Rotterdam has all kinds of nightlife, but the dance club scene leads the way -- pack your clubbing duds to wear among Holland's hottest dance venues.
The Performing Arts
The world-class Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra plays at the concert hall (and convention center) De Doelen, at Kruisstraat 2 (tel. 010/217-1717; www.dedoelen.nl; Metro: Centraal Station), which opened in 1966 and also hosts jazz, world music, and other concerts.
The Club & Music Scene
From converted center-city cinemas to converted harbor warehouses, Rotterdam has the space for techno, trance, and other fancy moves. Most clubs don't get going until midnight, when bars are getting ready to close, and keep going until about 5am.
After nightfall, a multitude of establishments in Rotterdam come alive with guests eager to eat, drink, and be merry. Along with drinking and dancing, late-night dining is on the menu in the 50m-long (164-ft.) tunnel called De Blauwe Vis, Weena Zuid 33 (tel. 010/213-4243). The close-by Baja Beach Club, Karel Doormanstraat 10-12 (tel. 010/213-1180; www.baja.nl; Metro: Centraal Station), guarantees a sunny ambience, even when it rains, and the bar staff of tanned, muscular males and tanned shapely females in beachwear effortlessly slip into the role of entertainers, while dancers groove to laid-back rhythms from live music or DJs. A young crowd frequents Nighttown, West-Kruiskade 26 (tel. 010/436-1210), for dancing and lounging and for hard-core and mellow music, both live and recorded.
Techno, electro sounds, party nights and events like fashion shows are on the agenda at centrally located .off_corso, Kruiskade 22 (tel. 010/411-3897; www.off-corso.nl; Metro: Stadhuis), a converted cinema southwest of Hofplein, with bars and seating on several levels. Visuals are projected onto a screen on the main dance floor. With multiple dance floors, secluded lounges, reserved VIP areas, and music from live bands and DJs, nearby Thalia Lounge, Kruiskade 31 (tel. 010/214-2547; www.thaliarotterdam.nl; Metro: Stadhuis), is aimed at sophisticated over 25s. It's willing to experiment, for example with "sushi-samba," a mix of Asian and Latin.
Maastheater, Boompjes 751 (tel. 010/413-4091), a water-side disco where DJs dictate the music styles, is popular with students. Some nights are hosted by Rotterdam's party organizer, Ted Langenbach, who is associated with the ultracool Now and Wow Club, Lloydstraat 30 (tel. 010/476-2452).
A place where the Rotterdam gay scene parties the nights away is the Gay Palace, Schiedamsesingel 139 (tel. 010/414-1486; www.gay-palace.nl).
Jazz cats should make their way to Dizzy, 's Gravendijkwal 127 (tel. 010/477-3014; www.dizzy.nl), an informal, long-established cafe where live music is the name of the game. If you want to see a global pop star, take a ride to Ahoy, Ahoyweg 10 (tel. 0900/235-2469). Megastars perform here to capacity audiences of 10,000.
Bars & Cafes
Bars range from the city's most traditional watering holes at old-world Delfshaven, to shiny modern places along the river.
Dating from a respectably venerable 1912, Café De Oude Sluis, Havenstraat 7 (tel. 010/477-3068; www.trilobiet.nl/sluis Metro: Delfshaven), is a slice of Delfshaven's old harbor scene, with its brown wall carvings and bric-a-brac, and at the first hint of sunshine, tables and chairs appear along the harbor wall. A few doors along, Proeflokaal De Ooievaar, Havenstraat 11 (tel. 010/476-9190; Metro: Delfshaven), is Rotterdam's only jenever "sampling room," stocking dozens of Dutch and Belgian gin varieties. Its intimate surroundings merit the prized Dutch description gezellig, meaning warm, cozy and welcoming, and it occasionally hosts small-scale live-music concerts.
In the city's hip Meent district, Level, Pannekoekstraat 76A (tel. 010/280-0788; www.levelrotterdam.nl; Metro: Blaak), is a state-of-the-art cocktail bar, decked out in a warm shade of Holland's trademark orange national color. Its staff can shake up more than 60 cocktails, many of them exotic examples of the art. So skilled are ultracool cocktail mixers of Toko94, Witte de Withstraat 94B (tel. 010/240-0479; www.toko94.com; Metro: Eendrachtsplein), that they are described as "mixologists." Under the low bar lights they shake up a tidal wave of tropical drinks to accompany Caribbean and Asian food, along with jazz and other laid-back music.
Try your luck at Holland Casino Rotterdam, Plaza Complex, Weena 624 (tel. 010/206-8206; www.hollandcasino.nl; Metro: Centraal Station). There's roulette, blackjack, punto banco, slot machines, and more. The dress code here is "correct" (collar and tie for men), and the minimum age is 18. You need your passport to get in. The casino is open daily (except May 4 and Dec 31) from 12:30pm to 3am. Admission is 5€ ($8); Wednesday is "ladies day," and admission is free for all females.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.