The city of Rotterdam in South Holland is the second largest city in the Netherlands and is famous for its modern architecture, gorgeous museums and lush parks. However, if you’re visiting Rotterdam for longer, don’t miss out on the surrounding gems: from historic windmills to picturesque canals, the birthplace of Gouda cheese to some of the most paintings in the world, the cities around Rotterdam have a lot to offer. Keep on reading to learn about the best Rotterdam day trips!

You are visiting Amsterdam but are not sure how much time you have to explore other cities during your stay in the Netherlands? Then we highly recommend our tour to Rotterdam, The Hague and Delft to make the most out of your trip. This way, you’ll get to see the highlights of each city by visiting the Royal Delft Blue Experience, seeing the Houses of Parliament in The Hague as well as the miniature city of Madurodam and a river cruise through Rotterdam.

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Rotterdam, Delft & The Hague incl. Madurodam
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Rotterdam, Delft & The Hague incl. Madurodam

Delft – the Dutch Golden Age in a city

Delfts Blauw, Vermeer, the House of Orange – Delft used to be a cultural and economic hub in the 17th century and is a popular destination for travellers. Walk through the charming city centre alongside beautiful canals and climb the tower of the Nieuwe Kerk for a magnificent view over the city. The church is also where William of Orange, the Father of the Nation, and his family are buried.

Did you know that the famous blue and white Delftware was originally inspired by Chinese porcelain? While there have been several factories during the 17th century, Royal Delft is the last remaining factory. To this day, the pottery here is still painted in line with the age-old traditions. See from up-close how it is created in the factory and marvel at extensive historical and modern collections the Royal Delft Museum.

Are you ready to go on a journey through time and learn all about Jan Vermeer, the painter of the famous ‘Girl with the Pearl Earring’? He is one of the most famous Dutch painters of the Baroque period, the Dutch Golden Age. The country’s rise to prosperity was a nourishing soil for artists of the time. At the Vermeer Centrum Delft, you can see reproductions of all his paintings, discover his life and working methods and how important art was back in the day.

Drink a Jenever in Schiedam

Rotterdam and Schiedam are so close to each other, the two cities are basically merging. Hence, Schiedam is only about 10 minutes away from the centre of Rotterdam but mind you, the city has a lot to offer. It is home to the tallest windmills in the world and the gin and jenever hotspot of the Netherlands.

Walk around historic warehouses and picturesque canals to see the many former distilleries and roasting houses. Learn more about the Jenever industry at the Schiedam Jenever Museum based on personal stories. See the historic De Gekroonde Brandersketel, where it still produces the traditional Old Schiedam from malt wine – just like it was 300 years ago.

Visit the windmills of Kinderdijk

These 19 windmills from the 18th century are one of the most famous attractions in the Netherlands and not without reason: they are tightly connected to the country’s history and how it rose to wealth. The UNESCO World Heritage Site can easily be reached through a water bus from Rotterdam and invites you to dive into a world full of windmills, water and willpower.

Two of the windmills are open to visitors to explore. See the original old engines and learn more about the families that used to live and work in them. A visit to the pumping station and an exhibition on the barge ‘Alles Heeft een Tijd’ show how windmills were used for water management and reclamation of land, while a film shows how Kinderdijk came to its name – did you know it translates to ‘Children’s Dike’?

The best day trips from Rotterdam

Explore the versatile city of Den Haag

The Hague is the political heart, the 3rd biggest city of the Netherlands and even the living and working place of the Dutch Royal family, making it a vibrant and lively city. Visit the historic Binnenhof and get a look behind the scenes on how the country works and see the Palace Noordeinde, King Willem-Alexander’s workplace. You can easily spot if he’s currently at the palace: a flag is raised upon his arrival.

Den Haag is also home to several world-renowned museums as well as the peace palace. The Mauritshuis Museum consists of famous paintings like the ‘Goldfinch’ by Fabritius and the ‘Anatomy Lesson’ from Rembrandt. The museum’s centre piece is the ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ by Dutch master Vermeer. The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag doesn’t fall short to such treasures, it includes the largest collection of Piet Mondrian’s paintings.

Are you travelling with children or are you interested in seeing the Netherlands from a birds-eye perspective? Then Madurodam is a must-see! The park features miniature versions of the most important and iconic buildings of the country on a 1:25 scale, such as the Rijksmuseum, airport Schiphol or the palace of the king.

The ancient city of Dordrecht

Dordrecht is officially a city since 1220, making it the oldest city in the former entity of Holland (not the Netherlands though). Due to its strategic position at the junction of rivers, the city played a key role in the trade of wood, cereals and wine during the Middle-Ages. To this day, you can see lavish mansions, the typical Dordrecht facades, countless monuments, old warehouses and water towers.

Dordrecht can easily be discovered by foot. Monuments like the Great Church and the Augustine monastery ‘Het Hof’ tell the tale of the city’s wealth and history. Stroll around the old inner city harbours, cruise along the rivers’ intersection and visit the ‘Huis van Gijn’, the former mayor’s house, to see its lavish interior, giving a good idea of the key role Dordrecht played back in the day.

The best day trips from Rotterdam

Taste scrumptious Stroopwafels and Cheese in Gouda

Gouda is all about tasty foods. Located less than 25 kilometres away from Rotterdam, Gouda is the ideal destination to visit while staying there. Here you can experience from up close how Dutch delights like Stroopwafels and Gouda cheese became favourite foods and treats all around the world.

Learn all about the history of the famous Gouda Cheese at the Gouda Cheese Experience. The fascinating and interactive journey takes you through the golden yellow universe. Every Thursday, you can furthermore witness a traditional cheese market where the cheese briquettes are pulled to the Weigh House by horses and weighed in the original scales in De Goudse Waag. Taste the original Gouda, we promise you won’t be disappointed!

To satisfy your sweet tooth, visit the Kamphuisen Syrup Waffle factory and treat yourself to an original Kamphuisen stroopfwafel, based on the secret recipe from 1810. Once inside, you’ll be mesmerized by the sweet fragrance of freshly baked waffles. Discover the family’s legacy with a guided tour and be the first to taste new syrup flavours.