Like any world-class metropolis, Rotterdam is a fantastic place to go shopping. Not only are there tons of retail options, but the shops downtown are open seven days a week. Lijnbaan (once Europe's first car-free shopping district and a must-see for that reason alone!) and the Beurstraverse subterranean shopping boulevard – known colloquially as the 'Koopgoot' or shopping gutter – are the dynamic heart of the shopping district, including major chain stores like H&M, Zara, the Body Shop and the country's most famous luxury department store, De Bijenkorf.
For high-end designer brands, head over to Van Oldebarneveltstraat, known as fashion central in Rotterdam. The street is a delight to all your senses, if you enjoy stylish stores selling fashion, shoes and flowers.
Stores like Van Dijk, Nen Xavier and ANSH46 offer extensive expertise in fabrics and cuts to help you find your new outfit. Finish your successful shopping foray with coffee and cake at Nostra. If your tastebuds are still tingling for more, Nieuwe Binnenweg offers lots of authentic bakeries and lunchrooms, not to mention exceptional fashion boutiques and gift shops.
For fashion brands like Scotch&Soda, Zola and American Vintage, duck into the nearby Meent boulevard, which also includes one of the best ice cream shops in town, not to mention the famous Dudok brasserie. From Meent, it's just a short stroll to Pannenkoekstraat and Botersloot, a unique area overflowing with small fashion boutiques, second-hand clothing shops, bookstores, design shops, cafés and restaurants.
If you love furniture, vintage home accessories and handcrafted design, you should definitely reserve an afternoon for exploring the Oude Noorden area. Originally a working-class neighbourhood, it has blossomed into a veritable valhalla of design in recent years. In the shops in these small, historic buildings, designers sell their own work and pieces by other designers, frequently handcrafted.
Sometimes you need to go the extra mile for a great shopping session. Hillegersberg is one of the city's more elegant neighbourhoods, and its stores are appropriately classy as well – from exquisite delicatessens and high-end produce shops to quality fashion. The area is only 15 minutes from the centre by tram. For the most efficient use of your time, head over to the Alexandrium shopping centre. This huge mall is situated close to the motorway and boasts a whopping 140 stores under a single roof. Besides chain stores like Primark, Ici Paris and De Tuinen natural foods, Alexandrium also includes megastores and the Woonmall home decoration boulevard.