Pernis: Rotterdam's unique industrial village

Pernis: Rotterdam's unique industrial village

Photo credit: Peter Schmidt. 
Pernis is an industrial district in the southwestern part of Rotterdam, characterized by its village-like charm, close-knit community, and unique blend of urban and rural living. The district offers a distinctive experience for those seeking a quieter retreat within the city.

History

Pernis was established as a separate village in the 13th century and was later incorporated into Rotterdam. The area has since developed into a thriving industrial district, boasting a strong community spirit and a rich history.

Landmarks and Attractions

Notable landmarks in Pernis include the historic St. Odulphus Church, the picturesque village centre, and the Pernisse Hoed, a traditional Dutch windmill. The district also offers a variety of leisure facilities, including sports centres and community centres.

Housing Market

The housing market in Pernis offers a diverse range of options, from traditional Dutch homes to modern flats. Property prices and rental rates in the district are generally more affordable compared to other areas in Rotterdam, making it an attractive option for those seeking budget-friendly accommodations.

Shopping and Entertainment

Pernis features a variety of local shops, markets, and boutiques, catering to the needs of residents. The district also offers a range of leisure activities, including cultural events, outdoor recreation, and community gatherings.

Going Out

The dining scene in Pernis is diverse, with numerous restaurants, cafés, and bars offering a wide range of cuisines. From local eateries to international dining experiences, there's something for everyone to enjoy in this unique district.

Prins Alexander: Rotterdam's vast and diverse district

Prins Alexander: Rotterdam's vast and diverse district

Photo credit: Amanda de Jong Bouwens. 

Prins Alexander is the largest district in Rotterdam, known for its diverse attractions, beautiful parks, and a wide range of housing options. The district offers a unique blend of urban living and scenic green spaces, making it a popular destination for residents and visitors alike.

History

Prins Alexander was established in the 20th century as a residential and commercial area in Rotterdam. Over the years, the district has undergone significant development, evolving into a dynamic and multicultural community.

Landmarks and Attractions

Notable landmarks in Prins Alexander include the iconic Alexandrium Shopping Center, the scenic Kralingse Plas, and the beautiful parks such as the Prinsenpark. The district also offers a variety of leisure facilities, including sports centers and community centers.

Housing Market

The housing market in Prins Alexander offers a diverse range of options, from modern apartment buildings to traditional Dutch row houses. Property prices and rental rates in Prins Alexander are generally more affordable compared to other districts in Rotterdam, making it an attractive option for those seeking budget-friendly accommodations.

Shopping and Entertainment

Prins Alexander features a variety of shopping opportunities, from local markets to shopping centers like the Alexandrium. The district also hosts numerous festivals and events throughout the year, adding to its vibrant atmosphere.

Going Out

The dining scene in Prins Alexander is diverse, with numerous restaurants, cafes, and bars offering a wide range of cuisines. From local eateries to international dining experiences, there's something for everyone to enjoy in this dynamic district.

Rozenburg: Rotterdam's tranquil island getaway

Rozenburg: Rotterdam's tranquil island getaway

Photo credit: Guido Pijper. 
Rozenburg is a tranquil island district in the southwestern part of Rotterdam, known for its rich history, beautiful parks, and friendly community. The district offers a unique blend of urban living and a village-like atmosphere, making it a popular destination for residents and visitors alike.

History

Rozenburg was established as a separate village in the 19th century and was later incorporated into Rotterdam. The area has since developed into a charming residential district with a strong sense of community.

Landmarks and Attractions

Notable landmarks in Rozenburg include the historic Rozenburg Windmill, the picturesque village center, and the beautiful parks such as the Rozenburg Park. The district also offers a variety of leisure facilities, including sports centers and community centers.

Housing Market

The housing market in Rozenburg offers a diverse range of options, from charming historic homes to modern apartments. Property prices and rental rates in the district tend to be more affordable compared to other areas in Rotterdam, making it an attractive option for those seeking budget-friendly accommodations.

Shopping and Entertainment

Rozenburg features a variety of local shops, markets, and boutiques, catering to the needs of residents. The district also offers a range of leisure activities, including cultural events, outdoor recreation, and community gatherings.

Going Out

The dining scene in Rozenburg is diverse, with numerous restaurants, cafes, and bars offering a wide range of cuisines. From cozy bistros to elegant dining establishments, there's something for everyone to enjoy in this charming district.

Delfshaven - the old, historic part of Rotterdam

Delfshaven - the old, historic part of Rotterdam

Don't be fooled by the fancy modern architecture and by catchy nicknames like “Manhattan on the Meuse.” Rotterdam has an old and stunningly beautiful part of town. Only it is not in the city centre as you might expect – for grim reasons.
 

Delfshaven: The old part of town

When in Rotterdam, you never ask about the old part of town. Especially not if you are German. Rotterdam’s city centre was nearly levelled in May 1940, killing almost 900 people and making 85,000 homeless in the German bombing of Rotterdam, also known as the Rotterdam Blitz. After hardly any buildings were left in the historic centre and most of the canals were filled with rubble from the demolished houses, the city started to reinvent itself.
 
The city inhabitants filled up the remaining canals with rubble too and built their metropolis on the resulting plain. The phoenix-like rise from the ashes gave way to more creativity and exciting architecture than visible in many other cities in the Netherlands.

However, should you still wonder about what the old historic centre might have looked like, there is one street that has survived the attacks and gives a good impression. It’s in Delfshaven. You can get there by Metro or tram from the central station, and, of course, you can just bike there. The street you want to start on is Albrechtskolk, later turning into Voorhaven.

Main attractions in Delfshaven

The main attractions in Delfshaven include: 

Historic Streets

Delfshaven is one of the few areas in Rotterdam that wasn't bombed during World War II, so it retains its old-style architecture. Walking through its quaint streets, you'll find numerous beautiful houses, many of which now hold little art shops.

Old drawing bridge leading up to Pilgrims church 📷 Anna SoetensOld drawing bridge leading up to Pilgrims church 📷 Anna Soetens

Pilgrim Fathers Church (Pelgrimvaderskerk)

The Pilgrim Fathers Church, also known as the Old Church, is a historic Protestant church located in the Delfshaven district of Rotterdam, Netherlands. Its history dates back to 1417 when it was consecrated as the Roman Catholic church of St. Anthony. The church underwent significant changes during the Reformation in 1574 and was later associated with the English Dissenters, who became known as the Pilgrim Fathers. These Pilgrims, after living in Leiden for eleven years, set sail from Delfshaven to America in 1620, praying on the quay near the church before their departure. This event led to the church's third name, the Pilgrim Fathers' Church.

The church's architecture features a bell-shaped gable, a result of a major rebuilding in 1761. Inside, the church has a spacious and light interior with white, plastered arches dividing the nave from the aisles. It also houses a richly carved pulpit from the eighteenth century and stained-glass windows representing the six days of Creation. Today, the church is primarily used by the Reformed Church Delfshaven and serves as a venue for concerts, lectures, weddings, and exhibitions..

Carilion tower of Pilgrims church 📷 Anna SoetensCarilion tower of Pilgrims church 📷 Anna Soetens

De Distillerketel

This is an 18th-century windmill right on the water in Delfshaven. It's an active grain mill used to grind barley, wheat, corn, and teff with traditional processes.

Windmill at the end of Delfshaven 📷 Anna SoetensWindmill at the end of Delfshaven 📷 Anna Soetens

De Pelgrim Brewery

This is Rotterdam’s only brewery, located in one of the historic buildings in Delfshaven. They brew specialty beer using Rotterdam’s water, and several of the dishes they offer are prepared with beer.

Brewery next to Pilgrims church 📷 Anna SoetensBrewery next to Pilgrims church 📷 Anna Soetens

Museum De Delft

This museum provides a window into Delfshaven’s shipbuilding and maritime heritage.

Antique Shops, Galleries, and Gin Bars

Delfshaven is home to a variety of antique shops, art galleries, and gin bars that you can explore.

Knight's armour in the shop window of an antiquarian 📷 Anna SoetensKnight's armour in the shop window of an antiquarian 📷 Anna Soetens

A secret park: De Schat van Schoonderloo

De Schat van Schoonderloo (The Treasure of Schoonderloo) is a charming neighborhood park located in the middle of Schoonderloostraat in Rotterdam. It is open daily until sunset and is managed by local volunteers. Over the years, a group of enthusiastic residents has worked on the realization of De Schat van Schoonderloo, turning it into a gem of a neighborhood park.

De Schat van Schoonderloo is a park maintained by volunteersDe Schat van Schoonderloo is a park maintained by volunteers

The park consists of four gardens: 'by the water', 'near the forest', 'along the street', and 'around the roses'. It was built on the site of the former Petrus Church, which was a sailors' church built in 1928 for the children of the sailors' internment camp in Havenstraat. However, the church was demolished in 1975 and 1976, leaving a large gaping hole known as the “Gap of Schoonderloo”.

In 1997, the municipality wanted to fill the gap with houses, but some residents fought to retain the green designation for the area. In 1999, the Delfshaven District chose to side with the residents and decided to maintain the green designation instead of building houses.


Remember to check the opening hours of these attractions before visiting, as some of them have specific visiting times or days.


 
Entrance view of Albrechtskolk 📷 Anna SoetensEntrance view of Albrechtskolk 📷 Anna Soetens
 
 
One of many inhabited ships on the banks of Delfshaven 📷 Anna SoetensOne of many inhabited ships on the banks of Delfshaven 📷 Anna Soetens
 
Detail of Number 33 📷 Anna SoetensDetail of Number 33 📷 Anna Soetens
 
 

Visit the past

The entrance is framed by somewhat Shakespearean looking houses, seemingly a lot taller and tougher on the canal side than on the street side and the street is still paved with old cobblestones. There are also old bridges left, a windmill and a pilgrim’s church that all go way back. There are small shops and galleries, a few pubs, a brewery, restaurants and cafés.
 
Restaurant ‘t Ouwe Bruggetje 📷 Anna SoetensRestaurant ‘t Ouwe Bruggetje 📷 Anna Soetens
 
 
 

Take your time

It is worth a visit just for the impression it gives you, but there are certainly a few places that will help lengthen your stay if you’re in it for a half-day trip. Get a tour at the windmill, sample the brews from the brewery in their adjunct bar, have a look at the Pelgrimsvaderskerk (Pilgrims Fathers Church) and its cute carillon tower, see De Delft – a replica of an 18th-century warship - lying among the other ships in the canal. And finish by a fancy meal paired with wine at ‘t Ouwe Bruggetje or a coffee and cake at Bij Loes. But most off all, get some inspiration. And take some time to explore the nearby streets, some of which are also (partly) ancient.
 
Side street leading behind the church view 📷 Anna SoetensSide street leading behind the church view 📷 Anna Soetens
 

More historic places

If you are looking for more official and historic houses that have survived the war or have been rebuilt, visit the Sint-Laurenskerk in the city centre, the Schielandshuis Museum, the Wereld Museum Rotterdam or Rotterdam’s City Hall (also with an impressive carillon tower).
Beaches of Rotterdam - best spots for swimming and chilling

Beaches of Rotterdam - best spots for swimming and chilling

Rotterdam, a vibrant cosmopolis known for its largest port in Europe, also boasts a treasure trove of beautiful beaches. Just half an hour away from the city, you can find yourself stepping onto sandy shores, hearing the soothing sound of waves, and feeling the cool sea breeze. Whether you're a surfer chasing the perfect wave, a family looking for a fun day out, or someone who simply wants to relax by the sea, Rotterdam's beaches have something for everyone.

Direct metro to the beach!

As of 31 March 2023, Rotterdam's public transportation network has been significantly enhanced with the opening of the Hoek van Holland Strand metro station. This unique development in the Netherlands' transport infrastructure now allows passengers to travel directly from the heart of the city to the beach via Metro Line B.

The station's location is exceptional, enabling passengers to step directly from the metro onto the beach, a feature that is rare not only in the Netherlands but also globally. This development is set to boost Hoek van Holland's appeal as a year-round seaside destination.

In addition to the Hoek van Holland Strand station, the Hoek van Holland Haven metro station also began operations on the same day. 

Hoek van Holland Strand (Rotterdam Beach)

This one is what’s called the 'Rotterdam Beach' to the people living close by. There are actually two beaches, both officially Hoek van Holland Strand. Or to be more precise, the entire stretch of beach is called like that.

Anyway, the easiest beach to get to – even with public transport – is the closest one to the Maas coming out of Rotterdam. Take the train, metro or car and just follow the signs to Hoek van Holland. It’s also the loudest and most entertainment-oriented beach, especially in the summer. If you like après ski, that’s the place to go to. There are a lot of beach restaurants, some shops and large public toilet facilities. Moreover, if you're coming by car, parking spaces are not a problem here.

Technically you can walk on Rotterdam’s beach all the way up Zandvoort - or even Den Helder if you are willing to take a detour. However, all the beaches have different names or at least belong to different villages and towns. 

Beaches of Rotterdam 📷 Anna SoetensBeaches of Rotterdam 📷 Anna Soetens

Hoek van Holland Strand

This is the second entry to the beach, and it's a little further up the road. Here, it’s a bit quieter, more people with bikes and cars arrive here. There is a guestimate of around 100 parking spots. Locals from Hoek from Holland call it “their” beach.

You will find two beach bars here; one is newly opened and caters to what foods and drinks the average city-dweller is now used to. Even better admittedly.

You will also find two surf schools here. If you take surfing seriously, there is just one place to go to at the whole beach which is Perry’s Surf school. The man personifies surfing and is a great teacher for all ages and so is his daughter. He is even so real about it, when the tide is cold in the Netherlands, he packs up shop and moves to Hawaii or New Zealand.

There is also a children’s play aeroplane, for days when it’s too cold to play with water all the time. Walking to the beach is a flat and straight affair which is why there are quite a few bike stalls to leave your bike.

Beaches of Rotterdam 📷 Anna SoetensBeaches of Rotterdam 📷 Anna Soetens

Nude Beach (Naaktstrand Hoek van Holland)

Next up is the beach for people keen on feeling the sea on every part of their body: the naked beach. It’s not as easily accessible, but that’s probably because there is a more limited number of people wanting to use it. Also, there are no extra facilities like beach clubs etc.
 

's Gravenzande Strand

A nice option (especially when other beaches are too packed). It’s just a little further down the road. There are two very nice beach clubs here too, a small public toilet and many parking facilities. If you want pizza on the beach baked in a proper pizza oven, you must go here. Walking to the beach is going up one dune, down one dune and up the next, so it is a bit hilly. The walk is no longer than 5-10 minutes (depending on your company). It does get hot in the summer in this tiny valley, so make sure you’re equipped for it.

Watch out in the summer if you go by car (and there is hardly another way to get there) though! Do keep €4 in coins with you at all times. You will otherwise not be allowed into the parking lot – no, no cards, no bills, no other options. And do not try to change your money at the pub close to the parking lot. Even if you buy something or have a honking line of cars waiting behind you and a ton of hot, crying children in the car; these people will not help you. So, just make sure you got your coins ready and you’ll be fine.

Beaches of Rotterdam, The Pit 📷 Anna SoetensBeaches of Rotterdam, The Pit 📷 Anna Soetens

The water is easy to access with a long slow slope. It’s ideal for even small children. There are even some shallow but sizable puddles forming on the beaches, so you get shallow water pools that warm up fast in the summer. The water itself has the tendency to be murky and brown. Together with the very industrial backdrop of the harbour, this can take some getting used to. Especially if you have rather more romantic holiday memories of beaches.
 
Beaches of Rotterdam 📷 Anne SoetensBeaches of Rotterdam 📷 Anne Soetens

Surfs up

There is some good surfing to be had for surfers, windsurfers and kite surfers alike. Most of the sea is an option, but Hoek van Holland and the Maasvlakte are most used. However, the rule of thumb is, the better the weather, the calmer the sea.  I don’t mean you should only be going in hail and thunder, but generally grey skies and wind have a higher chance of it being a good surf day. You can always check the surf weather website of your choice or again head over to Perry’s side www.surfschoolhoekvanholland.com just to make sure you’re not just going for a nice meal.

Beaches of Rotterdam 📷 Rotterdam Tourist InformationBeaches of Rotterdam 📷 Rotterdam Tourist Information


 

City beaches

Just to be complete, there are some city beaches in Rotterdam that have nothing to do with the sea. These beaches are on the banks of rivers and lakes.

Kralingse Plas (Kralingen Lake)

If you just want sand on your toes and a bit of water close by you can also go to Kralingseplas (a lake with some wood around) which has a bit of beach. If the algae or birds haven’t claimed the water, you can also go in.

Beaches of Rotterdam 📷 Rosanne DubbeldBeaches of Rotterdam 📷 Rosanne Dubbeld

Kaapsestrand

If you dare to go into the Maas river, there is Kaapsestrand. It's a small city beach on Katendrecht. Don’t go too far in though, or you’ll be swimming with the big ships. The really big ones.

Nesselande

Another great city beach is Nesselande. By metro, this lake is half an hour away from Rotterdam's city centre. Jump off at the Nesselande metro stop. From there, it's a 5 minute walk to the beach. 

Beaches of Rotterdam - Nesselande 📷 Wijkagent Jacques LemsBeaches of Rotterdam - Nesselande 📷 Wijkagent Jacques Lems

Beaches of Rotterdam - NesselandeBeaches of Rotterdam - Nesselande


Photo credit (main header): Iris van den Broek.

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