirsty work, so after you've finished perusing the various vessels then it makes perfect sense to stop off and have a drink aboard a boat, doesn't it? Vessel 11, just around the corner from the Maritime Museum, is the perfect place to regain some energy before moving on with the rest of your day – and it's a lovely little sun-trap on a warm day, too!