Your Ultimate Guide to Rotterdam Neighborhoods


Updated on Jun 07 • 10 minute read

When it comes to relocating to Rotterdam for an international exchange programme or to taking part in one of many professional business opportunities, the possibilities are endless. You’ll be studying at one of Europe’s renowned universities or maybe taking up an internship at an exciting new company, along with meeting new people and discovering all of Rotterdam’s unique neighborhoods and fun things to do.

Exploring Rotterdam in your free time should definitely be at the top of your list of things to do when you arrive, but you’ll need to know the basics about where to live in Rotterdam before you even begin your search for housing. Which areas are close to the university or the business district? Do some neighborhoods have more convenient links to public transportation than others? And with the Netherlands’ many new business incentives, which areas are hubs for startups? What about fitting housing costs into your strictly prepared budget?

With so many questions to answer, it’s important to understand each individual area so that you can make an educated decision. So, let’s jump right into this informative neighborhood guide!

The City Center of Rotterdam

Right in the middle of it all, this central buzzing areas is where young people will find all of the action, making it an ideal place for accommodation. After its bombing in WWII, this neighborhood was promptly rebuilt, which is why it is known for its unique architecture, often appreciated by its students and interns. Of course, this is also the main tourist hub of Rotterdam.

You’ll quickly find that the pricing is considered quite expensive in a neighborhood with so much to offer, but you may be able to snag a good find after a thorough search. Its close proximity to the river and several modes of public transportation make it simple to get out of the city and even visit other neighboring destinations, so if your budget allows, you may find the heftier price tag worthwhile.

You’ll see everything here to make your stay in Rotterdam filled with activities, including a bustling nightlife, restaurants and plenty of attractions. Check out the Markthal and shop to your heart’s content, as you stroll along the river. If you’re looking for a green space to relax with your new classmates, head over to the British-style Het Park, including a mini-golf course and walking and biking paths.

Visser & Ko. is a trendy place to eat in the City Center, with coffee, fresh sandwiches, flaky pastries and high tea. Bokaal is a very popular beer bar and city cafe, or check out Biergarten Rotterdam, where locals and international young people alike flock to sit outside, have a drink, try the delicious bbq and listen to the live entertainment.

Exploring the North (Noord)

Nestled in the northeast of Rotterdam, and commonly referred to as "Old North," students find this to be quieter than the City Center, but a friendly up-and-coming neighborhood. Due to its communities rich in cultural diversity, it’s easy to see why it’s a favorite amongst international professionals as well.

Pricing is moderate in Noord, and it offers a good variety of shared apartments. Additionally, it is close to Blijdorp and the Central Station, which means that you can fully depend on public transportation that runs often and late into the night.

While Noord is also relatively close to Het Park and its list of activities, it also boasts the much-loved Vroesenpark. This lovely space has been around since 1929, and it offers visitors a fishing pond, playgrounds, hiking trails and places to picnic and play football. You can also find spots for bouldering or to go bowling with a few friends.

Noord is also known for its new bars, restaurants and stores that keep popping up all over the neighborhood, with Zwaanshals being the most popular street to explore. For the best cup of coffee and a quick bite, think about meeting up at Hopper with some classmates or for a relaxed business meeting. Noord also has a hip nightlife scene, and BIRD is known best for its jazz, salsa parties and pizza. Also, be sure to stop in Cafe Anders for its wide selection of beer on tap and its casual ambiance.

Discovering Blijdorp

This central neighborhood is close to a lot of activities in Rotterdam, and it is especially popular with the expat community, which means plenty of diversity. This thriving neighborhood is connected to Rotterdam Noord, and students love the culture, along with the peace and quiet of its green spaces. This is also a great neighborhood for students who have pursued an internship, with several thriving business opportunities nearby.

Due to its super-convenient location, Blijdorp’s accommodation prices are just a bit above average, but are still considered to be mid-range. However, since it’s directly next to the Central Station, you’ll never have to worry about how to get across town in a hurry.

This is a neighborhood that, like many parts of Rotterdam, is typically brimming with tourists. Of course, the tigers at the Blijdorp Zoo might have something to do with that. Blijdorp is also close to Vrosenpark, where you can go for a bit of relaxation or to have a nice walk or run during the warmer months.

When hunger calls, don’t miss the many flavorful options at Gie Gelato. Cafe Leuk has nice terraces and a selection of tasty bar food. When you’re looking for a few places for great drinks, the Suicide Club and Bar Tender are some of the favorites for cocktails and good beer selections.

The area of Kralingen

Bordered by Erasmus University and playing home to a number of its facilities, this is one of the most convenient and popular Rotterdam neighborhoods for students. If you want accommodation here, start your search early, because these listings typically go very quickly, especially with the area’s close proximity to the river and several parks. Young professionals who have a position or an internship with the university or one of the numerous surrounding companies will also find this the ideal locale.

This gentrified spot offers housing for mid-range and higher budgets. Getting where you need to go is also extremely simple, as you can bike to the City Center or hop on one of the frequently running metros or trams.

Kralingen is packed with plenty of activities. You’ll always find something to do in this lively neighborhood, including spending time with your new classmates at Kralingse Lake or taking a run in the Kralingse Polder on your lunch break with some of your new co-workers. Kralingen Bos is often considered the most beautiful park in Rotterdam, and it offers sailing, an open-air gym and options for walking and running.

You’ll never find a shortage of shops, restaurants or bars in Kralingen. The locals swear by Alma Lusa Restaurant, and with its Piri-Piri Chicken, in particular. Djordy’s Bakery, with its lovely terrace, is also an excellent place to try, and it’s famous for its family brunch and unique tea time experience. If you’re in the mood for Indian cuisine, Curry’s is an affordable option that is especially popular with young professionals. Bomm serves bistro-style food and is a great spot for cocktails and gin tonics. To try the mega-size beer, stop in at Bierlokaal Locus Publicus, which is also very near the Student Hotel.

Rotterdam West

Rotterdam West is comprised of several large, diverse areas. Students can find completely different neighborhood personalities, often just a block or two away, which makes this area really appealing to international young people. It is also nearby the Erasmus Medical Center, which is perfect for those seeking employment in the healthcare field.

As the neighborhood itself offers many variables, so does the housing pricing, with housing for those on a budget and for those with a little more money to spend. Since it’s right on the brink of the city center, you can walk or utilize public transportation, especially if it’s raining.

Rotterdam West boasts two large parks, including Dakpark overlooking the port, and the canal, meaning that there are a lot of opportunities to get some fresh air and exercise in beautiful settings. Many students visit some of the affordable grocery stores and butchers in the area to plan barbeques with their roommates, which can cut down on their monthly food budget.

The West is known for its nightlife scene, including bars and late-night clubs like Transport Club, with its special events and live entertainment. If you’re into arts and culture, pop into the Het Nieuwe Instituut to see the latest art installation.

The island of Noordereiland

This neighborhood is actually an island, located between the city center and Zuid. The views of Rotterdam alone are almost a reason to select this area to be your new home!

While its pricing is more on the expensive side, this area is popular with students who have a larger budget for housing, or for successful young professionals. Just be ready to cross the bridge on your bike, which will help you get in some daily exercise, as there is no bus or tram service.

There aren’t a lot of attractions or activities on the island. However, it’s close to the City Center, and the waterside is beautiful, along with its relaxing spaces at Ons Park.

Pizzeria La Gaetana is a hip spot that serves some of the best pizza in Noordereiland, as well as a nice selection of drinks. Vista Lounge offers live entertainment, along with a DJ that spins on the weekends.

The old Delfshaven

Delfshaven is centered around what was once the main harbor for Delft, which is where it got its name. It is a mostly residential area, just southwest of the city center, offering numerous housing options for students attending the universities, or interning or working nearby.

This Rotterdam neighborhood also offers quite varied pricing for accommodation, varying from mid-range to more on the expensive side. It also has a metro stop that can connect you easily to the City Center and other student areas.

As one of the oldest areas of Rotterdam, it is also very popular with tourist. Het Park is nearby, with space to relax or go walking or running.

It also boasts its fair share of appetizing cafes and restaurants, including Stroom, which has outdoor seating and great food. Rauwdouwer is a popular spot for lunch with classmate or colleagues, and for drinks after classes or on the weekends, Verhip is a nice option.

The the Northeast of the city: Prins Alexander

Prins Alexander is a calm, green area with lots of families, situated in the northeast region of Rotterdam. However, this is still a great neighborhood for international young people, especially those who like a more suburban feel.

As that some areas of this neighborhood are considered upscale, the housing prices typically range from moderate to somewhat expensive. This area is connected to the rest of Rotterdam with metro lines, and it also has the Rotterdam Alexander railway station, which runs into Utrecht, with stops along the way.

Prins Alexander is near De Rottemeren, which is a canal that runs through several country farms, often providing a place for quiet walks. It’s also close to the beach and the stores of Nesselande.

This area also has its fair share of tasty food options, including Papaya, which serves Indonesian food, and Chicken Spot, a popular fast-food chain that offers cheap burgers and sandwiches. When it’s time to have a drink or two, Otto Hahn has a trendy bar, good food options, lively music and a terrace, making it a favorite weekend stop.

A walk around Hillegersberg

Hillegersberg is a calm green area that is very appealing to students or young professionals who may not want to be right in the center of the action. It’s also popular with families.

This neighborhood is well-connected to the City Center via public transportation at Station Noord, making it simple to get back and forth to the university and facilities in Kralingen, as well as the central business districts. Pricing can vary anywhere from moderate to somewhat expensive, so be sure to set your budget before you settle on the type of housing you’re most interested in.

Hillegersberg is proud of its commitment to its green landscape, with its mature trees, the lake of Bergse Voorplas, canals and parks, including Prinsenmolenpark and Berge- en Broekpark. It’s also home to Nesselande, mentioned in the Prins Alexander information above, and Oosterhof (Alexandrium), a large mall filled with Rotterdam’s favorite stores, along with the first Primark in the Netherlands.

For a nice meal at a reasonable price, Abrazzo is a popular cafe close to the water. To have a few drinks and delicious pub-style food, try Eetcafe Facet, which also offers views of Bergsche Plas and is a trendy meeting spot for international professionals and business interns.

Kop van Zuid and Katendrecht

These individual neighborhoods are part of the upscale section of South Rotterdam and are very popular with incoming international students and those pursuing careers, even though they are expensive. They are hip, trendy and have a vibrant feel, which is ideal for its younger residents.

Located below the Maas River, these areas of Rotterdam also offer plentiful connections to public transportation. Even though they are not the closest neighborhoods to the city center, you can get just about anywhere in a matter of minutes. If you love special events, you’ll like want to spend a lot of time at Luxor Theater in Kop van Zuid, experiencing everything from concerts to Broadway plays.

The Kop van Zuid is full of high-rise housing, which is connected to the Erasmus bridge, where you can find the tallest building in the country, De Rotterdam. Once you cross the Rijnhavenbrug, you’ll discover Katendrecht, which is known for the Fenix Food Company, a former warehouse filled with artisanal food products and a brewery.

When you’re looking for a few great nightclubs in the area, Massilo and Factory 010 are both nearby. For the area’s best coffee, pastries and sandwiches, visit Daily, or you can opt for the Asian dishes at Itami.

If you’re looking for a less-expensive option in South Rotterdam, Zuid offers some areas with shared apartments, which are perfect for students on a budget.

Zuid, the cheapest area in Rotterdam

Zuid is an area that encompasses the southern area of Rotterdam, and it isn’t too far from the university facilities. Therefore, it is a favorite neighborhood for incoming international students or those pursuing employment or internships in the university area. Rotterdam is also known for its many startup opportunities, which can offer unparalleled experiences.

Fortunately, for those on a budget, Zuid is also perhaps the least expensive neighborhood in Rotterdam to find student housing. It has an international vibe, sporting multiple cultures and ethnicities. You can also take one of the metros to get into the city center or to the universities with ease.

Students really enjoy Zuidpark, where they can go for a run or barbeque with their classmates. Many young professionals even like to get out in nature for a bit and work on a project in one of its quieter areas. The Afrikaanderplein market is held every Saturday, where you can find all sorts of budget-friendly deals on food and much more. Zuidplein is the largest covered shopping mall in all of the Netherlands, and they also offer entertainment. Ahoy Rotterdam is a home to comic con every year, so get out your superhero costumes!

RAAF Rotterdam is one of the area’s hotspots for drinks. But if you’re ready for one of the best burgers in Zuid, and at a reasonable price in a casual setting, be sure to visit Blaauw Broodjes.

Now that you are armed with some helpful information to assist you in picking a Rotterdam neighborhood for your student accommodation, you can begin your search. Welcome to Rotterdam, and be sure to enjoy every second of your international experience! Check out our ultimate guide on renting abroad here.

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