Rotterdam's Zestienhoven Airport (tel. 010/446-3455; www.rotterdam-airport.nl), 4km (2 1/2 miles) north of the city, has scheduled flights from a few places in the Netherlands and Europe. Bus no. 33 goes from the airport to the center city in 20 minutes for 3€ ($4.80); a taxi to downtown is around 20€ ($32). If, as is far more likely, you fly into Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, Netherlands Railways has fast train service (50 min.) from Schiphol to Rotterdam, for a fare of 11€ ($18) one-way.
There's frequent train service to Rotterdam Centraal station from around the Netherlands, and from Paris and Brussels. From Amsterdam, there are two to six trains each hour round the clock; the ride takes around 1 hour, and a 1-day round-trip ticket is 24€ ($38). For information on train schedules, call tel. 0900/9292, or visit www.ns.nl.
The Hoek van Holland sea-ferry terminal, for car ferries from Harwich in England, is 20km (13 miles) away, and there are good bus and train connections. Rotterdam's Europoort, the terminal for P&O Ferries car ferries from Hull in England, is about a 30-minute drive.
By car from Amsterdam, take A4/E19, and then A13/E19.
VVV Rotterdam, Coolsingel 5 (tel. 0900/403-4065; fax 010/271-0128; www.vvvrotterdam.nl), at Hofplein, is open Monday to Thursday and Saturday from 9am to 5:30pm, Friday from 9am to 9pm, and Sunday from 10am to 5pm. The VVV Rotterdam Info Cafe in the Grand Café-Restaurant Engels, Stationsplein 45 (Weena entrance), is open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5:30pm, and Sunday from 10am to 5pm.
Rotterdam's sprawling size makes it a city to be explored on foot one area at a time, using a taxi or the extensive RET (tel. 0800/6061; www.ret.nl) public transportation network of bus, tram, and Metro (which runs on north-south and east-west axes) to move from one area to another. The VVV can furnish a map of public transportation routes. Regional bus service is handled by Connexxion (tel. 0900/266-6399; www.connexxion.nl).
Taxi stands are sprinkled throughout the city. For a pick-up, call Rotterdamse Taxi Centrale (tel. 010/462-6060; www.rtcnv.nl) or Taxi Rotterdam (tel. 010/421-1119; www.taxirotterdam.com).
You can get around the city's extensive waterfront using boats operated by RET Fast Ferry and Watertaxi Rotterdam (tel. 010/403-0303; www.watertaxirotterdam.nl).
The festival year kicks off with the Rotterdam International Film Festival (tel. 010/890-9090; www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com), which has established a reputation over 3 decades for presenting quality independent films. During 10 days in late January/early February, huge numbers of film buffs find their way to cinemas around the center city to watch one or more of about 300 films shown on 15 screens.
Each year, for 3 days every July, jazz greats from around the world gather in Holland for the North Sea Jazz Festival (tel. 0900/300-1250 in Holland; tel. 31-10/591-9000 from outside Holland; www.northseajazz.com). This nonstop extravaganza features star performances by internationally acclaimed musicians, in some 200 concerts of jazz, free jazz, blues, bebop, and world music, at the giant Ahoy venue.
Another festival worth looking out for is the multicultural Summer Carnival (tel. 010/414-1772) and its colorful street parade, on the last weekend of July.