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Rotterdam: The Netherlands’ Alternative City

When people talk about visiting the Netherlands for a city break, it’s always Amsterdam that gets the attention. This overlooks the fact that Rotterdam, the country’s second largest city to the south, is actually also a very cool city worth visiting. Indeed, Rotterdam may be better set up for visitors wishing to see and experience something less typical than the well-trodden tourist haunts of the Dutch capital. Here are some tips for enjoying a visit to this more alternative Dutch city.

Get on Your Bike

Of course, no trip to the Netherlands can be successful without a bike, so hire one at your earliest convenience and hop on your two wheels to explore the city. Cycling in Rotterdam is a fast and easy way to get around, with wide and well-maintained cycle paths just about everywhere. Routes are signposted clearly, and there’s always somewhere to lock your bike up in order to explore further on foot.

Check Out the Street Art

Rotterdam is one of the few Dutch cities that has a prominent street art scene, with much of the work by Dutch artists such as Robert Rost and Tymonm as well as international artists including Icy and Sot from New York, and Invader from France. There is very little ugly tagging, and many pieces take up entire walls and are well-maintained, making it seem perhaps a little more polished than in many other cities. Nonetheless, there are some pretty impressive pieces worth stopping to appreciate.

Visit the Markthal

Opened in autumn of 2014, the new market hall in downtown Rotterdam is not only a great place to go browsing for goodies to eat, but also an architectural marvel. With an arched roof covered in surreal images of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and seeds, it has earned the nickname “The Sistine Chapel of Rotterdam.” Come to check out almost a hundred different food stalls with delicacies from all over the world, including churros, sushi, baked goods, and of course, some famous Dutch cheeses.

Eat at Gare du Nord

Ever fantasised about having dinner on board a train? At Gare du Nord, a mid-range vegan restaurant, you can do just that without also having to pay the train fare! This disused train carriage now stands in a residential area near Rotterdam main station, and serves up innovative, organic, plant-based seasonal fare. In the summer, there is additional seating outside; but in winter, be sure to reserve to get a table on board.

Take a Break at Evermore

Situated in the up-and-coming district of Coolhaven, this hip café and chocolate shop is a great place to take a break from all the cycling you’re no doubt doing, to enjoy one of the fair-trade and organic teas, coffee, or chocolates from around the world. It also doubles as a shop, with some interesting and unusual tea and coffee-making accessories for sale.

Have you ever been to Rotterdam? If so, what did you think? If not, would you like to visit? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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