An innovative, modern, and energetic city where 170+ nationalities live together, Gay Rotterdam knows absolutely everyone is different, and therefore everyone should just be themselves. With a long and proud history of supporting its queer communities and leading the world in LGBT rights, cultural and sexual diversity are celebrated here.
A country that – even historically – was not obsessed with interfering with its inhabitant’s actions in the bedroom, the Netherlands has always done things differently.
How refreshing, right?
Rotterdam had some of the world’s first gay bars opening in the 1910s and 20s, and in 2001, the Netherlands became the first country to grant legal recognition to same-sex marriage. Rotterdam has frequently been named one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in the world, and gay travelers can easily savor for themselves the freedoms of living in one of the world’s most culturally liberal countries.
Long overshadowed by Amsterdam, what Gay Rotterdam lacks in bars, saunas, dance parties, and LGBT events is made up for in innovation, modern design and graceful architecture. Even better English is almost universally spoken by the Dutch, meaning it is never difficult to chat with locals – and you will not need to shift through a sea of tourists to find one!
A city where sex has never been taboo, the LGBT community here is embraced and nurtured. Flamboyant gay glory can be found year-round – if you know where to look – and so its no wonder that Rotterdam is fast becoming one of the world’s most in vogue queer travel destinations. Hosting Eurovision in 2020 probably doesn’t hurt either.
No matter where your interest lie – culture, nightlife, food, wine, luxury hotels, sex, or art – we are certain Gay Rotterdam with its real equality and unconstrained freedom will have something for you as well.
Gay Rotterdam Guide: The Essential Guide To LGBT Travel In Rotterdam Netherlands
In this article we will cover...
Attractions in Gay Rotterdam
Being gay does not define which attraction most of us will want to see in each city, and most queer tourists will want to check out the top things to see in Rotterdam during the day!
Rotterdam is a very safe city, but still, all travelers should take caution with valuables. Gay people in Rotterdam do not need to take any precautions at all regarding public displays of affection in this very progressive city, and we encourage you to experience what true freedom feels like. There are so few places in the world as uninhibited and liberating for gay couples as the Netherlands, and this is something every one of us should be able to experience every day!
Rotterdam has so many things to do, it can be overwhelming, but we found our favorite memories were reveling in the modern architecture and urban design on offer here, getting lost wandering the seemingly endless waterways, or investigating the burgeoning cafe culture scene that fuels this innovative city.
We have put together a few more of our favorite things to do in Rotterdam to get you started – but for those who cannot wait until the end of the day, the gay scene of Rotterdam in the city center around Beurs station is always a great place to start.
Top Highlights of Rotterdam
- Delft Blue Factory and Museum – Royal Delft, is the last remaining original Delft Blue factory from the 17th century in Delft that still hand makes Delft Blue according to centuries-old tradition. Discover the history, craftsmanship, and innovation of this royal company during a visit.
- Maritime Museum – As a historic port city, Rotterdam would not be complete without its Maritime Museum. Book an admission ticket online in advance to skip the entrance queues and start exploring. Highlights include interactive exhibits, an offshore oil platform installation, and Maritime Harbor, where visitors can explore permanently-docked ships. A popular rainy day activity.
- Architecture Walking Tour – On this compact and informative 2.5-hour walking tour, your guide will take you to see the most important architectural features of Rotterdam. From the newly built central station, you’ll head out to see icons such as the Lijnbaan, the Timmerhuis, and the Markthal. Your guide will show you aspects of the daily life of the city and also tell you about its history. Nearly every building and every corner that you pass has a story to tell! You’ll also be introduced to the riverside area, where you’ll see the new development along the south bank and end by the Erasmus Bridge, the symbol of modern Rotterdam.
- Euromast – The Euromast is Rotterdam’s icon. At 185 meters high, it’s the highest watchtower in the Netherlands and an essential part of the skyline of the city. Listen to amazing stories about the city as you make your way to the top of this glass elevator. Shoot incredible selfies, be amazed by the view, or share this unique view of Rotterdam with your friends or family. When the weather allows it, you can see up to 30km, and at night it seems like the stars come to life.
- Miniworld Rotterdam – See all of Rotterdam from a birds-eye view as you explore the unique miniature indoor world of Miniworld Rotterdam. Learn the stories, history, architecture, and maritime tradition of this fascinating city, and see the rural Dutch landscapes filled with windmills and villages. Experience a day in Rotterdam over the course of 24 minutes. Miniworld Rotterdam is an excellent way to orient yourself to the city, and a great option for a rainy day.
- Rotterdam Harbor Tour – Explore one of the world’s most innovative ports on this 75-minute tour. See the heavy traffic of sea-going and inland ships, and admire Rotterdam’s impressive skyline as its imposing buildings glide by. Get a unique perspective of the harbor’s shipyards, docks, and the hypermodern transshipping of thousands of containers. Last but not least, the tour will end with views of the steamship ‘Rotterdam,’ the former cruise flagship of shipping company Holland America Line.
- Efteling Theme Park – Spend the day at Efteling World of Wonders theme park in Kaatsheuvel with this entrance ticket. Experience the fairytale-themed rides and attractions as you wish. Meet trolls and elves on the ‘Droomvlucht’ dark ride, beat the dragon on the ‘Joris en de Draak’ wooden coaster, roam the mysterious ‘Symbolica’ Palace, and more. Ideal for all ages, Efteling also hosts live shows and restaurants to enjoy between rides.
- SS Rotterdam – Step aboard the SS’ Rotterdam,’ once one of the Netherlands’ greatest passenger liners, and get a taste of what life was like aboard this grand vessel in bygone days. Take a peek inside the captain’s quarters during a 1-hour above-deck tour, or select the 1-hour below-deck tour and descend into the belly of the ship for an insider’s look at the running of a ship.
- Walking Food Tour – A gastronomical adventure that lets you experience and taste Rotterdam in all its glory. These savvy local guides will tell you wonderful stories about their city, and on the way, you will stop many times for a special bite and/or drink. Of course, you will taste the Dutch classics (bitterballen anyone?), but you also get to try Surinamese and Moroccan specialties, original Rotterdam-brewed beers, and the best hand-made chocolate in the city.
- Day Trip To Keukenhof Garden and Flower Fields – Feast your eyes on the Netherlands’ spring bulb fields and Keukenhof Garden on a full-day trip from Rotterdam. See the vast carpets of flowers around Lisse, and visit Keukenhof, one of the world’s biggest flower gardens. Explore the lawns, ponds, and woodlands independently, absorbing the color and fragrance of the millions of tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. Visit flower exhibitions, restaurants, and shops.
- Holland Pass – With a whole range of benefits for saving time, money, and hassle, the Holland Pass is the essential ticket for touring the Netherlands, including nearby Amsterdam and Eindhoven. Pass in hand, dive into the culture and history of Amsterdam and the surrounding cities with the help of skip-the-line entrance to top attractions, discounts at shops and restaurants, and a complimentary guidebook containing even more savings and city maps. Your pass is valid for one month, meaning you can visit the attractions you choose at your leisure. Enjoy free entrance, skip-the-line tickets, discounts of up to 50%, and public transport with the Holland Pass. You can choose from 100+ top museums & attractions in Amsterdam and beyond.
Gay Things To Do In Rotterdam
- Cafe Fatal – A hetero-friendly dancing night for LBGTQ+ people on the last Sunday of every month at Theatre Rotterdam. The concept came from Berlin and was brought to Rotterdam by the DJ duo. Beginners and advanced students of all ages dance on the same floor under the guidance of experienced instructors from Dance school de Klerk. From the waltz to samba, Latin to ballroom Cafe Fatal is suitable for beginners, advanced and left feet. Come together or alone; everyone can dance at Cafe Fatal!
- Queer Networking For Gay Professionals – If you are less into dancing and drunken antics, you can also meet like-minded people at a professional level at Mankracht Rotterdam. Every third Thursday of the month, there are drinks from 18:00 to 21:30 at a different location, where a well-known or less well-known gay professional is interviewed.
- Gay Film Night – Enjoy modern and classic films with an LBGTQ+ theme during Gay Film Night, every first Tuesday of the month at LantarenVenster. In the summer months, there is even a Gay & Lesbian Summer Film Festival where you can watch LBGTQ+ films from all over the world.
- Ketel Binkie – The largest LGBT sports club in the Netherlands offering seven different sports options and a novel way to meet new members of the queer community
- Rotterdam Pride – The gayest week of the year in Rotterdam when the entire city comes together to celebrates its cultural and sexual diversity. With art, performances, talks, sporting events, parties, and much more – there is something for absolutely everyone to enjoy here.
Gay-friendly and Gay Hotels in Rotterdam Netherlands
LGBT tourism is booming in the Netherlands, and every hotel and hostel in Rotterdam can be safely be considered gay-friendly. After all, being gay-friendly is not all about upscale luxury, but about offering friendly and open service and welcoming everyone with open arms. There are no exclusively gay hotels here as public acceptance has long since progressed past the point where it was necessary to stay in exclusively gay hotels in Rotterdam to avoid discrimination.
Today, however, some hotels in Rotterdam are actively courting the ‘pink dollar’ by hosting LGBT events, Pride promotions, and giving staff training on the local gay scene so they can better help gay guests. Some hotels have courted the gay’s better than others, and these are the hotel we are recommending – not only because of their solid reputation as spots for gay travelers to stay – but because you can rest assured you will be surrounded by like-minded people.
Staying central within walking distance of the Rotterdam gay scene is ideal – although prices get cheaper the further away you travel. No matter where you choose to stay, it pays to book as far ahead as you can because occupancy rates in the best Rotterdam hotels routinely exceeding supply – though it does depend on which season you visit. Competition keeps prices from varying too much – but quality varies greatly.
There are plenty of other hotels in Rotterdam you could consider. Still, as it stands, our options are the most popular and closest to a gay hotel you are likely to find. Whether you want a fun and social hostel, a cheap but private place to crash after a night of partying, or a chic luxury option with world-class design, Gay Rotterdam as something for everyone!
- citizenM Rotterdam Hotel ☆☆☆☆ – Whenever we get the chance, the gay-friendly citizenM hotel chain is one of our favorite places to stay, and their Rotterdam hotel is the epitome of affordable luxury in central Rotterdam. The team here realize that when you’re home, you mostly use the bedroom for sleeping, and you hang out in the living room and kitchen instead. So they cunningly designed their lobby to feel like a comfy, inviting and homely living room instead of a lobby. Clever, eh? There is also food and drink available 24/7, matching whatever timezone you’re still on and a 24hr bar with beer on tap, champagne on ice, and expertly mixed cocktails on order. Expect fabulous design, welcoming service, unique moments, and absolutely no trouser presses, bellboys, towel swans, or pillow chocolates.
- Art Hotel Rotterdam ☆☆☆☆ – A modern, high-rise hotel offering an unforgettable view of the harbor and the skyline of Rotterdam. Stay in luxurious rooms with a quirky mix of modern and retro furnishings just 10 minutes from the city center. A wonderful breakfast buffet is offered for a fee daily, and there is also a funky Italian restaurant, relaxed bar, and a casual lounge with a fireplace onsite.
- Mainport Design Hotel ☆☆☆☆ – A luxurious and modern hotel uniquely situated on the banks of the Maas, with breathtaking views of the water and the Rotterdam skyline. Mainport inspires with a world-class atmosphere and exceptional design. Enter a world that encourages you to experience your own stories and discoveries. Every room and suite brings a new experience and is equipped with a sauna and / or whirlpool. The influences from around the world makes Mainport a true melting pot of continents and cultures and the ultimate base for anyone who wants to discover this port city.
- Rotterdam Marriott Hotel ☆☆☆☆ – Inviting and elegant at the heart of Rotterdam, this faultless hotel boasts a central location, opposite Rotterdam Central Station, and is the ideal starting point for any adventure in this vibrant city. The passionate and experienced team guarantees you a carefree stay no matter which of the 228 modern rooms and suites you opt to stay in. Set on the first 15 floors of a modern glass-and-steel high-rise, this luxury property also boasts a classy brasserie, a modish cocktail bar, a 24-hour gym, and a peaceful lobby cafe.
- ibis Rotterdam City Centre ☆☆☆ – A modern hotel on the waterfront at the Wijnhaven harbor close to the gay Rotterdam scene. Despite its central location, the hotel is in a quiet area and has excellent public transport connections and a public indoor car park. The Beurs-WTC, cruise terminal, and the Erasmus University are a short distance from the hotel. With affordable, clean rooms and a cozy terrace in front of the waterside – the ibis is an old-reliable and one of the most popular options for mid-range gay travelers.
- CityHub Rotterdam ☆☆☆ – A funky capsule-style hotel offering snug spaces that sleep up to 2 – all complete with a very space-age vibe. The pods offer charging sockets and free Wi-Fi, plus modern communal bathrooms. Linens are, of course, provided. There is also a colorful lounge with lockers, a self-service bar, and a shared kitchen – plus a concierge app to make things simpler. CityHub Rotterdam is also very close to the local gay scene. It’s a lot bigger than you expect…. That’s what he said! Top or bottom? Whatever rocks your boat. Upon check-in, you get to choose whether you prefer to climb up or dive in.
- The James Rotterdam ☆☆☆ – Looking for a design hotel in the city center of Rotterdam? The James is the latest place to stay located nearby Central Station and situated in the middle of vibrant streets like the Coolsingel, the Meent, and the Lijnbaan. As a design hotel, they come with stylish interiors in all of their 144 beautiful rooms but also offer great quality, outstanding hospitality, and superb suggestions to experience this cosmopolitan city to the fullest. Staying at The James is all about enjoying their warmly decorated, comfortable, and indulging spaces as if they are yours. A fabulous option to renew, recover, and refresh after a busy day in bustling Rotterdam.
- King Kong Hostel ☆☆ – From first-time hostel explorer to experienced backpacker- these hip and trendy dorms will change how you think about hostels. Wooden floors, large windows, and light colors create a stressfree ambiance, ideal for relaxing after a busy day. Most of the rooms have a private rain shower bathroom and toilet. At King Kong Hostel, they also like to support local artists, so offer various types of rooms and dorms designed by various artists from Rotterdam. Why don’t you come and check it out for yourself? It’s close to the gay bars and offers extremely affordable room rates.
Gay Nightlife in Rotterdam
Rotterdam is well-known as one of the most gay-friendly cities in Europe and has plenty of nightlife options where you are free to be who you are and love whoever you want. However, the gay bar scene here is nowhere near as vibrant as Amsterdam, and many residents hop on a train for a night of debauchery. We also experienced a similar phenomenon in Geneva.
The nightlife in Rotterdam tends to be more about small cafes, bars, and restaurants that convert into clubs at night and the large drug-filled, shirtless discos of Paris, Zurich, Barcelona, and other European nightlife hotspots are not to be found here.
We have tried to focus on the only explicitly gay venues here in Rotterdam, but as local queers will tell you – everyone mixes and mingles freely here. Parties here are more about a love of music than gender, and as such gay and straights perfectly blend in. If you are really lost, however, most of the Rotterdam gay bars are concentrated in the city center around Beurs station in the so-called ‘Pink Triangle’ from Churchillplein to Westblaak, and from Westblaak to Mauritsweg.
We won’t lie and say Rotterdam was our favorite gay vacation destination for nightlife, but we still found plenty of entertainment here…
Gay Bars & Clubs in Rotterdam
- Café Keerweer – A household name in the local queer Rotterdam scene with a reputation for party fun from midnight until the late hours of the morning. Cute, small, and divey with a variety of music, good bar service, and affordable drinks! It’s the best place for a last drink after a night out. If you time your visit right, you can enjoy one of their occasional drag performances or go for bingo night and interview with a famous Dutch artist at the end of each month.
- Bar de Regenboog – A fun gay bar that promises cute boys and the friendliest service in town. A good-time bar where everyone is welcome, and many of the regulars are lifelong patrons. The atmosphere is spontaneous, charismatic, and just a little crazy -,, especially on Wednesdays Karaoke night. Expect lots of colored light, mirror balls, and music that jumps from hip to deliciously wrong.
- Strano – An upscale gay bar in Rotterdam with a rich history stretching back over two decades. Relaxed on their intimate red leather couches or get moving later at night on the dance floor surrounded by video screens showcasing chart-topping hits. Earlier in the evening, we enjoyed delicious cocktails and jazzy tunes, but as other bars close, Strano gets progressively more and rowdier with young revelers pouring in.
- Bar Loge 90 – A cute neighborhood gay pub where everyone knows each other serving food, coffee, and stiff drinks in Rotterdam. We enjoyed the friendly staff, laid-back vibes, daily happy hour, and relaxing on the wonderful terrace on sunny summer days.
- Café Bonaparte – A gay drag bar in Rotterdam with a small dance floor and beautiful classic interior where everyone is welcome. Shows are infrequent but worthwhile.
- Nostra – A straight-friendly lunchroom and wine bar often referred to as the gastronomic niece of Strano across the street. The gay place-to-be for a nice brunch on Sunday morning or a drink with friends tho the customers here are certainly not exclusively LGBTQI.
- Ferry – A place for great food, special drinks, and great music. Originally starting out as a magazine but has grown into a space where food, work, drink, and dance come together. During the day, you can relax or work here and enjoy your coffee on the sun terrace. On Friday and Saturday evenings, DJs play music, and the vibe gets more dancey and queerer.
Queer Party Series in Rotterdam
- WORM – Bar, performance space, creative hub, or theatre? We are still not quite sure how to describe Rotterdam’s WORM, but know this versatile concept provides a much-needed inclusive place for diverse local communities. Primarily concerned with the development of new, alternative art-forms and cultural initiatives, Worm produces and promotes a wide-ranging program covering many different artistic disciplines. These include music, club, film, theatre and performance, art, cabaret, radio, workshops and discussions and hybrids of these activities. Always queer-friendly, their events are anything but boring.
- WTF – Occasional gay party for the open-minded full of dazzling entertainment, burlesque shows, acrobatics, extravagant drags, sexy dancers, and lots of flowing champagne & vodka…, with a twinkle of gold. It is normally held at Club Villa Thalia, one of the biggest clubs in Rotterdam.
- Betty Ford Clinic – A pop-up Sunday Party for the gay’s lesbians and gay-friendly party people taking place a few times a year. After a hiatus, Betty Ford is back, and the formula is clear, the authenticity will be kept but will be a mix between the veterans of the dance scene and the contemporary party people. Baby Betty has been in the clinic for a few months now and is finally beginning to find her way after being misbehaved a number of times. Her sentence is over, and she can receive visitors again…
- Cocktail Fest – An open-minded LGBT indoor festival, held twice a year, at the Maassilo in Rotterdam. There is something for everyone, whether it’s leather harnesses you like, ballet dresses, or colorful leotards…, smokey-eyed makeup or Windsor ties…, muscles, drags, twinks, bears, or daddies. In the middle of the industrial port of Rotterdam, DJs will make the moist Dutch grounds shake and tremble again with everything from techno to circuit, urban to club.
- Now & Wow – Since 2000, Now & Wow has been a household name in the Rotterdam entertainment scene known for its array of open-minded party series in mainly industrial locations that melted together image, design, fashion, theatre, and performances. Now & Wow now has their own club on the 10th floor of the Maassilo in Rotterdam, and offer parties most Friday and Saturday night with the Now & Wow Fests being a clear highlight that takes place a few times a year. Techno, house, disco, queer hop, and all variations of the dance are played with around 1000 people attendees of every club night. A night alternative to Strano and Keerweer and perfect for those who preach acceptance, tolerance, and simply ‘being who you are.’ We loved it almost as much as Milkshake Festival or Mighty Hoopla…
Gay Saunas in Rotterdam
Had enough of gay cruising in Rotterdam – either in the bars or elsewhere?
For those who want a bit more guaranteed action, there is only one gay sauna in Rotterdam, but luckily it is pretty good and should not disappoint you (unlike all those faceless accounts on Grindr or the other hook up apps…). If you want to explore your kinky side without a steamy sauna, there is also the gay Rotterdam cruise club scene, which is as sensually self-indulgent as you will find anywhere on Earth.
Foreigners are happily welcoming in all gay sex clubs and sauna in Rotterdam, and most will speak English, but you’ll still need to be good at reading non-verbal cues. Luckily we have out gay sauna guide to help you out! A little more exciting than cruising on the river, we have to say!
- Gay Sauna Finland – The hottest (and only) gay sauna of Rotterdam offering a chill atmosphere in which to enjoy a joyful afternoon and/or night. Inside, you will find a cozy lounge with bar, Steam and Finnish sauna, whirlpool, showers, dark rooms, slings, glory holes, and private cabins. Operating for more than 30 years, Gay Sauna Finland might be a little out-dated but is clean and still far more exciting than any of the saunas we encountered in Helsinki, Tampere or Turku…
- The Mood Bar – A free-spirited cruise club & erotic cinema in Rotterdam with three floors of facilities for your enjoyment. Hosting an array of parties, including for mixed crowds, straight couples, and gay men only – be sure to check the agenda of the night to avoid disappointment. There is a discreet entrance, bar, showers, lockers, film labyrinth, two slings, glory holes, and darkroom to explore. Every Friday evening there is a special theme gay party where you can walk around naked and dance without inhibitions.