A week in Rotterdam: tips for the adventurous conference participant

A week in Rotterdam: tips for the adventurous conference participant Rotterdam 2023

Where the Rhine, the Maas and the Scheldt rivers flow into the North Sea, Rotterdam’s iconic skyline juts up from below sea level to scrape the skies above the Rhine Delta and Europe’s primary port. Hugging the bank of the Nieuwe Maas on the south side of the Erasmus Bridge is the city’s multicultural Zuid district, home to the 2023 EAIE Conference and the perfect base from which to explore restaurants, nightlife, museums, performing arts and more during your stay.

From more than 250 sessions and poster sessions to networking events and workshops, you can count on this year’s EAIE Conference programme to keep you engaged, inspired and connected. But as international educators well know, thinking global starts with acting local. As always, this year’s EAIE Conference is not only a chance to connect with colleagues and tune in to key conversations in international higher education, but also an opportunity to explore a rich and lively European city. Below are just a few recommendations for how to get the most out of Rotterdam before and after the Conference and unwinding during your evenings at #EAIE2023.


Although the Conference programme doesn’t kick off until Tuesday, Rotterdam is well worth arriving a day or two early. Consult our Rotterdam hotels and travel page before arriving to be sure you know how to reach your hotel. Once you’re all checked in, you can beat the Conference crowds at the registration desk, which is open from 13:00–16:30 on Monday. From there, you’ve got a bonus day to explore and enjoy!

One way of getting acquainted with the city is through its plethora of museums exploring the various facets of the city and its history and culture. Head over to the Maritime Museum and check the ‘Destination Port City’ exhibition for a look at the past, present and future of Europe’s premiere port and how it has defined the city. For a more in-depth look at the various cultural layers that make up Rotterdam’s distinct identity, the ‘Kruispunt Rotterdam’ exhibition at the Wereld Museum offers a deep dive.


Come Tuesday, #EAIE2023 begins in earnest. Be sure to go by registration if you haven’t already (open from 07:30 to 18:00), and if you’ve already signed up for workshops or Campus Experiences, today is the day.

The ‘Netwalking’ event – in which eco-minded participants walk around the city together and clean up the Rotterdam waterfront – is both a great networking opportunity and a chance to see another side of Rotterdam. This year’s Netwalking event is sold out, but if you missed it, you’ll have another chance next year in Toulouse.

The Opening Reception, however, is a must-see event open to all participants, and is taking place at the World Trade Center Rotterdam, located in the bustling heart of the city centre. Once it’s over, you’ll be ideally located to treat yourself to dinner in one of Rotterdam’s trendiest restaurants before taking the metro back to your hotel.


Wednesday is jam-packed with more than 45 sessions as well as the Opening Plenary and the opening of the EAIE Exhibition. After a busy day of interactive learning, you’ll be ready to switch gears by the evening. Many of the Expert Community networking events take place on Wednesday evening, but don’t despair if you’re too late for these sold-out dinners and receptions – Wednesday evening in Rotterdam has something for everyone.

If you’re impressed with Rotterdam’s innovative modern architecture and curious about sustainability in urban environments, head over to Het Nieuwe Instituut to visit the ‘Water Cities Rotterdam’ exhibition and attend a talk on the central role of ecology and biology in urban design. Or, if you’re more in the mood for classical music, treat yourself to the Rotterdam Sinfonietta’s rendition of The Hebrides and Beethoven's 3rd Piano Concerto. Rather unwind with some laughs? Then visit Comedy Club Haug’s Best of Stand-up in English for a line-up of Rotterdam’s most hilarious international comedians.


Ambitious early risers can kick off the penultimate day of the Conference with the Morning Exercise event in the beautiful park at Kralingse Plas, or start the day on a mindful note with Early-bird Yoga. From there it’s another day chock-full of learning, inspiration and discussion. The remainder of the Expert Community networking events take place on Thursday, but once again, if you haven’t secured a spot, that doesn’t mean your evening is a bust.

In case you didn’t make it to the Sinfonietta on Wednesday (or if you just can’t get enough of world-class classical music), the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance of Shostakovich's First Piano Concerto is an excellent option for Thursday evening. Another option of a different style at the same venue is Vernon Chatlein’s jazzy exploration of the indigenous music styles of his native Curaçao in ‘Chatlein I Su Zumbi’.

Had enough music for the week? If you’re more in the mood for the performing arts, the ongoing ‘Feeling Curious’ theatre festival is just in time for the EAIE Conference. Thursday evening brings Dana Michel’s performance ‘MIKE’ choreographs an exploration of the absurdities of work, technology and other aspects of modern life.

Friday & Weekend

After the Closing Plenary and Closing Luncheon wrap up on Friday, you may find yourself wondering where the time has gone. If you’re still riding the Conference high and looking for a fun way to spend one more evening in Rotterdam with old and new friends, there are plenty of options.

If you’re in the mood to celebrate, the Witte de Withstraat is the place to be, with its many cafes, pubs, clubs and wine bars. De Witte Aap, once named best bar in the world by Lonely Planet, is an obligatory stop for visitors.

If you haven’t had your fill of culture yet, check out Corpus Criolla, a dance performance replete with references to Rotterdam’s Caribbean community which explores the stigma on the ‘creolised’ body. Alternatively, if you’re in the mood for entertainment but want to keep close to your hotel, return to the conference venue Rotterdam Ahoy on Friday evening and witness the National Tattoo, a spectacular marching band parade which runs through the rest of the weekend.

Staying after the Conference to get the most out of your stay in Rotterdam? Once again, there’s plenty to keep you busy. If you’re staying in town, you might consider a final tour of the city’s art life. The Kunsthal is currently featuring an exhibition by artist and activist Ai Weiwei, who is also giving a talk there the same day. Behind the Kunsthal is the greater Museumpark of which it is part, well worth a visit any day of the week and with enough variety to cater to any interest. In a final instalment of the ‘Feeling Curious’ theatre festival, Iranian women writers will come together in ‘Stage so near so far’ to read stories and perform plays based on their experiences of the historical and sociopolitical conditions in which they live and work.

Finally, if you’re staying for the entire weekend or longer, don’t hesitate to get up and out. Famous attractions like the Delta Works and the windmills of Kinderdijk, nature areas like the Biesbosch National Park and the bike tour-friendly Green Heart region, charming historic towns like Delft and Gouda, and cosmopolitan cities like Amsterdam and Utrecht are all reachable within well under an hour on public transport.

The programme of #EAIE2023 has more than enough in store for a full, energising week connecting with colleagues and thinking global. Whenever you’re due for a change of pace between sessions, during your evenings, or before or after the Conference, be sure to treat yourself to what our local host city has to offer while in Rotterdam!

Become a speaker at #EAIE2024

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