The Leuvenhaven was still a busy commercial port a hundred years ago. Today, it’s home to the country’s oldest Maritime Museum. You can experience what made Rotterdam the major world port that it is today while standing on historic ships and cranes. Behind the Maritime Museum is De Verwoeste Stad (‘The Destroyed City’), the striking bronze statue by artist Ossip Zadkine, the empty space in the figure’s chest gaping in stark symbolism of the destruction of the city’s heart in the German bombardment.
Along the Leuvehaven you will find numerous restaurants offering outdoor dining, including Mainport Hotel’s celebrated restaurant Down Under. Perhaps one of the most unusual restaurants in this area is Vessel11, on a fire engine-red light ship in the Leuvehaven. On deck you can enjoy the signature British fare and wash it down with the restaurant’s own craft beer, V11.
The Leuvehaven has its own stop for the speedy Water taxi service and the Hotel New York Ferry.
One of the loveliest and most romantic spots of Rotterdam is the Veerhaven inner harbour, where historic sailing ships rock gently on the water. The Veerhaven is situated in the Scheepvaartkwartier, a protected urban landscape. Imposing town houses line broad, stately lanes, recalling Rotterdam’s rich history in shipping.
Oude Haven (Old Port)
The backdrop of impressive historic ships makes the Oude Haven (Old Port) a popular place for locals to meet, eat, drink and dance. On summer days, the terraces of the bars and restaurants here like Noah (voted best cocktail bar in the Netherlands) are full until the wee hours. Right behind ‘The White House’, Europe’s first skyscraper, you will find café Het Witte Huis, open late for drinks and dining. Other hotspots here are Stockholm, Mooii and Popocatepetl.
The Oude Haven also has a Water taxi stop.
This picturesque yacht marina is one of the few parts of the old city that survived the 1940 bombardment of Rotterdam. It has had a remarkable history, both as the departure point from which the Pilgrim Fathers sailed for America and the birthplace of prominent Dutch maritime hero Piet Hein.
Delfshaven locals once earned their living by fishing for herring and distilling gin. The historic canal houses now hold cosy shops selling antiques and bric-a-brac, as well as lovely cafés and restaurants like brewery De Pelgrim and café De Oude Sluis (with waterside patio dining). You’ll also find one of the city’s finest restaurants here, ’t Ouwe Bruggetje, with its outdoor seating right on the water.
Historic Delfshaven has succeeded in preserving its authentic touches, perhaps the most prominent being the old-fashioned grain mill known as De Distilleerketel. Also good to know is that you can catch the Water taxi right here.
The Speedy Water taxi
If you want to make a truly spectacular entrance, try arriving by water at 50kph in the speedy Water taxi! And with 50 stops in metropolitan Rotterdam, sometimes it’s actually the easiest way to get from point A to point B.
The Water taxi fleet has five eight-seater and five twelve-seater boats, all of them fast, with stops all over the city and a few just outside it (between Kinderdijk and Spijkenisse). Trips farther afield can be arranged by request. Prices are based on distance and group size.
Reservations are recommended – book online or by phone (see contact information).
You can also travel by water with the Hotel New York Ferry Service. See more information.
Hotel New York Ferry Service
The classic HNY water taxis shuttle back and forth between Hotel New York and the Leuvehaven and the Veerhaven. No reservation required; no need to wait more than fifteen minutes. Each water taxi can accommodate one to eight people.
You can also travel by water with the speedy Water taxi service. See more information.