Welcome to one of the most welcoming cities in the world. Come as you are, leave as you want to be.

Amsterdam is that European city, famous for kinda not giving a shit what everyone else thinks. Maybe that’s why it’s a fantasy for all kinds of travellers and tourists.

But, of course, Amsterdam is known for debauchery, crazy, canal-side parties, drugs… But in truth, Amsterdam is where it’s AT when it comes to culture. 

Of course, no big European city is exempt from petty crime. And with a reputation for drugs and sex put into the mix, is Amsterdam safe to visit at all?

Don’t you worry – I have created this guide on staying safe in Amsterdam. So you can have the best time without falling into the tourist traps. We’re all about smart travel at The Broke Backpacker – and you should be, too!

And although we do need to cover some stories from the Red Light District, actually, it’s the traffic that require the most caution. Cyclists take no mercy. 

I’ll be going into detail, from whether or not Amsterdam is safe for solo female travellers to bring your family here. So let’s get into it!

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    There is no such thing as a perfect safety guide, as things change quickly. The question of “Is Amsterdam Safe?” will ALWAYS have a different answer depending on who you ask.

    The information in this safety guide was accurate at the time of writing. If you use our guide, do your own research, and practice common sense, you will probably have a wonderful and safe trip to Amsterdam.

    If you see any outdated information, we would really appreciate it if you could reach out in the comments below. Otherwise, stay safe friends!

    Updated December 2023

    Is Amsterdam Safe to Visit Right Now?

    More than 21 million tourists visited Amsterdam 2019 according to its official website. As on of the safest cities in the world, it’s definitely a great place to explore.

    This elegant city of canals and bridges – as much as it is a liberal one – is filled with fun, debauchery, and radical attitudes. Despite the drug and sex tourism, Amsterdam is a safe city. 

    In fact, even as a solo female traveller, safety is hardly a concern for me when I visit Amsterdam. But that’s not to say it isn’t a concern at all. The city does have a darker side. 

    Being a European capital, pickpocketing and general petty crime is rife. But there is also some more serious crime in Amsterdam. 

    In particular, the Red Light District is the centre of Amsterdam’s safety issues, especially at night. Drugs can be purchased exceptionally freely, (sometimes) leading to a ruined city break. 

    Amsterdam has a population of approximately 820,000. But in 2022, an estimated 5 million international tourists arrived. So us travellers are an increasing problem for this popular tourist destination.

    The city has become so overrun that the government took down the iconic IAmsterdam sign outside the Rijksmuseum, calling it “a symbol of mindless mass tourism.” Strong words – but I get it. 

    Colourful tulip lights for Amsterdam light festival
    Light it up, baby.
    Photo: @Lauramcblonde

    Safety in Amsterdam is an interesting situation. According to The Economist, Amsterdam is the 6th safest major city in the world, and 2nd in Europe. That being said, I still think Amsterdam is the least safe city in the Netherlands.

    Amsterdam has criminal elements; every major city does. Gangs make money controlling both prostitution in the Red Light District AND selling drugs – and petty thieves make use of the semi-lawlessness.

    All that aside, Amsterdam is a place I feel safe. There aren’t many places in the world where I can walk around alone after dark. But there are some crucial travel safety tips to know before you do that…

    Check out our detailed where to stay guide for Amsterdam so you can start your trip right!

    Safest Places in Amsterdam

    When choosing where to stay in Amsterdam, a bit of research and caution is beneficial. Whilst most of Amsterdam is safe to visit and stay in, here are a few of the safest places in the city.

    Amsterdam
    Looks pretty bloody safe to me.
    Photo: @Sebagvivas
    • The canal belts (western and southern) – The canal belts are some of the safest places in Amsterdam. They are busy, well-lit, have police walking around, and are generally awesome. Be careful when walking around intoxicated; people falling in the canals is one of the biggest dangers in Amsterdam.
    • Oud-Zuid (Museum Quarter) – This hotspot for tourism comes with both positives and negatives. Lots of tourists means safety in numbers and a thriving backpacker scene. But on the negative side, it’s a hotspot for petty crime in Amsterdam as thieves target clueless tourists. Be wary of this and you’ll be fine.
    • Amsterdam Noord – Not many tourists make it across the water, and for this reason, it’s one of the Amsterdam neighbourhoods with the lowest petty crime. Many Amsterdam residents choose to live here and distance themselves from the chaos.

    Places to Avoid in Amsterdam

    Most places in Amsterdam are pretty safe, and to be honest I wouldn’t say you need to avoid anything really. BUT, you need to be careful and aware of your surroundings pretty much anywhere you go in the world, and the same goes for visiting Amsterdam. 

    Although there are no official warnings to stay out of these areas, there are some reasons to be cautious here:

    • Dark, unlit streets at night – don’t set yourself up to get caught out. 
    • The Red Light District – Although this is a fun place to be after dark, the early hours of the morning when tourists start to die off is when most trouble occurs. 
    • Amsterdam-Zuidoost is the most dangerous area of Amsterdam. It’s some distance from Amsterdam though, so you shouldn’t end up here.
    • The City Centre (Centrum/Binenstad) – Whilst it’s perfectly safe when navigated correctly, this is where most problems occur for tourists. As with any major city, traffic and petty crime are abundant. Watch out for the bike lanes. 

    Keeping Your Money Safe in Amsterdam

    One of the most common things to happen to you whilst travelling is losing your money. And let’s face it: the most annoying way for this to actually occur is when it’s stolen from you.

    Petty crime is pretty much a problem all over the world.

    The best solution? Get a money belt.

    Travel with peace of mind. Travel WITH a security belt.
    Active Roots Security Belt

    Stash your cash safely with this money belt. It will keep your valuables safely concealed, no matter where you go.

    It looks exactly like a normal belt except for a SECRET interior pocket perfectly designed to hide a wad of cash, a passport photocopy or anything else you may wish to hide. Never get caught with your pants down again! (Unless you want to…)

    Hide Yo’ Money!

    15 Top Safety Tips for Traveling to Amsterdam

    amsterdam
    Light it up, baby.
    Photo: @Lauramcblonde

    Don’t get me wrong, Amsterdam is a very safe city. But, like everywhere, it’s not always safe. Bike theft and pickpockets are rife. 

    You can avoid all of this though. Simply follow some of my safety tips for visiting Amsterdam and learn to travel safely and smartly. Do this and you’re bound to love exploring this place.

    1. Be careful in the Red Light District – fun-loving tourists make easy targets.
    2. Go easy in the coffee shops – smoking = all good. But if your tolerance is low, this shit will knock your head off.
    3. Take mushrooms and truffles with caution – If it’s your first time, tell the vendor and they’ll give you solid advice. Sugar brings the intensity down quickly. 
    4. DON’T take photos in the Red Light District – you’ll make yourself a target very quickly.
    5. DON’T buy drugs off the street – Cannabis and truffles are legal and sold in shops. For anything else, only go through a very trustworthy source. It’s not worth the risk.
    6. Take a good medical kit with you – you never know when you might need it!
    7. Watch out for fake police – If a ‘police officer’ asks you for money, then they’re not legit. Plainclothes police DO exist but not after your cash. You can ask to see their ID.
    8. Careful on trains and trams – especially outside Central Station – a prime spot for bag snatchers and pickpockets.
    9. Keep your valuables close – unless you want to see them disappear.
    10. Always keep an emergency stash of cash – Never keep all your cards/ currency in one place. And hide it all from thieves with a hidden money belt.
    11. Stick to your lane – Don’t walk in bike lanes or tram lines.
    12. Cautious around canals – people actually die from being too drunk and falling into the canals. I’ve witnessed this first-hand! The falling in part, not the dying part.

    Pay attention to your surroundings, don’t get yourself mixed up in dodgy situations, and keep our safety travel tips for Amsterdam in mind and you’ll be fine!

    Is Amsterdam Safe to Travel Alone?

    Seba in The Netherlands with bike in the park on a cloudy day
    GO… thank me later.
    Photo: @Lauramcblonde

    Yes, Amsterdam is safe to travel alone. And actually, it’s one of the best places to do it. 

    You can walk around this cultural hub and enjoy things that you can’t do anywhere else in the world. However, I do have a few safety tips for travelling solo in Amsterdam and for avoiding any sort of bad vibes, so listen up…

    • Make friends. There is safety in numbers and it battles the solo travelling blues.
    • Choose a good hostel in Amsterdam – Sociable hostels are fun and safe.
    • Know your limits. Even though you’re in a safe city that’s FAMOUS for partying, being alone makes you more vulnerable.
    • Don’t take all your valuables out. The more stuff you take out, the more there is to lose. 
    • Know your way home. The tram system changes at night. Know which tram line to take from where to get back to your accommodation. 
    • Learn to PACK LIGHT. Having to lug around a huge bag is NOT fun.
    • Keep in touch with friends and fam back home. It’s always better that somebody knows where you are and what you’re up to.

    Despite the petty theft and stuff that CAN happen, Amsterdam is safe for solo travellers. It is LITERALLY one of the safest cities in Europe.

    That doesn’t mean you can just wander into any area of the city at any time of day. Like anywhere, bad stuff happens in dodgy places.

    It all comes down to travelling smart. Keep your wits about you and it’s going to be all good.

    Is Amsterdam Safe For Solo Female Travellers?

    Laura at a tulip field in April in The Netherlands
    April showering me.
    Photo: @Lauramcblonde

    Yes, Amsterdam is safe for solo female travellers. It’s a European city and a very safe city overall, so it’s a popular tourist destination for solo women.

    It’s actually my favourite place to travel alone as a woman too. Nothing beats getting off at Amsterdam central station and chatting to friendly strangers in coffeeshops. 

    Of course, there are things you shouldn’t do and places you shouldn’t go after dark. It always pays to have extra tips when it comes to travelling alone as a woman. So here are some top tips for travelling safely in Amsterdam for fierce females…

    • Trust your gut. Women’s spidey senses rarely fail them.
    • Avoid poorly lit streets and quiet areas where there aren’t many people around.
    • Choose good hostels for women. Stay in female-only dorms if you feel safer. Hostelle is an entirely female-only hostel!
    • Avoid arriving at night. If you’re arriving by flight, bus, or train, try to do it during the day.
    • Use extra caution in De Wallen. The Red Light District is safe to visit but remember this is a place of prostitution. Unfortunately, some people here are unsavoury drunken, lecherous men. However I’ve never had a problem following my standard safety routines.
    • Do not leave your drink unattended. Drink spiking does happen and can be super nasty. NEVER accept drinks from strangers.
    • Avoid getting crazy drunk or stoned. As well as paranoia being shit, you also make yourself much more vulnerable. 
    • Talk to fellow females. Take a class, go on a walking tour, rent bikes with some hostel buddies, and see the city with other people. It’s a cool experience.
    • Saying NO is always fine. You owe nothing to no one.

    Where to Start Your Travels in Amsterdam

    Safest Area to stay
    rijkmuseum
    Safest Area to stay

    Oud West

    Oud-West is simultaneously relaxed and lively; you’ll find plenty to see and do but the vibe is cool, calm, and collected

    Is Amsterdam Safe to Travel For Families?

    Laura in an optical illusion at the NEMO Science Museum in Amsterdam
    Me and fam had the best day out.
    Photo: @Lauramcblonde

    Believe it or not, Amsterdam is safe to visit for families. It’s actually a really child-friendly city. I even see people walking their families around The Red Light District all the time. (Why? I couldn’t tell you…)

    Like I said before: there’s TONS of stuff to do here: there is a huge load of parks, museums, playgrounds, canals, and other family-friendly spaces to stroll around.

    If you grab an I Amsterdam card you get free admission to LOADS of attractions like the NEMO Science Centre and the Van Gogh Museum. This also gives you access to FREE public transport which makes getting around Amsterdam with your family a breeze.

    There are SOME concerns, however…

    • Traffic, trams, and crowded bike lanes are tricky at the best of times. Keep your little ones extremely close near the roads. 
    • Though it’s a great place for a holiday, a lot of young Dutch couples are moving out of the city once they start their families – 40% of them in fact.
    • Drug tourism is a thing here – both weed and a few varieties of mushrooms are legal.
    • The city CAN get rowdy after dark – almost anywhere.

    All that said, there are a lot of family-friendly places to stay, loads of cultural sites to visit, and an endless list of things to do in Amsterdam. So if you and your family want a city trip that’s all about culture and fun, Amsterdam is an amazing place for all that.

    Getting Around Amsterdam Safely

    Let’s talk about cycling in Amsterdam: the most cycling-friendly city in the world. Getting around with a bicycle is the best and fastest option (plus it keeps you in shape) but bike theft is rife. Amsterdam residents ALWAYS double-lock their bikes for a reason. 

    Is Amsterdam dangerous to cycle in? If you know what you’re doing, no. Though I see bike accidents and people falling off every day so it’s not fully safe.

    Riding a bike through park in The Netherlands with person fist pumping ahead
    A clear bike lane: a thing of dreams.
    Photo: @Lauramcblonde

    You can find designated bike lanes everywhere around the city and bike traffic has priority. Follow the rules just like when you’re driving a car. 

    DO NOT WALK IN BIKE LANES. They will hit you. It’ll look like an accident…

    Whilst it’s safe to drive in Amsterdam, it’s a real headache. Traffic laws are strict and tourists end up with hefty fines for not knowing the rules.

    The actual licensed taxis are also safe in Amsterdam – but, not every taxi is licensed. In fact, there are an estimated 2,000 illegal taxis driving around Amsterdam. 

    Especially from the airport – which is where they are most likely to operate – taking an unlicensed taxi comes with significantly more risk. Though Uber is a much safer option in Amsterdam I recommend sticking to Uber.

    Amsterdam is a haven for public transport fans. From the bus, trams, trains, metro, ferries, all the public transport in Amsterdam is safe but here are a couple of things of note:

    • Pickpockets love public transport.
    • Watch out for the change in public transport schedules at night.

    Some public transport doesn’t accept cash. Buy day passes on the trams or get an OV-chipkaart if you plan on travelling in the Netherlands.

    Crime in Amsterdam

    Generally, Amsterdam has a pretty low crime rate. There is the standard threat of petty crime that comes with most of the world’s major cities, but violent crime is uncommon. 

    Though I must say, I have definitely heard of violent crime occuring. It’s extremely uncommon, but not impossible. 

    In 2022, there were almost 85,000 registered criminal offences in the Amsterdam-Amstelland area. This is an increase compared to 2012, but less than 2019. Most of this is non-serious crimes such as pickpocketing, but tourists should be aware of the fact that they are prime targets.

    Of course, there are also complex drug rules in Amsterdam which also need to be adhered to. Unfamiliar tourists don’t want to be caught with illegal drugs in Amsterdam. 

    Smoking weed in public is technically illegal but widely ignored. Just don’t make it obvious and you should be fine. Though you will be fined in the Red Light District so do not smoke weed inside here. 

    amsterdam
    First night in Dam.
    Photo: @Lauramcblonde

    Is Amsterdam safe at night though? Hmm, tough one to call.

    As you could probably expect, most of the crime happens at night. It occurs in areas such as the Red Light District where sex-related crimes are recently increasing. If you have your wits about you and don’t involve yourself in the wrong crowd, it shouldn’t be an issue.

    The US Travel Advisory suggests that Amsterdam is safe for Americ

    What to Pack For Your Amsterdam Trip

    Everyone’s packing list is going to look a little different, but here are a few things I would never want to travel to Amsterdam without…

    nomatic_laundry_bag

    Hanging Laundry Bag

    Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

    Gifts for backpackers

    Head Torch

    A decent head torch could save your life. If you want to explore caves, unlit temples, or simply find your way to the bathroom during a blackout, a headtorch is a must.

    Yesim eSIM

    SIM card

    Yesim stands as a premier eSIM service provider, catering specifically to the mobile internet needs of travellers.

    GEAR-Monoply-Game

    Monopoly Deal

    Forget about Poker! Monopoly Deal is the single best travel card game that we have ever played. Works with 2-5 players and guarantees happy days.

    Pacsafe belt

    Money Belt

    This is a regular looking belt with a concealed pocket on the inside – you can hide up to twenty notes inside and wear it through airport scanners without it setting them off.

    Getting Insured BEFORE Visiting Amsterdam

    If you’re worried about safety, the best plan of action is to ensure you’ve got your own back with some good quality travel insurance for The Netherlands.

    ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

    They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

    SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

    Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

    FAQs on Amsterdam’s Safety

    I’ve listed and answered the most commonly asked questions on safety in Amsterdam below. 

    So, How Safe Is Amsterdam?

    The stats kind of speak for themselves – Amsterdam is one of the safest cities in the world. I’ve been in and out of Amsterdam as a solo female traveller over the past decade and haven’t personally had any issues regarding my safety. 

    However, that’s not to say that problems don’t occur: they do indeed occur every day. Amsterdam LITERALLY gets ten times the amount of tourists versus the population of the actual city itself.

    With so many tourists, petty crime in Amsterdam also rises. Crowded areas and touristed tram routes are hotspots.

    Let’s not forget the notorious Red Light District. It might be a bit of fun, but the government are having to crack down hard to make sure this area of the magnificent city doesn’t spoil its golden reputation. It’s the epicentre of all of Amsterdam’s seedy antics – so go and have fun – but with extra caution. 

    A lot of the unsafe stuff in Amsterdam comes about from your own choices. If you make good decisions and keep aware of your surroundings (pickpockets, trams, etc), you’ll be safe. In case the shit really hits the fan, having some good travel insurance will help protect you.

    amsterdam
    Lekker.
    Photo: @Sebagvivas

    Looking for more info on traveling to Amsterdam?

    Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels!


    And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!