Rotterdam terraces, tips from locals

The time that inhabitants of Rotterdam had to apologize to outsiders I still remember vividly: “Yes you are right it looks bare and plain, but if you know your way there really are some good spots.” But now Rotterdam has made it to the top 52 of the New York Times as the city you must have visited. Jeroen Louis is from Rotterdam and shows you the best terraces in town.

Rotterdam terraces? Nobody spoke of them twenty years ago. As a child I often sat waiting for the bus at the Weena, a windy plain opposite the post office on the Delftsestraat. Together with the Shell building it was one of the highest buildings in the  area. On Sundays all the roll-down shutters in the shopping area Lijnbaan went down. The city went dead.

Rotterdam terraces

But now Rotterdam has experienced a huge change. For the best. The train went underground near the Binnenrotte and next to the Willemsbrug (Williamsbridge) the banks of the river Maas were connected by the Erasmus bridge. Now it is the symbol of the city. Everywhere they started building.

On the plain near the bus station you now find the Weena skyscrapers and across the river, Manhattan on the Maas arose called Kop van Zuid. The beautiful new Central station is an eye catcher and soon we  will have the new Market hall.

Rotterdam is hot

Nowadays you no longer need apologies for a bare and empty city. Rotterdam is hot! Tourists and day trippers fill the city. And most of them come back!

Now where can you settle on one of the  Rotterdam terraces for a coffee, a wine or a beer? Most famous terraces are easily found and are also listed in various Top Tens.

Like Oude Haven (old harbour), Stadhuisplein (city hall square), and the terraces around the Koopgoot, Lijnbaan, Witte de Withstraat and Westerpaviljoen. Fine hotspots but there is a lot more. Here are my top five Rotterdam terraces:

1. De Aloha Bar in Tropicana

When you walk from metro station Oostplein to the Maas, after about five to ten minutes you arrive at the former tropical swimming paradise called Tropicana. It has been empty for years. Alternative plans from greenhouse tot concert hall haven’t been executed yet but you find here the Aloha Bar.

With a terrace with a magnificent view. On sunny days it is like being on a holiday.

Hotel New York

Across from the Aloha Bar you find the Oude Haven with its pubs and bars and if you like you can go order a water taxi from one of the yellow piers. A trip with the water taxi is an adventure I can recommend. You arrive in no time in Hotel New York or in Veerhaven. Both offer good food.

All of these places have the famous background of the river, the bridges, and the high rise on the south bank. One terrace that should not be forgotten is that of Prachtig, near the entrance to the Erasmusbrug.

2. Public library

In the city center, near metro station Blaak, you find the public library. Of course entrance is free. From the rooftop you have a beautiful view over the city and the market. The terrace on the first floor is a fantastic place to watch the people around the indoor market hall across.

By stairs on the site of the library you enter Blaakse Bos, where you find the cube houses. One is open tot the public. You can also follow your way to Oude Haven across the street for more bars.

From the library you can enter the shopping area by the Hoogstraat . Or turn right over the Binnenrotte and admire the medieval Laurenskerk, (Lawrence church). On the other site of the Binnenrotte, near the crossing with the Meent, you find many trendy Rotterdam terraces. On Tuesday and Saturday the area in front of the library is where the market is held.

 3. Postiljon

If you like going off the beaten track,  go to the area of Oude Noorden (Old North).  Take tram 4 or 8 from Rotterdam Central Station. Go for example to cafe Postiljon on Noordplein. This pub is completely different from the hip Aloha Bar. At Noordplein various worlds and cultures meet. The Zwart Janstraat is a multicultural shopping street: lively and colorful.

You can have either French fries at Bram Ladage, famous in Rotterdam, or food from Suriname (Dutch Guyana) like Roti. Together with the Noordmolenstraat this area is called Noorderboulevard, or Montmartre of Rotterdam.

The Zwaanshals  has yet another feel; here you find more and more the trendy bars, gallery’s  vintage clothing shops and antiques.

4. Abrazo in Hillegersberg

Instead of getting out at the Bergweg near Zwart Janstraat as said in the former tip  you can also continue on tram 4 until the Dorpsstraat in Hillegersberg. This is yet another world. One of the famous Dutch tv persons, Jort Kelder, did one of his shoots in this street for his series on the rich and famous in the Netherlands.

The rich and famous of Rotterdam gather on sunny afternoons on the terrace of the wine bar near the crossing Bergse Dorpsstraat with Weissenbruchlaan.


On a sunny day it is fun to be on this lively terrace to see yet another aspect of Rotterdam. The area Hillegersberg has many good cloth shops and some fine restaurants like Gauchos on the lake and Ristorante La Salute (with Italians owners and waiters).

5. Oude Sluis in Delfshaven

Apart from Melief Bender on de Oude Binnenweg (also fun!), the Oude Sluis in Delfshaven is one of the oldest cafe’s of Rotterdam. Built in 1912 on the foundations of a medieval lock. Rotterdam is famous for its modern architecture but don’t forget historical Delfshaven! This district is 625 years old and beautifully kept.

Here you find the birthplace of Piet Hein (1577), the Zakkendragershuisje where you find tourist information, museum de Dubbele Palmboom en the Pilgrims church from where the Pilgrim Fathers left for America.

Pelgrim Fathers

President Bush visited it and nowadays you can follow the footsteps of the first emigrants who crossed the Atlantic in 1620. Café the Oude Sluis is a perfect starting point for this area. You find here many fine restaurants. Take the metro (directions Schiedam or Spijkenisse).

Image: Shutterstock

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