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Rotterdam is the perfect counterpoint to Amsterdam. Where the latter is one of Europe's quaintest capitals, the Netherlands's second city is a 21st century spectacle. Destroyed by the Germans in WWII (who leveled it even after it had surrendered), Rotterdam is a stunning showplace for modern architecture. Eye-catching works line the Nieuwe Maas River, which cuts a broad swath through the heart of the city. From the dramatic new train station, walks through parks and shopping areas radiate out to the waterfront. And although at first it seems everything is up-to-the-second modern, it is easy to find Rotterdam's centuries-old heritage. Still ...

Rotterdam is the perfect counterpoint to Amsterdam. Where the latter is one of Europe's quaintest capitals, the Netherlands's second city is a 21st century spectacle. Destroyed by the Germans in WWII (who leveled it even after it had surrendered), Rotterdam is a stunning showplace for modern architecture. Eye-catching works line the Nieuwe Maas River, which cuts a broad swath through the heart of the city. From the dramatic new train station, walks through parks and shopping areas radiate out to the waterfront. And although at first it seems everything is up-to-the-second modern, it is easy to find Rotterdam's centuries-old heritage. Still the busiest port in Europe, the city has an excellent maritime museum, oodles of historic docks and a flotilla of harbor tours (some of which feature extras like all-you-can-eat pancakes). To get a feel for the past, the surviving Delftshaven neighborhood is a compact survivor right out of the 17th century. Further afield, the Unesco World Heritage sight at Kinderdijk features dozens of working windmills and is easily reached by boat.

Ryan Ver Berkmoes
About the Expert

Ryan Ver Berkmoes has written many books for Lonely Planet, including Bali & Lombok and the Southeastern Alaska and Western Canada sections for LP's Canada guide.

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Ryan Ver Berkmoes for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Located on the banks of the river Nieuwe Maas ('New Meuse'), in the province of South Holland in the west of the Netherlands.
  • Language: Dutch
  • Currency: Euro
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
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Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Winter is damp and cold; otherwise, Rotterdam is a good urban destination throughout the year. Weekends are busy with young clubbers from around the EU.