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If you want a wild weekend of clubbing, Rotterdam is the place to go. It's a university town so there are plenty of student bars and good value places to eat and drink. You'll find music for all tastes and a friendly, relaxed atmosphere at most venues around the town. Get yourself a central hotel so you can walk back, picking up some tasty street food on your way.

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Rotterdam nightlife

    • Witte de Withkwartier

      Witte de Withkwartier should be visited at night when it really comes alive. During the day you can browse the numerous art galleries or visit the Maritime Museum but, if you want to get a taste of Rotterdam nightlife, head here after dark.

    • Stadhuisplein

      The area around the town hall is where you’ll find the more upmarket bars and restaurants in Rotterdam. This is close to the main shopping area so is busy during the day as well as at night.

      In the evenings the restaurants on the main square attract a well-dressed clientele so, if you’re going out in this area, put on your glad rags.

    • Oude Haven

      Bars and clubs around the old harbour are popular with students, especially in summer, when the terraces along the waterfront are heaving.

      One of the main venues around here is Café Plan C, which recently reopened after five years. This is a great budget place to eat during the day, but in the evening it transforms into a club, with DJs or live music most weekends.

    • Meent

      Meent is a slightly alternative place to shop during the day, with smaller more exclusive boutiques rather than high-street chains.

      In the evening this area is increasingly becoming a place to go out for a slightly older crowd. So, if your hard-core clubbing days are in the past, this could the place for you.

    • Hofplein

      The Hofplein is home to BIRD, one of the best known jazz clubs in Rotterdam. This restaurant and club is under the arches of the old Hofbogen railway bridge, and has a wide programme of jazz and related music. The area around the Hofbogen viaduct is being regenerated and there are quite a few bars and restaurants popping up under the arches.

Best bars in Rotterdam

  • Rose Rouge

    Benthuizerstraat 35B, 3036 CB
    Sip creative cocktails at this stylised watering hole in the Oude Noorden neighbourhood. Off the beaten track, this spot ticks millennial boxes with its pink-and-green colour scheme, and decor details to do Wes Anderson proud. Nab a seat on a velvet sofa and sip on a handcrafted cocktail – the brandy-laced Lobby, say – to fully appreciate its old-world charm.
  • Kaapse Maria

    Mauritsweg 52, 3012 JW

    This airy pub in the city centre isa new offshoot of the city’s thriving craft brewery, Kaapse. While beer obviously takes centre stage – there are 24 taps – this self-described buvette is also popular for its Asian-inflected plates.The twice-weekly seafood boil has a loyal following, as does the spicy black rye IPA. Don’t miss the rotating art exhibitions by local artists.

  • BIRD

    Raampoortstraat 26-28, 3032 AH
    Tucked under a railway arch, this joint is always jumping with jazz, blues, funk and hip hop. Dine on Neapolitan-style pizzas and quaff natural wines in the buzzy eatery. In the warmer months, grab a lounge chair in the tree-lined garden and rub shoulders with stylish locals while the city’s hippest DJs set the scene.
  • Dr

    Secret Location
    Book ahead to see the doctor: a top-secret speakeasy with sublime cocktails, sure to cure what ails you. You’ll need an appointment for directions to the secret townhouse, but mind the house rules. Mobile phones should be kept switched off to preserve the intimate ambience; be prepared to wait a little while for your expertly mixed treatment.
  • Supermercado

    Schiedamsevest 91A, 3012 BG
    This all-day bar/eatery draws from across Latin America for its flavours and aesthetic. Mingle with a young, cool crowd over mezcal sours, cheesy quesadillas and flavour-packed tacos and ceviche. Expect vibrant rhythms, bold colours and an eye-catching scattering of tropical plants.
  • Café LaBru

    Hartmansstraat 18A, 3012 VA
    Just off Witte de Withstraat, this laid-back bar is the perfect hipster hang. Fourteen gins round out an impressive liquor collection, all of which pair nicely with the tapas menu. The regular live music sessions tend toward jazz and Latin. The mismatched vintage decor is all for sale – a dangerous proposition after a few cocktails.

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Image credits: © Image bank; © Image bank; © Claire Droppert; © Rotterdam Marketing; © Rotterdam Marketing; © Rose Rouge; © Kaapse Maria; © Mark Bolk; © Dr; © Supermercado; © Café LaBru; © Shutterstock; © Getty Images; © Zeezout; © de Groene Passage; © Bram Ladage