Top 8 things for families to do in Rotterdam, The Netherlands

When I thought of Rotterdam, I associated it with a very modern American city along with Nils and Soren’s favorites 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 Netherlanda in general, is the 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 anphibious​ 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 humourous 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 

Also known as Dierengaard 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

This 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.  

#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.


Maritiem Museum in Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Today Nils has to be in Rotterdam for two meetings, so the kids and I are taking the ride with a him (no train costs!) And going off to explore the city for those four hours.

After looking around a bit online, I think the best thing to do is the Maritiem Museum and go from there.

The museum is was so awesome for both kids and adults!   As we entered the museum, we immediately found the lockers for our coats (we learned from our previous museum trips!)  

Then we headed up to the permanent exhibition, “The Offshore Experience” 

When we first arrived a worker told me we had to ‘enter at our own risk‘ and the kids area was on the 2nd floor and this is for ages 8+. But with a 7 & 9 year old, I said we’d give it a try and went inside. 

First you have a quick video introducing you to the process and safety of being on an oil rigging platform, activate your enterance card and you then actually get to stand on a simulated platform.   I had to really not look at the water as I got dizzy and seasick.  There are 9 ‘games’or better yet challenges you have to complete. Clearly geared towards adults but very cool stuff.  Soren loved it and think he’s got a future career mapped out. Maebh while didn’t hate it,  was more cautious and we walked down the stairsand Soren took the pitch black elevator which puts you on the ocean floor (again simulated).  Overall it was AWESOME section of the museum.
After about 1/2 day Maebh comes up and says, “I think this whole place is like about a boat!” Lol she had no idea what maritime meant!! 

This section of the museum was about cruising history and on-board ships.

The second floor was Professor Splash area (in & outside) which the kids LOVED!  They worked together and with other kids as they pretended they were working on the shipping docks moving containers with cranes, etc

I have to go in and add some more photos and more details later but great place and we need to return here!

Would be free with the Museum Kaart (Dutch residents only) but we paid €26 for the three of us so not bad at all.  A quick magnet at the gift shop and then headed home.  

Cube Houses of Rotterdam

Another thing we wanted to see was the famous kijk kubus.  We ran out of time so couldn’t walk over and explore but we did end up driving by on the way home.

The Cube houses (DutchKubuswoningen) are a set of innovative houses built in Rotterdam and Helmond in the Netherlands, designed by architect Piet Blom and based on the concept of “living as an urban roof” high density housing with sufficient space on the ground level, since its main purpose is to optimize the space inside. Blom tilted the cube of a conventional house 45 degrees, and rested it upon a hexagon-shaped pylon. His design represents a village within a city, where each house represents a tree, and all the houses together, a forest. The central idea of the cube houses around the world is mainly optimizing the space, as a house, to a better distribution of the rooms inside. 

Next time we are in Rotterdam, I hope to visit upclose – one guy opens his up for viewings for about €2.00 – cool to see. Better yet if we need a hotel, we could stay in one listed on Airbnb and the photos are really cool! 

Den Oorsprong

For the week, we are staying in a holiday home rental at a camping place just begind the main house called Den Oorsprong.   As Lise and her family are in from LA, the guest rooms are full and this was a great idea to stay close by them.

When you thinking camping, you think tents but not here. They are campers which you pull in and have electricity, etc.  Each has an awning put up around them so they essentially have screened in porches.  I would love a place like that to visit on the weekends.  As it’s very early in the season there are only two here but I suspect more will come over Easter weekend.

The campsite has a chicken coop, a playground, two trampolines, a bunch of skelters and a kids bakfeits. Would be super easy to get Maebh to school with that bike!  There is a rec center, but we didn’t go inside that yet.  There is also a giant yurt so I will look at that today, if it’s not occupied.

Our house is very luxurious with a bath tub, shower, two toilets, three double bedrooms and a fully, equipped kitchen with a 5 burner gas stove and a dishwasher​!

We walked over with the cousins and played a bit.

Heudsen, The Netherlands

After our boat trip in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, we went over to Heusden, (approx 16 km).  It is a fortified medieval village in the bank of the Maas, one of the three most important rivers of The Netherlands and the one that settles what is considered the South of the country.

The village is really cute – there are a few windmills along the eater’s edge, loads of boats coming & going. In the main area, is the Vismarkt full of restaurants with terraces packed full. 

While I do enjoy sitting outside on a terrace, I hate cigarette smoke in my face especially while eating and/or with kids.  

As we were were walking around looking for a place for a drink and possibly food, Soren had a spontaneous nose bleed and it was gushing, so we entered the first place to get him into the bathroom and turned out to be a pancake house – de Pannekoekenbakker!   Nothing for us but the kids were thrilled, pancakes again! This time they both opted for the pirate pancake!  And of course they each got some coins to use in the gift shop.

The streets and architecture of the houses and the shops were so nice.  

Overall it was really nice and we will definitely come back again!

Canal Boat trip on the Binnendieze and Market Day in ‘s-Hertogenbosch

Today we drove into ‘s-Hertogenbosch for their market day which is great and fills up the entire market square.  Unlike Boxtel where it is one fish guy, one cheese guy, etc here is multiple of each. 

Soren tried Eend (duck) sausages but we didn’t go back to buy it, as we still have the three from yesterday’s market including Soren’s kangaroo sausage.  We did eat Turkish pizza and lompeias – both were great!

And when given the opportunity to try things Soren took it! :).  My boy!!  I wish we had such a market in Howth each week!!
Tomorrow we are going on the canal tour throughout the town – it was sold out today!   It’s a very cute city and in the 1400’s was the second largest city in The Netherlands​.

Boat trips on the the Binnendieze are a unique experience.  You enjoy the many historical buildings, ancient walls and bridge archways which alternate with contemporary buildings.  The waterways have an average depth of about 1.25 metre and in some places so narrow that it is advisable to keep your hands and arms well within the boats.

The area was populated by the year 1150.  It was part of a stretch of highway sand bars in the swampy and wooded Delta Ara between the rivers Dommel and As.  In the 1500’s, ‘s-Hertogenbosch was an important and thriving commercial city with about 25,000 citizens.  Alsmost everything travelled by waterways because there were not that may paved roads and the few were very busy.  The Binnendieze is the only river flowing behind instead of in front because the river was there before the houses built.  Then when built the workshops were put in at the back to allow easy access to the water. 

The trip was great and very educational.   While mostly in Dutch he did do it in English as well for us and another group onboard.  Soren enjoyed it at 9.  Maebh at 7 was a tiny but bored at times but didn’t complain.