Rotterdam, with the largest port in Europe and industrious inhabitants can be described as Amsterdam's more competitive and slightly tougher sibling. The second largest city in the Netherlands, it took a beating during World War II, and there is only a small section of the picturesque old town left. Large avenues—created by bombing lines—dominate, and post-war regeneration and redevelopment continues to push creative and cultural boundaries.
In true avant-garde style, the city is no stranger to innovative eco-initiatives. According to the Clinton Climate Initiative, Rotterdam is the World Capital for Carbon Capture Storage, and the Rotterdam Climate Initiative is currently working on proposals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the city by 50 percent by 2025. The city is also home to the Sustainable Dance Club, the Happy Shrimp Farm and the world's first Formula Zero race. Last year was even designated Rotterdam's Green Year, and plantings of new trees and plants took place all over the city.
For the most recent green news on Rotterdam, check out TreeHugger's archives for the Netherlands.
1. Take Public Transportation: Rotterdamse Elektrische Tram, or RET
Rotterdam's efficient public transport system RET provides 28 bus lines, nine tram lines, and two subway lines. The first metro system in the Netherlands, the Rotterdam Metro consists of two lines and 38 stations, running nearly 35 miles to most key points in the city. Getting to and from the airport is a snap, thanks to airport shuttle buses that conveniently drop passengers off at Station Rotterdam Blaak in just 20 minutes for 2.70 euro (about $3.50).
2. Stay at a Central Hotel: Hotel Bazar
Until a green hotel hits Rotterdam, your best bet is to stay central, close to public transportation. We love the fantastically eclectic decor at the downtown Hotel Bazar, where you can choose from a series of unique Middle-Eastern, African, or South American-themed rooms decked out with furniture, art, and decoration specific to the region. Don't expect air-conditioning, a pool, or a gym—just a fantastic central location eliminating the need for lots of taxis and an excellent restaurant downstairs serving fresh and healthy food.
3. Rent a Bike and Pedal with the Locals
Similar to Amsterdam, there is one first rule in Rotterdam: Get on a bike. Fietspoint Rotterdam CS near the central station is a good choice for bike rentals. As in all Dutch cities, bicyclists have right of way and bike paths are separated from the road, making it safer in traffic. There are some wonderful views to be had bicycling through the leafy Euromast Park or crossing the magnificent Nieuwe Mass river on the Erasmus Bridge.
4. Dine at a Green Restaurant: Bla Bla or Proef
A great reason to visit the Delfshaven district—the last remaining part of Rotterdam's old town—is vegetarian restaurant Bla Bla. Its Web site launches with a quote from Einstein: "Nothing will benefit human health and increase the changes of survival of life on earth as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." Bla Bla provides both a local taste of this historic district and more global flavors with its eclectic menu.
Or, you can play with your food at Proef, Dutch chef Marije Vogelzang's food design studio. Vogelzang has been creating incredible edibles since graduating from the Design Academy in Eindhoven in 2000, and Proef offers an unusual and sensory eating experience. Everything is made from scratch and Vogelzang and her team embrace the Slow Food philosophy.
5. Catch some Rotterdam Nightlife at Sustainable Dance Club
There's been a lot of noise around the opening of Rotterdam's Sustainable Dance Club, developed by the eco-innovators Enviu in partnership with D
6. Take a Free Walking Tour: Once Around Rotterdam
The free and independent Once Around Rotterdam walking tour is an ideal way to start getting to know this city. Pick up a map from the tourist information office or download it online. The two-hour journey hits all the key spots.
7. Check out the Groene (Green) Passage
Rotterdam actually has its own green shopping street: the Groene (Green) Passage. A series of eco-shops on Mariniersweg, the Groene Passage includes an organic butcher, a green interiors store, and a natural product beauty salon.
8. Pick up a Picnic at the Organic Market and Head to Kralingse Bos Public Park
Every Tuesday on the Eendrachtsplein in the city center there is an organic food market. Scoop up some Dutch delicacies like locally made cheese—aged Gouda with cumin is a classic.
Situated northeast of the city center, Kralingse Bos was named the best public space in the Netherlands in 2007. With woods and a large lake, this expansive public park is also the perfect place for a stroll or jog.
9. Visit the National Architecture Institute
Rotterdam is often defined by its remarkable post-modern and contemporary buildings. The National Architecture Institute has excellent exhibitions about architecture—often dealing with sustainable and sociological themes—as well as a great bookshop and a research library for those interested in learning more about the Netherlands' built environment. Or, just wander the streets and see the amazing structures in real life.
10. Take a Boat Trip Around the Harbor
To view Rotterdam by water, sign up for the Spido Cruise. The 75-minute tour around the world famous port includes a peak at the shipyards, docks, and quays of this industrial area.
Travel much? Check out more Green City Guides.