Harbour of Europe

By Facebook group Havenvrienden Rotterdam.

The port of Rotterdam: the largest port in Europe and one of the most photogenic spots in the Netherlands. The local Facebook community Havenvrienden Rotterdam have lined up what to see, do and experience. They share several lively inland ports in the city, but also list different spots with vantage points both from the water and the mainland, for those wanting to venture deeper into the port. And did you know there is a unique piece of nature in the port area? Grab a bicycle or strut down the walking path – and don’t forget your camera. You might even spot the Scottish Highlanders…

Big boat in harbour. View from front and boat name is Rotterdam.
Photo: Iris van den Broek

The port within the city

The port of Rotterdam has numerous iconic places, starting within the city itself.

  • From the Wilhelminakade, you have great views of the Erasmus bridge. See water taxis racing by and maybe even spot a moored cruise ship.
  • Another eyecatcher is the ss Rotterdam. This permanently docked cruise ship is accessible by water taxi, but can also be spotted from the Charloishoofd. From this location you also have good views of the iconic Euromast. 
  • Several inland ports make lively entertainment areas and are perfect for a drink or a snack by the water. Go to the Scheepvaartkwartier, the Oude Haven, Historisch Delfshaven or the Katendrecht peninsula.

Spotting Ships

Here to spot the larger ships? Head west! The closer you are to Europoort, the larger the ships you will find. The larger vessels come in during high tide. The best locations as seen from the city:

  • Schiedam Maasboulevard
  • Deltahotel Vlaardingen
  • Spijkenisserbrug
  • Botlek Geulhaven (crossing of waterways)

Scottish Highlanders in the harbour

In the harbour area you will find Calandpark Landtong Rozenburg: a unique nature reserve with its own family of Scottish Highlanders. The area is sandwiched between the Calandkanaal and the Nieuwe Waterweg. A cycling and walking path leads you through the park. Larger seafaring ships are also often spotted in the Calandkanaal.

The real big boys

To see the largest ships, go to the Maasvlakte:

  • From the P&O Beneluxhaven you can see the largest ferries as they moor. 
  • Arriving and departing container ships can be seen from the Pistoolhaven or at the Yangtzekanaal, near the Antarcticaweg. If you’re lucky, you might even see the helicopter in action!
  • A bit further away, you will find Slag Maasmond, a beautiful location where you will need a bit more luck to see ship movement. 

Time to get on the water

A trip on the water is a must-do during your visit to Rotterdam. The water taxis are highly recommended, with various pick-up points in the city. And how about a tour with the RET Fast Ferry? This ferry takes you for a trip around the larger ships and you might spot some seals on the way.

At the time, I was working for the Port of Rotterdam and as a skipper on the water taxis. I took loads of photos and created a Facebook group to share these beautiful images with other fans of the harbour area.

Gerrit van Katwijk
Havenvrienden Rotterdam