Discover Rotterdam with Emerald Cruises

Rising from a humble fishing village to become one of the cornerstone cities of the Dutch Golden Age, Rotterdam has long been at the forefront of global change and world affairs.

Contemporary and forward-thinking, Rotterdam has earned its global reputation for innovation through great hardship, being virtually destroyed during WWII.

After a huge rebuild, Rotterdam has firmly re-established itself as the second city of the Netherlands – home to Europe’s busiest port and some of the continent’s finest modern architecture. It’s an innovative, exciting place that’s become a melting pot for countless international cultures, establishing it as one of the must-see cosmopolitan cities of the Low Countries. 

Enticed by Rotterdam’s cultural offering? Discover more of its wonderful highlights in our in-depth city guide below.

Architectural highlights

In the aftermath of WWII, an ambitious plan was set in motion to transform Rotterdam, and many prestigious architects arrived in the city to make it happen. Today, Rotterdam is paradise-found for the modern architecture fan, with countless inspiring buildings and projects to discover across the city.

Centraal Station Rotterdam

Centraal station rotterdam
A masterclass in contemporary architecture, Rotterdam’s Centraal Station is one of the city’s most recognisable landmarks. Designed by Benthem Crouwel Architects, the building features a sweeping angular roof that points directly to the heart of Rotterdam’s historic centre, and stretches back across the station’s railway lines. Several original features have been worked into the station’s new design, including the main station clock and the ‘sepculaasjes’ – two modernist sculptures which are a prominent feature of platform one. Outside or in, this remarkable station captures Rotterdam at its most modern and forward-looking.


erasmus bridge
Given its waterside location, it’s small wonder Rotterdam is home to some of northern Europe’s finest bridges – and the famous Erasmusbrug is among the very best. Stretching across the Maas River to connect northern and southern Rotterdam, this sweeping suspension bridge, nicknamed ‘the swan’, features a 139-metre steel pylon, secured with no fewer than 40 cables. It’s a spectacular sight both on the road bridge itself and when viewed from distance across the city – an unmissable feature on Rotterdam’s architectural map.



Quite possibly the world’s most distinctive architectural project, the Kijk-Kubus is a contemporary housing development close to Rotterdam’s main Waterfront district, which is often referred to as ‘Pole Houses’ or ‘Tree Houses’. Designed by Piet Blom, this string of unusual and colourful houses today serves as a museum to contemporary architecture, allowing visitors the opportunity to explore what life would be like living in such unusual and modern homes. According to Blom, Kijk-Kubus was inspired by woodlands, with each house representing a tree and the city the wider forest. It’s a unique must-see on your visit to the city.

Cultural features

Pioneering art and architecture mix with rich maritime traditions in Rotterdam, giving the city a unique culture beloved by local people. Wherever you turn across this unique Dutch city, cultural discoveries await. Here are just a few of our favourites.


Culture-seekers are well catered to in Rotterdam, with a clutch of renowned museums and galleries concentrated in one location: Museumpark. This expansive green space, which itself is a wonderful place to explore, is surrounded by several prestigious museums, including the Netherlands Architecture Institute, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, The Chabot Museum, The Kunsthal, Villa Sonneveld and the Natural History Museum of Rotterdam. Whether you have art, culture or local history on the agenda, this should be the starting point for your cultural exploration of the city.

Street art in Rotterdam

Street art in Rotterdam

You don’t need to visit a gallery or museum to find art in Rotterdam. The city is teeming with colourful street art, including (rather remarkably) works from the likes of Pablo Picasso, Joep van Lieshout, Henry Moore and Paul McCartney. This was made possible thanks to Sculpture International Rotterdam, who sought to make works from prized international artists more inclusive for all. Tours are available of the different artworks across the city, while visitors can also follow the popular self-guided Rotterdam Street Art Route to explore the city’s hidden artistic legacy at their own pace.

Rotterdam waterfront

Rotterdam canals
Rotterdam’s position close to the Hook of Holland has had a profound influence on the city and continues to shape local life today. Known for its spectacular harbour, nature reserves and beaches, Rotterdam has a deep connection to the waters which surround it, and you’ll feel this significance across the city. From the busy port to the Old Harbour, so many of the city’s must-sees are found on the waterfront, including the fascinating Maritime Museum, the historic Maashaven district, and some of Rotterdam’s best-loved bars and restaurants.

Experience Rotterdam with Emerald Cruises

The modern, innovative and storied city of Rotterdam is a pleasure to explore as part of a wider exploration through the Netherlands and northern Europe – providing fascinating insight into the impact of war on a flourishing city. With its architectural masterstrokes, beautiful waterfront and diverse culinary scene, we think it’s one of the must-sees of a European river cruise.

For your chance to discover the highlights of this eclectic Dutch city, join us on our Highlights of the Netherlands and The Beauty of Belgium river cruise, where you’ll spend the day exploring the wonders of Rotterdam. To find out more about this and all our other deluxe river cruises, download our latest brochure or call us today on 0808 250 9178.