If you've been following me for a while, you know I travel to Rotterdam in the Netherlands quite often. Until now, I'd never really gone shopping in Rotterdam, though, so when Rotterdam Partners invited me to come and check out their different shopping areas in light of the now past Black Friday, I took my camera and tucked away my wallet.
- What is Black Friday?
- Black Friday in Rotterdam
- Rotterdam shopping areas: a breakdown of where to go shopping in Rotterdam
- Shopping in Rotterdam outside the city center
- What to buy in Rotterdam
- Opening times and dates for Rotterdam shops
- How to get to Rotterdam
- Where to stay in Rotterdam
- Pin for later
What is Black Friday?
Black Friday is the Friday following Thanksgiving day in the US, which is always the fourth Thursday of November. It's seen as the official start of the Christmas shopping season since the 1950s but the term “Black Friday” only became widely used in the early 2000s.
Many retailers open early on Black Friday but nowhere does it get as crazy as in the US, where there are even stores opening at midnight.
But where does the term come from? Apparently, from the crowds and traffic congestion that go hand in hand with the start of Christmas shopping. You can read more about this on Wikipedia.
Black Friday in Rotterdam
Black Friday didn't become popular in the Netherlands until about 2015 but its popularity has grown quickly ever since. More and more stores in Rotterdam's city center participate in Black Friday, which takes place on November 29 in 2019. On that day, shops give discounts up to 80% of the original price!
And it's not just shops that throw around discounts. Many restaurants, museums, and hotels take part in Black Friday in Rotterdam as well.
Good to know:
- While Black Friday is on – indeed – Friday, lots of stores continue giving discounts over the weekend as well as on Cyber Monday, the Monday after Black Friday.
- On Black Friday, lots of stores will stay open until 11 p.m. with department store De Bijenkorf, H&M, Weekday and Media Markt staying open until midnight.
In 2018, there was plenty to do around the city center for Black Friday:
- At de Koopgoot (see below), DJs played tunes and disco balls for decoration made you groove from store to store.
- The Lijnbaan (“Line Street”) was decorated with washing lines full of black t-shirts that were donated to a good cause after the sales weekend.
- At a special cash cabin at the WTC Shops, shoppers had the chance to win discount and shopping vouchers.
- Decathlon had a cabin with black balls. The shopper who caught the most balls won some cool prizes.
- At Plaza, a mystery shopper moved between the regular shoppers and surprised them by paying back (a part of) their purchase.
- Do your research, especially for more expensive items. The original price won't always be visible in stores.
- It'll be super busy. Take public transportation and bring water and a snack.
- Watch out for pick-pockets. The busier it is, the more active they are./li>
Drop by the Rotterdam Tourist Information Office
The Rotterdam Tourist Information center at the Coolsingel is a good place to check for a cool Rotterdam souvenir or visit the free Rotterdam Discovery exhibition in the basement.
Rotterdam shopping areas: a breakdown of where to go shopping in Rotterdam
1. MAHO Quarter
The MAHO Quarter is the area around the Pannekoekstraat and the Botersloot behind the Markthal. This is where you come for originality and quirkiness. Possibly the best-known store in this neighborhood is Very Cherry, selling 1950's fashion.
By the way, did you know that the Pannekoekstraat (“Pancake Street”) is actually named after a pancake restaurant? It is! And you can still get pancakes at Pannenkoekenhuis Dutch Diner, now on Meent 20.
2. Hoogstraat and Korte Hoogstraat
It's hard to put a label on the Hoogstraat and Korte Hoogstraat. Both feature a curious range of shops, from well-known chains and budget stores on the northern side to hip independent shops such as sneaker store WOEI.
Good to know:
At one of the Hoogstraat, you'll find department store Hudson's Bay. At the top floor, there's a La Place eatery from where you can enter the rooftop terrace to get a view of the Markthal in the distance and the shopping street below.
And if you want to feel like you're in New York, head to Saks Off 5th, an outlet store of the famous Saks on 5th Avenue in New York selling designer brands at prices discounted up to 60%.
3. The Industry Building
The Industriegebouw or “Industry Building” is a rather new hotspot in Rotterdam. A 1952 industry building restored in its original state, it now houses office spaces, shops, and cafes.
Alfredo's Taquería serves Mexican cuisine with a modern twist while you can get breakfast all day long at By Jarmusch. Café @ Home is a popular spot for students and laptop works but let's get to the stores, shall we?
Groos is where you find original gifts (for yourself or someone else) made in Rotterdam. There's more made-in-Rotterdam at VICO Movement, a local shoe brand and at Evernow, an independent design store and studio. Clothing and more store Loula is also worth checking out.
4. The Nieuwe Binnenweg
The Nieuwe Binnenweg offers a diverse mix of mostly independent stores such as flower store Een Bloemetje op Tafel, pop-up store Restored, vintage store Sistermoon, and record store Demonfuzz Records. This street is where you come for design, music, gifts, and clothes nobody else is wearing.
A favorite on the Nieuwe Binnenweg is probably gift shop Voorlopig, which means as much as “For the time being”. Lots of the gifts for sale here are handmade or limited edition and if you need a break, you can get coffee and cake from a local roaster and bakery at the back of the store. Take your time and if you see something you like, just get it, because you won't find it anywhere else.
Don't just stop at the stores I've mentioned, though. Take your time to do the Nieuwe Binnenweg. Walk it on one side, then come back on the other to make sure you haven't missed a thing and don't be afraid to walk into the littlest stores, such as Zigt Sieraden, which sells all kinds of jewelry from small and subtle to big and shiny, from other designers as well as from its own collection.
I often feel a bit uncomfortable when I'm the only person in a smaller store as if I'm being watched, but the smaller stores are exactly where you can find unique things, so go ahead and let your eyes wander around.
Good to know
The Nieuwe Binnenweg also has a nice bar scene and can get just as lively at night as it is during the day.
This former train station offers a mix of stores and eateries and also houses the famous jazz club Bird. Since June 2018, the rooftop has been turned into a city park. Men should pop into Denoism here, while interior design lovers need to check out Pantoufle.
6. De Bijenkorf
The Bijenkorf (“de” is “the” in Dutch) is a Dutch shopping icon. Here you'll find clothing, linen, books, kitchen and writing supplies, suitcases, sportswear and more.
The Rotterdam division of this warehouse chain is currently being renovated and has already gotten a large new beauty treatment area where you can get pampered with your favorite cosmetic brands. Since August 2018, it also has a brand new Coolsingel Café where you can enjoy a coffee with cake or a light lunch with – why not – champagne.
7. Lijnbaan and Koopgoot
In 1953, the Lijnbaan was the first car-free shopping boulevard in Europe and it's still the best-known Rotterdam shopping street. The pedestrian area expands onto the Lijnbaan's side streets, which are worth wandering into as well. Here, you'll mostly find big retailers like Vero Moda and Mango.
The same goes for the Koopgoot – literally translated as “the buying gutter” and the unofficial but widely used name the people of Rotterdam have given the Beurstraverse (“Stock Exchange Passage”). It's part of the Beursplein (“Stock Exchange Square”) that runs a level below ground while still being outdoors.
Close to more budget and mid-range retailers of the Lijnbaan and the Koopgoot, you find the more exclusive brands of the Kruiskade. Here you can go shopping at stores like Hugo Boss and Roberto Botticelli.
9. Van Oldenbarneveltstraat
The Van Oldenbarneveltstraat is a small but exclusive shopping street featuring boutiques selling designer labels and high-end cosmetic stores. No high street chain stores here but you can find a few international big names, such as the Filippa K store.
At Meent, you can find trendy boutiques and well-known cafes such as Dudok. I especially like the We Are Labels store. Its tagline is “Only great minds can afford simple style”.
11. Witte de Withstraat
The Witte de Withstraat is mostly known for its many cafes and eateries but you can also find art galleries and independent shops here. I always like to pop in at sneaker store SEVENTYFIVE and at concept store Swan it's super hard not to buy all the things.
Together with the Lijnbaan, the Kruiskade, the Van Oldenbarneveltstraat, the Koopgoot, and the Coolsingel, the Witte de Withstraat is part of what's known as the “Rotterdam Cool District”.
12. Rotterdam Market Hall
You won't go clothes or design shopping here but it's impossible not to include the Markthal in this list. The famous Rotterdam indoor market with its colorful ceiling has gained international recognition ever since it was opened in 2014.
The 450 stalls definitely are inviting but I'm not sure if they'll give you the best bang for your buck. Then again, sometimes it's worth paying a little extra just for the experience.
Shopping in Rotterdam outside the city center
Aside from the many stores in the city center, Rotterdam also has two big malls: Zuidplein and Alexandrium.
Rotterdam Zuidplein is the biggest mall in the Netherlands with a surface of 55,000 m² and it's only a 10-minute metro ride away from the center. This Rotterdam shopping center has 155 diverse stores as well as a food court. The mall also has a large underground parking space, a bicycle parking, and its own bus stop.
While Zuidplein is the biggest in size, the Rotterdam Alexandrium mall has more stores. With 200 shops in this Rotterdam shopping mall, it'll easily keep you busy for a day. Good to know is that Alexandrium consists out of three different parts: a regular shopping mall, Alexandrium Megastores, and the “living mall” which focuses entirely on home decoration.
What to buy in Rotterdam
If you're looking for a few typical things to buy in Rotterdam to take home as souvenirs, these stores will surely be able to help you out:
- Nultien – Nultien or “010” sells apparel related to Rotterdam.
- Groos – Groos is a concept store selling things made by the local creative industry, from socks to beer.
- Het Rotterdams Warenhuis – This store, part of Hotel STROOM, sells all kinds of things produced in Rotterdam – from backpacks to puzzles and calendars.
- Rotterdam Tourist Information – The Tourist Info gift shop sells a lot of Rotterdam-related souvenirs as well as things from the Holland region.
- Foodelicious – The place to be for foodies, this store has a wide range of food and drinks produced in Rotterdam and surroundings.
And that's it for my recommendations! If you want even more inspiration, make sure to check the Rotterdam shopping page on the website of the Rotterdam Tourist Info. It has lists of stores per category so you can go in search of the kind of shops that interest you the most.
Opening times and dates for Rotterdam shops
What's cool about going shopping in Rotterdam, is that stores are open seven days a week. That's not a common thing in the Netherlands or even Europe. Official opening and closing times in the city center are as follows:
- Monday: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
- Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
- Friday: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
- Sunday: 12 p.m. – 7 p.m.
The Zuidplein Rotterdam opening hours are:
- Monday: 11 a.m. – 5.30 p.m.
- Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday: 9 a.m. – 5.30 p.m.
- Friday: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Opening hours for Rotterdam Alexandrium shopping center are:
- Monday: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
- Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
- Friday: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
- Sunday: 12 p.m. 5 p.m.
Opening hours and days can differ for individual Rotterdam stores so if there's a place you definitely want to go to, I recommend looking it up beforehand.
Special holiday season opening times
I've already mentioned the special opening times during Black Friday but also in the run-up to Christmas, a lot of stores open earlier or stay open later at certain dates. Check the Rotterdam Tourism website for more information.
And then there are a few public holidays on which stores will remain closed:
- Easter Sunday and Monday
- December 25
- January 1
In the Netherlands, stores can have sales all-year-round and so there are often times when you'll see discount posters in the shopping windows.
How to get to Rotterdam
Whether you're flying into Schiphol Airport or traveling from another city, taking the train is the easiest way to get to the center of Rotterdam. Rotterdam Central Station lies right at the edge of the center, walking distance from all the shopping areas. It also has frequent train connections to other Dutch and European cities.
I regularly work together with Thalys when I go to Rotterdam. Yes, these high-speed trains are a bit more expensive than the regular ones, but you do get a lot in return for that higher price:
- you arrive sooner.
- you're certain of a seat.
- there's free WiFi.
- you're certain of enough space (which really isn't the same as just getting a seat.
- you get to charge your phone or another device as every seat has an electricity socket.
- You can get some work done as every seat has a stow-away table.
- and if you get a premium ticket, you can enjoy a lovely meal served right at your seat.
If you still need to book your plane ticket to the Netherlands, check Skyscanner for flight options.
Good to know:
There are quite a few stores at Rotterdam Central Station too that you can only get to when you have a ticket (you need to go through some gates to reach the platforms).
It depends a bit on where you're coming from, but traveling by car to Rotterdam will almost always be more expensive and more of a hassle than going by train. Rotterdam is a big city and so there's always traffic, whether you're driving in, out, or around town.
If for some reason, it's more convenient for you to have your car around, or if you're traveling with a group of people, you can always park in one of the city's many paid parking lots. There are quite a few that have very reasonable prices for 24 hours of parking.
That being said, avoid parking on the street as it's much more expensive and limited in time. And if you come during the weekend, take into account that it can get very busy and you might have to look around for a spot – even in the parking garages.
Where to stay in Rotterdam
I've visited Rotterdam several times already and on my shopping trip, I tried PREMIER SUITES PLUS Rotterdam right across the street from Rotterdam Central Station. With their 104 serviced apartments, their aim is “bringing home a little closer” and I have to say they do quite a good job at that.
I only spent one night here but can see how the apartments are a great solution for those looking to stay in Rotterdam for a while.
All apartments at Premier Suites have a fully-equipped kitchen, an open plan lounge and dining area with a flat-screen tv, comfy couch, and a dedicated work space, as well as a separate bedroom and a separate bathroom.
There's free WiFi and all linen and towels are provided. Toiletries are complimentary and a welcome tray with tea, coffee, and biscuits awaits gets upon their arrival.
Definitely check out their website for more information, as it even has ground plans of the different apartments they have as well as a 360° view of an apartment. Oh, and because Premier Suites Rotterdam will be participating in the upcoming Black Friday sales!
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I was invited by Rotterdam Partners to come and check out the Rotterdam shopping scene so I could write about it. Thalys was so kind to offer me my train tickets and Premier Suites hosted me at one of their apartments. As always, this article reflects only my personal experience and opinion.