When I thought of Rotterdam, I associated it with a very modern American city along with Nils and Soren’s favorite soccer team Feyernoord, which we have visited before.
It was not until now doing my tourism research, I see the city has a lot more to offer than Feyernoord fan shops ;). I knew they had a tram system but no idea an underground Metro.
World War 2, left a terrible scar on the city of Rotterdam. Being severely bombed by the Germans, the war left the city in total devastation that is why it has so many new buildings. A couple of buildings like city hall and a few small spots were not hit and they show how Rotterdam used to be. Delftshaven, Oudehaven or Veerhaven.
Part of my attraction to Amsterdam and Netherlands in general, is the style of most of houses / buildings. This is probably why I ignored Rotterdam for so long.
It is also surprisingly a very family-friendly city with loads to do for children. I have complied a “top 8 things to do with children when visiting Rotterdam” list. But we need more than one day to get through the list.
#1 – MARITIEM MUSEUM
We absolutely loved this museum. Even if you are not a water person, you’ll still find it interesting. I did a separate post on it here.
#2 – SIGHTSEE THE CITY BY WATER
There are a few options available for you to visit and sightsee by water including hop on and off boats and water taxis.
First is Spido tours. Among the busy traffic of sea-going and inland ships, this trip is a special journey through one of the largest harbours in the world. You can see Rotterdam’s impressive skyline with its imposing buildings glide by, and then get a unique view of the harbours shipyards, docks and the hypermodern transshipping of thousands of containers. Last but not least the tour will end with a view of the steamship ‘Rotterdam’, the former cruise flagship of shipping company Holland America Line. An exciting 75 minutes with clear descriptions of everything you see.
Second is Splashtours which is similar to the Ducktours in Boston but instead of a WW2 style vehicle it’s an amphibious bus! You have the option of first taking a tour where you drive through the city before ‘splashing’ into the river Maas.
But unlike the funny Boston drivers who give live commentary, here your tour was TV footage and audio.
#3 – PANNENKOEKEN BOAT
If the idea of eating UNLIMITED Dutch pancakes with a variety of toppings while seeing Rotterdam by boat seems like your type of fun, you won’t want to miss this place. They offers variety of sailings from 75-minute to 2.5 hours! They even have a ball pit area to keep the younger kids entertained.
Tip: As with many other local attractions, when booking online, you can combine visits and save a few Euros!
#4 – PLASJWIJCK PARK
This place is so unique and a place the kids would love to visit and never get bored! It’s called an amusement park but it’s more of a indoor and outdoor playspace with a petting zoo and water playground. The parks website is only in Dutch but this review is in English and is very thorough and shows how fun this place can be for kids.
#5 – ROTTERDAM ZOO AKA DIERGAARD BLIJDORP
Also known as Diergaard Blijdorp, it is recognized as one of the most beautiful zoos in Europe, it is home to giraffes, tigers, seals, gorillas, polar bears all having their own unique habits. Other highlights include the award-winning butterfly garden area, Amazonica and an aquarium area Oceanium.
Tips: Buy tickets online and save €2.00 each and pack a picnic, food and drinks can be expensive.
#6 – EUROMAST
The Euromast is Rotterdam’s iconic observation tower. It was built in 1960 to mark the occasion Floriade, an international flower and garden exhibition. Its height at 101 meters was the tallest building back in the days. Unfortunately, Euromast quickly lost its title due to the ever changing Rotterdam’s skyline. In 1970, Euromast retaliated with additional 85 meters by adding a rotating elevator – ‘Space Tower’.
Once you buy your entrance tickets, you embark on the super fast elevator ride to go up almost 100 meters in just 30 seconds. First stop, a restaurant Brasserie at 92 meters high which serves high-tea, luxurious menu and the view of Rotterdam on the side. The panorama platform is one level up at 96 meters. It has spectacular views of the ports, the city skyline, famous structures and of course the nearby Erasmus Bridge.
On the same level, there are two hotel suites available for a premium price.
From the panorama platform, it is another flight of stairs up to reach the Euroscope. It is basically a giant rotating panoramic elevator with sit down capacity of approximately 25 people. Euroscope starts at 112 meters and rises slowly in a circle to 185 meters for a spectacular 360° view of Rotterdam. The duration of the ride is about 7-8 minutes.
There are other things that you can do at Euromast. You can join the challenge of climbing 589 steps and try to break the record of 1 minute 47 seconds or zipline (yuck!). There is a kids club and a trail for the kids- even birthday party options. I we have not yet done this but I can see for some kids it might not be so exciting.
It is a gorgeous view on a clear day at Rotterdam’s tallest tower. But there is always a queue throughout this attraction whether it isfor ticketing, elevator ride, at the restaurant and certainly for Euroscope.
Tip: the city of Rotterdam practices no cash policy, so get this ONLY credit and debit cards accepted. Euromast adopts this policy and the nearby parking facilities too. Note for the tourists – cash is not acceptable! What!?
#7 – SS ROTTERDAM CRUISE SHIP HOTEL
This former trans-altantic liner has been transformed into a restaurant/bar and 254 room hotel.
The ss Rotterdam is the largest passenger ship ever built in The Netherlands: 228 meters long, 28 meters wide and 61 meters in height. It was inaugurated by Dutch Queen Juliana in 1958. Until 1971 it ran scheduled services to New York City, but turned more towards cruises when air traffic became more popular. You can read more about the history and things onboard on their site.
#8 – MORE MUSEUMS
There are several other museums to visit where the children will be entertained and at the same time learn something.
Natuurhistorisch Museum Rotterdam features skeletons, stuffed animals, fossils, butterflies.
Museum Rotterdam ’40 – ’45 features all things pertaining to the War and the resistance. Its a reminder of how people lived and what they did during the war. It is a treasure trove of information and stuf like cigar boxes, Jewish stars, etc
While I know there are more things to do, these are some top choices of things to do with kids in Rotterdam. When we do them all, I will add more details and photos.