Rotterdam - Where to Stay for first time travelers

Where to Stay in Rotterdam for a first time visit? An insider’s guide 2024

Rotterdam, the second largest city in the Netherlands, set on the river Meuse, impresses with its skyline and modern design. Although it was heavily damaged during World War II, today, it is the definition of modern and innovative.

Contemporary architectural design and the impressive harbour are the two significant aspects of this city. The city is surrounded by remarkable skyscrapers built in modern avant-garde design, along with the iconic Erasmus Bridge, Rotterdam Central Station, and the Euromast observation tower.

Rotterdam, or “Roffa” as locals used to call this city, has the largest port in Europe. The city of Meuse has been a real metropolis in the last few decades; it is very dynamic and progressive, offering a lot to see, visit, and enjoy.

Rotterdam is a symbol of trade, maritime history, and innovation. Regarding innovation, Wikkelboats are tiny boats where you can spend a night in the Maritime district. However, if you are a museum enthusiast, there are many specially travel-design residences for where to stay in Rotterdam.

Like any big city, the “Gateway to Europe” has two famous and trendy districts competing to offer a better spot to go out: Witte de Withstraat and Nieuwe Binnenweg. Fenix Food Factory of Katendreht provides a one-of-a-kind place and unforgettable experience where you will see a craft brewery, vegetables, dairy products, and meat stalls together.

Furthermore, there are cultural points of interest. The whole city boasts a vast array of flora and fauna because of its usage of greenery and the monumental and groundbreaking range of sustainability.

Question: Where to stay in Rotterdam for a first-time visit?

Rotterdam consists of 14 residential districts and lies only 30km from the North Sea on the banks of the New Meuse River.

We know that different types of people require different advice on travel accommodations. This guide includes the best areas for

  • the first time visitor
  • Families
  • Couples
  • Luxury & Design
  • Solo-Traveler
  • on a budget

Are you more of a visual learner/travel planner?

Lucky for you, we’ve included a map with all of our favorite neighborhoods and handpicked hotels for all of your travel needs.

Check it out below to get a better idea of where you should stay for your first or next visit to Rotterdam.

Read more: Looking for your next travel destination? We have a detailed guide to 7 days in Switzerland.

(This guide is always up to date, the last updated April 2024.)

But, first things first:

Here is the question: Where to stay in Rotterdam for a first-time visit?

The answer is simple: City Center

The city center, or Centrum in Dutch, is the area between the central station in the north and the New Meuse in the south. This is an energetic and vibrant area where the shops are open seven days a week, and you can enjoy the street art while walking along the area.

Moreover, there are three major parks: Het Park, Museumpark, and Park Oude Westen.

Other famous sites in this district are the Erasmus Bridge, Cube Houses, and the Euromas.

Some of the well-known areas are:

  • Markthal (Market Hall)
  • Cube Houses (Kubuswoningen)
  • Erasmus Bridge (Erasmusbrug)
  • Euromast

Why do we recommend these areas?

Markthal is a place where all its functions are incorporated and offers a ton of possibilities. It is a great mix of food, leisure, living, and parking. Markthal, built in 2014, has a modern architectural style, contributing to its popularity throughout Europe. “The Rotterdam Sistine Chapel,” as some people call this building, is the largest artwork in the world.

Piet Blom, an architect, designed the Cube Houses built in Helmond and Rotterdam. The houses are based on the concept of “living as an urban roof” or high-density housing with enough space on the ground floor to use the inside of the house. The place looks like a village set in a city, and each house represents a tree, which is supposed to imply a functional and unique forest.

Erasmus Bridge, or the Erasmusbrug, is a beautiful combination of cable-stayed and bascule bridge, whose construction began in 1986 and was completed ten years later. This is proof of a significant interaction between the architects and engineers who made a combined effort to gain technical and aesthetic achievement.

The observation tower in Rotterdam called Euromast, built between 1958 and 1960, is a concrete structure with a diameter of 9m and a wall thickness of 30cm; the concrete block adds to the stability. The observing platform is 96m above ground. This used to be the highest building in Rotterdam, but in 2021, the De Zalmhaven surpassed it by more than 100m. Euromast attracts many tourists and fans by holding concerts and events such as the Extreme Base Jumping in 2019.

Here’s a full map for you to understand the different areas.

Please note: those might not be the exact names of the districts, neither its absolute borders. I just tried to simplify this information.

📍Best Area:City Center (Centrum)
👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Best for Families:B&B Berglust
👩‍❤️‍👨 Best for Couples:Tiny House
💎 Best Luxury HotelMainport Hotel Rotterdam
🤩 Best Design Hotel:Hotel New York
😎 Best for Groups:Hotel âme
🦸 Best for Solo-Traveller:King Kong Hostel
💃 Best Hotel for Nightlife:Rotterdam’s Coolest Apartment
🤑 Cheapest Place to stay:Galerie Petit Delfshaven
👌 Safest Area: Witte de Withstraat Area

1. Best areas and handpicked hotels for Rotterdam

Below is a list of where to stay in Rotterdam that will meet your needs and expectations, whatever traveller you might be.

Continue scrolling or pick your group and travel type on the menu:

1.1 Families
1.2 Couples
1.3 Luxury Traveler
1.4 Design Traveler
1.5 Groups
1.6 Solo-Traveler
1.7 Nightlife-seeking traveler
1.8 Budget Traveler

1.1 Families

There is plenty to do and enjoy with kids in Rotterdam. You can have fun together with your family close to the water or simply visit the museums or go to the parks. The city has a Kids Marina, which gives kids a complete notion of a port. Also, there are many family-friendly places to stay in Rotterdam.

Kralingen

Once a village, has now become a neighbourhood of Rotterdam where the main campus of Erasmus University and the Excelsior Rotterdam stadium is located. The hidden gems of Kralingen are the Trompenburg Botanical Gardens as well as the unforgettable cactus house.

You can spend quality time with your family while enjoying the Kralingse Plas, the biggest recreational area in Rotterdam. Additionally, you can swim, stay around, or have a BBQ close to the beautiful Lake.

Hillegersberg

This green residential area with canals, lakes, and parks was incorporated into Rotterdam in 1941. The first houses were built near the church and then spread around. It wasn’t bombed during wartime, so this leafy district has preserved its charm. A renowned attraction for families is the Lage Bergse Bos recreational area.

Handpicked accommodations for families

De oude Bakkerij fabriek, industriële prachtige woning, Kralingen

This lovely family-friendly Rotterdam accommodation offers a spacious apartment with a terrace, a fully equipped kitchen, a living room, a dining area, and two bedrooms and bathrooms. It will be a perfect place for a family holiday and allow you to delight in various activities around Rotterdam and relax to the fullest.

Book De oude Bakkerij fabriek here

Relax and unwind at De oude Bakkerij fabriek

Have a great time at De oude Bakkerij fabriek

B&B Berglust, Hillegersberg

B&B Berglust is a beautifully renovated apartment with a terrace, a private bathroom, and a kitchen with an outdoor dining area for a perfect family holiday.

Book B&B Berglust here

Private room at B&B Berglust

Have a pleasant stay at B&B Berglust

 1.2 Couples

Rotterdam’s blend of architectural uniqueness, green areas, and various unique things to visit makes this city a natural romantic gateway, with magnificent accommodations. This city has perfect couple residences, whether you prefer sightseeing, exploring great places of interest, or savouring gastronomy.

City Center

Locally known as Stadsdrienhoek, the city center is bound among Coolvest, Shiedamsevest, and Goudsevest. The post-war period meant an empty Centrum, but after 1975, parts of the city were rebuilt very fast, and the city centre became a hotspot for shopping and nightlife.

There are many ways to make your visit to this magnificent city memorable as a couple: romantic walks around the centre, a visit to many exciting landmarks like the Rotterdam Library, Cube houses, Erasmusburg, and others.

Delfshaven

This enchanting and historic area of the city and its cobblestone streets, where you can wander and enjoy coffee in a small canal cafe, especially if the windmill is in motion, is a delight for couples.

The most picturesque part of Rotterdam is the golden age harbour of Delfshaven. However, the older parts of the city also have quite a lot to offer, such as The Oude Kerk, the windmill, historic courtyards, and the canals.

Handpicked accommodations for couples

Hotel Unplugged, City Center

Set in the city centre, very close to the Cube Houses and the Markthal, couples needn’t worry anymore about where to stay in Rotterdam. The Hotel Unplugged offers rooms with a seating area and a private bathroom.

Continental breakfast is served in the nearby restaurant and you can start exploring the city as soon as you step out!

Book Hotel Unplugged here

Make yourself at home at Hotel Unplugged

Enjoy your time at Hotel Unplugged

Tiny House, Delfshaven

The inner courtyard and the garden give a special allure, which your beloved will enjoy. Tiny House offers a garden view, terrace, bedroom, a fully equipped kitchen, and bathroom.

Book Tiny House here

Experience comfort at tiny house

Have a wonderful stay at tiny house

1.3 Luxury traveler

This thoroughly up-to-date city, rebuilt after wartime, is now attractive with cutting-edge design residences where to stay in Rotterdam and a gleaming skyline. It is said that if you want to see the other side of the Netherlands, you simply have to see Rotterdam, so go and explore why!

Scheepvaartkwartier (Maritime Quarter)

This is where the port of Rotterdam was first built. This is definitely a historic spot, and the Maritime Museum is the most important to visit here.

The museum is dedicated to naval history, and just next to it, you can visit the open-air Maritime Museum Harbor, which offers a unique experience of historic vessel collections.

Kralingen

This is a place for fine dining, enjoying boutiques and shops, visiting the Kralingen Lakes, relaxing at spa centres, and exploring the rest of the well-known and appealing neighbourhood for the luxurious residential areas.

Handpicked accommodations for the luxury traveler

Mainport Hotel Rotterdam, Scheepvaartkwartier

Mainport Hotel Rotterdam is one of the best hotels in Rotterdam, specifically the Mainport, which is located on the banks of the Maas River. The rooms are decorated in a design setting offering an XXL four-layer signature bed, a private spa, and a Finnish sauna.

The spa centre is an indulgent heaven offering a panorama sauna with a skyline view of Rotterdam. Each of the rooms is individually air-conditioned and contains a flat-screen TV and a minibar. You can enjoy a live-cooking breakfast buffet in the morning and dinner in an à la carte restaurant in the evening.

Book Mainport Hotel Rotterdam here

Enjoy your stay at Mainport Hotel Rotterdam

Have fun at Mainport Hotel Rotterdam

The Slaak Rotterdam, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, Kralingen

A stay in this luxury Rotterdam accommodation offers sophisticated rooms with air-conditioning, a flat-screen TV, and a private bathroom. The Slaak Rotterdam is positioned so that everything is within walking distance of the city centre, and every visit will be an experience because you have everything “at hand.”

Book The Slaak Rotterdam here

Relax and unwind at The Slaak Rotterdam, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel

Have a great time at The Slaak Rotterdam, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel

1.4 Design-lovers

The city of creative art and innovative building design is the perfect place to be visited by a traveller like you. What makes Rotterdam the place to be are the museums like Boijmans Van Beuningen which is packed with the best art, and Het Nieuwe Instituut – an ode to architecture, digital culture, and layout.

Kop van Zuid

Many public art installations will impress you, in addition to significant spots to visit: The Telecom building, Luxor Theater, the waterfront promenade Wilhelminapier, Erasmus Bridge, and the fascinating De Rotterdam complex built in unique architecture.

Lijnbaan

This shopping street in Rotterdam offers public art displays, many cafes and restaurants, innovative architecture to enjoy, and an opportunity to explore and get more info about the crossway of commerce, urban planning, and design.

Handpicked accommodations for the design lover

Hotel New York, Kop van Zuid

Hotel New York is the only hotel in which you can stay exclusively in Rotterdam. It used to be the head office of the Holland America line and now offers uniquely shaped and coloured rooms. The ground floor exposes a cafe-restaurant and à la carte dinner. Furthermore, such an elegant hotel also provides a book and a gift shop.

Book Hotel New York here

Private room at Hotel New York

Have a pleasant stay at Hotel New York

Hilton Rotterdam, Lijnbaan

Panoramic view from the room and even minutes away from the Rotterdam Central Station sounds like an impossible thing, but remember we’re talking about a Hilton Hotel. The lodging is equipped with many commodities and entertainment. There is a special service tailored for Chinese travellers, and the JAQ restaurant, decorated with street art and velvet, offers an all-day dining experience.

Book Hilton Rotterdam here

Make yourself at home at Hilton Rotterdam Enjoy your time at Hilton Rotterdam

1.5 Groups

Rotterdam’s diversity is an excellent choice when travelling with a group, offering plenty to see, visit, and enjoy. Architecture and art are just as important as strolling and exploring the great neighbourhoods of the city.

City Center (Centrum)

Everything is at your disposal in this area of the city. There are Markthal, Cube Houses, Old Harbour, a bit of shopping, visiting museums, dining and nightlife, and many guided tours if you want to join for a great adventure of Rotterdam.

Kralingen

This is such a wonderful place to visit with a group! You can explore the place with a boat tour at Kralingen Lake and later enjoy one of the cafes or restaurants.

The Kralingse Bos Park is a nice, urban place for walks and other outdoor activities, especially the charming garden De Tuin van de Vier Windstreken. Moreover, this place is famous for its flower spreadings that will make you feel relaxed.

Handpicked accommodations for groups

Hotel âme, Centrum

I doubt that you will need more than being settled in the city centre in a nice hotel with rooms that offer a terrace, a flat-screen TV, air-conditioning and a private bathroom. Hotel âme is a great place to stay in Rotterdam for a group because of its great proximity to all the points of interest.

Book Hotel âme here

Experience comfort at Hotel âme

Have a wonderful stay at Hotel âme

The Social Hub Rotterdam, Kralingen

The Social Hub Rotterdam is a bit away from the centre, these student hotel rooms are equipped with a kitchenette and a private bathroom. There is a lounge area and a game room, as well as a bike rental. Nothing is far since you are with a group and can easily walk.

Book The Social Hub Rotterdam here

Enjoy your stay at The Social Hub Rotterdam

Have fun at The Social Hub Rotterdam

1.6 Solo-travelers

When you have to pick where to stay in Rotterdam as a solo adventurer, you are in a position to choose because this city offers a lot to visit or see while strolling at your own pace. Here, you can be alone but never lonely. Enjoy your stay!

City Center (Centrum)

Immerse yourself in this city of diversity and plenty of design, architecture, contemporary period, and creative expression. Find your way to visit the Cube Houses and the Old Harbour, walk along Witte de Withstraat, one of the city’s most vibrant streets, and do some shopping.

The Erasmus Bridge and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen are near, so enjoy the views. Try to find your nightlife place and indulge in the food in some of the restaurants on your way. Whatever choice you make won’t be a mistake.

Witte de Withstraat Area

You will feel the combination of art and heritage of this district. There are many squares and parks around, so you can sit, relax, and observe or attend cultural events. This area transforms into a great nightlife at sunset, so do your best to find a place.

Handpicked accommodations for a solo traveler

King Kong Hostel, Witte de Withstraat Area

The excellent King Kong Hostel comes with a movie lounge, a game room, an espresso bar, and an opportunity to prepare your dish in a fully equipped kitchen. The Central Station is almost 1,4km away, so staying here will be quite an experience.

Book King Kong Hostel here

Relax and unwind at King Kong Hostel

Have a great time at King Kong Hostel

Sparks Hostel, Centrum

Sparks Hostel is close to the Central Station, so any spot that you might want to visit in Rotterdam is near you. Sparks Hostel provides rooms with a shared bathroom and many bars and restaurants at the Witte de Withstraat at only 11 minutes walking distance.

Book Sparks Hostel here

Private room at Sparks Hostel

Have a pleasant stay at Sparks Hostel

1.7 Nightlife Traveler

Rotterdam has a diverse nightlife scene, offering something for everyone, from traditional beer gardens to trendy clubs and bars. So, let’s explore where to stay in Rotterdam if you’re looking to spend some fun time.

Witte de Withstraat Area

The nightlife here is very dynamic. It will meet everyone’s expectations, no matter if you want a casual night out or an immersion in a cultural event. The area presents many places with live music, late-night dining places, clubs, and dance bars.

Oude Haven

Diverse nightlife scene at the Rotterdam charming historic district will make you feel incredible. You can go on a dinner cruise, live music, visit a bar, especially the waterside bars, or simply enjoy a late-night dinner.

Handpicked accommodations for nightlife

Rotterdam’s Coolest Apartment, Witte de Withstraat Area

If you are a night bird, Rotterdam’s Coolest Apartment has two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom is a perfect spot to rest and get ready to enjoy the day.

Book Rotterdam’s Coolest Apartment here

Make yourself at home at Rotterdam's coolest apartment

Enjoy your time at Rotterdam's coolest apartment

Boatapartment Animathor on top location, Oude Haven

Such an amazing place to stay! The Boat Apartment offers a bedroom, a bathroom, a dining area, a TV, a kitchen, and a terrace. There is a balcony as well, so you can enjoy your meal outside. Besides this apartment’s commodity, privacy is on an enviable level as there is a private entrance to boost privacy.

Book Boatapartment Animathor here

Experience comfort at Boatapartment Animathor on top location

Have a wonderful stay at Boatapartment Animathor on top location

1.8 For the Budget Traveler

Rotterdam can be explored even on a tight budget if you plan wisely. With some smart and cost-effective choices, you can enjoy the city’s modern vibes, culture, and composition.

Delfshaven

This place is a blend of history, culture, and the beauty of the harbour area. Remarkably well-preserved historic buildings will attract your attention. The houses are traditional Dutch, and many warehouses are transformed into modern apartments.

The harbour reminds us of those heading to the US from the Delft harbour. However, it is a monumental place worth seeing because of the Pilgrim Fathers’ Church.

Kralingen

This area is famous for its green parks, cultural attractions, events, and lively vibes. You will have plenty to delight in without having to spend a fortune. The park, the lake, and the botanical garden are but a few. Dining can be at a decent cost, and souvenirs can also be at affordable prices. You will enjoy it.

Handpicked accommodations for budget traveler

Galerie Petit Delfshaven, Delfshaven

Galerie Petit Delfshaven is a budget-friendly apartment with lake and garden views, two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a private entrance. It is located only 7km from the Erasmus University.

Book Galerie Petit Delfshaven here

Enjoy your stay at Galerie Petit Delfshaven

Have fun at Galerie Petit Delfshaven

Aurora 2 bedroom Apartment, Kralingen

A spacious, moderately-priced, and cozy apartment in the centre of Rotterdam that offers a kitchen, a TV, and bed linen. The privacy is upgraded with a private entrance.

Book Aurora 2 bedroom Apartment here

Relax and unwind at Aurora 2 bedroom Apartment

Have a great time at Aurora 2 bedroom Apartment

2. Best Neighborhood to Stay in Rotterdam

Each of the suggested places to stay in Rotterdam offers comfortable accommodations, promising a nice stay for whichever type of traveller you may be. Anyhow, you’ll be able to explore different districts and enjoy the charm and vibes of the city, including all its cultural, architectural, and modern attractions.

  • City Center (Centrum)
  • Witte de Withstraat Area
  • Kralingen
  • Oude Haven

3. FAQs

What is the best neighborhood to stay in Rotterdam?

For the best experience in Rotterdam, the City Center (Centrum) stands out as the prime choice. With its vibrant atmosphere, proximity to major attractions like Markthal, Cube Houses, and Erasmus Bridge, along with numerous parks and dining options, it offers a perfect blend of convenience and excitement for visitors.

Where should you not stay in Rotterdam?

While Rotterdam is generally safe, it's advisable to avoid certain areas known for higher crime rates or lack of tourist attractions. One such area is Charlois, located in the southern part of the city. It may not offer as many amenities or attractions for visitors, making it less ideal for accommodation, especially for tourists unfamiliar with the city.

What should I avoid in Rotterdam?

While Rotterdam is a vibrant and welcoming city, visitors should exercise standard safety precautions as they would in any urban environment. Avoid wandering into dimly lit or deserted areas at night, and keep an eye on personal belongings in crowded areas to prevent petty theft. Additionally, be cautious when crossing streets and always follow traffic signals to ensure pedestrian safety.

Where should I stay in Rotterdam for the first time?

For first-time visitors to Rotterdam, the City Center (Centrum) offers the ideal accommodation choice. With its central location, proximity to major landmarks like Markthal and the Erasmus Bridge, as well as easy access to public transportation, staying in the City Center provides a convenient base for exploring the city's attractions and soaking in its vibrant atmosphere.

4. Map + All Sights

We’ll guide you through the diverse districts and accommodations Rotterdam has to offer, ensuring your visit is not only comfortable but also perfectly tailored to your preferences. Whether you seek the charm of historic districts, the modern allure of waterfront views, or the lively atmosphere of bustling city centers, Rotterdam has something for every traveler. 

Let our map lead the way to a memorable stay in this gem. Explore, compare, and book with ease—the best of Rotterdam awaits you.

5. Summary of Where to stay in Rotterdam

According to the research I did while preparing this insightful guide featuring appropriate accommodations and safe districts of the city, you’ll surely have no trouble finding where to stay in Rotterdam! Book your trip, pack your bags, and enjoy!

I truly hope that these tips on where to stay in Rotterdam will be helpful for you. For even more travelling inspiration, discover more amazing destinations on my blog!

Other European Destinations

Before you run off, here are a few more handwritten articles for you. These will help you to find more unique experiences and enjoy your holidays at fullest.

Any Questions?

There you have it. I hope you have no questions and found your home in my home town.

However, please remember: I am not perfect, and it is likely I missed a few things to point out.

Therefore: Do you have questions? Is anything not clear?

Please please please drop me a comment below with your email! I will reply to you ASAP via email and here in the comments.

In fact, your questions help me to make this article better. So I help you to help me.

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