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As befits its “big city” image, Rotterdam has an active and vibrant nightlife. It’s full of clubs, night entertainment, concerts and the like.
Although Amsterdam gets the press for its nightlife, Rotterdam is a good competitor. Here, you can party like it’s 1999 until … well, late into the night.
One of Rotterdam’s most popular nightclubs is located in a former grain silo. The Maassilo is considered a prime nightclub for the young and hip crowd and features popular theme nights, like “flirt” and “soul punkers on disco speed”.
For the hip and alternative good night out you can visit the Witte de With street close to the Booijmans & Van Beuningen museum. Lonely Planet has elected the 'Witte Aap' bar as one of the best for travellers (2008) and the success resulted in an expansion of the bar in 2013. You will find all kinds of people in this bar that make it an interesting visit for tourists. Nieuw Rotterdams Cafe (NRC) is located opposite of the 'Witte Aap' and is loved by the cultural elite. Even politicians from The Hague tend to use and visit this place, either for work or relaxation purposes. With rock cafe 't Zwarte Schaep, winebar 'Het Eigendom', nightclub Blender and 'Bierlokaal Reijngoud' (they serve specialty beers) in this district, there's enough for every kind of visitor.
Nearby the Witte de With street of you can find the Binnenweg, which is divided in the Oude Binnenweg (Old Binnenweg) and Nieuwe Binnenweg (New Binnenweg). This street is mostly crowded by alternative people that like punk or rock. Here you can find Rotown as the biggest location and suitable to finish a night started in the smaller bars. Near Rotown there are some brown cafe's like Parket, Melief Bender and Sijf where you can enjoy an easy drink with the locals. For the real party animals, there is club Vibes around the corner for the afterhours.
In the modern heart of the city you will find the "Stadhuisplein", with a lot of bars and cafe's, located in the city centre, near the main shopping area "Lijnbaan/Koopgoot". Here you will find the people of Rotterdam looking for loud music wearing flashy clothing. More exclusive bars and clubs are "Cinema", ''VIP lounge'' and club "Bed", but be prepared with some fancy clothing. When in, the prices won't be as shocking as you might expect. People looking for local students need to go for cafe 'De Beurs'.
For a night out in the student district of Rotterdam, or a cold drink at a summer terrace, head on to the Oude Haven near the Cube houses, the place where the city was born and which has partly survived the WW2 bombings. Opening times depend on the bars, but 'Pardoen' and 'Vrienden van' will be open until late. Club 'Elite' and 'Stockholm' are the cocktailbars in this district. This area is an ideal place in summer to start on the terraces and end up in one of the bars or clubs nearby. When visiting during the week, you could try to find some students to get you to come to their student fraternities/sororities. This is a hard mission, but you will get the best night ever (and the cheapest).
The bohemian crowd is very present and active in Rotterdam. Recently, a few bars have opened up near Hofplein. One of them is Biergarten Rotterdam, open on friday, saturday and sunday. It's outside, so go there when the sun is shining. Especially the friday night is well-visited by people going for a drink after work. It's likely to find a very international crowd here. Nearby you can have 'BAR' where most people from the Biergarten are found in the afterhours.
In the same area there are two famous clubs for electronic music. The groovy club Perron, which is an underground club with all kinds of electro parties, is a national icon for the hard techno and electro parties. This is for the diehard partyharders as some of the parties are extended till the afternoon the day after if people can't stop partying. Nearby there is the old subway tunnel that is converted into a nightclub called Toffler. This is also a club that plays techno/electro but softer or so to say, female friendlier.
For people that like a jazzy night, Rotterdam has venues to offer. Not only during the North Sea Jazz Festival, but also throughout the year. Near the Hofplein you can find the Hofbogen district with bars, restaurants and shops. One of the arches is occupied by jazzclub 'Bird'. International acts find their way to this place easily and this is also because they serve excellent food in the restaurant area. When you are located more the western part of the city there is a famous cafe called 'Dizzy'. Chet Baker, George Coleman, Art Taylor, Teddy Edwards and Lee Konits, to name a few, have been here to perform for a steamy crowd.
If you’re looking for something a little more staid, but still exciting, head for Holland Casino Rotterdam, where you can try your luck on one of 630 slot machines or one of 50 gaming tables. There’s also live entertainment here and several bars and a restaurant. This place has been refurbished in 2012 and even for non-gamblers it can be a good night out.
Timewise, the Dutch start their night out at about 10 pm, which generally lasts till 4 am. Starting earlier is always possible, but if want to keep on going after 4 am you should know where to go. The best nights are thursday-saturday. Tuesday it's international night at club BED, so for the student travellers this is the place to go on tuesdays.