Rotterdam and it’s harbour

Rotterdam is world-famous for its big harbour. It is the biggest harbour in Europe and was until 2004 also the biggest harbour of the world. It’s currently number 10 of the world. There are many things to discover in and around the harbour. Discover the harbour by boat or by bike, or join a tour on the old passenger ship SS Rotterdam.


If you want to explore a historic harbour in Rotterdam, historic Delfshaven is where you should go. The area is the oldest of Rotterdam, but wasn’t part of Rotterdam itself at that time. In 1389, it was founded as a colony of the nearby city Delft, which was connected to the Maas. 1608, English Puritans came to practice their strict religion. These „Pilgrim Fathers “ stayed for 12 years before sailing to the New World, America. The Pilgrim church in Delfshaven is named after them. Only in 1795 historic Delfshaven became an independent city and is today a district of Rotterdam. With its rich history there are many interesting things to visit in Delfshaven. Antiquaries, the Pelgrim brewery, the old Windmill ‘The Distillation kettle’ and the Shipyard De Delft. In the summer period, having a coffee or a home brew beer next to the harbour or just promenade alongside the historical ships is the best thing you can do.


Going deeper into the harbour

The first thing that pops in your mind when you Rotterdam is probably the Port of Rotterdam. In fact, the Port of Rotterdam is the biggest of Europe, existing since the 14th century. The harbour stretches out over an area of 41 kilometers. Surprisingly almost half of all shipped goods in Rotterdam are liquids, such as oil. Around 30% is bulk cargo, and only 20% are containers. These are astonishing numbers if you have seen the mountains of containers piled up in the harbour. If you want to explore the harbour by boat, you can do this with the Spido boat. You will have a nice perspective from the water on all the activities. If you want to do some advanced-exploration, take the long version of this boat tour. It will take some time, but the tour will take you deeper into the harbour and you will experience the immensity of our port. Another way -the Dutch way- is exploring the harbor by bike with Inside Rotterdam as your guide. You can cycle between the cranes, explore hidden harbour villages, learn about all the activities you see around you and get the best of both world when you take the ferry with your bike.


SS Rotterdam

You can find the old cruise ship ‘the SS Rotterdam’ on Katendrecht. The former passenger ship was transformed into a hotel and museum and you can also visit it and do a tour for one or two hours. The one-hour audio guided tour takes you around the deck and cabins of this enormous ship and features its construction and crew. If you have more time you can add a machine-room tour, which is guided by an old member of the crew.

The SS Rotterdam was the biggest passenger ship of the Netherlands back in its time. The main route was between Rotterdam and New York, until the transatlantic air transportation became more and more important in the 1970s. Afterwards, the SS Rotterdam was used as a cruise ship all over the world. In 2009 the Ship opened as museum and hotel.

For more information about the maritime navigation, visit the Maritime Museum, at Leuvehaven 1, or make a tour on the SS Rotterdam. If you want to learn more about the harbour and its history you can join our harbour bike tour.