Zinc oxide nanorods (ZnO NRs) were grown in water solution on different conductive substrates. In particular, several metal layers, such as Cu, Ni, Pt, Ag, Au, deposited on silicon substrates, and F-doped SnO2 (FTO) coated-glass wafers were investigated as bottom electrodes and their influence on the properties of the synthesized ZnO nanorods were studied. The samples were characterized by scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, atomic force microscopy, current – voltage (I – V) and photoluminescence measurements. We obtained vertically aligned ZnO nanorod arrays on all the considered substrates, proving how ease and reproducible is the hydrothermal growth of ZnO nanorods on different conductive layers. We here show how the morphology and the optical and electrical features of the array depend on the conductive material deposited as bottom layer.