Welcome to the host city of 2021 WPFG: Rotterdam.

Rotterdam is mostly known as one of the world’s largest ports (it is the largest in Europe), its beautiful skyline, and the new architecture. It is the second largest city in the Netherlands. Rotterdam is young and dynamic and always on the move. It has drive and creativity to spare and is always up for any challenge. Rotterdam is a cultural melting pot, the 173 different nationalities represented in the city contribute to an open, cosmopolitan atmosphere.

In 2016, Lonely Planet awarded the “Best in Travel 2016” accolade to Rotterdam. Lonely Planet mentioned Five Reasons to Visit Rotterdam: Architecture, Art & Design, Flourishing Food Scene, Nightlife and Designer Digs. Rough Guides ranked Rotterdam in the Top 10 cities and highly recommends a trip to Rotterdam. The City of Rotterdam also made the New York Times top 10 in the list of 52 Places to Go in 2014. In November 2014, Rotterdam was awarded the title European City of the Year 2015 by the International Academy of Urbanism.

Rotterdam regularly wins awards. The Rotterdam Central Train Station has won some international awards such as the Living Daylights Awards (2014) and the prestigious international Brunel Award (category train stations) (2014). It has also won a few national awards such as the Houtarchitectuurprijs (2014) and the Nationale Staalprijs (2014).

History of Rotterdam

The city was founded in 1270 and was granted city rights in 1340.The people of Rotterdam were vigorous and hardworking; trade and shipping flourished and new docks were built, feeding the rapid growth of the city. The New Waterway canal was dug between 1866 and 1872, creating an open connection between the River Maas and the sea. The town of Delfshaven – birthplace of the seventeenth-century naval hero Piet Hein and home to the harbour where the Pilgrim Fathers set off for America – then became part of Rotterdam and the city gradually developed into a world port.

On 14 May 1940, during the Second World War, almost the entire city centre was destroyed by a bombing attack. Having been bombed flat during WWII, Rotterdam quickly transformed itself and sprouted a flurry of modern buildings, cementing itself as an architecturally trailblazing city.

Architecture in Rotterdam

After the bombings in 1940, the city centre had to be rebuilt. Rotterdam still has its original City Hall and the Laurenskerk church, but other than that there are not many “old” buildings. Rotterdam is now known for its special brand of architecture. You’ll find some examples below.

An overhaul of Rotterdam Central Train Station, completed in March 2014 to cope with a significant rise in the number of passengers, has already led to a new shop-lined pedestrian passageway. The stunning revamp of the Central Station when viewed from the north aspect has a modest transparent glass front while the south entrance has a striking slanted roof with the original clock and station sign.

The massive, cavernous tube-shaped arch of the Market Hall Rotterdam is best known for its container-clogged port and has become the Netherlands’ first indoor food hall. It opened its doors in October 2014 and has already become Rotterdam’s biggest attraction. The Market Hall consists of a 40m-tall arc full of residential apartments covering the market square with over 100 stalls selling fresh products, as well as restaurants and cooking classes.
The Van Nelle Factory (Van Nellefabriek), a former coffee, tea and tobacco factory, was built between 1925 and 1931 and is considered an icon of 20th-century industrial architecture. The factory was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 2014.

Named after one of the original ships (such as the SS Rotterdam which has found its permanent berth near Hotel New York) belonging to the historic Holland America Line, ‘De Rotterdam’ was completed in 2013, becoming the Netherlands biggest building. It houses the Nhow hotel, restaurants, offices and residencies in its three stacked building-block towers. This “vertical city” is designed in a way that if you view it from a different part of the city, it will take on a new shape and identity.

Events in Rotterdam

In the past Rotterdam has hosted many sports events such as the Euro 2000 (European Football Championships), European Police Championships Football (2002), Judo World Championships (2009), Grand Départ of the Tour de France (2010), Gymnastics World Championships (2010), the EuroGames (2011), Table Tennis World Championships (2011), World Championships BMX (2014), The European University Games (2014) and the Tour de France second course (2015). It was also the co-host for the European Championships Beach Volleyball (2015) and the host for the European Championships Volleyball (2015), World Championships Rowing (2016) and the World Championships Short Track (2017).

Rotterdam regularly wins awards. The Rotterdam Central Train Station has won some international awards such as the Living Daylights Awards (2014) and the prestigious international Brunel Award (category train stations) (2014). It has also won a few national awards such as the Houtarchitectuurprijs (2014) and the Nationale Staalprijs (2014).
The city has a number of annually recurring events such as the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Ahoy (ATP 500-tournament), the Rotterdam Marathon and the Six Days Cycling Event. Rotterdam is not only doing well when it comes to sports, its cultural festivals are also a big part of the city. Annually recurring festivals and events are the Port of Rotterdam North Sea Jazz Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Rotterdam Unlimited (former Dunya Festival and Summer Carnival), Metropolis and the World Port Days (Wereldhavendagen). You can safely say that Rotterdam is a truly eventful city. The city has been acknowledged for this several times. Rotterdam was named Cultural Capital of Europe in 2001, European Capital of Sports in 2005, World Festival & Event City in 2010, and IFEA World Festival & Event City 2015.

Rotterdam Welcome Card and public transport

The Rotterdam Welcome Card is the key for a successful visit to Rotterdam. This discount card offers:
- 1, 2 or 3 days of unlimited use on public transport by RET (metro, tram, bus) with the OV-Chipkaart
- 25% discount at over 50 sites such as museums, restaurants and night spots


The OV-chip card (chipkaart) is the currency for public transport in the Netherlands. If you have an OV-chip card, you don’t need to remember to buy a ticket every time you step aboard a train or bus. You can put credit on the card for one trip, for a few trips, or for the route you’re taking for a longer period of time.

The OV-chip card that comes with the Rotterdam Welcome Card allows unlimited travelling by metro, tram and bus in the city. Depending on your type of card, it is valid for one, two or three days. You always need to check in and check out to validate your card; you risk a fine if you don’t.