12 Hidden Rotterdam Gems Spotted by Locals

What does Rotterdam have that makes it so special, and makes you want to stay forever?

According to our Spotters it’s the strong, dynamic character of the city: sometimes cozy and cute, sometimes unapologetically raw and robust; it’s the modern architecture (and the traditional Dutch buildings if you can find them); it’s the fact that the views from the bridges will never fail to sweep you of your feet.

To celebrate this city we want to share some of the most unique, local gems in Rotterdam, discovered by our very own Spotters.

A wooden path that’s worth the walk: Luchtsingel

Luchtsingel (by Rénia Sastrowidjojo)

This bridge, canal, singel, however you wish to call it gives a unique perspective on the city, and is connected to great spots such as BAR and Biergarten. De Luchtsingel was designed by ZUS, and connects the Schieblock building to a (former train) station Hofplein/Hofbogen).

The project was the idea of a Rotterdam local that got attention through a competition organized by the municipality! It truly is a project with such a local character, don’t forget to check out the engraved names of locals in the wooden panels when you’re visiting!

We have our own version of the New York “High Line” here. It’s not an abandoned railway and not as lush with greens, but a wooden air bridge or canal (as that’s what “singel” means) — Rénia Sastrowidjojo

Green, green and more green: Valhalla for city gardening

STEK stadstuinwinkel (by Rénia Sastrowidjojo)

STEK is not your average plant shop. They offer a dizzying amount of gardening supplies; plants, seeds, tools, books, they have it all! Try a workshop or ask for some friendly advice on gardening and designing a garden.

The cherry on top is there lush green back garden, a true little getaway in a modern city such as Rotterdam! So even when you’re not looking for a new plant, because you already have too many (like me) it’s a great place to take a breath and relax or look for inspiration.

It’s a great place to browse and get inspired, even if you don’t have green fingers — Rénia Sastrowidjojo

Orphaned sculptures under a highway

Museum for Orphaned Sculptures at Kleinpolderplein (by Rénia Sastrowidjojo)

If there was ever a great example of a hidden gem, this is the place. Under a busy knot of highways, Kleinpolderplein, a few sculptures are patiently waiting to be discovered. The strange location doesn’t take away from these amazing sculptures, it might even add to the experience.

Skip the car and take the bike to discover the open air Museum for Orphaned Sculptures, you won’t regret it. The project was realized by Stichting Werkgemeenschap Kleinpolder and the Observatorium, and their next step is a park on the fly-over! It’s amazing projects like these that make Rotterdam such a surprising city, there will always be something new to explore.

It’s a tangle of fly-overs – to be precise, the first fly-over of Europe, 4 stories high and built in 1972 – and highways so it’s no wonder you’ll just speed by and only catch a glimpse of a sculpture standing there — Rénia Sastrowidjojo

The best photo op in town

Make It Happen (by P de V)

This particular spot is for those selfie-loving photo-fanatics amongst us. I myself will never shy away from an amazing photo opportunity like this one. Under Rotterdam’s motto of Make It Happen seven artist will create pieces of interactive street art in the city center of Rotterdam. Everyone is invited to take pictures whilst interacting with these pieces, and share them using #makeithappen!

One of these pieces is created by Daan Botlek, located a building at the corner of the Schiedamse Vest and the Schilderstraat. The piece shows white human like figures, in the piece little steps are incorporated, allowing you to actually climb the art (how cool is that).

Even if you’re a bit picture shy, it’s great fun watching other people climb the steps and take pictures!

It’s so much fun taking pictures here with friends or just see how watch people interact — Anne-Marie Ros

Oasis in a concrete jungle

Quarantine Beach (by Michael Afanasyev)

This particular spot makes me very excited, to me there is noting like a hidden place to chill and swim in the middle of a big city such as Rotterdam. Quarantine beach is exactly that.

The strange name of the beach stems from it’s history of being a place housed by sailors with dangerous tropical diseases, Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, German navy and elderly psychiatric patients. Don’t let the name and history scare you, nowadays it’s home to an artist community that takes care of the beach together with schoolchildren of the neighborhood.

The view is amazing, you could spend hours there just looking at the boats come by.

Officially, swimming is prohibited, but no one seems to ever mind it at this remote spot — Michael Afanasyev

Sticky, sweet goodness

Kaya Pastanesi (by Rénia Sastrowidjojo)

This Turkish bakery is a true historic gem. The Kaya family has had their shop since 1982 and have kept it in the family since. A while ago they added a seating area, which allows you to have a cup of çay or coffee while enjoying a lovely Turkish treat.

Don’t hesitate to go into Kaya Pastanesi for some baklava, Lokum or Bülbül Yuvasi. The names will probably confuse you if you’re not Turkish, but don’t be scared to ask for some advice or let yourself be surprised!

I love going here and treat myself! — Rénia Sastrowidjojo

Secluded relaxation in a hidden park

Park Schoonoord (By Davy Baas)

Enter through the gates of Park Schoonoord to find yourself in a gorgeous little oasis with grass, trees, birdhouses and a pond. The existence of this park is not known to many, which is part of it’s secretive charm. The park is located near the Euromast and used to be a garden of one of the nearby villas. Lucky for us the park was opened to the public in 1970, by the Mees family who owned it (thank you!).

This place is perfect to take a little break from busy city life, so don’t hesitate to visit when you’re feeling stressed-out!

I find it lovely to sit at a quiet spot under the trees and close my eyes for a moment — Davy Baas

Man without a heart 

De Verwoeste Stad (by Davy Baas)

Through living in Rotterdam I have learned that this city is open about its history and wears its feelings on its sleeve, this sculpture is a beautiful example of that. During WWII Nazi Germany attacked the Netherlands, and Rotterdam in specific as it’s active industry was a target. This ended up destroying the entire city center, or heart, of Rotterdam.

To remember these events Ossip Zadkine made this sculpture, named De Verwoeste Stad (The Destroyed City). Don’t be fooled by the picture, this is one that’s worth seeing in real life, as its bronze skin and height (6 meters!) are very impressive. The statue depicts a screaming man, missing his heart. The sculpture is highly emotional as you can see him throwing his arms up and screaming out of pain and desperation.

Although it might be a bit dark, the statue also represents pride and resilience as Rotterdam bounced back into the vibrant city it is today.

The missing heart illustrates Rotterdam’s destroyed city center, a city without a heart — Davy Baas

Poetry for when the sun goes down

Local poetry (by José van der Plaat)

Underneath train station Rotterdam Noord there is a little secret only visible to the real night owls amongst us. At night a piece of poetry appears, written by Ester Namoi Perquin (city poet of Rotterdam in 2011 & 2012).

The lights that shine on the poem are different colors and switch every few seconds, lighting up different parts of the poem. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a poem that made it so difficult to be read, but the challenge is worth the while.

Thanks to colored light, the poem comes to life as soon as the streetlights are turned on — José van der Plaat

Let your inner child loose

Freestyle Motion (by Davy Baas)

If there was ever a place that is a true children’s dream, Freestyle Motion is it. To explain this I only need one word, trampolines, trampolines everywhere! The floors, walls everything is covered with trampolines basically.

Freestyle Motion is an indoor hall filled with trampolines, where you can bounce your heart away. Next to the fact that trampolines are a ridiculous amount of fun (no matter what your age is), it is also a great workout. Don’t be intimidated by the actual children there, who will do backflips, somersaults and all that kind of stuff with ease. Adults deserve trampolines too!

Ever have one of those days when you’re remembering how it was to be a kid? Well, I have them quite a lot. Luckily I have found a true solution to this difficult problem: Freestyle Motion Rotterdam — Davy Baas

City herb garden in the South

Rotterdamse Munt (by Anne-Marie Ros)

Rotterdamse Munt is a city herb garden, located at Kop van Zuid. At a stretch of undeveloped land you can find this amazing garden ran by people from the neighborhood.

Just seeing all the different types of herbs grow here is quite remarkable. Lucky for us they also sell their herbs, and there is a tea room where you can buy (and taste) tea and cake! For those who would like to grow their own herbs there is also a workshop space where you can follow workshops!

If you like cooking with fresh herbs, you’ll like the Rotterdamse Munt, a huge city-herb-garden at Kop van Zuid. If you like gardening, go get your herb plants and soil here! — Anne-Marie Ros

Walk through Rotterdam’s history

Fire Boundary Walk (by Anne-Marie Ros)

May 14th in 1940 was a dark  day in the history of Rotterdam. The historical center went up in flames after a German bombardment. Luckily the city bounced back into being the beautiful modern city it is today. However it is good to remember why Rotterdam is what it is today, the Fire Boundary Walk does just this.

Thanks to the City Council the 12-kilometre long periphery of the bombardment and fire limit, the ‘fire boundary’,  is marked on the ground through little lights colored red like the fire. Some lights are green, indicating bombing done by allies. Even if you don’t feel like walking the whole route, I think it is so nice to see one of these lights pop up every now and then, a reality check for sure.

You can find our history and see a different side of Rotterdam by looking down and following the Fire Boundary lights — Anne-Marie Ros


For more hidden gems, check out the Spotted by Locals Rotterdam city blog.

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Last Changed Date: 2016-05-19 11:45:13 +0200 (Thu, 19 May 2016)