Everyone has heard of Amsterdam at least once. It has its own reputation and is a must-visit destination in Europe. But what about Rotterdam, home to the largest seaport in Europe? If you can choose between visiting Rotterdam vs Amsterdam, what city should you choose?
After living in the Netherlands for more than 20 years, I’ve visited both cities loads of times. This article will give you an ultimate comparison, helping you decide which destination matches your style better.
Location and size
Let’s start with the location and size of both cities. Amsterdam, the Dutch capital, is located in the province of North Holland. It spans about 219 square kilometers and is filled with canals, historic houses and tourists all year-round.
Rotterdam on the other hand is located in South Holland and clocks in at a sprawling 319 square kilometers. Hence, Rotterdam is the larger city of the two, yet sees less tourists.
Amsterdam is home to more people in less space than Rotterdam. Despite being smaller, it has a higher population density. This means there are more people living per square mile in Amsterdam compared to Rotterdam.
By the way, while traveling in the Netherlands, don’t forget to learn how to say hi in Dutch!
Rotterdam is known for its modern architecture. The city feels local and has a distinct vibe to it. It’s also the home of Europe’s largest seaport. On the other hand, Amsterdam showcases centuries-old structures.
The size and location of both cities play a part in their unique building styles. These differences make Rotterdam more family-friendly and safer than Amsterdam, which tends to attract more tourists.
Things to do: Rotterdam vs Amsterdam
So, how do both cities compare to each other regarding things to do?
Museum lovers: Amsterdam
If you’re a fan of museums, Amsterdam is the city for you. You can visit the Van Gogh Museum. This museum is one of the most famous in Europe. Amsterdam is also home to the Rijksmuseum, which will amaze you with its grand art pieces.
And there are many many more museums to be found here. if you’re a museum lover, then Amsterdam is ultimately the best choice for you.
Hidden gems: Rotterdam
Rotterdam feels more local and laid back. You’ll find many hidden gems here. You can visit cool places without too many tourists around. The city offers a lot to explore.
The maritime museum is a must-see in Rotterdam. It shows you the city’s history with its largest seaport in Europe. Another hidden gem in Rotterdam is Depot Museum Boijmans van Beuningen.
Rotterdam is more multicultural, giving you lots of great food choices and good restaurants. If you’re after finding hidden gems, then choose to stay in Rotterdam.
If you love arts, Amsterdam is a playground. It’s filled with art museums that will take your breath away.
Plus, as one of the most popular travel spots, there are always tourists around. This makes the city feel welcoming to first-timers.
So if you’re visiting the Netherlands for the first time, then Amsterdam is a better choice.
Whether you’re in Rotterdam or Amsterdam, both cities offer plenty of beautiful nature, with sights such as the following:
Vondelpark is the most famous city park in the Netherlands. It’s long and has changed much over time. Being one of the region’s best parks, it holds a lot of history. People go there to enjoy nature and relax. You’ll love Vondelpark if you visit Amsterdam! However, it can get pretty busy here, so keep this in mind.
Westlandgracht is a beautiful spot found in Amsterdam. It’s one of my favorite spots in the capital city. Locals love the place for its calm nature vibe.
It’s a lot less busy than the Vondelpark, so definitely check it out when in Amsterdam. A nice cafe here is called Lokaal van de Stad.
Kralingse Plassen is a great spot in Rotterdam. It gives people a place to enjoy nature. You can find it full of locals when the sun is shining. Its beauty makes you love Rotterdam even more!
Erasmuspark is a must-see in Rotterdam. It’s lesser-known, but really beautiful! You’ll love the green space for walks or picnics. It’s one of my personal favorite places in Rotterdam to come and relax.
So what city is more affordable, Rotterdam vs Amsterdam? When it comes to affordability, Rotterdam is your best bet.
Here, you enjoy a lower cost of living compared to Amsterdam. Expenses like rent, groceries, and dining out are noticeably cheaper.
Plus, with less tourist influx, travel costs are more budget-friendly in Rotterdam.
Cost of living
Living in Rotterdam comes with a lighter price tag compared to Amsterdam. Not only is accommodation more affordable but the overall cost of living is significantly lower as well.
This includes expenses on dining out or indulging in cultural activities. Let’s examine a comparative analysis of living costs between these two Dutch cities.
|Overall Cost of Living||Ranked 628th most expensive city worldwide||Ranked 1756th most expensive city worldwide|
|Accommodation||Generally more expensive, with limited affordable areas||More affordable, with a larger single population conducive for individuals living alone|
|Eating Out||Costlier compared to Rotterdam||Cheaper, providing more dining options within budget|
|Cultural Activities||More pricey, adding to the overall higher living cost||Less costly, making cultural indulgence more feasible|
So, if you plan to enjoy city life but keep a more close eye on your wallet, Rotterdam might just be the city for you. Its affordable lifestyle allows for a higher quality of life without stretching your budget to the limits.
On the other hand, Amsterdam’s higher living costs come with its own charm and attractions. The decision entirely depends on your financial comfort and lifestyle preferences.
Travel costs are another important factor to consider when comparing Rotterdam and Amsterdam. The table below provides a comprehensive breakdown of the average costs in both cities for a variety of common travel expenses.
|Accommodation (per night)||$80-$150||$50-$100|
|Eating out (per meal)||$15-$25||$10-$20|
|Public transportation (single ride)||$3-$5||$3-$5|
|Entertainment (per event)||$20-$40||$15-$30|
|Souvenirs (average price)||$10-$20||$5-$15|
In general, Amsterdam tends to be more expensive across all categories. However, public transportation costs are pretty equal in both cities, with single ride prices typically ranging from $3 to $5.
Rotterdam, on the other hand, offers lower prices for accommodation, dining, entertainment, and souvenirs, making it a more budget-friendly choice for travelers.
The comparison of Rotterdam vs Amsterdam regarding affordability showcases that Rotterdam is a more affordable city to visit than Amsterdam.
Trains, bikes, trams and buses move people around in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Both cities love bikes. Many people ride them every day. Both cities have a big train station that have easy connections to other parts of the Netherlands.
Amsterdam wins hearts with its romance. When you walk along its canals during the evening, you’ll really understand why Amsterdam is considered a very romantic city. A boat ride is a must if you’re visiting Amsterdam as a couple.
You can also walk along Amsterdam’s narrow lanes. Lanes filled with cute boutique shops and cosy cafes where you can enjoy some time together. You can also go for a picnic alongside a canal. All in all, when it comes to romance, Amsterdam wins.
So, what is the conclusion of the comparison Rotterdam vs Amsterdam? Amsterdam is the best city to visit in the Netherlands. Especially for first-time visitors with a love for old charming houses.
There are so many museums and you should wander around the canals at least once in your life. It’s without a doubt one of the most romantic cities in Europe.
However, if you’ve visited Amsterdam already, I would definitely suggest visiting more affordable Rotterdam next time instead. It has a different kind of vibe to it, is more multicultural and feels more local.
Amsterdam and Rotterdam are both amazing. Yet, they offer different things. For those wanting a modern vibe without many tourists, pick Rotterdam!
If you do choose to stay in Amsterdam, you can easily visit Rotterdam for one day.
Here you’ll find your most frequently asked questions answered.
1. Which city, Rotterdam vs Amsterdam, has more tourists?
Amsterdam has way more tourists than Rotterdam.
2. Is Rotterdam an old or modern city?
Rotterdam is a more modern city compared to Amsterdam. It was bombed during World War II, hence its streets have a very different architecture than the capital city.
3. If I have never been to the Netherlands before, should I visit Amsterdam or Rotterdam?
Amsterdam is best for first-timers who have never been to the Netherlands before.
4. How different is Amsterdam from Rotterdam?
The main difference lies in their tourist appeal and architecture style; while Amsterdam attracts a lot of visitors, Rotterdam has a more modern city design.
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