Amsterdam or Rotterdam? For sheer picturesqueness, Amsterdam is the easy winner.


But what Rotterdam, the Netherlands' second-largest city, lacks in historical edifices - much of it was bombed in World War II - it makes up for with contemporary urban cool.

Long the busiest port in Europe, Rotterdam is a multicultural hub of global commerce and avant-garde architecture.

Wave hello to Rotterdam by heading to Parkhaven harbor and taking the elevator up Euromast, a thin, cylindrical tower that pokes 607 feet into the air, making it one of the city's tallest structures (admission is 12.50 euros, or about $13.50).

Tens of thousands of container ships pass through the twisting waterways and sprawling commercial harbors of Rotterdam every year, loading and unloading oil, clothing, fruit juice and a gazillion other goods.

Sour is power at Fermin, a stripped-down new restaurant in the Oude Noorden neighborhood. Within the open kitchen, chefs are busy fermenting and pickling.

Natural wines and kombucha cocktails round out the pleasingly acrid offerings. Tasting menus start at 48 euros per person, without drinks.

You have been warned: "Drinking will lead to lasciviousness" read the tasting notes for the Rotterdam-brewed Dubbel Wit Zomerfit beer (6 euros) at #Wunderbar

When you want to dress up like Marilyn Monroe, decorate your home like Danish design legend Arne Jacobsen or sing along to the Belgian pop songs of Jacques Brel, hit the vintage shops along Zwaanshals

Among the art galleries and artisans' studios, the rustic Stadsbrouwerij De Pelgrim microbrewery serves a caramel-accented Mayflower Tripel (4.90 euros) that honors another famous local event: the departure of the English Pilgrims, who had sought refuge in the Netherlands, in the summer of 1620.