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Amsterdam Jordaan

5x Amsterdam or Rotterdam. Which city offers what?

Amsterdam Lookout

Amsterdam from a bird’s eye perspective

Both cities I have lived in

Nowadays I live in Amsterdam and I like it a lot. I am not from Amsterdam though, and it’s rather exceptional for Dutchies what I am going to tell you now, but I have lived as well in Rotterdam some years ago, and my mothers’ family is actually from Rotterdam. Reason I know this city very well too! In general people from Rotterdam will never ever move to Amsterdam and vice versa. In my opinion both cities have their own charm. In this blog I tell you why and I will provide you an insight in where to go for what. Just in case you are visiting The Netherlands and you just cannot choose!

Prinsengracht Amsterdam

Prinsengracht Amsterdam

1. Cultural heritage

One thing Amsterdam obviously is famous for is the great UNESCO world heritage in the city center: the canal ring with the beautiful 17th century houses. This is a very beautiful part of Amsterdam and is definitely worth a visit. There is nothing like the canals in Rotterdam, although Rotterdam has some historical parts as well. You can visit for example the Pelgrimvaderskerk in the historical Delfshaven area, or the street Oude Binnenweg and the City Hall in the city center. Rotterdam however is more known for its modern architecture and the immense Port of Rotterdam which I also really like a lot.

Rotterdam Rem Koolhaas

The impressive building Rotterdam by Rem Koolhaas

2. Modern architecture

During WW2 Rotterdam was almost completely destroyed by bombs. This tragic event provided the city the challenge and chances to rebuild itself in a way no other Dutch city ever experienced. Nowadays Rotterdam is a very spacious large city with a lot of impressive buildings and constructions. Once you visit the city, go take a look for example at the Markthal by metro stop Blaak, the Erasmus bridge that crosses the river Maas, The Rotterdam by Rem Koolhaas and from there walk further towards Hotel New York for a high tea! Actually Hotel New York isn’t a piece of contemporary achitecture, but it has interesting history to tell: once this was the place where the big ships of the Holland-America Lijn started their journey to The States, and where for many Dutch people a new life started by emigrating to The States. My late grandma always knew when a ship of Holland-America Lijn was entering the Rotterdam harbour, as this used to be a big happening in the past. Nowadays the hotel offers great place to stay, but also a very nice restaurant and this year, 2018, it exists for 25 years!

Erasmus Rotterdam

The Erasmus bridge

3. A day at the museum

In case you wish to see lots of paintings by Van Gogh you will have to visit Amsterdam. Next to Van Gogh museum you will find the impressive Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk museum which makes you can spend hours and hours diving into the rich history of art of The Netherlands. Don’t underestimate Rotterdam though. In Rotterdam you will find a bunch of contemporary art in the large exposition hall Kunsthal. The museum Boijmans Van Beuningen contains an impressive art collection of both historical and contemporary artwork. Rotterdam is also the city where you can visit the National museum of Photography. For all museums is my advice: by tickets online in advance as the lines for tickets can be really time consuming.

Amsterdam Rijksmuseum2

Tulips in front of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

4. The city atmosphere

What I like a lot is that both cities have their specific atmosphere. According to me Amsterdam has this vibe the Dutch call ‘gezellig’ and the closest translation would be ‘cosy’. Also I think Amsterdam is full of art, creativity and optimism. Rotterdam has this ‘big city’ mentality, a city where you feel like everything is possible. It’s what I liked a lot about living there. It is also a city where people work hard to get things done, and it contains lots of creativity too, but in a different way, more raw and more urban if you ask me.

Amsterdam Jordaan

‘Gezellig’ in Amsterdam: drinking a beer in the Jordaan area

5. And lots more

Both cities have their pro’s which makes them worth a visit. Also they have their special own events through the year. Rotterdam is known for its big summer carnival in July. It is a huge party in the city center where you will find yourself in Carribean atmosphere. On the website of Rotterdam Unlimited you can find the program of this year, and in this blog I shared some photo’s of the time I visited this party. In Amsterdam the city becomes one big party on Kingsday in April, and also lots of people visit the city when the Pride takes place.
Zomer carnaval Rotterdam

Practical information

Once you visit The Netherlands you can easily combine a visit to both cities. Traveling from one city to the other takes one hour by train. Both cities have an airport too, which makes it probably even easier to combine a visit. In case you are looking for accomodation you can easily look for one via this link of Booking.com.* In case you wish to enjoy a couple of discounts, you can choose to purchase the Rotterdam Welcome Card, or get your trip off to a smooth start by purchasing your I amsterdam City Card.* Read a couple of my other blogs about Amsterdam and Rotterdam for more information and tips:

Food markets in The Netherlands

Summertime! 5x spots to cool down during warm days in Amsterdam

Contemporary architecture in Amsterdam

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Amsterdam Rotterdam

 

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