As if the world doesn’t talk about summer enough. Well, we’re going to talk about it some more! Today, we’ll be answering all the questions that you are dying to ask if you’re in and around Rotterdam.
Are there outdoor pools in Rotterdam? What are the best parks to visit? Can I take a boat trip around the city? Where are the best places to drink? Is there a beach near Rotterdam? We’ve got you covered!
So, without further adieu, here are 6 things to do in Rotterdam in the summer. Your park-beach-swimmin’-drinkin’-cruisin’ prayers have all been answered:
1. Go to the Rotterdam Summer Carnival
One of the biggest festivals to ever happen in Rotterdam is Rotterdam Unlimited (July 26 to 30). Taking place basically everywhere in the city, you can enjoy art, dance to some amazing tunes, and take over the streets!
There’s a festival within a festival on the last two days of the Summer Carnival, which finishes with a street parade of more than 2,500 dancers and 25 carnival groups! So, if you’ve missed the first few days, then make sure to hop on the last of the carnival’s festivities and get your groove on!
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A carnival dedicated to celebrating the cultural diversity of the city, this is one of the best days to visit Rotterdam. Did you know that there are 174 different cultures that make Rotterdam the amazing, multi-cultural city it is?
The Summer Carnival in Rotterdam is a great time to bring all of these cultures together so that everyone can understand and enjoy the different cultural expressions of the Rotterdammers.
The program for the carnival is vast and diverse. There is going to be live music, dance, theatre, art, and so much more — but the best part? Getting a little taste of the Brazilian parade. The Summer Carnival’s parade show is a highlight that no one should miss.
2. Go to Hoek van Holland to go beaching
Ok, so technically, this isn’t INSIDE of Rotterdam. It’s considered Rotterdam-territory, and it’s pretty damn close if you’re looking to soak up some of that Dutch sun by the sea.
Hoek van Holland is only a 30-minute drive away from the centre, and you can catch a train straight to the beach from Centraal Station! Super handig! (Super convenient!) 😉
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It has a beautiful sandy beach with restaurants, bars, shops, and nature — basically everything you could want from a beach.
You’re also never too far away from a boat, seeing as you can get a clear view of the Rotterdam port from the shore. You can watch the ships go by as you tan yourself up or are brave enough to enter the cold (oh, so cold) sea.
It also doesn’t get quite as busy as some of the other popular beaches in the Netherlands, such as Scheveningen, so that’s always a bonus!
3. Take a cruise around the port and go boating
Since Rotterdam is surrounded by water, there’s only one thing to do. BOAT TRIP! Not quite the same as a quiet, slow cruise along the canals, but unique in its own way.
You can take a tour all around Rotterdam’s mighty harbour with Spido, complete with outside seats and a bar which serves food and drinks (alcohol too). So, if it’s a lovely sunny day out, take this opportunity to enjoy some wind in your hair with a beer in your hand.
If you’re on the lookout for a different tour in the city, there’s also a thing called the Splashtours bus, which is literally a bus on land that can float in the water.
What’s special about the Splashtours bus is that you can explore Rotterdam’s many attractions from both the land and the sea simultaneously!
While it’s definitely fascinating, it does look incredibly weird from the outside when you see it in the water. So, you can expect a few head-turns riding around in that thing. 😬
Still not for you? Well, to offer some more flexibility, there’s also a water taxi you can take across Rotterdam. And let’s not forget to mention the cruises Rotterdam provides for those looking to enjoy some summertime fun in another country!
See, there are plenty of choices when it comes to boating. Who needs a canal, eh?
4. Go picnicking in the park
Rotterdam has tons of beautiful parks with a relaxing vibe — and what’s synonymous with parks? Picnics, of course! 😊
One of the more popular parks is ‘Het Park’, which is located on the edge of the city’s centre near the Euromast.
It has lots of green space, lakes, and nature — and it’s reasonably quiet in the sense that you can grab a nice spot on the grass and enjoy a good picnic under the sun without being overcrowded by people.
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After work, expect to find folks stripping down into their bikinis to grab the last bit of evening sunshine at the park.
If you’re looking to explore other great parks in the area, then these are essential to know: Zuiderpark, Kralingse Bos, Vroesenpark and Museumpark.
Kralingse Bos is by far the most popular, and you can definitely see why when you visit. There is so much to do, and it’s so nicely laid out.
Zuiderpark is a hidden gem that not many know about unless you live in that area. It’s actually the size of 430 football fields, so it’s pretty impressive! 👌
5. Go swimming in an outside pool… on a cruise ship!
While Rotterdam isn’t exactly a city known for having outdoor swimming pools, it does possess a place where you can get your feet wet or bring your kids to have a splash about. What are we talking about here? Oh right, the SS Rotterdam!
If you’re after something unique and want to have a quick dip with access to food and drinks, then this is your place. It’s free too!
There’s a small pool on the outside deck at the end of the ship. Of course, this won’t be the place to practice for the Olympics, but it’s better than nothing, I suppose. (If you don’t mind sitting in your bikini with a hoard of people drinking beer around you.)
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Are you looking for places to go indoor swimming in the city? Rotterdam has some of the best in the Netherlands. Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or just looking for a quick dip, you can surely enjoy some of the city’s pools during the summer.
Don’t forget to check out how to get swimming lessons in the Netherlands before you go!
6. Go drinking on a rooftop bar
Rotterdam has lots of outside space to grab some delicious food or have a couple of cocktails — but the most popular one is Witte de Withstraat (dang, talk about a tongue twister 😜). Here’s where you can sit outside and indulge in the many different bars and restaurants all along the street.
However, Rotterdam also has a variety of amazing rooftop bars. You know, with it being the skyscraper city and all that.
Rooftop bars, such as “STROOM”, means that you can enjoy your summer evenings literally feeling on top of the world. The best part is that they are so easily accessible and usually a stone’s throw away from a station or metro.
So, if you’re looking for somewhere to wind down after a stressful day at work, or want to impress a few guests, then you know where to go!
Well, there you have it! 6 very summery things to do in Rotterdam during the sunny holiday period. The perfect way to get your summer fix! (Personally, I vote number six because I turn into a raging alcoholic the minute the sun comes out. It’s the Brit in me.)
Do you have any other suggestions on things to do in Rotterdam in the summer? Let us know in the comments below! 👇
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in July 2018, and was fully updated in July 2022 for your reading pleasure.