Officially the Netherlands’ second city, Rotterdam excels when it comes to cutting-edge architecture and design. Its retail culture’s just as thrilling, from the art and interiors troves of the Witte de Withstraat to the edgy fashion boutiques near the harbour. Wherever you wander in this blustery metropolis, you’ll find something unique.
Hofbogen is the name to drop if you want to shop like a local. In its day, this viaduct was a marvel of engineering, stretching from Centraal Station to the city’s northern edge. Now its arches have been reinvented as creative spaces, home to record shops, music venues and the experimental FG Food Labs restaurant.
In the upscale Hillegersberg neighbourhood, this multi-brand womenswear store has all the ingredients for a polished working wardrobe. Think discreetly luxe clothes by the likes of Bruno Cucinelli, Dries van Noten and Marni, as well as its own line of elegantly tailored separates. Unless you’ve got corner-office money to spend, though, you might want to wait until sale time.
This design emporium only stocks products made by Rotterdam residents. Having outgrown its original home, it’s now doing a brisk trade in its light and airy premises to the east of the city centre. Pieces run from coat hangers by local wunderkind Lex Pott to colour-blocked shopping bags by Susan Bijl. Proof that the Dutch can make even the most mundane item into a functional work of art…
Pretty in millennial pink, this concept store on one of Rotterdam’s best-known thoroughfares sells life-enhancing ornaments and unusual, eco-friendly trinkets. Pieces run from poured soy candles from Utrecht’s Brandt Kaarsen to graphic cushions from Fest, and nifty, flat-pack brass containers for air plants. In short, it’s the ideal hunting-ground for offbeat, design-savvy gifts.
Under the arches of the awesome Hofbogen viaduct development, this place is a vintage vinyl Valhalla. You’ll find Rotterdam cool kids of all ages here, browsing for genre-straddling ear candy from Dutch rock to electronica. Its listening corner means you can try before you buy, and there’s a selection of vintage band T-shirts for those keen to pledge their musical allegiances.
If you like your homewares emblazoned with whimsical slogans, make a beeline for this cutesy concept store. It also sells stationery, ceramics, prints and dried flowers encased in bell jars. For a more portable souvenir, check out the boxed sweets in the colours of the city’s football team, Feyenoord. If you’re peckish, Keet also serves first-division coffee and cakes in its café.
There's something for everyone in Rotterdam, from shopping to abseiling down the Euromast.
Rotterdam is a young city with a vibrant nightlife.
From experimental architecture to tempting street food, Rotterdam is a thrill to explore.
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Image credits: © Shutterstock; © Shutterstock; © Pauw; © Nick van Tiem; © Titia Hahne; © Annie Theby; © Keet; © S. Hughes; © Image bank; © Rotterdam Marketing; © Shutterstock; © Eurostar; © Shutterstock