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Rotterdam vs Amsterdam: What’s the Difference?

Rotterdam, Netherlands, city skyline at twilight.

If you plan on visiting the Netherlands, you may wonder about the differences between Rotterdam and Amsterdam. These very different cities each have their draws, which can make it difficult to decide which one to visit.

There is a long-standing rivalry between the Dutch capital of Amsterdam and the major port city of Rotterdam. This rivalry dates back to the 13th century when the two cities were granted city status.

So if you’re wondering whether to visit Rotterdam or Amsterdam, we’ll help you understand the similarities and differences between these great Dutch cities.

Why Visit Rotterdam?

Rotterdam, Netherlands, city skyline at twilight.
SeanPavonePhoto / Adobe Stock

Rotterdam is a major port city located in the province of South Holland. Located an hour southwest of Amsterdam, Rotterdam is a trendy yet family-friendly city. The popular city is a fun destination for all ages with contemporary architecture, excellent shopping, great nightlife, numerous attractions, and diverse cuisine.

Rotterdam is a very modern city with a unique architectural landscape, as much of the city was demolished during World War II. So, unlike many European cities, Rotterdam has many modern skyscrapers dotting the sky.

Rotterdam Architecture Highlights Walking Tour
Architecture Highlights Walking Tour in Rotterdam/ Viator

One of the most popular ways to see and appreciate Rotterdam’s architecture is the Architecture High lights Walking Tour, which takes you to the Erasmus Bridge (designed by Ben Van Berkel), the Rotterdam Central Station, the Markthal, and the Lijnban. Or, if you’d rather enjoy the skyline from the Maas River, this harbor cruise is an awesome way to experience Rotterdam!

If you like architecture, you’ll love visiting Rotterdam’s cube houses (Kubuswoningen), an interesting residential development. These unique homes are tilted 45 degrees on their sides to make the most of the space. You can also stay in one of the cube homes at the Stayokay Hostel Rotterdam.

National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The city offers many tourist attractions that make Rotterdam worth visiting. Near the city center, visitors will find museums like the Maritime Museum, which showcases the city’s seafaring history, and the Municipal Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, one of the city’s most impressive art museums, with works from Rembrandt to Rothko. You can also visit the Wereldmuseum Rotterdam to learn about cultures around the world.

There are many family-friendly attractions in Rotterdam, from the Euromast (if you’re not afraid…

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