Rotterdam is a European metropolis in the Netherlands, located just one hour south of Amsterdam. Though its history runs strong, the devastation from World War II left very little historical architecture remaining intact. Today the city is modern and full of life, providing yet another reason to really dive into the local culture and experience the city in a way a local would.
The Dutch are well known for their use of bikes as daily transportation, so getting around by bike is naturally one of the most authentic ways to see the city. In fact, the Dutch government has spent the last several decades transforming their cities into some of the most bike-friendly in Europe and even throughout the world. And like many European cities, Rotterdam is compact, so you don't have to ride far to arrive at your destination. Visitors can rent bikes from a variety of places, including the newly renovated central train station for just 7 Euro per day.
Rotterdam is known across Europe as a modern and hip city, and its art scene emphasizes that trend. You can visit one of several contemporary art galleries to see the latest works from local and international artists. Check out Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, which is solely dedicated to modern and contemporary Dutch, post-war art. Or you might head to Witte de With, the Center for Contemporary Art, which houses a variety of innovative, experimental, and participatory pieces.
The largest outdoor market in the Netherlands can be found in Rotterdam. Every Tuesday and Saturday The Marketplace at Binnenrotte attracts hundreds of vendors selling their goods to thousands of locals looking to pick up a warm loaf of bread, a creamy slice of cheese, or freshly picked flowers to decorate their home. Next to the market is the massive Markthal Rotterdam complex, which houses a covered market open daily. More than just protection from the elements, the building houses condominiums and commercial real estate surrounding the market to the side and overhead.
One of the best ways to indulge in the local culture is to visit a city during a major event. The urban area of Rotterdam has more than 1.2 million residents, and with the population comes a surplus of festivals and special events that take place every year, from summer to winter and spring and fall. In fact, Rotterdam has been voted the Festival and Event City of the Year for three years in a row. One of the most popular summer festivals is the Robin Rotterdam Unlimited, which takes place in July and transforms the city into one big party highlighting the best of culture, music, dance, and art.
Rotterdam has one of the most diverse populations in Europe that has arisen from decades of immigration from countries across the globe. Don't expect to meet only Dutch people in this thriving city, because Rotterdam's residents are representative of more than 160 nationalities. So pull up a stool at a local bar, and chat up a local to share your travel experiences and learn about their background. Check out one of the newest and hippest bars located on the 7th floor of the nhow Hotel. This place attracts hotel guests and local residents alike, so it's easy to strike up a conversation without feeling out of place.
What's your favorite local activity to do in your city?
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Auston grew up in Phoenix before escaping to Chicago in 2008. After 4 years working as an engineer, he sold his belongings and embarked on a round-the-world trip. After traveling non-stop for a year, he finally settled in Spain with his husband where he now calls home. When he's not traveling or writing guides about events, festivals or the best LGBT destinations, he enjoys the long sunny days and nightlife of Madrid. Read Auston's blog at Two Bad Tourists, or follow him on Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram.
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