July 16, 2021
Rotterdam is known for many things, such as its modern architecture, including the Market Hall, Cube houses and many high rises, its trendy nightlife and its amazing shopping centres. But a key to the second largest city in the Netherlands will always be its port.
It is the largest seaport in Europe, which has earned the city the nickname "Gateway to Europe". Many of Europe's great rivers end up flowing into the Maas, which takes the water out to sea at Rotterdam. As such, seeing Rotterdam from the water is a must for any visitor. Luckily the city provides you with plenty of options.
One of the best ways to see Rotterdam is with the amphibious bus, which combines a tour through the streets of the city with a cruise on the Nieuwe Maas and a spectacular splash. An enthusiastic and funny guide will tell you all about what you're seeing outside the windows throughout the tour. You'll learn all about some of the older ports of the city, such as the Veerhaven, as well as the backstories of the city's skyscrapers.
After crossing the Erasmus Bridge, the bus will literally dive into the river. While on the water you'll see sights such as the SS Rotterdam, Hotel New York and the White House, Europe's first high rise. The Rotterdam skyline would no longer be complete without a bright yellow amphibious bus. Whether you see it driving through the city, or cruising on the Maas river Splashtours is a part of Rotterdam.
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Rotterdam's Watertaxi network is unique in Europe, as they will take you per request to one of 50 different docks throughout the city. The watertaxi is the fastest way to get around in this city. Whenever you are on or near the water in Rotterdam, you'll see these yellow taxis speeding across the water.
Most of the watertaxi boatmen work parttime on the watertaxis as most of them are captains or helmsmen on tugs, barges or patrol boars. They are fully qualified to navigate on the Nieuwe Maas, one of the world's busiest rivers and know everything you might want to know about the port of Rotterdam.
If the Spalshtours ampibious bus is too much excitement for you, the a one hour River Cruise might be exactly what you are looking for to explore Rotterdam from the water. Find yourself a seat in the cosy saloon or on the sun deck, for some of the best views of the city. There is a bar on board where you can purchase drinks and snacks during the cruise.
Along the way, you'll cruise by sights such as the SS Rotterdam, the Witte Huis (White House), and under the silver Erasmus Bridge and the dark red Willems Bridge, the city's two most important bridges. A guide will tell you all the ins and outs of the sights you’ll pass on the sailing route.
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Once the SS Rotterdam was the flagship of the Holland-America Line. Back then it sailed across the seven seas, today 'La Grande Dame' is a tourist attraction as well as a hotel with multiple restaurants docked at Katendrecht island. 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 several different tours.
There are three daily tours to choose between and you can decide for yourself whether you want to go on a guided tour or make use of the audio guide. 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.
If you want to have a meal on the water, the Pancake Cruise is the water attraction for you. During the 75-minute cruise, you’ll sail across the Rotterdam waters from where you will have a beautiful view of the city’s impressive skyline as well as all the traffic on the river, such as freighters, tugboats, barges, water taxis, regional ferries and pleasure boats.
While your eyes observe the city from the water, you can delight in an all-you-can-eat traditional Dutch pancakes buffet, which includes mouth-watering toppings such as Dutch cheese, syrup, bacon, fruit, chocolate, marmalade and much, much more. Eating traditional Dutch pancakes is something you can't miss out on when visiting the Netherlands. The pancakes are usually larger and much thinner than their American counterparts, but a little thicker than crepes.
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The Rotterdam Water Bus is part of the city's public transport network and you can use it to travel across the city as well as beyond to UNESCO World Heritage Site Kinderdijk, with its many windmills. You can take your bike along for the ride for free, so that wherever you step off the Water Bus, you can go exploring.
A trip on the Water Bus is a great way to explore the city of Rotterdam, its port, the neighbouring towns and cities and the Dutch polders. It is easy to spend a relaxed hour on the boat enjoying the views of the passing landscapes, which is how long it will take to sail from the Erasmus Bridge to the windmills of Kinderdijk.
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