Rotterdam: A Guide to An Unforgettable City

Rotterdam: Cube houses, street art and pilgrims oh my!

I fell in love with Rotterdam the very first time I went there when I was a teenager. It is unlike any other city I have ever been to anywhere. Unfortunately for them, it was heavily bombed during World War II so they had to basically rebuild the majority of the city save a handful of buildings. Because of this, they started from scratch and created something really special and different than the majority of Europe that basically just recreated what was already in place prior to the war. Come join me as I show you why Rotterdam is an unforgettable city.

Rotterdam Cube Houses:

Outside the Rotterdam Cube Houses
Rotterdam’s Cube Houses

Getting off at the Rotterdam Blaak station, I was transported back in time as I stepped out of the station and looked up to see the Cube Houses. Since the day I met my husband, he has heard me talk about these and now he finally gets to see them in person. While there was so much I wanted to see in Rotterdam, it was going to have to wait because the first thing in order was to go back and visit my old friends and they did not disappoint. As a matter of fact, they were more amazing than I remembered from so long ago.

It was a mere 3 euros to go into the Show Room. Should you decide to enter, keep in mind the stairs are narrow and steep. The limited amount of space inside, approximately 270 square feet, is spread across 4 floors.

VTML Warning: If you have bad knees or claustrophobia, this is not the place for you!

The ground floor has a staircase that takes you to the 1st floor, which is a tiny, triangle-shaped room. This is where the living room, with a pole in the middle, and the kitchen are in the unit.

The kitchen in the cube house in Rotterdam
Kitchen in the Rotterdam Show Room Cube House

From here take another flight of steps up to two bedrooms and a small bathroom (on the 3rd floor). On the top floor is a small open space with lots of light. In the Show Room, they show it as a little garden type space.

The top floor in the cube house in Rotterdam.
Open Space on the 4th floor in the Show Room Cube House in Rotterdam

Should you decide to go here and wander around, please keep in mind that people live in these amazing modern structures and that they are more than just a tourist attraction.

VTML Tip: There are several train stations in Rotterdam but if you want the Cube Houses to be your first stop, you will want to make sure your train stops at the Rotterdam Blaak station since this drops you off basically steps away from them.

Address: Overblaak 70

Hours: Daily 10a – 6p

Costs: 3 euros

Wandering around Rotterdam:

Since you are here, you might as well pop over to Markthal. If it is too early to eat, come back later. If nothing else, check out the ceiling and see all the local food that is offered here. As we wandered around, we found everything imaginable to eat but my personal favorite was Jamie Oliver’s Italian. Even if you are gluten free, you can find things to eat here.

Address: Dominee Jan Scharpstraat 298

Hours: Monday – Thursday 10am – 8pm, Friday 10am – 9pm, Saturday 10am – 8pm, Sunday 12pm – 6pm

Rotterdam's Markthal ceiling
Rotterdam’s Markthal ceiling

When you are done here, step outside and take notice of Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk. It is one of the few buildings that survived the Rotterdam Blitz during WWII.

Address: Grotekerkplein 27

Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm

Sint-Laurenskerk in Rotterdam
Sint-Laurenskerk in Rotterdam

But back to wandering around the streets of Rotterdam… This time around, I wanted to focus on street art, I know big surprise. And this is not a difficult task as it is all over the place but if you want to get the biggest bang for the buck and see a lot in a short period of time, download the free app from Rewriters Rotterdam.

We spent most of our time in the Centrum part of town.

On our way from the Cube houses, we came across many interesting pieces. The first large mural we saw was this one by CES53, at 2e Blekerhof, an artist from Rotterdam but is known world-wide for his work.

CES53 mural in Rotterdam.
CES53 started out as a graffiti writer and was part of the Dutch collective Lastplak.

Just up the street, we came across this mural by Bier en Brood (beer and bread) with their black and white mural on the side of a ballet school. This 2-man Rotterdam based crew have been working together for the last 10 years.

Bier en Brood mura
Bier en Brood mural

VTML Tip: Make sure you walk around to the other side of the school to see another mural by them.

Bier en Brood mura
The other half of the Bier en Brood mural

Located on Baan is a mural that I was looking forward to seeing by Lastplak. This shows some of the Rotterdam’s great architectural achievements like Markthal, the Cube Houses and the Erasmus Bridge. In case you haven’t heard of Lastplak, they are an artist collective made up of artists with various backgrounds. We were fortunate enough to see them at work when we were at NDSM in Amsterdam and it was a truly amazing experience! But that is for another blog.

Lastplak mural in Rotterdam
Lastplak mural

Witte de Withhof:

From here we headed to Witte de Withhof (Whitey the white street), where within in a couple of minutes’ walk there are so many amazing pieces of street art. If you are looking for a relaxed place to hang out, this is a great place to go. There are tons of cafes and restaurants and some really cool hostels.

First stop was this neon sign with an Andy Warhol quote:

Warhol neon on  Witte de Withhof in Rotterdam.
This became Warhol’s most well-known statement but whether he actually said it or not is something we may never know.

As you can see from the previous picture, this is just a couple of steps from the Warhol neon. I like this mural by Edward Teeuw because it has a Picasso / Dali feel to it.

Edward Teeuw Witte de Withhof in Rotterdam.
Edward Teeuw’s mural on Witte de Withhof

If you are looking for interactive street art, just head up the street for a mural created for the #MakeItHappen campaign. It allows you to climb up the wall for a photo op.

Daan Botlek called On the Way to the Top. mural in Rotterdam.
Here I am being a part of street art in this mural by Daan Botlek called On the Way to the Top.

Not far away is this mural by Tymon Ferenc de Laat at the corner of Eendrachtsstraat and Witte de Withstraat called Mr Merida. This colorful mural has South American influences. I especially like the bicycle in front.

Mr Merida by Tymon Ferenc de Laat in Rotterdam.
Mr Merida by Tymon Ferenc de Laat

Directly across the street from the Tymon mural, is this one by Ox-Alien and Mark Goss. It is located just outside The White Monkey bar. I especially like the faux wood grain that frames this mural. I can’t say I have seen this done before.

Mural by Tymon in Rotterdam.
Mural by Tymon

Next up, we are getting 2 for the price of 1. There is even a story…

The Love Birds are located on the corner of Boomgaardsstraat and Witte de Withstraat (74). These are 2 separate works by Robert Rost and Tymon Ferenc de Laat. On the right is a magpie holding a diamond ring. Above the mural is a marriage proposal from Tymon.

Murals by Robert Rost and Tymon Ferenc de Laat.
Works by Robert Rost and Tymon Ferenc de Laat. Apparently, Sam said yes!

Oude Westen:

Wandering over to Oude Westen to see a couple more fun pieces. Our first stop was Oude Binnenweg, one of the few remaining pre-WWII streets. The main reason for our stop here was to see Fikkie, the beloved dog statue. Locals treat it like a real dog and provide it with a water bowl in the summer and a scarf in the winter. TOO CUTE!

Notice the little poo in front. This was commissioned by the city’s waste management to raise awareness to litter and trash.

Fikkie, Rotterdam's beloved dog
Fikkie, Rotterdam’s beloved dog

The next mural is on the street behind this statue on Boomgaardhof.

While were creating “Jazz” they encountered all kinds of challenges from weather, permit issues for traffic, and incorrect measurements of the building. I think this diptych turned out well in spite of the turmoil.

Jazz by Joren Joshua, Ilse Weisfelt
Jazz by Joren Joshua, and Ilse Weisfelt

Probably my favorite mural in Rotterdam is this one called Urban Jungle. It is really special because it has its own statue in front of it, check out the fox. Look closely! I was standing in front of it and almost missed it.

Created by Eelco, his goal is to bring nature back into the city through his work. This is located on Bloemkwekersstraat at the corner of Nieuwe Binnenweg.

Urban Jungle by Eelco
Urban Jungle by Eelco

If you look left of Urban Jungle, you will see another mural by Edo Rath and Ox-Alien.

Mural by Edo Rath and Ox-Alien.
Mural by Edo Rath and Ox-Alien.

Last but not least, is Delfshaven:

This old section of Rotterdam is special for a couple of reasons. It survived the Rotterdam Blitz of World War II unscathed by the bombs and fire. For Americans, it is important because the Old Church (Oude Kerk) located here is where the pilgrims had their last service in 1620 before sailing off for the New World to find Plymouth, Massachusetts. There is also a windmill, old bridge, many wooden boats, and a street art tunnel.

Rotterdam Delftshaven
Delfshaven windmill

Getting to Rotterdam’s Delfshaven:

If you have time, you can walk here and it will take approximately 30 minutes. If you are pressed for time, take the underground or a tram or bus.

The underground is easy to use and the trains come fairly often. Trains arrive about every 10 minutes and you take it to the Delfshaven stop. When you come out of the station, there is not a sign that directs you to the old section, just head towards the buildings that look old (only a couple of minutes walk).

To wander around and see the sites here, plan on about an hour.

Address: Pieter de Hoochstraat 52

Rotterdam underground sign
Rotterdam underground sign

Aovertunnel:

As you are walking around Delfshaven on the right, you will see Aovertunnel which is a street art tunnel. While it is small, it has several large murals by local artists. Make sure you pop in to check it out!

Mural in Delfshaven's Aovertunnel (street art tunnel) in Rotterdam.
Mural in Delfshaven’s Aovertunnel (street art tunnel) in Rotterdam.

If you are looking for a city filled with historical monuments, then Rotterdam is not the city for you to go and explore. Yes, there is some history that still exists but most of it was destroyed in WWII due to bombing and fires.

Yes, I enjoyed Rotterdam when I was a teenager but I enjoyed this even more this time around because it has continued to keep moving forward as a progressive city. If you are looking for a different kind of city filled with modern buildings, street art and a fun time to be had by all, then head here. You won’t regret it! It is very easy to walk around and navigate.

Is Rotterdam a city you would like to visit? What are you most interested in exploring there? Let me know in below.

While you are at it, please like and sign-up to receive notifications for future blogs.

If you are looking for ideas on day trips within the Netherlands, check out my blog on Gouda.

I hope you enjoyed the short View Thru My Lenz.

Nina Zee

© 2020 Nina Zee ⁠

36 thoughts on “Rotterdam: A Guide to An Unforgettable City

    1. Rotterdam is such a dream for this! You are so right about the bike. I also love how it has the same blue that is in the mural. 😃 Thank you so much for your feedback!

  1. The cube houses were reason enough to stop in Rotterdam.
    Walking the streets was amazing. The street art was everywhere. Many styles and artists represented. So much fun!

    1. You are so right there, the cube houses are enough reason to go, at least for me! 😃😃😃 But the street art is beyond amazing and will get you to walk around this amazing city to explore the rest of it. Thank you for commenting.

  2. What a beautiful place! The murals are amazing!!!! The cube houses remind me of the Hundertwasser Houses- have you ever seen any of those? I’ve been to the one in Austria— sooo cool!

    1. The Hundertwasser houses are spectacular! I have only seen pictures of them but they are unique and so colorful. I love when someone is given the opportunity to show their creativity like this! Thank you for sharing!!! 😃❤️

  3. Wow! I had no idea that there was such a variety of incredible street art in Rotterdam. Thank you for sharing, definitely planning to spend a day simply soaking up the art next time I’m in the area.

    1. There are so many amazing murals and this is just a small taste of what this city has to offer. If this is something you are interested in, I highly recommend it! I am so glad I could assist. Thank you so much for commenting.

  4. Rotterdam seems like a place that’s really into art of all kinds! Must be amazing to explore! I caught one of your street art pics by Tymon on Instagram Nina and even got to chat a little with the artist! His IG feed is amazing!

    1. Rotterdam is an artists dream and you don’t know what you are going to find from one street to the next.Tymon was amazing!!! He was really active on IG the other day and chatting up many people. It was really a treat. Thank you so much for commenting.

  5. Those cube houses are so cool! Would love to live on one (once I move to a land based life again). And the street art is magnificent. Thank you so much for the tip on the Rewriters Rotterdam App. My favorite is the Lastplak mural. You are so lucky to have seen them at work when at NDSM. Interesting history on Oude Kerk.

    1. Thank you so much Lisa for your amazing feedback! The Lastplak mural is so cool!!! Right now you are living a dream. I love reading about your adventures. ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️

  6. Another of my blogging friends is very keen on Rotterdam so it’s attractions haven’t escaped me, but I’ve not even been to Amsterdam! Shocking, isn’t it? 🙂 🙂

    1. Oh wow! Then you must plan a trip to the Netherlands!! It is such a lovely country and the people are so nice. The architecture is pretty and the canals are so fun to wander around. There are so many great day trips from Amsterdam!

    1. Thank you so much for the feedback! I have read the guidelines. Now I have to figure out what I will write about. I will get back to you ASAP. 😃

  7. Dankje wel for the stroll. 🙂 Can you believe I lived as a child 3 years in Amsterdam and we never went to Rotterdam?
    Went back to Amsterdam a few years back. It has become a very different city, but the streets and canals of (part of) my childhood are still the same…
    Tot ziens.
    B.

    1. It is always so cool to go back to a place you grew up in to see how it has changed. Even if it is totally different, there is usually something that is close to your heart that is still there and part of your memories. Thank you for commenting.

      1. AUB. 😉Strangely enough, my old street was exactly the same. The only difference were the hundreds of small boats moored on the canal. Those did not exist when I lived there. Cheers

  8. It is easy to get to Rotterdam when visiting Amsterdam but not sure why i never considered it a destination for me, but you and your post has made me consider it to be one in the future. I do love the colours on the wall and the message they send and it would be lovely to spend a weekend in Rotterdam. I am sure to find it easy to navigate around the city with the help of the Rotterdam Street Art Routes App which you have so correctly pointed out. My favourite piece is “Make it Happen” ! Definitely will climb those steps!

    1. I think a lot of people forget about Rotterdam, which is a shame. It is such an amazing city! The Rotterdam Street Art app is great but it is also fun just to wander aimlessly around the city and fall on top of stuff here. The Make It Happen mural is just too cute and there are so many great ones right by it.

Leave a Reply

error: © Nina Zee, To purchase this image, please contact ninazee78@gmail.com.
%d bloggers like this: