No trip to the Netherlands is complete without visiting its second largest city: Rotterdam. This port destination is at the cutting edge of innovation – boasting a dynamic skyline, boutique shops, foodie hotspots and thriving nightlife. A day is never enough in “Roffa” as there are so many things to do. Upon arrival, consider booking one of the best tours in Rotterdam with Bike & Bite – a company that immerses you in the culture and cuisine.
For Paul and Laura, founders of the tour agency, travel doesn’t get any better than connecting with locals over a meal and drink. Their fondest memories from exploring the world were always from the friendships they made and this is what inspired them to start their own business which places authentic experiences over stereotypical tourist-traps. After all, it’s the people we meet on our trips that get etched into our minds forever.
Nothing brings humans together more than food, something that we all have in common, and the gastronomy of the Netherlands is a real surprise. Beyond poffertjes (pancakes) travelers can expect to find a range of dishes to suit their tastes such as rookworst sausage, hachee beef and onion stew, erwtensoep pea soup and stamppot mashed root vegetables. Traditional and hearty staples like these can be enjoyed throughout Rotterdam.
One unique aspect about Dutch cities are the snackbars. Here you can order deep fried bites to keep you fueled as you bar hop. Bitterballen and fries are go-to choices in this regard. Then there is the cafe culture which has taken on new heights in Rotterdam recently. Whether you need a takeaway coffee from a hole-in-the-wall or would like to wile the day away at a grand cafe, Rotterdam is the ultimate spot to get your caffeine fix.
Like Amsterdam, Rotterdam’s tastes and sights are best experienced on a bicycle. There are 600 km of cycle paths in the city and they take you past impressive old and new buildings, down hidden alleyways, over beautifully designed bridges and alongside windswept waterways. As the name suggests, Bike & Bite combine two highlights of Rotterdam (cycling and eating) into one. Below are the best tours in Rotterdam which they offer.
8 Best Tours in Rotterdam
1. Hike & Bite App Tour
For those who would like to explore Rotterdam on their own, for less than half the price of regular tours, the self-guided app tour is the way to go. Lasting three hours, travelers follow a carefully curated route with plenty of insightful info shared along the walk. Six bites and a drink of choice at the end is included in the €39 pp price. Download the app on the App Store or Google Play and purchase the online code with Bike & Bite to get started.
2. Bike & Bite Food Tour
Kicking off just after midday is this awesome four hour tour with Bike & Bite that includes bicycle hire, and six bites and two drinks. A passionate guide leads the group (a minimum of four required) on an exciting afternoon adventure where Rotterdam’s top sites and hidden gems are revealed. It’s the perfect introduction to the city when you first arrive because you will be able to get your bearings and finish with some tips for the rest of your stay.
3. Hike & Bite Food Tour
This tour is similar to the one above but instead of cycling you trade your bike for a good old-fashioned stroll. The six bites on offer are a mix of typical Rotterdamse foods and foreign flavors, which together showcase the diverse culinary scene of the city. A guide will share spellbinding stories with your group, and point out the top buildings and monuments on your walk. Did we mention that you also get to jump into a watertaxi for a ride?
4. Boat & Beer Tour
Beer-lovers will be in heaven as a guide takes you to Rotterdam breweries where you will get the chance to learn about the beer-making process and try home-brewed crafts. Snacks accompany the drinks and whet your appetite ready for dinner. Beginning at 2pm, this afternoon outing runs for four hours and time flies by. Clink your glasses with people from all over the world and say “proost”. The watertaxi rides on this tour are also delightful.
5. Something Old, Something New Tour
The first of the private group tours that we will feature in this article – the Something Old, Something New day trip is ideal for families, friends or colleagues who want to spend more time exploring Rotterdam as well as check out the nearby city of Delft. Something new will be experienced in the modern Rotterdam and something old in the historic Delft. The tour immerses you in both of these unique cities and includes local specialties.
6. Bike & Borrel Tour
This private group tour requires a minimum of eight and has a duration of three hours. Cycling will be your mode of transport as you whiz by the incredible sights and secrets of Rotterdam. Of particular note on this trip are the “borrels” that you will share with your group and tour guide. Borrel in the Netherlands basically means a relaxing drink with friends. Enjoy a sweet treat at the start and two drinks of choice at spectacular locations.
7. Bike & Breakfast Tour
You would be hard pressed to find a better morning activity in Rotterdam than the Bike & Breakfast Tour which involves a sweet treat, two stops for breakie, and a hot and cold drink. Breakfast provides an opportunity to try different types of Dutch food like their famous pancakes, Dutch-style French toast or cakes. Riding on a bike means you will be able to burn off all the calories you put on, so don’t be afraid to gobble down these foods.
8. Hike & Dine Tour
To finish our list of the best tours in Rotterdam, we give you the Hike & Dine Tour which offers up a three-course meal at three separate restaurants. In between each restaurant stop, a leisurely walk takes place to soak up the romantic evening atmosphere. If you are in town and happen to be celebrating a birthday or special event, then this is a wonderful choice. There will also be a watertaxi ride for those eager to get out on the water.
Tips for Visiting Rotterdam
Despite being overshadowed by Amsterdam, Rotterdam certainly holds its own as a unique destination. The city was reduced to rubble in WWII but it was rebuilt in the following decades as a cosmopolitan and modern city. Architectural gems like the horseshoe-shaped Markthal and iconic Cube Houses pay testament to this fact. This future oriented atmosphere is felt everywhere, from impressive modern structures to funky street art.
Even allocating two or three days doesn’t give you enough time to truly sync in with its energetic spirit. Therefore, we recommend spending at least four or five days in the city so you can experience everything it has to offer. If you are coming from Amsterdam or say Paris, you can jump on the train and arrive in a jiffy. The city’s airport is also well connected. How you get there will all depend on your travel plans and personal preferences.
The best time of year to visit Rotterdam is July and August. Many events and festivals are held at this time and the weather is pleasantly warm. The city comes alive during these months, but you can expect larger crowds and higher prices. In general, Rotterdam is a much cheaper place to travel to than Amsterdam. Everything from accommodation and restaurants, to museums and attractions, have significantly lower price brackets.
That being said, it’s still Europe and so the bigger the budget the better. To save money while in Rotterdam, you can use a variety of tactics such as renting a bike to get around instead of relying on public transport, cooking food at your hostel or Airbnb, and booking affordable tours like the Hike & Bite App Tour or free walking tours. However you choose to spend your days in Rotterdam one thing is for sure: it will leave a lasting impression.