Apart from Amsterdam, I’d really never thought about doing a city break in Holland until recently, when I hit up Rotterdam and Eindhoven on a press trip with KLM Airlines [ad], in celebration of their 100 year anniversary. Two cities in a weekend? Ambitious! But actually, in country as compact as Holland, totally do-able I found out, and a trip I’d really recommend doing if you’re into cities like I am. Shouts to Holland’s very efficient train network for making crossing the country so seamless and unflawed — you’d definitely encounter more hiccups with UK’s flakey National Rail. I loved both Rotterdam and Eindhoven so much, plus, the sense of adventure in a multi-stop trip, so I thought I’d lay out the itinerary here, in case you fancied doing something similar. City breakers, go wild!
Every time I fly to Holland, I always think ‘HOW IS THIS SO FAST?’. It’s a 45-minute flight from the UK, so once you’re up in the air, you’re pretty much straight back down. Somehow, KLM manage to fit in a complimentary snack and drink service (always appreciated) so if it’s an evening flight, you’ll barely have time to chug your mini bottle of red. I love flying from London City. Not only is it the most compact and quick airport — you can literally get through security within minutes — but the views over the City and the Thames as you go up get me every time.
Travelling by train in Holland is affordable (far cheaper than it is in the UK) and journey times aren’t long. Trains run regularly, aren’t overcrowded, rarely late, and tickets can be purchased at the station. Easy! Not only is travelling by train one of the most sustainable ways to travel (and something I’m really trying to do more of), but it’s efficient, fuss-free, and a great way to see the countryside too! The train to Rotterdam from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is as quick at 28 minutes express and can be as cheap as €14.
Rotterdam was one of my best discoveries of the year, I absolutely love it’s small-city vibe, industrial aesthetic and hip food and drink scene. Don’t miss the Cube Houses, the mind-boggling architecture by Piet Blom, and the impressive Markthal building too. Other favourites include Floating Farm (a pioneering urban farm that explores the future of sustainable farming), Foodhallen for lunch, and Heroine for a fancy dinner. More recommendations for Rotterdam here.
Mainport Hotel is the best place to stay in Rotterdam — it’s part of Design Hotels so you can expect sleek rooms and great service. There’s a pool and spa on the top floor available for guests, and some rooms even have Finnish saunas in the bathrooms — the dream!! The best thing about Mainport Hotel though is its location. It’s right by Leuvehaven, the city's oldest harbour and is just 5 minutes' walk from the city’s iconic Erasmus Bridge. Super well connected, the hotel has a water-taxi stop on one side, and a Metro station on the other! Views from the rooms are great too, overlooking the water.
I love getting up and going for a run whenever I’m travelling — I always try to fit it in as it’s a great way to see a city, usually before everyone else is up, and it’s one of those things you always remember. If you can prise yourself out of the comfy beds at Mainport, get your trainers on and run along the water, doing a little loop over ‘De Zwaan’ — the nickname for the impressive Erasmus bridge. Windy but super cool!
After breakfast (either at the hotel, or a quick visit to sustainable rooftop cafe, Op Hat Dek), hop on the train to the next stop, city number two...Eindhoven! Rotterdam to Eindhoven is a direct train, which takes 1hr, and costs around €20. Again, trains are usually always on time and you’re pretty much guaranteed a seat. Winning!
Strip-S is without doubt the coolest part of Eindhoven. The industrial estate was once occupied by Philips Electricals. Now, it’s all cool warehouse-style apartments, craft beer bars, gelato shops, record stores and restaurants. Radio Royaal is a great place for dinner. Find more favourites in Eindhoven here.
When it’s time for lunch, check out Kazerne: a restaurant-come-exhibition space in an old army barracks in Eindhoven’s sleepy De Bergen neighbourhood. The super cool space is all stripped back and minimalist, with bench tables and an open-kitchen serving up tasty Italian plates. Truffle ravioli is always a good idea! Wander around the exhibition between courses — there was a small but excellent show on sustainability on when I visited.
That’s it! If you’re just in Holland for the weekend, that’s probably all you’ve got time to squeeze in, otherwise I’d say take it a bit more leisurely in Rotterdam and maybe add another night. Or add another stop — I hear Utrecht is an awesome city worth exploring...