When it comes to a city break in the Netherlands, many people plump straight for Amsterdam but it's far from the only option to consider with Rotterdam being a fine alternative.
Located around an hour south of the capital, Rotterdam is a dynamic and vibrant city that is constantly evolving, and which is rich in architecture and design.
Although suitable for a visit any time of the year, the winter months can be particularly chilly, with many people preferring to visit during the height of summer.
Then, there is the opportunity to not only explore the sights, but also to catch one of the many festivals that takes place every year - such as the popular North Sea Jazz Festival.
Having undergone heavy attacks in the Second World War, Rotterdam lacks some of the old historic buildings that you might encounter in other destinations, but that doesn't need to make it any less appealing.
Take a trip to the city and you'll find some of the most impressive Dutch architecture of recent times, from the iconic Markthal to the Erasmus Bridge that links the city together, and from the Euromast to the unique Cube Houses.
Rotterdam has plenty of dining and entertainment options on an evening alongside several large shopping areas where you can expect to find everything from local market stalls to designer boutiques offering the best designer gear.
Whilst it might not have been the first city that springs to mind for a quick break overseas, Rotterdam is certainly one you won't regret visiting.
The Cube Houses in Rotterdam might only date back to the 1980s, but they have already become some of the most iconic structures in the city. The work of architect Piet Blom, the Cube Houses were designed to resemble an abstract forest, with the main living area of each house sitting atop a ‘trunk’ below. One of the Cube Houses contains a museum that provides the chance to see what life within one of the unique houses is like.
If you want to embrace the views across Rotterdam from above, then a trip to the Euromast is a must. The concrete tower was built in the late 1950s and houses an observation platform that sits more than 100 metres above ground and a rotating glass elevator that goes even higher. There is also a restaurant where you can enjoy dining whilst admiring some of the best views in the city.
The Markthal is a large market hall complex that opened in Rotterdam in 2014. The unique design sees the market sit underneath a complex of apartments and retail units, with a huge array of different stalls selling all manner of goods. You’ll also find various restaurants on site.
Hoek van Holland
The Hook of Holland sits near to Rotterdam and can be accessed with ease from the city. Often overlooked by those who prefer to stay within the city limits, the Hook of Holland is home to an impressive stretch of beach as well as expansive sand runes where you can relax and take things easy at leisure.
The Hague is the place where the Dutch cabinet is based and is worth a visit whilst on a trip to Rotterdam, with the opportunity to marvel at some of the most impressive architecture in the Netherlands. The Binnenhof is certainly one to visit as one of the oldest Houses of Parliament in the world.
Animal lovers will enjoy the opportunity to pay a visit to Diergaarde Blijdorp, which is one of the oldest zoos in the Netherlands. The award-winning park is home to all manner of different species from across the world, and operates around 70 different breeding programmes to aid conservation. There is also an aquarium and botanical gardens on site.
Fenix Food Factory
The Fenix Food Factory isn’t large but the saying goes that good things come in small packages. The food hub is located in a former warehouse and is a great place to visit if you want to sample a range of different artisanal products – including fruit and vegetables, meats and beers.
The Arboretum Trompenburg is a botanical garden within Rotterdam that is home to a varied collection of different plants and offers the chance to embrace some green space in the heart of the city. Professional guides are on hand to give you the opportunity to make the most of your visit.