We all know the Dutch are careful with their money, always trying to get the most out of their spending. Seriously, what’s better than gratis? Nothing! As they say, the best things in life are free. So if you’re looking to enjoy Rotterdam, you may as well do it the Dutch way: gratis! There are plenty of free activities to do in Rotterdam, but here are just seven of them to get you started.
1. Rotterdam Parks
This one is obvious enough, no? Rotterdam has some lovely parks spread around the city and they’re all definitely worth a visit. Especially when it’s nice weather out, there’s nothing much that can beat a good day at the park. The city’s largest parks are the Kralingse Plas, Vroesenpark, and the creatively named Het Park.
Kralingse Plas is known for its lake, which even has a little beach where visitors swim, relax, and enjoy the Dutch summer. Het Park, on the other hand, is right next to the Euromast and includes plenty of open grassy areas, as well as a few ponds, and small canals. All in all, it makes you forget you’re in the middle of a city. Vroenspark provides many of the same amenities as the others, but it’s located in the north-west of the city, not far from the Blijdorp Zoo.
2. Keeping art Free in Rotterdam: Kunstavond in the Witte de Withkwartier
Witte de With street is probably one of city’s largest attractions. Filled with an array of wonderful bars, restaurants, and museums, it’s no wonder it’s always busy. To make it even better, though, is that every Friday, from 18:00-21:00, the street hosts Kunstavond.
Kunstavond is a weekly art evening during which the art venues of Witte de With open theirs doors…for free! That’s right, for three hours per week, you can freely explore some of the best exhibitions in the city at absolutely no cost. MAMA, TENT Rotterdam, WORM Rotterdam, V2_Lab for the Instable Media, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art and CBK Rotterdam are all free to visit and there’s even a free guided tour if you want. Check out the Facebook page for more.
3. Het Havenmuseum (The Harbour Museum)
Rotterdam was birthed as a port city, and so it shouldn’t be surprise to see that there’s a harbour museum. Located in the Leuvehaven, a harbour near the Erasmusbridge, the harbour museum is completely free of charge!
Focused on showing the harbour’s activities between 1850 and 1970, the harbour museum consists of a collection of ship parts and even refurbished ships that you can explore. The Leuvenhaven also still maintains old cranes that help keep the harbour in its original state. If you’re there in summer, you may also be able to take a short cruise on one of the old ships!
4. Festivals that are Free in Rotterdam
There are a ton of festivals in Rotterdam, especially during summer. Better yet, a lot of them are free! One of the biggest is Rotterdam Unlimited. For 5 days at the end of July, Rotterdam Unlimited presents art, music, dance, and much more across 8 locations in the city. The last two days of it are even reserved for the Summer Carnival, which is a spectacle in and of itself. Of course, it finishes with the massive annual street parade that includes more than 2,500 dancers and 25 carnival groups!
If that’s not enough, here’s a whole list of other free festivals to visit:
- Roparun 2017
- Rotterdam Bluegrass Festival
- Sao Jao Festiva
- Eendracht Festival
- Baroeg Open Air
- Metropolis Festival
5. World Harbour Days
The World Harbour Days are in the beginning of September and essentially exist to celebrate the status of Rotterdam as a world port city. Each year brings brings fireworks, performances, a massive boat parade, and a bunch more activities. It’s definitely a blast and, of course, free of charge!
In 2011, the idea for the Luchtsingel won the stadsinitiatief award in Rotterdam and thus, after a few years of construction, 390m long walking bridge now connects Rotterdam North to the center. The wooden bridge, painted mostly in yellow, spans from the Biergarten next to the Schieblock to the Station Hofplein in Noord and also includes a connection to Pompenburg.
It’s a lovely bridge to walk on and its elevation provides some nice views of the surrounding area. Many of the planks were also paid for by citizens and sponsors, so you can see their names engraved along the way. Not to mention that it’s connection between to the Schieblock and Station Hofplein will bring you to some places of interest already.
7. Rotterdam Pass: Getting More for Free in Rotterdam
The Rotterdam Pass isn’t actually free, but if you’re a citizen of Rotterdam, then it’s a perfect gateway into a whole new array of gratis fun. While it’s only sold to Rotterdam residents, the Rotterdam Pass provides an incredible array of free activities and significant discounts. In total, there are more than 750 discounted or free activities the card offers.
Although it costs at least 60 euros to get (renewable each year), you get free entry to almost every museum in Rotterdam. The Trompenburg Tuinen & Arboretum, Euromast, Boijmans van Beuningen, Kunsthal, Fotomuseum, Wereldmuseum, and the Maritime Museum are just a few of the places you’ll gain free entry to. You can also get a free movie viewing at Pathe, Cinerama, and Lantarenvenster, a free round of minigolf at Parkhaven, and a session of lasergaming at Lasergame Rotterdam. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
Unfortunately it’s only for those living in Rotterdam, but if you’re a resident, it’s surely worth it.
Of course, if none of that catches your eye, or if you’ve already exhausted all those activities and you’re still looking for more, than just go explore! There’s much more to see in Rotterdam than initially meets the eye, so just go out on an adventure. There’s a lot more free in Rotterdam than only the things mentioned on this list. You might just come across the Sculpture Route, Leeszaal, Floating Forest, or the many public works of art. Hell, it’s all worth it just to see good old Kabouter Buttplug (Well, the actual name of the statue is Santa Claus and apparently he’s actually holding a Christmas tree…)