When you think of the Netherlands, you probably think of Amsterdam, with its canal-side-walks, bridges and picturesque colourful old houses, or the imposing city of The Hague, home to the UN’s International Court of Justice. But don’t forget Rotterdam, the biggest port in Europe, with a blend of old buildings (pictured) and its famous Cube Houses. Built in 1984 they are symbolic of a city which has successfully experimented with modern architecture.
Top sights to see are the 1996 Erasmus Bridge, also known as The Swan (De Zwaan) which links the northern and southern parts of the city divided by the river Maas, the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum and the Kunsthal gallery for contemporary art and design. A must-stop is the Nederlands Architectuurinstituut, said to be the biggest architectural museum in the world, and the 189 meter tall Euromast tower offers panoramic views of the city and a high altitude restaurant, the Brasserie.
Rotterdam dates back to 1340 and is the Netherlands' second largest city. It has carried out some great urban regeneration projects and was European Capital of Culture in 2001. It’s also one of Europe's best clubbing cities, with a good music scene and a number of local festivals. Rotterdam Zoo, which opened in 2001, is one of the best in Europe. Its state-of-the-art Oceanium has a glass walkway under the water and an Ice Cave where you can view polar bears under water.
Get there on Eurostar or take a cheap flight to Amsterdam. Rotterdam is just an hour’s train ride away. You can also travel by ferry to the nearby Hook of Holland with with P&O North Sea Ferries or Stena Line.