Rotterdam's main station:  Location map

Before WW2 Rotterdam had several stations, but in 1957 these were replaced by a single main station, Rotterdam Centraal.  In 2014 the 1950s building was demolished and replaced by what is undoubtedly one of Europe's most striking modern stations.  Truly impressive and on a vast scale, it is perhaps my favourite modern European station, it has already become a major landmark in one of Europe's most under-rated cities.

small bullet point  Tickets & information

small bullet point  Which platform?

small bullet point  Luggage lockers, toilets, ATMs

small bullet point  Somewhere to eat & drink

small bullet point  NS International Lounge

small bullet point  Metro, taxis, walking

small bullet point  How to reach Europoort

small bullet point  How to reach Hoek van Holland

small bullet point  Hotels: The SS Rotterdam

 

On other pages

small bullet point  General information for European train travel

small bullet point  How to buy European train tickets online

small bullet point  London to Rotterdam by Eurostar

small bullet point  London to Rotterdam by Stena Line train & ferry

small bullet point  Rotterdam to Berlin & Prague by European Sleeper

small bullet point  Rotterdam to Brussels & Paris by Eurostar (formerly Thalys)

Rotterdam Centraal station

Main entrance

The Centraal Station sign above the entrance is the one that sat on top of the previous 1957 station building, and the clock is also from the original station.  NS (Netherlands Railways) wanted a modern sign saying Rotterdam Centraal, consistent with their other stations, but the architects wanted to reuse the classic 1957 lettering, arguing that people would already know where they were!  NS finally agreed and the classic sign now looks perfectly in keeping with the superb modern station whilst being a link with the past.  And I love it!

Rotterdam Centraal entrance sign

Main hall

Through the entrance, you're in the vast main hall.  You'll find toilets, ticket office, ticket machines here over to the right in the Service Centre.  You'll also find various shops and food outlets such as Starbucks and a small Albert Hein minimarket.

Rotterdam Centraal main hall

Above, the view as you walk in the main entrance.  Below, the Tourist Information Office, on your right after walking in.

Rotterdam Centraal tourist information

Ticket gates

There's a long row of automatic ticket gates on the far side of the main hall at the entrance to the passageway under the tracks.  To open the gates, scan the QR code on your Dutch train ticket, Eurostar ticket, European Sleeper ticket or Interrail or Eurail pass.  Or you can tap in and out for Dutch domestic journeys with an OV chipkaart or ordinary contactless bank card.

Tip:  Some facilities such as the luggage lockers and NS International lounge are inside the gateline, but if you arrive on a Eurostar or European Sleeper you should find that the QR code on your ticket will work the gates for the rest of the day, letting you in & out as much as you like.  Interrail & Eurail pass QR codes will also let you in and out as much as you like.

Rotterdam Centraal ticket gates

Passageway under the tracks

Beyond the ticket gates, a broad passageway runs under all the tracks, with steps, escalators and lifts up to each platform.  Note the departure indictors showing the next train at the adjacent platforms, the 'b' end of each platform to the left and the 'a' end to the right.

Rotterdam Centraal passageway under the tracks

Which platform?

The platforms are numbered 2 to 16 starting on the southern (main) side of the station.  The majority of each platform is covered by a huge light and airy train shed.

Departure screens dotted around the station tell you which platform to go to.  You can walk freely between any two platforms in just a couple of minutes.

Each platform has an eastern 'a' end and a western 'b' end, for example platform 3a is the eastern end of platform 3, 3b is the western end.  Two trains often use the same platform, for example one may leave from platform 3a, another from platform 3b.

Online departure information: Go to www.rijdendetreinen.nl/en/departures/station/rotterdam-centraal, a rather nifty online departures list which not only shows upcoming departures with platform numbers, but an image of the train will look like.

Trains to Amsterdam leave from a variety of platforms so check the screens.  Choose your train carefully, Intercity Direct (ICD) trains use the high-speed line taking as little as 41 minutes with 1 stop (you must pay a small Intercity Direct supplement before you board), whilst other IC trains can take up to 1h20 and call everywhere.

Eurostar trains to London leave from platform 2, but if it's a direct train (with no change in Brussels) you must check in at the Eurostar terminal first.

Eurostar (formerly Thalys) trains to Paris usually leave from platform 2, but always check the screens.

Eurostar (formerly Thalys) trains to Brussels usually leave from platform 2, but always check the screens.

Intercity Direct trains to Brussels usually leave from platform 2 or 3, but always check the screens.

The European Sleeper to Berlin & Prague typically leaves from platform 12, but always check the screens.

For Hoek van Holland for ferry to Harwich & train to Cambridge & London, see the directions here.

Where to wait on the platform?  If catching an international train to (say) Paris, London, Berlin or Prague with a reserved seat in a specific car, the platform departure indicator will show the train formation and where each car will stop along the platform.  There are zone letters from A to N displayed along the length of the platform (not to be confused with the platform's 'a' end and 'b' end).  Go to the zone letter where your car will stop, this saves you running up and down like a headless chicken when the train comes in.

Rotterdam Centraal platforms

Below, a Eurostar from London to Amsterdam calls at Rotterdam Centraal.  In this direction there are no arrival formalities, you just get off and walk out!

In the photo below, note the Intercity Direct supplement validator post on the left, and the kiosk selling tea, coffee, drinks and snacks on the platform.

Rotterdam Centraal platforms

Tickets & information

Domestic tickets:  The NS ticket office is in the Service Centre in the main hall, see photo below left.  It's on the right-hand side of the hall as you walk in through the main entrance, open 7 days a week early until evening, for exact hours see www.ns.nl.

There are plenty of ticket machines around the station, with a touch screen & English language facility, you can also make Dutch domestic journeys simply by touching in and out with a contactless bank card.

Remember that Dutch train tickets cost an extra 1 when bought from a staffed counter or ticket machine instead of buying online or using a contactless bank card.

Intercity Direct supplement:  If you're going to Amsterdam (or Schiphol) on a fast Intercity Direct (ICD) train, these use the high-speed line and you need to pay a small Intercity Direct supplement.  You can pay this at a ticket machine or by touching your contactless bank card against one of the special Intercity Direct supplement validator posts on the platform.  You can see one of these ICD validator posts in the photo above, on the left, grey/red and marked with a red sign.

International tickets & reservations:  NS International has an office for international tickets & reservations, open early until evening 7 days a week, see www.nsinternational.nl for opening hours.  NS International charge a booking fee for buying tickets from a staffed counter, 1.50 per ticket for tickets to Belgium, Luxembourg & Germany, 7.50 per ticket for tickets to all other countries, so it's better to book online if you can (or for IC tickets to Belgium or Luxembourg, use the yellow self-service machines).

Ticket office at Rotterdam Centraal   Eurostar terminal at Rotterdam Centraal

Service Centre - tickets, toilets, waiting room

 

Eurostar terminal, accessed from platform 2

Eurostar check-in

Direct Eurostars to London:  If you're taking a direct Eurostar to London, you must first check in at the small Eurostar terminal on platform 2, see the photo above right.  Follow the signs for London, it means going through the ticket gates and taking the escalators up to platform 2 to find the terminal entrance.  Your Eurostar ticket will open the ticket gates if you scan the QR code.  You must check in at least 30 minutes before departure, platform 2 will be sealed off before the train arrives, after security and all border formalities you will be released onto platform 2 for boarding.

Indirect Eurostars:  If you are going from Rotterdam to Brussels by Eurostar (formerly Thalys), then checking in for a Eurostar to London, all check-in border & security formalities will be done in the Eurostar terminal at Brussels Midi, there is no check-in in Rotterdam for trains to Brussels, just go to the platform indicated and board the train.

Luggage lockers, toilets, ATMs

Luggage lockers are at the north end of the passageway under the tracks, at the bottom of the steps to platform 16, see the luggage page for opening hours & prices.

Toilets are in the main hall, in the place marked Service Centre.

ATMs are located in various locations.

Somewhere to eat, drink or stock up

In the main hall there is a Starbucks and a small Albert Hein minimarket where you can buy drinks and sandwiches for the journey.  There are various other food outlets around the station.

For a meal, try Kaapse Maria (www.kaapsebrouwers.nl) for craft beer and good pub food, half way between Eendrachtsplein & Rotterdam Centraal, see location map.  Check opening hours, it's open Monday & Friday but closed Wednesdays.  Alternatively, Le Nord (lenord.nl), La Cazuela & Dunya are all good bistros 5 minutes walk north of the station, see walking map.

NS International lounge

If you have a 1st class international ticket or a 1st class Interrail or Eurail pass you can use the NS International first class lounge.  Eurostar business premier qualifies for lounge access, but not standard premier.  It's open 7 days a week, check www.nsinternational.nl for opening times.

The lounge offers complimentary unlimited tea & coffee, charging points & free WiFi.  You're allowed one complimentary soft drink or bottle of water.  Beer, wine and snacks are available to buy.  You can pay to access the lounge if you don't have a first class ticket, prices can be found at www.nsinternational.nl.

From the main hall, look for the escalator & steps to the left of the Service Centre, go up one level and though a ticket gate to reach the lounge entrance.  Or you can access the lounge directly from platform 2a.

Metro, trams, taxis, walking

The taxi rank is in the Delftseplein on the east side of the station building.  When arriving by train, go through the ticket gates into the main station hall and turn immediately left, past the Service Centre and out of the side exit marked Delftseplein & Taxis.  Taxi fare calculator: www.taxifarefinder.com/main.php?city=Rotterdam-Netherlands.

Metro:  Rotterdam Centraal is on lines D & E of the Rotterdam Metro, see www.ret.nl.  The metro can be used with any contactless bank card, just touch in and out and your bank card will work the gates.

How to reach Europoort for ferry to Hull

P&O Ferries run a transfer bus from Rotterdam Centraal to the Europoort to connect with their overnight ferry to Hull.  It leaves from the Eurolines bus stop in Conradstraat.  When coming off a train, go through the ticket gates into the main hall and turn immediately left and go out of the Conradstraat exit.  It's the last stop in the row of bus stops straight ahead of you.  More information on the Hull-Rotterdam ferry page.  A taxi costs over 80.

How to reach Hoek van Holland for ferry to Harwich

Option 1, take metro line D or E from Rotterdam Centraal to Beurs (takes 3 minutes, train every few minutes) and change onto metro line B to Hoek van Holland Haven (34 minutes, runs every 20-30 minutes).  Hoek van Holland Haven metro station is right next to the Stena Line ferry terminal.  Metro line B runs every 20-30 minutes.  See www.ret.nl.

Option 2, stroll from Rotterdam Centraal to Eendrachtsplein metro station, an 850m 12-minute walk, see walking map.  Then take line B direct to Hoek van Holland Haven, a 33-minute journey with a metro train every 20-30 minutes.  See www.ret.nl.

Option 3, take an NS (Dutch Railways) train from Rotterdam Centraal to Schiedam Centrum (5 minutes, runs every 5-10 minutes) then take metro line B from Schiedam Centrum to Hoek van Holland Haven (23 minutes, runs every 20-30 minutes).  This is the fastest option, but costs a little more.

You can use a contactless bank card for all options, simply touch in & out and your bank account will be debited.  Below left, a metro train at Hoek van Holland Haven.

Metro from Hoek van Holland   Inside the metro from Hoek van Holland

Hotels: The SS Rotterdam

If staying in Rotterdam, easily the most interesting place to stay is aboard the famous 1959 transatlantic liner SS Rotterdam, now a museum and hotel.  It's an 18-minute taxi ride or 54-minute walk from Centraal station, see location map.  It's a 26-minute walk from Rijnhaven metro station, see walking map.

Book a hotel room at the SS Rotterdam.  You can visit the ship as a museum even if you're not staying in Rotterdam, see ssrotterdam.com.

SS Rotterdam   SS Rotterdam

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