Rotterdam: One of the Safest Cities to Explore

Rotterdam Markthal
Rotterdam Markthal

Why Rotterdam is Your Ticket to a Safe and Happy Vacation

By Sierra DeWalt

Travelers all over the world know and love the city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. It is known for its canals, museums, and coffee shops. However, the lesser-known city of Rotterdam has as much to offer and during the coronavirus pandemic, is a better choice for travel.

A Particularly Spacious City

Spacious Rotterdam
Spacious Rotterdam

Why? Social distancing happens easily in Rotterdam because the city is open and spacious. This stems from the city’s history dating back to 1940.


In 1940, during World War II, the Nazis bombed Rotterdam. Around 900 people died and about 30,000 buildings were destroyed.

Following this, Rotterdam was able to save a few historic buildings, such as the Sint-Laurenskerk church, but decided to turn to more modern architecture as well. Today, the city is a colorful mix of architecture throughout the ages. 

But the new buildings don’t have to interfere with space for people to walk, bike ride, and explore. “The growing city works creatively with the available space: up, down or on the water,” says Esmee Köhler of Rotterdam Partners. An out-of-the-box approach to architectural design allows the city extra space for tourists and locals alike.

One and a Half Meter Society 

Rotterdam considers itself a “one and a half meter society,” meaning that people are strongly encouraged to stay one and a half meters (about 2 arms lengths) apart. If an area is getting crowded, people are required to wear masks, and leaving the space is suggested. Rotterdam has gotten creative about ways to keep people distanced. 

Bubble Badge in Rotterdam
What the bubble badge looks like on

One such solution is the Bubble Badge, a small badge worn around the neck that makes a sound to alert the wearer when they are too close to another person. The Bubble Badge was invented by tech duo The Incredible Machine and the Flemish 

Their first quarantine distance enforcer was called The Social Distance Thing. This gadget projected a laser beam in a circle with a one and a half radius around the wearer, ensuring everyone knew when they were too close. The Social Distance Thing started the discussion and led them to create the Bubble Badge.

The Bubble Badge hopes to keep people safer without a loud annoying beep: merely a soft sound as a reminder for the wearer to stay a safe distance away.

Rotterdam’s Measures Against COVID-19

In addition to the Bubble Badge, Rotterdam has other regulations and implementations for keeping the city safe. Face masks are required for everyone over 13 in the busiest parts of the city: markets, indoor shopping malls, and city center. People are also strongly encouraged to use their own car, bicycle, or a taxi. Public transportation still runs, but only for essential travel.

Reservations are usually required for restaurants, cafes, and bars. Customers must keep a one and a half meter distance between each other and might be asked if they have a fever or cold symptoms. Museums and monuments are open for a limited capacity. Visitors are encouraged to use their Rotterdam Welcome Card to make an online reservation in advance. 

Rotterdam Welcome Card

What is the Rotterdam Welcome Card? It’s your golden ticket: a card that offers discounts of 25% or more off on the cities main attractions, restaurants, public transportation, and even bike rentals. These discounts are valid throughout your whole stay in Rotterdam and can only be used once at each location.

During the pandemic, some of these attractions may require online reservations. Unfortunately, this might require you to pay online and therefore not get your Rotterdam Welcome Card discount. You will want to check if the location takes RWC discounts before you book a reservation.

Rotterdam Welcome Cards can be purchased online or at Rotterdam Tourist Information offices.

Drive-Thru Museum

Boijmans Ahoy Drive Thru Museum
Boijmans Ahoy Drive-Thru Museum. Photo by Aad Hoogendoorn.

You’ve heard of a drive-in movie theater, but have you heard of a drive-through museum? Rotterdam’s Boijmans Ahoy Drive-Thru Museum offers a unique mix of art galleries and drive-in movie theatres. 

The museum is a collaboration of the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and Rotterdam Ahoy. Museum-goers drive through an exhibition of over fifty pieces of art. The theme is nature versus culture and the artwork reflects the struggle of man against nature. 

You can only go through the exhibition in an electric car. You can ride on your own or borrow one from car dealership Breeman BMW & MINI.

To borrow a car, you just sign a user form, receive instructions, and take a test drive on the track. There is also a chance to win a weekend getaway with Breeman BMW & MINI. Every guest is automatically entered into the contest. The winners will be announced after August 23rd. 

“Let’s Get Physical” Sculpture Route

Rotterdam Sculpture Tour
Atelier Van Lieshout’s “Waterwagon” Sculpture

Famous Dutch artist Atelier van Lieshout offers the chance for a sculpture-filled mini road trip adventure in the west of Rotterdam. His collection of over 30 sculptures in 13 locations allows people to appreciate his art in a socially distanced way. 

To participate, just get your free map at AVL Mundo Sculpture Park and follow it to each location to explore the artwork. This lesser-known part of Rotterdam can now be discovered and appreciated through the medium of art.

“‘Let’s get physical’ shows a cross-section of Van Lieshout’s body of work,” says Esmee Köhler, “ranging from figurative polyester sculptures to abstract steel objects.” For both art lovers and tourists looking for a safe adventure, this sculpture route is bound to excite.

Architecture to Remember 

Pauluskerk in Rotterdam
The Pauluskerk in Rotterdam

No discussion of Rotterdam would be complete without mentioning the architecture. After the 1940 bombing, the city became a mosaic of different styles of architecture. Schools, churches, and markets alike have striking buildings with unexpected designs.

St Paul’s Church

One of these is the Pauluskerk (St. Paul’s church). This building uses triangular shapes to make a round opening towards the front. The original Pauluskerk was built in the 1950s, but was torn down and renovated in 2007.

Perhaps the most unmissable experience in Rotterdam is the Markthal (Market Hall) in the center of the city. This 131-foot building houses a market hall, offices, and apartments. In the shape of a giant arch, the market hall has a beautifully painted inside and windows everywhere. One of Rotterdam’s biggest attractions, the impressive architecture of this market hall is a must-see.

Gateway to Europe

Rotterdam has been called the ‘gateway to Europe,’ because of its harborside location and strong travel industry. But now, in the age of coronavirus, Rotterdam is not just the gateway, but the destination to base your travels.

Through their protective measures, creative socially-distanced art exhibitions, and new distancing technology, Rotterdam is keeping citizens and visitors safe and entertained. If you’re looking to travel, but are unsure of how to stay in your own bubble, Rotterdam could be your solution.

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