Free things to do in Rotterdam
Rotterdam is coming up in the world. Having made it into the top 10 ranking of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2016, the city is attracting loads of visitors and with good reason; it has lots to offer.
Rotterdam is known for its modern architecture like the block houses and of course, these are free to admire. During the Architecture Day (Dag van de Architectuur), usually in June, various interesting buildings in Rotterdam open their doors to the public, allowing visitors to admire them from the inside for free.
Then there is also European Heritage Days (Open Monumentendag), where the public is invited to look inside Rotterdam’s monuments around September time.
If you like the maritime atmosphere that Rotterdam has to offer then there are a few things you can do for free like the Harbour Museum (Havenmuseum), and the SS Rotterdam, the former steamship, which has a lovely café terrace overlooking the Nieuwe Maas.
Alternatively, if you just feel like wandering then there’s the Groene Massoevers or on the opposite side of the Erasmus bridge, you’ll find Wilhelmina Pier where all the cruise ships arrive and depart from.
Art and culture
During Rotterdam Museum Night many museums in Rotterdam open their doors to the public but Rotterdam also has a number of public art pieces on display across the city including the oldest statue of the Netherlands to more modern pieces of work by Rodin, Willem de Kooning, and Joep van Lieshout, to name but a few.
Got a day to fill? You could go on a Rotterdam public art scavenger hunt. We won’t lie; some might impress you, whilst others may definitely not.
Parks and sport
Rotterdam is home to many parks that are free, often with plenty to do being equipped with workout stations or climbing structures. One of the most famous parks is literally called Het Park in the centre, which has lots of trails and ponds and often hosts festivals during summer.
There are free tennis courts amongst other sports facilities at ZuiderPark, the largest urban park in the Netherlands, including canoeing, a petting zoo, as well as hiking and biking along its trails. Museumpark is surrounded by six museums and Kralingse Bos is known for its lake and has been nominated best public space in the Netherlands several times.
Vroesenpark has picnic and barbecue facilities, a fishpond, a sport boot-camp spot, and more recently, a pavilion for festivals. Park Schoonoord is over 300 years old and includes many rare plants and trees. Arboretum Trompenburg is a beautiful botanical garden on the edge of the city in Kralingen.
And last but not least, Dakpark, the largest rooftop park in Europe. The park is one kilometre long and situated on top of a shopping centre between Delfshaven and Schiemond. It has a large Mediterranean garden, children’s playground, a restaurant, water fountain and green grazing areas for rabbits. On Sunday mornings, you can even do yoga there!
Children get free entry at the Puppet Theater on Binnenwegplein. Rotterdam also has eight children’s farms (kinderboerderijen) including De Kraal, De Molenwei, De Bokkesprong, De Kooi, De Wilgenhoof, De Blijde Wei, De Oedenstee and De Beestenboel, and many playgrounds plotted all around the city, which are also free.
Rotterdam has loads of events and festivals on throughout the year, particularly in summer, and the best thing about them is that many of them are free. From the iconic, never-to-be-missed Summer Carnival to World Port Days, to numerous music festivals that stretch across all genres from Pop, Dance, Classic, Jazz, R&B and Latin. Of course, if you are willing to spend some money, there’s always the infamous North Sea Jazz Festival.
There are many other free expat-friendly summer events in the Netherlands, not only in Rotterdam, but also in various other Dutch cities.
Why should you get one? Well, the simple truth is that things will be a lot cheaper and many things are even gratis if you get the Rotterdam Pass. Boasting over 750 things to do in Rotterdam, the pass offers you a few free movies, free entry to the pool, the Euromast, the Spido and even a gym class. It also gives you free, unlimited access to museums in Rotterdam, The Hague and Delft. Not a bad deal at all!
If that wasn’t enough, there are hundreds of other offers including discounts on zoos and animal parks like the Rotterdam Zoo, Plaswijckpark and countless theme parks. Occasionally, you also get to join in on workshops.
Getting a little peckish? The Rotterdam pass has that covered too. You get to try a free ice cream or coffee, and then there’s a very long list of other treats at a discount.
The pass does come at a cost of 60 euros, but you’ll easily make the money back if you just make use of the free stuff. It’s 12,50 for children up to and including 17 years, and if you’re a senior citizen or a student, you’re eligible for a discount. Retirees pay 20 euros and students 12,50 for adults for the whole year. For low-income families, it’s free for children and only five euros.
The pass is only valid from March to March of each year, but it is possible to extend it. To get one, you need to be a resident of Rotterdam and will, therefore, need your DigiD to order.
Non-residents can still enjoy the free activities listed above, but if they are looking for the deals they should enquire with their local council to see if their city has an equivalent pass.