Rotterdam The Hague international airport (RTM) is the 3rd largest airport in Netherlands and located around 7 kilometres northwest of Rotterdam city. This airport also serves The Hague (Den Haag). The airport is well connected with many international as well as European destinations including London (City airport), Erbil, Alicante, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome (Fiumicino airport), Valencia, Venice, Vienna etc. Flying time from London to Rotterdam is only 55 minutes. British Airways, FlyErbil and Transavia are the main airlines that operate from this airport. Corendon Airlines, Flybe and TUI operate seasonally.
Rotterdam can also be reached by train and road from Amsterdam and other European cities. From Amsterdam Central station it takes around 1 hour 10 minutes to reach Rotterdam by train and from Schiphol international Airport (Amsterdam) it takes around 40 minutes by road and around half an hour by Intercity Express trains. Being one of the largest sea ports of Europe, Rotterdam is also well connected to several ports of Asia, Africa and Europe. Holland America Line was the first cruise line that connected North America with Europe in 1873 for the first time from Rotterdam port.
Getting to the city
The bus station is outside the airport terminal building (around 50metres to the left). You will find RET bus line-33 every 10 minutes during peak hours, every 15 minutes during off-peak and public holidays. This bus goes directly to Rotterdam Central Station. Journey time is around 20 minutes. Operating time is from 5:43am until midnight. You can purchase a RET 2-hour ticket for €3.50 from the bus driver, alternatively use an OV-Chipkaart (details in ticketing section) that reduces the fare to €1.85. A 2-hour ticket is valid for 2 hours and you can take unlimited ride within this stipulated time by RET bus, metro and tram (roundtrip or return journey is not permitted).
You can choose from a wide range of private transport and transfer services (including airport transfers) and book online from this Viator site.
Another way to reach the city centre is by bus and metro combination. Take line-33 bus from the airport bus station (in opposite direction) or line 50 shuttle bus to reach Meijersplein, from there take E-line metro towards Slinge to Rotterdam Central station. 2-hour ticket works here as well. You can purchase the ticket from the driver, at the airport, RET Service Point or ticket vending machines at metro stations and shops. Bus and trains are available every 10 minutes, for more details visit RET’s official website.
The taxi stand is located just opposite to the terminal building. Taxis are available 24X7 and it takes around 10 minutes to reach the Central Station. The fare is around €20 to €25. There are private transfer options available too that usually cost more than metered taxi. There are several car rental companies at the terminal building (details are provided under a separate section below).
Rotterdam Public Transport
Rotterdamse Elektrische Tram or RET is the company that controls public transport in Rotterdam. All buses, trams and metros come under RET and with a single ticket you can travel by all three modes of transport.
There are 58 bus lines in Rotterdam and 272 buses in the fleet. Buses operate from early morning until midnight at an interval of 10 minutes. Bus frequency reduces during off-peak hours. Low floor buses are wheelchair accessible. There are 15 nightline bus services operating from 1:00am until 5:00am at an interval of one hour. Nightline in Rotterdam is known as BOB buses. These buses are wheelchair accessible too.
RET started its operation in 1905 after taking over the city tram lines. Presently it operates 9 tram lines with a fleet of 112 trams. Trams operate from early morning (around 5:00am) until post midnight. The service interval is 10 minutes during peak time and 20 minutes during off-peak. Trams too are low floored. There are no nightlines for trams.
Metro has 5 lines with 167 metro trains in its fleet and covers 62 stations. All 5 lines are distinguished by 5 different colours and named alphabetically from A to E. The first metro train starts at 05:42am (Line A) and the last metro leaves at 12:51am (Line D and E). Service interval is 10 minutes during peak time and 15 to 20 minutes during off-peak. You can travel to The Hague by metro with your transport pass. Metro stations are equipped with wheelchair ramps, escalators and elevators.
Rotterdam is very well connected by trains. Apart from Rotterdam Central Station there are 6 other stations in the city. Rotterdam Central station comes under North-South line that connects Amsterdam to Dordrecht. Central station receives trains from various parts of Netherlands as well as other European cities. An hourly night train service is operated by Dutch railways 7 days a week from midnight till 4:00am. This service connects Rotterdam Central with The Hague, Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam and Leiden.
You can purchase ticket from ticketing machines available at all stations against cash or credit card (with additional €0.50). You can buy paper ticket for a single journey with a €1 surcharge. If you are a frequent traveller then go for a travel chip card (minimum €20 balance is required).
Taking bikes on the trains are allowed from 9:00am to 4:00pm and after 6:30pm on weekdays and 24 hours on weekends and public holidays. You need to purchase a €6 ticket separately for your bike. For detailed timings and fares visit Dutch railways Official Website.
RET also runs a ferry service from Hoek van Holland Berghaven to Maasvlakte. This service operates from 6:00am until 6:00pm. There are 8 crossings in a day. Visit the RET website for schedules.
Waterbus (Fast Ferry)
The daily ferry service that connects Rotterdam with Dordrecht is known as Water Bus service. You can board a ferry from Willemskade under Erasmus Bridge near city centre area. You can also reach Sliedrecht, Zwijndrecht and Papendrecht of Drechtsteden area by taking water bus. Visiting UNESCO World Heritage site Kinderdijk by water bus is comfortable, time saving and fun.
A single ticket from Rotterdam Erasmus Bridge to Dordrecht Stadswerven costs €7.60. You can purchase it on the ferry against cash or in advance from Waterbus Company’s website. A day card is €11.70 and allows unlimited sailing by water bus to all the Waterbus stops for a day. OV-Chipkaart is accepted but Rotterdam Welcome card is not valid on the Waterbus. You can take your bike with you without any extra charges.
You can identify a taxi in Rotterdam from their blue license plate and yellow or white taxi signage on the roof. You can hail a taxi on the road or take one from the taxi ranks. There are taxi ranks at all major points that include airport and central station (north side). The base price of Rotterdam metered taxi is €2.85, thereafter €2.10 per kilometre and the waiting charge is €21 per hour. Here are a few taxi calling numbers…
- Rotterdam Taxi Service- +31 10 237 2018
- Connecto Transfers- +44 20 8089 3008
- Schiedam Taxi Centrale- +31 10 410 2030
- Vlardingse Taxi Centrale- +31 10 435 4344
- Rotterdamse Taxi Centrale- +31 10 462 6060
Ticketing & Transport Passes
Rotterdam transport passes are useful and economical. It helps in hassle free travel and one of these also works as entry ticket to many sites of tourism interests. The public transportation card in Rotterdam is OV-chipkaart and the card that gives discounted access to many tourist sites (not all though) is Rotterdam Welcome Card. There are various other ticketing options as well.
2 Hours Ticket– It’s valid for 2 hours and you can ride by RET bus, metro and tram within the city limit. It costs €3.50 and can be purchased from Rotterdam The Hague Airport, Inside buses and trams, RET Service Points and from ticket vending machines at metro stations and shops.
Day Pass– A day pass or RET Day Ticket is valid for 24 hours from the first validation of the ticket. You can take unlimited rides by RET operated bus, tram, metro and night bus. It can be purchased online, from the airport and from RET service points. Price is €8.
Tourist Day Ticket– This is a good buy for a tourist visiting Rotterdam, The Hague and the entire South Holland area. It costs only €13.50. It is valid on bus, tram, metro and waterbus. You can use it in public transports operated by RET, Arriva, Connexxion, HTM and Waterbus. Note that this card is not valid on the train, Fast Ferry, Triangle Ferry, neighbourhood bus, night bus, on bus lines 195 and 295 and on the Waterbus Expedition Haringvliet. You can purchase this ticket from the service points of the participating transport operators, ticket vending machines at metro stations, tourist information points, or online from touristdayticket.nl.
OV-chipkaart– This card is widely used by the locals and is helpful for tourists as well to get around the city and other places in Netherlands by public transports (i.e. Tram, Bus, Metro and Trains of the National Railways only). This public transport chip card comes mainly in two types – personalized and non-personalized, but both are rechargeable. A non-personalized OV-chipkaart can be purchased from RET service centers, RET ticket vending machines, newsstands and from few shops. Personalized card can be obtained online.
Note that wherever you travel with your OV-chipkaart, do check-in and check-out while boarding and getting off, otherwise you could attract a fine. Check-in and out machines have a logo of OV-chipkaart. Always ensure to have a minimum €10 balance in your card. Visit the website www.ov-chipkaart.nl for further information or to get your personalized OV-chipkaart.
Rotterdam Welcome Card– This card is available for 1, 2 or 3 days and it contains one chip card for unlimited ride by RET operated public transports within the designated time period. It is activated from the first validation. It also comes with 50 discount vouchers for various attractions including museums, dining & wining, nightlife and entertainment, and a city map.
1 day Welcome Card costs €12, 2day card costs €17 and a 3 day card is €21. You can physically purchase this card from Rotterdam Tourist Information Centre, Central Station and from the Rotterdam airport. For more information and purchasing it online you can visit This Website.
There is another pass known as Rotterdam Pass but that is for free or discounted entries to various attractions and do not provide any discount on public transport.
Netherlands is biker’s heaven with lots of dedicated bike paths including in Rotterdam. Most attractions in Rotterdam can be reached within 20 minutes by bike. You can also take guided bike tours. Gobike Rotterdam offers electric share bikes at a very moderate price. They currently have 19 docking stations within the city that includes major points such as Central Station area, Market Hall, Museumpark, Diergaarde Blijdorp Zoo etc.
Their registration process is also easy; you have to fill up a simple form online at at this website. You can also locate their docking stations as well as the availability of bikes from their website. Registration fee is €15 and it is valid for one year. The renting rate is only €0.03 per minute that means €1.80 per hour and parking rate is €0.01 per minute. You can return the bike at any of the Gobike docking stations.
There are few other companies that rent bikes. CZwan offers bikes against a deposit of €50 to €150 depending upon the model. Their rental rate is €8 per day (insurance included). Visit czwaan.nl/en/ for details. If you wish to explore Rotterdam and its surroundings on your own you can visit www.fietsen123.nl/ to know more about various bike trails.
EU and non-EU country driving license are accepted. License has to be minimum 1 year old. Age must be 21 or more but below 25 might attract young driver surcharge. The lowest rental rate starts from €35 to €40 per day. Following are a few well known car rental companies…
- Sixt Rent a Car- https://www.sixt.global/
- Hertz Rent a Car- https://www.hertz.com/rentacar/reservation/
- Avis Autoverhuur- https://www.avis.nl/
- Europcar Autoverhuur- https://www.europcar.nl/
You need a 2-wheeler driving license to hire a motorcycle or scooter. Scooter rental rates starts from €20 per day. Motorcycle rental rate starts from €45 to €50. Following are a few well-known rental companies…
- Vespa Rental- http://vesparental.nl/
- Scooter Center Rotterdam- http://www.scootercenterrotterdam.nl/
- MotoPort Rotterdam- https://www.motoportrotterdam.nl/
Getting to important attractions
All distances are from Central Station / City Centre
- The Old Harbour and the Maritime Museum Rotterdam is around 2 kilometres walk from central station. Alternatively you can take Intercity 2447 train towards Dordrecht and get down at Rotterdam Blaak (7 minutes), from there it is a 4 minute walk. Another option is to take tram line #24 from outside Central Station and reach Rotterdam Blaak.
- Museum Boijmans van Beuningen is around 1 kilometre. Alternatively take a tram (line number 4) and disembark at Kruisplein.
- The Cube House at Overblaak is a great example of architectural genius. It is around 1.7 kilometre walk. You can alternatively take train 5021 towards Dordrecht and get down at Rotterdamblaak, from there it’s a 2minute walk. Total time to reach would be 5 minutes. Another option is to board line-21 tram from outside central station towards De Esch and disembark at Rotterdamblaak. It takes around 8 minutes.
- The Swan or the Erasmus Bridge can be reached by metro line ‘D’ or ‘E’ from Rotterdam central. Get off at Wilhelminaplein. Journey time is around 6 minutes.
- The UNESCO World Heritage Site Kinderdijk on the bank of river Noord has 19 preserved windmills. There are three different ways to reach. You can take a line 23 tram towards Beverwaard and get down at Akkeroord, from there bus line 93 towards Dordrecht CS goes to Kinderdijk. Total journey time would be 1 hour 10 minutes. The second option is to take a train (Sprinter 5023) towards Dordrecht and get down at Banhof Lombardijen, then walk for 3 minutes to Lombardijen bus station and catch line 93 bus. Total journey time would be around 1 hour. Alternatively, you can take metro line E towards Slinge and get down at Zuidplein, from there take the line 93 bus. Journey time will be around 1 hour 15 minutes.
- Otterlo is another beautiful day trip destination from Rotterdam. The place is surrounded by ‘de Hoge Veluwe’ national park (largest in Netherlands). The Kroller-Muller museum here houses Van Gogh’s second largest collection. Take Intercity train 2825 from Rotterdam station towards Utrecht Central, from there change to Intercity 3125 towards Nijmegen and disembark at Ede-Wageninjen. From Ede-Wageninjen bus station board line 108 bus towards Apeldoorn and get down at Rotonde, Otterlo. Total journey time is around 1 hour 40 minutes.
- Do not miss the historic hop on hop off line-10 tram. This tram service touches most of the major attractions. However this service operates during July and August from Wednesday to Sunday and during September and October from Friday to Sunday. An adult ticket is €7 and reduced ticket costs €4.50. Day tickets or transport pass are not valid. You can purchase ticket at Willemsplein departure point or on board the tram.
- You should consider a cruise trip to experience world’s one of the largest port through Rotterdam Harbour Tour and enjoy the cityscape while sailing. The trip duration is around 75 minutes and costs around €13 to €14 per person. There are several other cruise trips in and around Rotterdam.
- An interesting attraction of Rotterdam is Splash Tour by amphibian vehicle. It is neither a bus nor a boat or ferry. The two third portion of the vehicle has a resemblance with a bus but the lower one third is modified with four wheels so that it can roll on a road and sail on the river. After boarding the vehicle it starts rolling towards the River Mass and then splashes into the river. This voyage is not only a fun ride, you get an opportunity to enjoy the cityscape both from the land and water. This one-hour splash tour starts from Parkhaven near Euromast Tower. You can purchase Splash Tour ticket online from Splash Tour’s official website against credit card or PayPal. There are various options available, for the simple splash tour the cost is €26.50 for an adult and €18 for a child up to 11 years.
- It is mandatory to fasten seat belts while driving
- Helmets are mandatory for scooter and motorcycle but not for bicycles
- You can take bikes with you only on trains and Waterbus but not on all public transports.