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North Sea Jazz Festival
Photo by Frans Berkelaar

Rotterdam’s North Sea Jazz Festival offers world-class music in a city with a fascinating history, strikingly bold architecture and an emerging food scene. A wise traveler would be sure to explore the city during the day and then catch the performances at night. But how do you manage it all? Here’s a list of tips from people who know.

1. Rotterdam doesn’t exist only in Amsterdam’s shadow

Abandon the notion that Rotterdam is a second city that belongs in Amsterdam’s shadow. It has its own culture and a long list of attractions. When you’re not listening to music, hit the street and explore!

2. Study the festival lineup

Know who is playing when and build your schedule around those performances. Check out the official lineup.

3. Stay off the road

Rotterdam traffic is terrible at festival time and you are much better off hopping on a metro bus or train. Be ready for crowds, but at least you will be moving!

North Sea Jazz Festival
Photo by Nicky Boogaard

4. Buy an OV-Chipkaart

This card gives you access to Rotterdam’s metro buses, trams and trains. Save yourself from suffering in ticket lines heading to and from the main venue. Check out the OV-Chipkaart website.

5. Stay in the center of the city

Not only does it put you within easy striking distance of the festival, but it’s a great launch point for city tours and museum-going. Study a center map to get familiar.  Booking ahead will help you land the ideal accommodation. For our top picks of Rotterdam hotels, apartments and hostels check out our complete North Sea Jazz Festival event guide.

6. Check out hostels

Don’t let preconceived notions of hostels turn you off. The King Kong Hostel is in an excellent location, offers great accommodations (if you’re okay with dorm style hostel housing) and food options, and puts you in a position to meet other travelers.  

North Sea Jazz Festival
Photo by Rick Ligthelm

7. Sign up for the Wake Up in Jazz program

This program allows you to stay with a local jazz musician for the duration of the festival. You can check out a few performances and then talk through the details with your host later that night! Visit the Wake Up in Jazz page for more information.

8. Go out to eat!

Bazar offers North African and Mediterranean cuisine. FG is one of the most sought-after tables in the city and the menu is a delicious combination of French and Asian influences.

Photo by Frans Berkelaar

9. Check out Rotterdam’s architecture

The city was leveled in WWII and has since served as a canvas for some of the most creative architects in the world. Rotterdam Centraal Station, the De Rotterdam building and the Markthal Rotterdam are just a few you should put on your sightseeing list.

10. Discover new artists

Go to performances of artists you’ve never heard of before. Maybe you’ll discover a new favorite!

North Sea Jazz Festival Pro Tips
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