Van Nelle Fabriek & other things to do in Rotterdam (Netherlands)

The last time I decided to head to Rotterdam was a disaster. Remember I was robbed in the train? So, it took quite some time for me to gather courage to head in that direction. Its so bad, that now, there was an announcement in the train asking passengers to safeguard the belongings! Anyways, I did make-up my mind again to get to Rotterdam and this time we just opted for a day-trip. It was a bit hectic, and we somehow managed it, but I wouldn't recommend it at all! Rotterdam needs 2 days - period!

Ofcourse we took the early train again, so could reach Rotterdam early. Our first thing to do was to head to Kinderdijk. Honestly, its so big that it needs a whole day to itself, esp. if you're with a kid. Ofcourse, on the way, we saw the Erasmusbrug. The waterbus ride towards Kinderdijk also passed through Noah's Ark! It was by chance I saw it and was confused about what I was seeing, though I knew for sure, it looks like Noah's ark! I thought it was the Natural History Museum, but no, its called Noah's Ark and its a religious museum about Christianity that talks about Noah's Ark!

We returned by 1:30 PM from Kinderdijk to attend the 2:00 PM tour at Van Nelle Fabriek (Factory). To begin with, it doesn't feel too fascinating, when you're associating it with UNESCO! However when you understand that this was built in 1925-31, in the beginning of industrial revolution, when all other buildings were built of bricks and primarily opaque - this, primarily made of glass & steel and primarily transparent - is an absolute shocker! This paved way for, set an inspiration for all the sky-scraper office buildings that you see today that are just glass & steel!

This was designed by Leendert van der Vlugt along with J.G. Wiebenga, for Van Nelle Company, co-owned by Cees van der Leeuw. Well, the original idea behind the building was to have vertical production line, as well as the storage in the same site. As soon as you enter is building 10 and then buildings 1-9, each built for a different purpose. 

Building 10 has a curved ground plan that enabling the person here overlook the whole site from the windows - obviously the owner & supervisor's offices. It was originally a coffee, tea & tobacco manufacturing firm.
The original idea was to build 9 storey on either sides and the bridges were supposed to be horizontal, however as they started to runout of money, they took the impromptu decision to make the bridges slanted, which today is the face of the building! It is so fascinating for its times that the contemporary architect of the time, Le Corbusier (whose buildings are also listed under UNESCO), described Van Nelle Fabriek as 'the most beautiful spectacle of the modern age'! 
Sadly, the concept of vertical production line, was taken over by horizontal soon and within 25 years, the building kinda got defunct. In course of time, the place was renovated to suit the modern safety standards without altering outer facade. Today multiple  offices function here and the place also serves to conduct events.

Some of the things not to miss in there - the double helix structured staircases (to segregate men & women), the humongous neon sign atop, toilets with glass walls (individual cabins have wooden doors though., that is to reduce time spent by workers in toilets!), slots in the pillars to introduce new walls if needed, minimalistic design everywhere - incl clocks, chairs etc!!!

Van Nelle Fabriek can be accessed today only via guided tours. Per week only 90 tickets are available (3 tours on Saturday and Sunday with 15 persons each tour). Though there tours are at 1:00, 2:00 & 3:00PM, only the 2:00PM tour is in English. Yeah! That's exactly why the day got too hectic, as we had to 'finish' Kinderdijk before that! 

After Van Nelle Fabriek, the shuttle bus dropped us back at Chabot Museum. Very close to this is the Sonneveld House which was also designed by the same architect for the residence of Albertus Sonneveld, a director of Van Nelle! Sadly we didn't have much time to see either of these. From here, our next stop was ofcourse the very famous Cube Houses. 

Today the Cube Houses serve as Stay Okay hostels. We considered staying here last time when we planned for the 2 day trip. However being with a kid would mean, booking a private room and it wasn't available on the day we were planning for. This time, we just had a look at the place from outside.

Van Nelle Fabriek;  Shuttle bus services are available at 12:30, 1:30 ad 2:30 from Chabot Museum in Mar-Oct. Otherwise buses are available once every 15 mins from Rotterdam Centraal.
Cube Houses: Located next to Rotterdam Blaak Railway Station served by most IC & Sprinter trains.

Entry Tickets & Timings: 
Van Nelle Fabriek: €15 - Served by Chabot Museum. Includes entry to Chabot Muesum and shuttle bus between the 2. Have to be booked early via the official Chabot Museum Website. Tours are at 1:00, 2:00 & 3:00PM
Chabot Museum: €8 Tue-Sun: 11:00AM to 4:30/5:00PM (€12.50 for combi ticket with Sonneveld House)
Sonneveld House: €14 (incl. entrance to Het Nieuwe Instituut). Tue-Sun: 11:00AM to 5:00PM
Cube Houses (from outside), Erasmusbrug: Free, 24 x 7
Cube Houses currently houses the StayOkay Hostels. Prices begin here at €30.35 per night.

P.S: I was invited to the Van Nelle Fabriek by Chabot Museum to experience the site for review purposes, however the opinions are my own and this post does not to advertise the product/service.


An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.


  1. I am sorry to hear that you were robbed on the train in the past, but it sounds like this was a more pleasant experience! I really enjoyed reading about Noah's Ark. That is really fascinating, and it does look like what I would imagine. I think our family would really enjoy going into that museum. The Chabot Museum sounds like a really fascinating place to visit, and those Cube Houses are very unique!

  2. I haven't been to Rotterdam but would really like to go there. I am so sorry you were robbed the last time you were there. I had a similar experience in Venice and haven't been able to go back. I am glad you could gather the courage and had the opportunity to see some beautiful UNESCO sites in the Netherlands. I would love to check out Noah's Ark and of course the cube houses. They are so Instagrammable. Van Nelle Fabriek too looks inspiring.

  3. I’ve only been to Amsterdam and around the outskirts in the Netherlands, so this was an interesting read. Van nelle Fabrieke looks great as does the museum. Of course seeing the cube houses in Rotterdam is a must. I’ve also read about its great coffee culture there too.

  4. I've only been to Rotterdam briefly for work and didn't get the opportunity to explore too much. Looks like there's definitely enough to fill a couple of days. I've seen those cube houses on Instagram many times, so I'd have to get a few shots of those.

  5. Geez! You got robbed on the train? It brings back memories, of the time when I was about to get robbed back when I was Asia. Great post though, I was planning my trip to the Netherlands next year and I was a bit skeptical about the cube house but the post made it sounds fun.

  6. Oh you was robbed in Rotterdam before and then also you went again which i really appreciate your travel spirits. The double helix structured staircases to separate men & women looks very unusual concept. Also cube houses look very cute and I would love to stay in that hotel. Rotterdam looks like place of various architectures and unique designs.

  7. Sorry to hear that your first visit wasn't a success! Looks like you enjoyed the trip more this time. I hope it was just one incident and not a thing going on all over in Rotterdam? I have never been to Rotterdam but looks like there is plenty to see there, and things to do.

  8. Sorry to hear you were robbed the last time you visited Rotterdam. It's so surprising because the Netherlands seems so safe, but it could happen anywhere. I am glad you decided to return though. There are so many great things to do in Rotterdam. I loved my time there. I hadn't heard of Van Nelle Fabriek though. It gives me another reason to go back. Seems like an impressive place, but that it would be hard to get tickets with the limited availability.

  9. I have been to Rotterdam and did not visit the Van Nelle Factory. Now I know why I should keep it in my list when I visit Rotterdam the next time. And I feel terrible to know that you were robbed in the train? But, kudos, you still headed there again.

  10. I'm glad you had a better experience in Rotterdam this time around! Unfortunately the influx of tourists over the past few years have also increased the amount of petty crime in the Netherlands. But it's still a very safe country to visit. The Van Nelle factory sounds really interesting, I had no idea it was such an innovative building. I agree that one day is not enough to explore Rotterdam, especially when you want to visit Kinderdijk. It's such a fun city with lots to do and lots of great museums.

  11. Van Nelle Fabriek has such a stunning architecture. No wonder it is a UNESCO heritage site. Also the whole ordeal of confusing Noah Arc with national museum was kinda funny. But added something new to your experience.

  12. Travelling without a kid is hard enough, I take my hat off to you. I had the same thought as you when I saw your image of Noah's Ark. Makes for an interesting museum.

  13. Good for you not letting one negative experience in a detonation get you down! That's what travel is all about right? Learning how to deal with those mishaps and come out better in the end! I would love to make a visit to this lesser known destination of the Netherlands!

  14. I haven't been to Rotterdam in quite some time, so it's a shame to hear that robbing has become such as issue there. That's really too bad. However, I appreciate your spirit in going back. It's funny to think that the Cube Houses are now a hostel! When I was there I believe they were just residences. Anyway, great write up!

  15. I have been planning to visit the Netherlands for some time. Recently, there are so many nice autumn photos from this country on Instagram! I would like to visit Amsterdam someday. To be honest I have not considered Rotterdam, but after reading your blog I will probably change my mind. It seems to be an interesting city.

  16. Getting robbed has got to be one of the worst travel nightmares. Didn't expect something like that to happen in Rotterdam. Moving over that, the city of Van Nelle Fabriek seems to have some nice architecture. This place in particular would be a good one to spend a day just exploring the quirky architecture. The cube houses look quite beautiful and would be a unique experience to stay in those

  17. Being robbed has to any travelers worst nightmare. However, I would never have thought that because Rotterdam used or being portrayed as a really safe city. I haven't been to Netherland yet but it sure has been on my radar for quite a while and ROtterdam would in my top list. The cube hostel looks nothing like I have ever seen and would love to have a stay on one of those soon.


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