This lively, contemporary and culturally rich Dutch city is now the stop before Amsterdam on the new Eurostar direct link from London. Feel the party atmosphere on King’s Day (April 27): citywide street revelry that kicks off the night before. Or be surprised by adventurous productions during Operadagen (May 19-25; operadagenrotterdam.nl), a festival of world opera. Go Eurostar (eurostar.com), or fly via Amsterdam (less than 30 minutes away by train; britishairways.com, easyjet. com, klm.com).
Stadhuis (City Hall) (3) and head down busy Coolsingel – or wind your way southwards through the Cool District – to Witte de Withstraat (4), with its galleries, speciality shops and pavement cafés. Then on to the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen (5) (superb Old Masters and surrealist art; boijmans.nl), and across the park to the Kunsthal (6) (kunsthal.nl). Finish off at the spectacular, wing-like Erasmusbrug (7), bridging the Nieuwe Maas river.
Smaller streets leading off it (such as Botersloot and Pannekoekstraat) are great for quirkier shops. Groos (groosrotterdam.nl) has unique designer gifts.