Get to know Rotterdam’s architecture and food scene in the same way a local would experience it — from a bicycle. With a local guide, you’ll spend a morning cycling through the city to learn more about its distinctive culture, which is very different to what you’ll find in other Dutch cities.
After the city was flattened by bombing in World War II, city leaders opted not to recreate the historical feel but instead embraced modern, experimental architecture. Today, the skyline is an ever-evolving landscape of cutting-edge building, including Piet Blom’s floating Cube Houses and Rem Koolhaas’ glimmering, shape-shifting towers. You’ll experience these landmarks from the seat of a bicycle as your guide regales you with tales of the modern city. The tour also gives you a chance to glimpse Rotterdam’s dynamic public art scene, including street murals and statues.
Along the way, you can explore the city’s culinary culture, which is as forward-looking as its architecture, mixing traditional Dutch treats with internationally inspired dishes.
You’ll meet your guide at your hotel first. Here, you’ll be fitted for your bike and cycling helmet before venturing out past some of the city’s most prominent landmarks to your first food tasting. If you have an interest in certain aspects of Rotterdam’s architectural landscape then let your guide know, and they’ll try to include it in the tour.
The sights you’ll see will vary but the cycling is gentle, flat and mostly on bike lanes away from traffic, making this accessible for people from a range of ages and fitness levels.
During this cycling tour, you’ll explore a veritable playground of post-war architecture, including Piet Blom’s forest of sunrise-yellow Cube Houses, the tubular Markthal with its giant mural of fresh produce, and Rem Koolhaas’ stack of tower blocks that appear to change shape from different angles.
In between modernity, you’ll also see buildings that escaped the war unscathed, such as the turn-of-century Hotel New York, the former 1930s post office and the neo-Renaissance town hall. Keep an eye out for a hump in the road — the site of a former Cold War bunker.
Originally established as a small fishing village in 1283, Rotterdam’s port grew into one of Europe’s busiest shipping seaports. From the medieval era, an increasingly wealthy merchant class provided patronage to a flourishing art scene, interlinking the seafaring industry with cultural development. You’ll see both sides to Rotterdam, with time spent to explore its bustling harbour, and uncover its burgeoning art scene — from the better-known museums and monuments, to below-the-radar street murals and sculptures.
Your local guide is not only passionate about their city, but also a great food enthusiast and this will become readily apparent. The many stops on your tour will offer you a chance to try out the food the Dutch love to eat.
Expect to try local specialities such as bitterballen, bite-sized balls of meaty stew that’s been breaded and fried, and poffertjes, small pancakes traditionally enjoyed with a dusting of sugar and topped with a slab of butter. You’ll also try some internationally influenced snacks like a Surinamese chicken curry sandwich and Moroccan tapas along the way. Other tasting options include sampling some locally brewed craft beer and indulging in some of the best chocolates in town.