Travel Guide For Young Families Visiting Rotterdam, NL

Monday, November 21, 2016

We spent an absolutely wonderful 9ish days in The Netherlands. I was impressed by the beauty of the country, the diversity of people, and how nice everyone was! We started our trip with 5 days in Rotterdam, not because there was more we wanted to see in Rotterdam, but because accommodations were much more affordable. Nonetheless, Rotterdam is an enjoyable city with impressive architecture and really had some fun things to do and see. A family taking a leisurely trip could easily see the sites below over a two-day city break.

What to Do and See:

Rotterdam Zoo: I can't say that I'm the hugest fan of zoos, but the Rotterdam Zoo gets great ratings, so I thought it would be a nice way to spend the day with Baby ISO. Many of the animals were now in their indoor enclosures, which certainly weren't as nice as the outdoor environments. Most of the park, however, wasn't too bad and Baby ISO seemed pretty amazed to see the different animals. Keep in mind that the Rotterdam Zoo is HUGE and you could easily spend all day, especially if you bring lunch along with you.

Rotterdam zoo in Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Museum Park: Though we didn't actually visit any of the museums in Rotterdam, we enjoyed a walk in Museum Park. We didn't find many parks in Rotterdam, so it was nice to get to a green space and let Baby ISO run around.

Het Park: Het Park is a giant park located slightly outside of the central city area. It is easy to walk to and is absolutely gorgeous. It was a great place to run around and play in the grass. There was also a really nice looking cafe in the park and an interesting wooden church.

Cool Architecture: Everywhere I looked in Rotterdam I was just amazed by the architecture. From the stunning Markthal Rotterdam, which was like a giant middle finger to a potential EU regulation, to the Cube Houses, Erasmusbrug, Rotterdam Central Station, and De Rotterdam, everything was shiny, new, and unique. I was also pleasantly surprised to see a giant, beautiful mosque among the skyscrapers If you love architecture, I bet that you'd love wandering Rotterdam.

Street Art: At first, I didn't notice much street art in Rotterdam, but as we wandered different parts of the city, I saw more and more awesome works. Many of my favorite pieces were on or near Witte de Withstraat, which also boasted numerous cool stores, cafes, and restaurants.

Floating Forest: Okay, this is pretty cool! After eating some snacks at the hip Fenix Food Factory (see below), we wandered along the water to the Floating Forest. The Floating Forest was inspired by a piece by the artist Jorge Bakker and consists of about twenty trees happily growing while floating in the water. I love the idea that cities can be greener with just a bit of innovation and creativity!

Where to Eat and Drink:

Fenix Food Factory: Fenix Food Factory is an indoor food market featuring restaurant stalls and cafes. Vendors also sold locally grown, fresh vegetables, Dutch cheeses, meat, and spices. I have to recommend getting a cheese plate from Booij Kaasmakers and a coffee from Stielman Coffee Roasters. The cheese plate featured five AMAZING cheeses and the coffee was necessary for the chilly day. I've written an article about what else you can find at Fenix Food Factory for Trip101, so feel free to check it out for additional tips and information!

Markthal Rotterdam: I mentioned the Markthal above, but in my opinion it deserves its own description. The Markthal is awesome. It is full to bursting with incredible prepared food options, cafes, bakeries, fresh fruit and veggies, and so much more. The food highlights for me were the Asian grocery store and Madam Cocos' coconut macaroons (get the original flavor). As expected, food was a bit pricey, so if you are on a budget, it may be best to only get snacks at the market.

Before visiting the Markthal, I honestly thought that all of the photos of the colorful ceiling were photoshopped to look brighter, but that wasn't the case. The ceiling is so vibrant that you can even clearly see the fruits, vegetables, and buildings from outside!

The Tea Lab: Things in Rotterdam didn't open until pretty late, but we luckily found The Tea Lab open earlier than most places. Located on Westewagenstraat 80, The Tea Lab had delicious cakes, teas, and coffees in a bright space that I bet would be great for working.

Bas Bakt: Located on Hartmanstraat 22a, Bas Bakt was my favorite cafe/breakfast spot that we tried in Rotterdam. The staff were incredibly friendly and one of the women had an adorable puppy hanging out while she worked. I found the prices to be reasonable here as well -- we spent 10 euros on two coffees, a ham and cheese croissant, macaroon, and a loaf of Dutch breakfast bread.

Lokaal: We visited Lokaal because it was on the hipster/design city map called Rotterday. Although the coffee was good and the carrot cake was delicious, the staff were clearly annoyed to have to stop their conversation to take our order. At this point in my life, I'd rather drink average coffee and talk to nice people than drink excellent coffee staffed by someone rude. If you'd like to try Lokaal for yourself, you can find it on Raampoortstraat 34b.

Little V: When people asked what I ate in Rotterdam, I answered Vietnamese food. Whenever traveling outside of the Baltics, I'm always looking for delicious flavors that we can't get here. In Rotterdam, we found Little V, which was such a cool restaurant with amazing pho and bun. They also had a reasonably large kid's play area, which is great for kids before or after the meal. You can find Little V on Grotekerkplein.

de Pelgrim: Instead of taking a day trip to The Hague, we decided to walk to Delftshavn on the outskirts of Rotterdam. In Delftshavn, try lunch at Pelgrim, which is Rotterdam's brewery. By the time they opened (everything really does open late!), we were starving and ordered pretty giant meals for ourselves and a separate meal for Baby ISO (he was hungry, too!). J went for a burger, but I wanted something a bit different and opted for the brouwerslunch, which was kind of like a cold, spicy meatloaf on a bread with cheese soup. It was really good! You can find Pelgrim on Aelbrechtskolk 12.

Where To Shop:

Although we didn't do a ton of shopping in Rotterdam, we did find a few places that I have to share.

Sweet Rebels: Sweet Rebels is the coolest vintage store ever. They had a wonderful selection of clothes and accessories for women and the prices were reasonable. I'm pretty sure my sister will be loving her Christmas gift from here!

Klein Beginnen & Grooot: If you are pregnant or have young kids of your own (or kids you like to shop for), you must visit Klein Beginnen & Grooot. They have a huge selection of actually nice looking clothes for pregnant women, cool toys, and baby accessories like cribs, strollers, and more. J and I both loved this store. You can find Klein Beginnen & Grooot on Hartmansstraat 24-26.

Getting To Rotterdam:

It is simple to get to Rotterdam from Amsterdam Schipol Airport as there are numerous trains connecting Schipol to Rotterdam Central. Tickets cost approximately 12.20 euros per person (for adults) and trains leave frequently.

Other Tips:

Public transportation: Enter trams at the very last entrance for space for a stroller. Trams are reasonably pricey (3 euro per ride per adult), so we walked a lot to save money.

Where to stay: We stayed in an Airbnb outside of the city center, but I wished we had stayed a bit closer. J and I decided that our ideal location would have been by the Maritime Museum or around Museum Square.

Places open late, so if you wake up early like we do, plan ahead and have coffee and breakfast available at your accommodation. Expect most cafes, restaurants, and activities to open around 12. There are some exceptions, but this seemed to be the norm.

What other tips do you have for Rotterdam? Have you visited Rotterdam before? Did you like this shiny city?

I'm linking up with Mummy Travels for #CityTripping. I'm linking up with Faraway Files.


  1. Looks like a fabulous city to visit. Loved your photos on IG too! I LOVE Holland (my Grandmother is Dutch!), and wouldn't say no to a move there at some point. I would be as fat as a house though if we did live there, I love the food! :D

    1. Thanks! I wouldn't say no to a move to The Netherlands as well -- wouldn't it be a wonderful place to live! That is cool that your grandmother is Dutch -- and I 100% agree with the food!

  2. I love the architecture here - Rotterdam has always struck me as a slightly edgier city, but lots to discover and some great sounding food. Worth a weekend break for sure! Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    1. I absolutely agree that it is slightly edgier and a bit hipster as well. I really enjoyed the city, its shops, restaurants, and architecture!

  3. You have certainly made Ritterdam appeal to me. Love the architecture, the floating first and the street art is very cool. Sounds like a great break! #citytripping

    1. You should try to visit Rotterdam on an upcoming trip. It would make a great, easy trip from Amsterdam!

  4. I love that architecture! Absolutely stunning, isn't it? I really like the idea of the Floating Forest too. Thanks so much for all your tips and suggestions for Rotterdam. I'll certainly be saving them when I visit. Thanks for sharing it with us on #FarawayFiles

    1. I think the idea of the Floating Forest is such a great one! In Rotterdam they also had some pop-up green areas to show the city that more parks are needed. I thought the messages of both of these things were really brilliant!

  5. I have heard that Rotterdam is a wonderful mix of modern and historic culture and architecture. You have captured it wonderfully. I agree with you on how staff can make or break a place, it is unfortunate when it impacts your experience. Thank you for linking with #FarawayFiles, can't wait to see where you take us this week, Erin

    1. Thanks, Erin! I think Rotterdam is a fun city to visit with children and is so easy to reach from Amsterdam, making it a great weekend or day trip!