rotterdam from Amsterdam day trip itinerary / things to do in rotterdam

The Best Rotterdam from Amsterdam Day Trip Itinerary

If you’re itching for an Amsterdam day trip that’s out of the ordinary, I’ve got a gem for you! Rotterdam captivated me with its contemporary flair and cutting-edge architecture, setting it apart from the rest of the Netherlands. So, why not ditch the clichéd canal houses for a day and join me in planning the ultimate day trip to Rotterdam? Explore the iconic Cube Houses, indulge in vibrant markets, and dive into the richness of modern Dutch culture to make some memories in Rotterdam!

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If you’re wondering how to plan the perfect day trip to Rotterdam from Amsterdam, you’ve come to the right place.

Rotterdam, the Netherlands’ second city, exudes a contemporary flair that you won’t find in the rest of the Netherlands. Unlike Amsterdam’s quintessential charm, Rotterdam’s architecture is a striking contrast, boasting cutting-edge skyscrapers and experimental design, a testament to its post-war rebuilding.

With its contemporary vibe, lively atmosphere, and a plethora of unique experiences, Rotterdam stands as a refreshing contrast to Amsterdam’s traditional charm, making it an ideal day trip destination for those seeking a delightful taste of modern Dutch culture.

Keep reading to see the ideal day trip itinerary for Rotterdam from Amsterdam, and click here if you want to see my post of everything else there is to do in Rotterdam (because I promise you, one day isn’t enough to hit it all)!

Delve into the Netherlands

FAQs about Rotterdam from Amsterdam Day Trips:

Is Rotterdam worth a day trip from Amsterdam?

If you have the time and want to see a totally different side to the Netherlands, then yes, Rotterdam is worth a day trip. Rotterdam is, in so many ways, the antithesis to the quintessential Dutch experience provided by Amsterdam. You’ll find very few quaint buildings from the 1600s, fewer picturesque canals, and a glaring lack of little side streets or old cobblestones.

Rotterdam a decidedly modern city, one that doesn’t make any attempts to convince you or win you over, but is an experience unto itself. Rotterdam from Amsterdam is the perfect day trip option for those looking to get off the beaten path or see a more modern side of the Netherlands to compare to Amsterdam’s more traditional flair.

How long should I spend in Rotterdam?

Depending on your interests and itinerary, the answers to this may differ, but in general 1-2 days is the perfect length of time to spend in Rotterdam from Amsterdam.

If you’re only taking a Rotterdam day trip, you’ll manage to get a decent amount of things done, but it will be a pretty long and tiring day—and odds are that you won’t actually tick everything off your list.

Adding one night to stay in Rotterdam will allow you to do the majority of things you want to do and explore more of what the city has to offer without feeling too rushed.

things to do in rotterdam from amsterdam day trip

P.S. When you book using my links, you help support Rachel IRL at no extra cost to you. It’s a win-win!

Rotterdam from Amsterdam Day Trip Itinerary

Morning: Discover Rotterdam’s Modernist Edge

things to do in rotterdam from amsterdam day trip

Arrive to Rotterdam from Amsterdam by train

Direct trains run every 20 minutes from Amsterdam Centraal to Rotterdam Centraal and take just 41 minutes, meaning you can easily arrive to Rotterdam in time for breakfast!

The typical cost for a round trip ticket is €43.60 if you purchase your tickets at the station. However, you’ll save almost 10% when you book your Rotterdam from Amsterdam day trip e-tickets in advance with Trainline!

The first order of business upon arriving at Rotterdam Centraal is to go outside and look at the station’s impressive architectural design. Unlike so many central stations in Europe, which are often traditional and old-looking, the Central Station in Rotterdam has a mid-century modern feel to it, which is a great introduction to the vibes in the rest of the city.

From there take a 20-minute stroll or hop on a tram (Google Maps is your best friend while traveling, they’ll tell you which tram to take and exactly where to get it from) right on over to the Rotterdam Cube Houses.

Check out the Famous Cube Houses & Market Hall

things to do in rotterdam
things to do in rotterdam from amsterdam day trip

The Cube Houses are probably the most iconic sight to see in Rotterdam, and you can even peak inside if you want to go to the museum. It’s only €3, and took us roughly 10 minutes (after a 10-minute wait in line). Visiting inside is not critical because the houses are honestly most imposing from the outside, but the interior is interesting and strangely disorienting, so I’d say it’s worth it if the line isn’t too long and you have €3 to spare!

The only other way to get a peek inside is to stay at the StayOkay hostel, or perhaps befriend someone who owns one!

When you exit the Cube Houses you’ll be right next to the Market Hall, which is huge, so you can’t miss it.

You could either stop in for a bite to eat (most stalls open at 10am), or just admire the impressiveness of the building from inside and out. Personally, I find big markets to be a bit overwhelming as a dining experience, so I would choose to just admire the architecture and be on my merry way.

Breakfast at Amada Coffee

From there you can walk over to my top Rotterdam breakfast choice, Amada Coffee, for a light or substantial meal, depending how you’re feeling. I’m a sucker for the nutella and strawberry pancakes, personally. It’s worth noting that Amada can be quite busy at the weekends, so plan to be on the early side if it’s Saturday or Sunday!

Vintage shopping and/or the Luchtsingel

things to do in rotterdam from amsterdam day trip

Thrifting/vintage shopping is one of favorite ways to spend time in a new place. Aside from the fact that it’s a fun way to shop, it’s also a great way to explore local areas since thrift stores don’t really cater to tourists. In the Netherlands, thrifting also an ideal way to spend time on an Amsterdam day trip, because the prices are typically much better than in Amsterdam itself.

There are great thrift and vintage options in every neighborhood, and even more options available if you’re looking for home goods and furniture. I wasn’t able to hit up every single shop I wanted to, but here are the ones I liked the best that I managed to get to.

  • Sweet Rebels – high quality, super curated, high price tag.
  • Episode – massive, mid-range prices, chain.
  • Cheap Fashion – mildly overwhelming, on trend, good prices.
  • ReShare Store – spacious, loads of options, great prices.

There are tons of other shops all throughout Rotterdam, so if thrifting isn’t your speed, just start wandering in the direction of the center and see what you can find!

You could also use this time to go visit the Luchtsingel, a strange but cool crowdsourced bridge that connects the center of the city to the north.

Afternoon: Enjoy the City’s Vibrant Culture

things to do in rotterdam from amsterdam day trip

Lunch at the Fenix Food Factory

The Fenix Food Factory is a bit more lowkey than the market hall, and a lot more hipster. I think the vibes are preferable, to be honest.

Fenix is across the Maas River from Rotterdam’s city center where you’ve spent your morning, but your journey there will be part of the fun!

The most exciting option is to travel by Rotterdam’s interesting watertaxi system, which allows you to book a private boat pickup from dozens of different locations and will literally drop you off directly in front of the food hall (as pictured above!!). Alternatively, if the watertaxi is booked up, you can instead take a pre-scheduled ferry departing every 15 minutes from this stop here which will drop you a 5-minute walk from Fenix.

Stop in to the food hall for a quick lunch and a drink if you’re hungry, and if not, just visit the bookstore and admire the small local shops. There are some other good vintage shops in the neighborhood as well, so it’s worth a visit regardless when you come to Rotterdam from Amsterdam.

Visit a museum

There are tons of museums to choose from on your Rotterdam from Amsterdam day trip (catch the rest in my Things to Do in Rotterdam post), but I’ll recommend two that I think fit perfectly into this itinerary.

If you’re looking for convenience and minimal traversing of the city, the Nederlands Fotomuseum is located just a 6-minute walk from Fenix Food Factory.

This museum preserves Dutch and international photography, featuring over 5 million photographic objects, organizing temporary exhibitions, and showcasing works by renowned photographers like Ed van der Elsken, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Viviane Sassen.

On the other hand, we opted for one of Rotterdam’s most unique museums: The Depot.

This storage facility for the (currently under renovation) Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is actually the only publicly accessible art storage facility in the world! It showcases the museum’s entire collection while also provided behind-the-scenes tours to show you how museum staff preserve and restore artwork.

This was a really unique experience, and I highly recommend it. However, my tip would be to visit the Depot during regular business hours Monday through Friday if you’re interested in seeing museum staff at work in the preservation rooms! We visited on the weekend and sadly, predictably, although completely not considered by us at the time—no one was working!

Evening: Wind Down Like a Local

things to do in rotterdam from amsterdam day trip

Relax with a drink

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be a bit worn out at this point of your Rotterdam from Amsterdam day trip. I recommend going either to Delfshaven or Witte de Wittstraat to chill out and people watch.

Delfshaven is going to require a bit of travel to get there, but it’s the only part of Rotterdam that wasn’t destroyed in WWII, so it’s the only place you can find the quintessential and picturesque Dutch aesthetic if you’re missing Amsterdam already. My favorite spot to have an evening drink (both for the views and the vibes) is Café de Oude Sluis.

On the other hand, Witte de Wittstraat is quite near the center of Rotterdam, and is one of the most popular streets in the city. You can really visit anywhere on this street and have a nice time, but the action seems to happen mostly towards the west end of the street.

My favorite part of any trip—dinner!

things to do in rotterdam from amsterdam day trip

There are tons of restaurants you could choose from on your Rotterdam from Amsterdam day trip—you’re actually a bit spoiled for choice to be honest!

That said, I want to recommend the place we ate because we loved it so much.

We tried Alfredo’s Taqueria in a bit of a desperate haze. Because we grew up in California, we’re always missing and craving good Mexican food, and sometimes it can feel impossible to find anywhere outside of the West Coast of the States, or ya know, Mexico. However!!! It turns out that you can get some shockingly good Mexican food in the Netherlands—who knew??

The al pastor, fish, and hongos tacos were all standouts for us, as were the mezcal margaritas and the churros.

At this point you could choose to head back to Amsterdam. But there are plenty more things to do in Rotterdam than you’ve had time for so far, so I recommend staying one night!

Want to make the most of your Rotterdam from Amsterdam day trip?

Get a local’s view of Rotterdam!

It’s no secret that Rotterdammers are intensely proud of their city. There’s something about the “second city” of any country that makes its locals feel like there’s something to prove—and that’s not at all a bad thing!

With so much pride and love for their city, Rotterdam’s locals offer some of the most interesting, unique, and well-regarded guided tours of their city that I’ve come across in all my travels.

From foodie-focused walking tours and bike tours revealing some of Rotterdam’s most beloved (and completely unknown) dining spots to tours dedicated to nerding out over Rotterdam’s iconic architecture, having a local show you their favorite corners of the city might just be the most magical experience awaiting you on your Rotterdam from Amsterdam day trip.

P.S. When you book using my links, you help support Rachel IRL at no extra cost to you. It’s a win-win!

Are you ready to see a different side to the Netherlands?

I hope this day trip to Rotterdam from Amsterdam guide was helpful! Remember to bookmark this post for later to help you plan your trip, and feel free to reach out via email, comment, or Instagram if you have any questions! If you’re not done planning your trip to the Netherlands, check out my Dutch archives here.

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things to do in rotterdam from amsterdam day trip
things to do in rotterdam from amsterdam day trip

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