Five unusual attractions in Rotterdam

Posted 12 March 2018
Buildings and the lake glistening at night in Rotterdam

Holland’s second largest city, Rotterdam is a fantastic place to be a student. It’s home to cutting-edge architecture, Europe’s busiest port and the country’s biggest Chinatown.

Vibrant and exciting, there’s so much to discover here, including some unusual attractions that you might not expect. Here are five favourites to seek out.

1. The historic Fire Boundary

In 1940, Rotterdam’s original city centre was destroyed in World War II. Around 25,000 homes and 14,000 buildings were damaged by fire, and the entire area was rebuilt. Today, the boundary of this damaged area is marked by symbolic red lights, which are installed in the ground. Everything within this ‘Fire Boundary’ was destroyed. If you follow the right lights, you can walk along the perimietre where the old city once stood.

2. Futuristic architecture

Rotterdam is famous for its contemporary buildings and structures, like the stunning Erasmus Bridge. Stretching more than 800-metres across the Maas River, this asymmetrical bridge has a 139-metre tall pylon and huge steel cables that are illuminated at night. Some of the city’s most unusual buildings include the 1970s Cube Houses, which are tilted at 45 degrees. Other iconic landmarks that make up the skyline include De Rotterdam (the largest building in the Netherlands), and the Maastoren (the country’s tallest building, at 165 metres).

3. Most multicultural

Rotterdam is the most multicultural city in Holland and is one of the world’s most diverse. Home to people from more than 170 different nationalities, international students feel very welcome here. The city’s diversity is marked by events, festivals and carnivals that celebrate different cultures and countries. Rotterdam also has a great choice of world food that includes authentic Chinese food in Holland’s largest Chinatown.

4. The amazing Markthal

Shaped like a giant horseshoe, the Markthal is an indoor market surrounded by an arched complex of luxury apartments, shops and restaurants. Built from steel and glass, this incredible building is open seven days a week. The market has around 100 stalls, which sell everything from fruit and vegetables, to cheese and meat. As you walk through the market to buy your groceries or stop for a coffee, look up to see the enormous colourful artwork covering the walls and ceiling.

5. Amazing art collections

A very creative city, Rotterdam has a fantastic range of galleries, museums and art installations. The Museumpark is home to some of the biggest and best museums, like Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, which has artwork by Monet, Dali and van Gough. There’s also a free sculpture route, which includes an enormous installation of Pablo Picasso's ‘Sylvette’.

If you would like to experience life in Rotterdam, find out about Holland International Study Centre pathways to Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Find out more about starting your studies or check the latest COVID-19 information.