Home to the largest port in the world, Rotterdam is a no-nonsense working-class city lying at the heart of a maze of rivers and artificial waterways that together form the outlet of the rivers Rijn (Rhine) and Maas (Meuse). After devastating damage during World War II, Rotterdam has grown into a vibrant, forceful city dotted with first-division cultural attractions. Redevelopment hasn’t obliterated its earthy character though: its tough grittiness is part of its appeal, as are its boisterous bars and clubs.
In terms of sights, Rotterdam’s attractions are enticing, most notably the Kunsthal, exhibiting contemporary art, and the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, which has an outstanding art collection including representative works from almost all the most important Dutch painters: both are in the city’s designated culture zone, the Museumpark. Other city highlights include Oude Haven, the city’s oldest harbour, ravaged during World War II but sympathetically redeveloped, and Delfshaven, an antique harbour that managed to survive the bombs pretty much intact. Rotterdam also boasts a string of first-rate festivals, including the much-lauded North Sea Jazz Festival and the colourful Summer Carnival.