Kid friendly restaurants and things to do in Rotterdam
I so love our home town of Rotterdam. I’m not originally from there but really enjoyed living there for a few years. Seeing the Rotterdam skyline always puts a smile on my face. Every time we go back (now that we live abroad) we make sure we visit the open air markets on Saturday or Tuesday to buy 5 kg of Dutch cheese. 🙂 I love markets wherever I am. You can’t find the same vibe in other places. And the fish, veggies and fabrics are great. But we also really enjoy the new Markthal www.markthal.nl with it’s wonderful ceiling and nice shops where you can have a bite to eat at the counters or in the upstairs restaurants. This place is also packed with restaurants on the sides. Our kids enjoyed themselves looking for different produce in the ceiling 🙂
The kids also like going to the normal open air market; especially the cheese stall where we always buy 5 kg of Dutch cheese. The kids get to taste everything and love it.
We have just spent a week in Rotterdam and also had to find places to eat with our two kids (almost 3 and 4 yrs). As our kids are not the easiest eaters and definitely not the best restaurant guests we were looking for places with play areas. I’d like to share with you our best finds and hope it might be of help to any of you.
If you’re looking for a nice place to go for a vacation or weekend in the Netherlands you should consider Rotterdam. It’s not so crowded as Amsterdam, has lots of modern architecture (it seems like there is a new building every time we visit) and has a great vibe. Ofcourse I’m bias but hey, it is number 5 on the top 10 list of cities to visit in 2016 by Lonely Planet.
Restaurants we found were great to visit with our kids include the following:
We really liked this homey (Thuisch means home) place in Kralingen (part of Rotterdam) with it’s separate play room for kids. The kids loved it and it wasn’t a problem for them to run around the restaurant either. The restaurant has several places with nice sofas and big tables. There are small tables and relax areas. Addin g to the homey feel is the tableware with different kinds of plates on one table.
Us being in this restaurant was very appropriate as we were there with the whole family. We ordered a lot of different snacks and two salads for dinner (on a Friday evening it was like an extended afternoon drink thing). The food quality was very good; we particularly loved the chicken wings. The rest of the menu is pretty basic (but what I saw looked good) with big burgers, ribs and salads. www.thuisch.nl
We’ve had lunch with the kids at Osteria Vicini. This is an Italian restaurant in Kralingen in a nice looking old industrial building. The restaurant also has it’s own shop and downstairs there is a workshop room, dance studio and clothing store. The kids enjoyed themselves in the play area as well as at the table. The backside of the menu has place for colouring and crayons where supplied by the waitress.
The thing I never understand is why the kids portions are huge and would be more than enough to feed an adult. I have found this to be the case in most restaurants with a kids menu. I guess it needs to be enough for teenagers as well but please restaurants; give at least half the amount if you see it’s ordered for toddlers. Now I often just order one dish for the kids to share but they don’t always want the same thing..
The basic food; pasta, pizza and sandwich were good. Although I did bite on a hard olive pit (without the olive attached to it). Onno’s swordfish was left standing at the counter way to long which resulted in an overcooked result.
The restaurant was pretty busy for a Wednesday afternoon. There seemed to be a lot of hip business people (all guys wearing shirt with sweater instead of a jacket) having lunch here.
Osteria Vicini: www.vicinirotterdam.nl
Grand Café Wester Paviljoen
This is an old nice grand cafe close to the city center (not directly walking distance though) with a big terrace in spring and summer. There are always plenty of people in this place and many come here for drinks and finger food or a bite to eat. They have a nice small play area for toddlers with a few tables next to it (if you make a reservation, reserve one of these spots).
photos from their site (I actually forgot to take photos when we were here): www.westerpaviljoen.nl
Another very cool place to hang-out and grap a bite to eat are the Fenix Food Factory on Katendrecht (opposite of Hotel New York on the south side of the city). This is a very hip side of town and especially cool in spring and summer. There are lots of food stands, bars and they also have a kids play area. The shops here all offer food from local suppliers or are even the manufacturer themselves. Closed on Monday and Tuesday.
There are also lots of restaurants on the so called Kop van Zuid (south side of the city right after you cross the Erasmus bridge) but they are not particularly adapted to kids.
Things to do in Rotterdam with toddlers
Blijdorp Zoo: the zoo is always a good idea but is expensive. It’s 15,50 for kids 3 yrs and up and 21 for adults (all with a Euro 3 discount you get when buying tickets online); they have small carts for rent (E 2,50) so you don’t have to carry your toddler at the end and multiple playgrounds (for small and bigger kids, there is really cool one for kids 6 years and up next to the gorillas and giraffes). Even if the weather is bad there are plenty of indoor areas to visit. www.diergaardeblijdorp.nl
De Ontdekhoek: this is a place to be creative and discover how things work. Really a hands on museum like place. Be advised they are closed for the public on a few days (only open to schools those days). www.ontdekhoek.nl
Maritime museum: lots of activities for kids and nice exhibitions but I would recommend it from about 4 yrs of age www.maritiemmuseum.nl
Villa Zebra: creativity point with special exhibitions and activities for kids (from 3 till 12). It’s located between the Erasmus-bridge and Willems-bridge on the south side of Rotterdam. www.villazebra.nl
de Ballenbak Rotterdam: If the kids need to let go of some energy, visit this children play heaven (parent hell to many because of the screaming kids and general noise). Kids love it. There are two branches of this big indoor playground in Rotterdam. www.deballebak.nl
the markethall Markthal and normal market: always lots to see