Why go now?
This lively, contemporary and culturally rich Dutch city is now the stop before Amsterdam on the new Eurostar direct link from London. Feel the party atmosphere on King’s Day (April 27): citywide street revelry that kicks off the night before. Or be surprised by adventurous productions during Operadagen (May 19-25; operadagenrotterdam.nl), a festival of world opera. Go Eurostar (eurostar.com), or fly via Amsterdam (less than 30 minutes away by train; britishairways.com, easyjet.com, klm.com).
Pincoffs (1) (telegraph.co.uk/tt-pincoffs) in the hip former docklands area, has individually decorated rooms, a fine sense of style, and friendly service. Doubles from €120 (£104) excluding breakfast.
CitizenM (2) (telegraph.co.uk/tt-citizenm) offers a deluxe take on the pod hotel, with comfortable beds and exuberantly colourful public spaces. Doubles from €79 excluding breakfast.
Start at the Twenties Stadhuis (City Hall) (3) and head down busy Coolsingel – or wind your way southwards through the Cool District – to Witte de Withstraat (4), with its galleries, speciality shops and pavement cafés. Then on to the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen (5) (superb Old Masters and surrealist art; boijmans.nl), and across the park to the Kunsthal (6) (kunsthal.nl). Finish off at the spectacular, wing-like Erasmusbrug (7), bridging the Nieuwe Maas river.
Take a revolving glass lift up the 607ft Euromast tower (8) to see as far as the North Sea. (euromast.nl; €9.75).
A cheeky example of Rotterdam’s architectural verve, the “Blaakes Bos” (Blaak Forest) (9) is a thicket of cube-shaped apartments, upended on one corner and perched on tall stalks. Visit one, to see what life at an angle is really like (kubuswoning.nl; €3).
The Meent (10) is the street to head to for fashion, concept stores, lifestyle and more general shopping. Smaller streets leading off it (such as Botersloot and Pannekoekstraat) are great for quirkier shops. Groos (groosrotterdam.nl) has unique designer gifts.
The terrace of the Hotel New York (11) (hotelnewyork.nl) offers a view across the Nieuwe Maas river, and is a hugely popular spot for an aperitif. Glass of wine from €4.75.
Under the curved carapace of Markthal market (12) (markthal.klepierre.nl) you’ll find stalls like De Rotterdamsche Oude selling artisanal Dutch cheeses, or sticky stroopwafels from Van Vliet. Eat meze and grills at Obba Foodbar (obba.nu), or Basque pintxos and more from BasQ Kitchen (basqkitchen.nl).
Delfshaven preserves a little patch of Old Rotterdam (complete with gabled houses and a windmill) as it was before wartime bombing raids. Head to Voorhaven, near the Delfshaven metro stop.