The second largest city of the Netherlands is unlike any other city in the country, Rotterdam’s history made sure of it. It’s a city of many faces: a tough port city, a trendy nightlife city, a sophisticated shopping city, and a hip artistic city. But more than anything, Rotterdam is the architecture capital of the Netherlands, so much so that a single sightseeing tour can’t cover all the city’s architectural highlights.

If you are getting ready to spend 48 hours in Rotterdam, then we have the itinerary for you. It is filled with sightseeing, history, architecture, art and great nightlife, just like the city of Rotterdam herself. Read on and prepare to explore Rotterdam in 48 hours.

See the Rotterdam by bike, like a local

Start your visit to Rotterdam with a sightseeing tour by bike. It is a great introduction to the city and a way to explore the city like a local as well. During the 2.5 hour tour the Rotterdam Highlights Bike Tour will take you to sights such as Rotterdam Central Station, the Market Hall, the Erasmus Bridge, City Hall, the Cube Houses, the old port, the Witte Huis (Europe’s first high rise building) and many more.

Along with taking you to the city highlights, the tour guide will also take you the city’s absolute hotspots. You’ll find out where to find the best pizza or burger in town, and which locally brewed beer you just have to try. The local tour guides know all there is to know about Rotterdam, so feel free to ask them all about it. With all this local knowledge you’re sure to be able to find a great lunch spot to enjoy after the tour.

Article continues below


In the heart of Rotterdam lies the city’s Museumpark. The park is an oasis in the city due to its many trees, rose-garden as well as several sculptures, which is why it also serves as a sculpture garden. The park is surrounded by some of the Rotterdam’s biggest and most important museums.

Of special note is the Kunsthal Rotterdam, this striking steel and glass museum has no permanent collection and organises a wide range of temporary exhibits. And also noteworthy is the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and its new Depot. The collection of this museum contains Dutch & European masterpieces from early Middle Ages to today.

The Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen is the world’s first publicly accessible art storage facility and is home to 151,000 objects. The best way to visit the Depot is with a tour but you can also wonder around on your own.  Other museums lining Museumpark include the Natural History Museum Rotterdam, the Chabot Museum, the Nieuwe Instituut, Huis van de Fotografie.

Witte de Withstraat

As the day comes to an end, head to the hippest part of town, the Witte de Withstraat for a delicious meal and exciting night out. Here you can find all the popular and highly praised restaurants of Rotterdam, enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. So you’ll be sure to find a great place to eat here.

The street is Rotterdam’s melting pot and vibrant heart. It is known for its buzzing nightlife. Here, you will find everything from French coffee to Vietnamese food and from numerous famous bars to small art galleries. Crown your trip and treat yourself with one of the rare beers or unique cocktails, that you can find here. 

Euromast – Rotterdam from above

For a view unlike any other head to the Euromast, where you’ll have beautiful panoramic views across Rotterdam and the surrounding countryside. The tower reaches 185 meters into the sky and on a clear day you can see as far as 30km into the distance, especially when you take the Euroscoop to the very top of the tower.

The Euromast is the tallest building that is open to the public in the Netherlands, giving you views unlike any other in the country. The tower has been an iconic building in Rotterdam ever since it was built in 1960 and it continues to take pride of place on the Rotterdam skyline. 

Splash into the river

Across the street from the Euromast, you can hop on board of the amphibian buses of Splashtours Rotterdam for an exciting tour of the city on both land and water. During the tour, a guide will tell you all about what you are seeing outside the windows with a great deal of humour a long the way. After crossing the famous Erasmus Bridge, the bus will literally dive into the river with an appropriately sized splash.

The river is an iconic not to miss sight in the city. It is a part of Rotterdam's character, a part of the people and a reason to visit the city in itself. Seeing the city from the water, should be on every visitors bucket list. 

Historic Delfshaven

On the opposite side of the Parkhaven from the Splashtours departure point, lies the historic neighbourhood Delfshaven. It is one of the few parts of Rotterdam that survived the bombings during World War II. During the 16th-century, this neighborhood grew to be an important harbour and it gives a good impression of what the city looked like before the war.

The picturesque port area is full of old canals, charming merchant houses and colourful boats as well as vintage shops, art cafes and little cafes which are perfect for lunch. It is especially well known for its old gin distilleries, so there are plenty of breweries and gin bars to explore as well.

Explore Rotterdam in 48 hours

World Culture in Rotterdam

After exploring the old port, go for a stroll along the water towards the Erasmus Bridge. Along the way you’ll pass another old harbour in the city centre, Veerhaven, where historic sailing ships continue to rock gently on the water. On the corner of the Veerkade and Willemskade, you can visit the Wereldmuseum, Rotterdam’s ethnographic museum which covers the past and present of various cultures from around the world.

The collection of art and utensils from cultures all over the world grew more or less 'at random' with objects that Dutch missionaries, sailors, soldiers and merchants brought back from all over the world as 'trophies'. Each piece tells part of the human story and together they show just how much alike we all are.

Cruiseline flagship SS Rotterdam

Finally head to the former flagship of the Holland-America Line, the SS Rotterdam, for a behind the scenes look at life on a cruise ship and lots of fun. There is an escape room, where you will have to solve riddles to escape from the cold storages in the bottom of the ship, and fun activities for kids as well as three different tours.

The Sea Breeze Deluxe Tour will show you what life was like onboard, as it takes you from the bow to the bridge, the upper sport decks, the captain's cabin and finally to the stern. The Steam & Chrome Tour take you below decks to the engine room, filled with evaporators, boilers, turbines and generators. The Rotterdam Complete Tour combines the two other tours and allows you to explore the biggest steamer ever built in the Netherlands and learn all about it.

Explore Rotterdam in 48 hours