When I used to think of Rotterdam, I always associated it with a very modern American city along with the favorite football club of my son and Nils. But it was not until now doing my tourism research for our visit to the see family in the Netherlands which I see the city has a lot more to offer than Feyenoord games or the fan shop ;). For example, I knew they had a tram system but no idea an underground Metro.
Part of my attraction to Amsterdam and the 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 for families to do in Rotterdam” list. But we need more than one day to get through the list.
Note: I originally made this blogpost a few years ago when we were visiting the Netherlands and living in Ireland, but I just went back in and updated it with photos and republished. I figured now we’re living here in the Netherlands for two years and recently visited Rotterdam with [and often without] the kids, why not!
Tip: As with many other local attractions, when booking online, you can combine visits and save a few Euros!
#1 VISIT THE MARITIME MUSEUM
We absolutely LOVED this museum. Even if you are not a “water person”, I really think you’ll still find it interesting. I did a separate post on it which can be found here. I went back a second alone with Funs and had a nice time – and a bonus, I wasn’t seasick on the platform. We even went back a third time with the kids — the four of us spent time on the platform doing the activities like landing the helicopter, repairing a leak in an oil pipe, etc. This section of the museum is brilliant and a must do while there.
As the museum closes early at 5, I took Maebh upstairs to Profession Plons, so she could have about 20 minutes of play up there as she enjoyed it when we were there the first time. But now at 10, she is really way too old. It is great for kids 3-8.
#2 – TAKE A HARBOUR CRUISE
There are a few options available for you to visit and sightsee by water including hop on and off boats and of course water taxis and aqua shuttle.
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 trans shipping 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 – PANNENKOEKENBOAT
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. While I’d find this a bit boring personally, I’d go along for the kids as I know they’d love it. Book online here.
#4 – PLASJWIJCK PARK
This place is so unique and a place the kids loved to visit and were never bored! It’s called an amusement park but it’s more of an indoor and outdoor play space 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. While we visited, I never got around to do a post on it. We’ll have to re-visit.
#5 – BLIJDOORP ZOO – AKA – ROTTERDAM ZOO
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. We ended up visiting this zoo without the children but will take them next time. Visit my post – A Day at the Blijdoorp Zoo.
#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’.
I just did a blogpost about our recent visit to the Euromast – read it here: The Euromast – Experience the most stunning views of Rotterdam
#7 – SS ROTTERDAM CRUISE SHIP
This former Trans-Atlantic 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. We went here for a drink and I posted about it in my blog post – A Day Out in Rotterdam. We ended up going back this time taking the kids on – but of course, it was drizzly that day too so no chance for a dip in the pool or a drink on the Lido Deck. Read about my blog post here: ss Rotterdam: Legendary steamship with a nostalgic atmosphere.
#8 – VISIT A MUSEUM
There are several other museums to visit where the children will be entertained and at the same time learn something new.
Natuurhistorisch Museum Rotterdam features skeletons, stuffed animals, fossils, butterflies.
Museum Rotterdam ’40 – ’45 features all things pertaining to the War and the resistance. It’s a reminder of how people lived and what they did during the war. It is a treasure trove of information and stuff like cigar boxes, Jewish stars, etc
Kunsthal There is always something for families and children to do in the Kunsthal. Children between 6 and 12 years old can go on their own Look & Do tour of the main exhibition of that moment, while for teenagers between 12 and 18 years there are Viewer Guides. Get inspired by the exhibition ‘Masterly! Four centuries of drawing and painting’. Dive into the DrawingLAB and create your own work of art!
While I know there are so many MORE things to do in Rotterdam, these are some of things to do with the kids. When we do more things, I’ll add more details and photos. Have any tips of fun things I can do with the kids?
Check out my other blog posts relating to this fabulous city Rotterdam:
A Day Out In Rotterdam
Maeslantkering: Visiting the Storm Surge Barrier
A Day at the Blijdorp Zoo
Cafe Dukok – Best Apple Pie in Rotterdam
Day & Day Hot & Hot – Hot Pot Restaurant Review
ss Rotterdam: Legendary steamship with a nostalgic atmosphere.