The winter months in Rotterdam may be cold but at the same time the city’s buzzing with activities to do and many festivals to visit. Explore the city covered in snow on the few days a year it gets cold enough, go skating on ice rinks, visit Rotterdam's many fantastic museums and attend one of the best audience-driven movie festivals in the world. Keep on reading to learn all about the most fun winter activities to do during the cold season in Rotterdam.

See Rotterdam from above

The best way to see Rotterdam is from above! And if you’re lucky you even get to see as far as Delft, The Hague and Belgium from one of the city’s most iconic buildings. The Euromast observation tower is the highest building in the Netherlands open to the public and a must-visit in Rotterdam.

You can travel to the very top of the Euromast in the rotating, glass walled Euroscoop lift, get a unique look all over the winter wonderland Rotterdam is during the colder months and take the most amazing pictures from the viewing platform at 100 meters.

View from Euromast with snow

Warm yourself up at the Markthal

The Markthal is conveniently located in the heart of the city and the perfect spot to take a break from sightseeing while enjoying local and international delicacies surrounded by the unique architecture of the building. The hall is especially beautiful during holiday season when decorated with lots of lights and Christmas trees.

The hall’s food section caters to all tastes. Taste an original stroopfwafel at Goudstroop, try traditional Dutch cheeses, discover new types of tea at Infinitea, warm yourself up with a cup of hot cocoa or enjoy lunch at one of the many takeaway stalls to continue your Rotterdam city trip refreshed.

Go ice skating

Ice skating is one of the most popular winter activities in the Netherlands. Alas, it has become increasingly rare that the waterways in Dutch cities freeze over enough for ice skating. But fear not – ice rinks across Rotterdam still provide you with that cosy winter experience and fresh air.   

The Schaatsbaan, also known as ‘The Tunnel’, is one of the most popular ice skating rinks in town. And not only can you ice skate here but also participate in fun events such as silent discos on ice or even celebrate your Valentine’s Day here. You can directly rent your ice skates at the location.  

Schaatsbaan Rotterdam

Attend the International Film Festival Rotterdam

The International Film Festival Rotterdam is one of the best movie festivals in the Netherlands with a high quality line-up of selected movies. The festival focuses on the work’s of new talents in the film industry from all over the world but also hosts themed programmes and retrospectives.

The movies address pressing social issues while enchanting viewers with cinematic innovations at the same time. The programme consists of movies and short films from various genres. The festival further enables dialogues and promotes learning through performances, discussions, masterclasses and exhibitions.

Visit the Winter Efteling

A visit to the biggest amusement park in the Netherlands in winter is a truly special experience. The Efteling always has plenty of indoor attractions, and the outdoor attractions stay open for as long as the weather allows. From 13 November to 4 February, the Efteling has special winter activities to enjoy as well.

At the Warm Winter Meadow you can forget the cold temperatures and warm yourself with a hot drink at one of the bonfires, or get moving on the skating rink. The park also offers all kinds of treats, both sweet and savoury. Of course, the Efteling-inhabitants will be around for winter photos, and you can sing and dance along to musical performances and watch spectacular shows.

Things to do in Rotterdam in winter

Seek shelter at the museums

Rotterdam is home to many different museums, perfect to escape a cold and grey winter day. Whether you are interested in local history, contemporary art or experiencing different cultures, Rotterdam has it all.

Discover some of the 20 changing art exhibitions at the iconic Kunsthal, see the famous yellow cube houses from the inside at the Kijk-Kubus or learn all about Rotterdam’s maritime history and how it became one of the biggest port cities in the world at the Maritime Museum Rotterdam. We made a list of our favourite museums in the city to make it easier for you to choose where to go.

Play a game of Laser tag at Lasergame

Keep yourself warm and spice up your trip with a round of laser tag at Lasergame Rotterdam, providing a fun indoor activity to escape the cold weather. The arena is uniquely located on the ship ‘De Zwaarte Zwaan’ at the harbour.  After a brief introduction to the game, you are equipped with a special suit and a laser gun, and you can start playing in the boat’s engine rooms.

You’ll be surrounded by water and sonar sounds, as you take fire under water, seek cover behind oil barrels and come up with the best strategy to hit as many opponents as possible with your laser gun. The suits keep score by absorbing the laser beams.