Culture, culture, culture, and some more culture; Amsterdam is where it’s AT when it comes to culture. A whole host of museums and art galleries, an army of cafes and restaurants, canals to stroll around and parks to sit in – not to mention all those historic buildings…
But, of course, Amsterdam is MAINLY known for two things: weed and sex. Both things are regularly bought and sold here and shady elements may be behind some of it. Truckloads of tourists arrive for the fun and become perfect targets for petty crime.
So you may ask, “is Amsterdam safe?” With all these drugs and shady happenings going on.
Don’t you worry – we have created this epic insider’s guide on staying safe in Amsterdam so you can have the best time possible without falling into the traps that some tourists fall into. We’re all about smart travel at The Broke Backpacker – and you should be, too!
We’ll be going into a whole lot of detail and covering a load of topics. From whether or not Amsterdam is safe for solo female travellers, all the way to whether it’s safe to bring your family here – those and just about everything else.
So you may be wondering if it’s safe to drive in Amsterdam – what with all those bicycles – or you may just be wondering if it’s safe to visit at all (maybe you’ve heard some horror stories about the Red Light District)… Whatever your concerns, we’re here to help you out!
Table of Contents
- How Safe is Amsterdam? (Our take)
- Is Amsterdam Safe to Visit? (The facts.)
- Is it Safe to Visit Amsterdam Right Now?
- Amsterdam Travel Insurance
- 19 Top Safety Tips for Traveling to Amsterdam
- Keeping your money safe in Amsterdam
- Is Amsterdam safe to travel alone?
- Is Amsterdam safe for solo female travelers?
- Is Amsterdam safe to travel for families?
- Is it safe to drive in Amsterdam?
- Is Uber safe in Amsterdam?
- Are taxis safe in Amsterdam?
- Is public transportation in Amsterdam safe?
- Is the food in Amsterdam safe?
- Can you drink the water in Amsterdam?
- Is Amsterdam safe to live?
- How is healthcare in Amsterdam?
- Final thoughts on the safety of Amsterdam
How Safe is Amsterdam? (Our take)
Amsterdam is the place to be for party animals and Instagram fans alike. An elegant city – of canals and bridges – as much as it is a liberal one – filled with debauchery and radical attitudes. It’s all pretty cool.
But with all that fun sometimes comes a darker side.
Amsterdam is rife with pickpocketing, petty crime as well as more serious crime. There’s also the drugs in Amsterdam that can be purchased VERY freely, leading (sometimes) to mayhem and stupidity.
In particular, the Red Light District is pretty dangerous (not gonna lie), especially at night.
Gangs pretty much control this area. The police have a hard time controlling criminal elements and EVEN ambulances find it difficult to reach the depths of the nightlife areas on time.
At the end of the day, if you stay away from the dodgy parts of Amsterdam, and steer clear from doing anything illegal, you should be fine.
And – though not DARK – there is the danger of being hit by a bike or a tram as these share the road with pedestrians. Unlike cars, you don’t really hear them coming. It SOUNDS funny, but it’s really not. People do get hurt.
Is Amsterdam Safe to Visit? (The facts.)
Amsterdam is SUPER popular.
This densely packed city only has a population of 850,000 but in 2018 an estimated 8.5 million tourists visited. That is literally ten times as many tourists as inhabitants. By 2025 that’s expected to rise to 23 million – that’s insane.
It’s actually getting out of hand. The city has become so overrun with tourists that the government decided to take down the iconic I Amsterdam sign located outside the Rijksmuseum, calling it “a symbol of mindless mass tourism.” Strong words, but we get it. The amount of selfies that get taken in front of this sign is literally mental.
There’s even been a problem with Airbnb – the maximum rental per owner has been axed to 30 days per year.
Safety in Amsterdam is an interesting situation. According to The Economist, Amsterdam is the 6th safest major city in the world and number 1 in Europe. That being said, Amsterdam is still the least safe city in the Netherlands.
Regardless of whatever the numbers say, Amsterdam still has criminal elements (every major city does). Gangs make a lot of money both controlling prostitution in the Red Light District AND selling drugs. Opportunist thieves make use of the semi-lawlessness of this area, too.
Is it Safe to Visit Amsterdam Right Now?
It may not be absolutely perfect, but it’s still very safe to visit Amsterdam right now.
That said, an anti-expat, anti-tourist sentiment has been steadily growing in Amsterdam. Tourism has been blamed for putting house prices above what ordinary Dutch people can afford. With ten times as many tourists as residents, it’s easy to see why demand outstrips supply.
On another note, recently there has been a danger of buying fake cocaine. This is actually powdered heroin and has caused a number of deaths.
The best way to avoid this is to not buy illegal drugs. Doing so is DEFINITELY going to put you in touch with all the worst people.
If you want, head to a coffee shop and chill.
These are all things that can be avoided. Amsterdam is safe right now, just don’t piss off any locals or drug dealers.
Do you need Travel Insurance for your trip? Even if you’re only going for a few days, that’s more than enough time to get buggered by wicked men or smote by wrathful angels. Have fun in Amsterdam, but take it from us, overseas medical care and canceled flights can be seriously expensive – insurance can, therefore, be a life-saver.
Travel mishaps can and do happen and it is well worth thinking about insurance before you leave home.
We have used World Nomads for years now and I have personally made several claims. Why not get a quote from them yourself?
Do be sure to read the terms and conditions to make sure that the policy covers your needs.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
Amsterdam may rank highly when it comes to being a safe city, but, to be honest, it’s not always safe. Being pickpocketed, or worse, is a real danger in some parts of Amsterdam. Really late at night, the city can take on a pretty dodgy atmosphere as well.
You can avoid all of this though. You must simply follow some of our safety tips for Amsterdam and by travelling smart. Do this and you’re bound to love exploring this place.
- Don’t venture down quiet streets at night time – not all areas are sketchy, but the Red Light District definitely is after a certain hour.
- Just be careful in the Red Light District – it’s a cool neighborhood to visit but be vigilant.
- Go easy in the coffee shops – smoking in a coffee shop = all good. But if you’re not used to cannabis, we wouldn’t recommend going hard on it. You could have a TERRIBLE time.
- Don’t cocktail or crossfade – weed + alcohol + mushrooms = actually dangerous. Pick one poison and try not to mix.
- Avoid taking photos in the Red Light District – they don’t like it. You may have your camera confiscated, or you could actually get roughed up.
- Lock up your valuables – use a safe or store them well out of sight. Things CAN go missing, quite easily.
- DON’T BUY ILLEGAL DRUGS – weed may be fine here, but other stuff isn’t cool. It could be fake and the people you buy it from are going to be pretty shady.
- And if you do, don’t upset the dealers – keep a cool head and watch your back. People have been known to be attacked.
- Smoking outside prohibited areas is actually illegal – so stick to the coffee shops.
- Don’t use “hotel runners” – these guys hang around Central Station and go “get” you a hotel. This is illegal and the accommodation they do reserve for you is often hideous.
- Watch out for fake police – basically, if a police officer is asking you for cash, then they’re not legit. Can you imagine that? In the Netherlands? Plainclothes police DO exist but they’re not after your cash. If you’re not sure, ask to see their ID.
- Careful on trains/trams – especially from Central Station to the airport – a prime spot for bag snatchers and pickpockets.
- Be alert – some thieves use distraction techniques. Don’t fall for their tricks.
- Keep your valuables close to you – on the train or ANYWHERE. Don’t hang your bag on a chair at a restaurant on the street. Keep an emergency reserve of cash in a money belt.
- Stick to your lane – Don’t walk in bike lanes and watch out for tram lines.
- Don’t get completely wasted – on anything. Getting home will certainly be treacherous. You could get lost but, mostly, locals will think you are an idiot.
- Those tricky canals – people actually die from being too drunk and falling into the canals. This is a serious statistic.
- Don’t take your passport out with you – this is the last thing you want to lose or get stolen.
- Use maps or ask for directions if you really feel lost – the city is compact but can be LIKE A MAZE.
We don’t mean to paint Amsterdam as a scary place – 90% of the time, it’s truly fine. There are shady elements here but if you keep aware of your surroundings, and resist the temptation (if there even is one) of hard drugs, you should be fine.
Basically, it’s all about travelling smart. Pay attention to your surroundings, don’t get yourself mixed up in dodgy situations, and keep our safety travel tips for Amsterdam in mind when you’re there!
Keeping your money safe in Amsterdam
Petty theft is a problem pretty much the world over. And the sad thing is, the more touristed a place gets, the more it attracts opportunist thieves. That’s just the way it works, unfortunately.
It’s an issue in Amsterdam, too. Theft is pretty rife here and can happen on the train, on a tram, in broad daylight or after dark. You just can never be sure. So the best way to protect your cash is to use a money belt.
There are A LOT of different money belts out there to choose from. But you can save yourself so much time and effort by simply going with our top choice, the Active Roots Security Belt.
There are three basic reasons why we’re totally into this one: it’s sturdy, it’s affordable, AND it looks just like a belt. Can’t go wrong with any of those features.
You can be as careful as you want, but sometimes being a victim of petty theft is simply a matter of wrong place, wrong time. If that happens, the best way to not be pickpocketed is to have nothing in your pockets to begin with.
With a money belt, you’ll have nothing to steal since your stash of cash for the day will be safely tucked in your money belt. We think this is basically a no-brainer.
If you need a little more room for your passport and other travel valuables, have a look at a full-size money belt that tucks under your clothes instead.
If neither of those options appeals to your refined fashion sense, don’t compromise! Opt for an infinity scarf with a hidden zipper pocket.
We’re totally into solo travel here at The Broke Backpacker. But as with pretty much anything ever, there are good points and bad points to it. The cool part is ding YOUR OWN thing, which is both challenging and enlightening. Bad points are that one may become lonely or even lose touch.
At the end of the day, Amsterdam is SAFE to travel alone. You can walk around pretty safely, do whatever you want, and all without too much of a worry. We do have a few safety tips for travelling solo in Amsterdam and for avoiding any sort of bad vibes, so listen up…
- You should know your limits. Don’t get crazy wasted even though you’re in a city that’s FAMOUS for partying. This just isn’t a good idea, especially since you don’t even know the city.
- And on that note, don’t take all your valuables with you on a night out e.g. passport, cards, money. The more stuff you take out, the more stuff there is to lose. If you lose all of that stuff and can’t get home you’re pretty much done for.
- Hey, you know what? There’s more to do in Amsterdam than drinking and smoking. This city is packed with culture – go out and get drunk on that instead. There are museums galore, beautiful cafes (NOT coffee shops), and a whole load of other stuff to keep you entertained that isn’t naked ladies in windows.
- When you first arrive, plan your route from the station or the airport to your accommodation. Getting lost isn’t fun, and is definitely NOT a nice way to start any trip – least of all when you’re by yourself.
- PACK LIGHT. Having to lug around a huge bag or whatever is NOT fun.
- And when it comes to where to stay in Amsterdam, you should definitely be hitting up well-reviewed places. Read the reviews and see if it’s right for you. Basically, we’d recommend a sociable hostel. These are (more than likely) going to be filled with nice people who also want to socialise. Reading reviews will help you find the right crowd, be it a quiet one or a rowdy one.
- And remember: don’t push yourself too much. Amsterdam is cool, there’s tons to do, but don’t feel like you need to see it all. Traipsing around for hours when it’s freezing in winter, or boiling in summer, isn’t fun. Life isn’t a checklist, so don’t do everything the guidebook tells you to do. Take time out to just chill with a coffee and watch the world go by.
- Keep in touch with friends and fam back home. It’s a good way to keep yourself grounded and stop you from feeling the solo travelling blues. Plus, it’s always better that somebody knows where you are and what you’re up to rather than nobody knowing at all.
Despite the petty theft and stuff that CAN happen, Amsterdam is safe. As we said earlier, 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. Just make sure you keep your wits about you and it’s going to be all good.
Is Amsterdam safe for solo female travelers?
Solo travel is cool, like we said, and travelling solo as a female can be even cooler. The rewards are all there, however, there are some more risks. You’re going to have to be careful about a few more things than your male counterparts. It’s unfortunate but it’s like anywhere in the world.
Generally, Amsterdam is safe for solo female travellers. Of course, there are things you shouldn’t do and places you shouldn’t really go after dark. But for the most part, this is a super visitable city for pretty much anybody.
It always pays to have a few extra tips and some information when it comes to travelling alone as a woman, so here are some of our top tips for travelling safely in Amsterdam as a solo female traveller…
- There is on the whole very little harassment in the streets but sometimes it DOES occur. Basically, stick to what you’d usually do in your own country: avoid poorly lit streets and quiet areas where there aren’t many people around.
- Some specific areas to avoid at night are Kolen, Kit, Buurt, Overtoomse Veld, Amsterdam-Zuidoost, and Osdorp. These places MAY be fine in the day, but at night time they can be more sketchy.
- It’s absolutely ok to visit the Red Light District if you want. But if you go at night, try to remember this a place of prostitution. Some people here may be unsavory and you’ll probably want to avoid eye contact with drunken, lecherous men. Go with a friend if you feel uncomfortable.
- Find yourself a well-reviewed hostel in Amsterdam with female-only dorms. There are even some female-only hostels for you to stay at if you like – Hostelle is a good example of one of these. You’ll get to meet fellow female travellers, some of which may be travelling solo as well. If you’re relatively new to all of this, hostels are great places to make friends and get some advice.
- Be careful with things like your handbag if you have one. Thieves on scooters often target women with dangly bags, which is more than just annoying – you can actually get hurt in the event of a high-speed robbery like that. Wear a bag that’s less noticeable and more secure.
- Handbags are also an easy target on trams, especially when people are all crammed in. Thieves have gotten quite good at “dipping” and might help themselves to your phone or wallet – or both.
- On buses and trams, you might want to sit at the front near the conductor. This is good for peace of mind if anybody weird feels like sitting next to you. Note that on some trams the conductor is in the back.
- Do not leave your drink unattended. This applies if you head out to a bar or club alone or in a group. Drink spiking DOES happen and can be super nasty. DON’T accept drinks from strangers, either.
- On a similar note, don’t get crazy drunk or stoned if you need to get home by yourself. It’s not nice. And if you’re stoned, just remember that “paranoia will destroy ya.”
- Try to meet fellow travellers! Take a class, go on a walking tour, rent bikes with some hostel buddies, see the city with other people. It’ll be a cool experience.
Amsterdam is pretty safe for a European city. (REALLY safe actually.) Things can always go wrong but being sensible with where you are, how much you drink, and who you’re with, will pay off. Don’t act like you’re in a theme park, ensure your safety the way you would at home, and you’ll be fine.
It’s definitely a well-trodden city. One of the best ways to have a truly AWESOME time is to book yourself into a cool hostel where you get to meet other friendly backpackers. Who knows – you might even end up making a lifelong friend. If not, maybe just a drinking buddy!
Is Amsterdam safe to travel for families?
Believe it or not., Amsterdam is a really child-friendly city. Obviously, the Red Light District isn’t an appropriate place to be taking your children, but the rest is fair game.
Like we said before: there’s TONS of stuff to do here – there is a huge load of parks, playgrounds, canals, and other family-friendly spaces to stroll around.
If you grab yourself the I Amsterdam card you get free admission to LOADS of attractions like the Artis Zoo, NEMO Science Centre as well as the Van Gogh Museum. This also gives you access to FREE public transport. These are a great way to get the most out of Amsterdam if you visit with your family.
There are SOME concerns, however…
- Traffic, trams, and crowded bike lanes can be a bit of a hindrance, if not dangerous for youngsters.
- 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.
- And, yeah, steer clear of places like the Red Light District.
- The city CAN get rowdy after dark – almost anywhere.
All that said, there are are a lot of family-friendly places to stay, loads of cultural sites to visit, an endless list of things to do. 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.
In conclusion, yes, Amsterdam is safe to visit for families.
Is it safe to drive in Amsterdam?
Well, yeah, but why would you?
There are tiny narrow streets, canals with no edges, AND it’s completely crammed full with cyclists. It’s just not a great experience.
And if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could end up with some hefty fines. Traffic laws are strict in Amsterdam; that means no using your phone whilst driving, be mindful of speed cameras, and be very careful when parking. Clamping is very common and you’ll see it a lot here.
Here are some points to consider:
- If you DO get an on-the-spot fine for something, make sure you get a receipt. FAKE wardens have been known to solicit money for supposed traffic infringements.
- You’ll have to look out for pedestrians. Zebra crossings are numerous. People just walk out in front of you, too.
- There is a load of mopeds to watch out for.
- You’ve got to PAY to park anywhere in the centre of the city.
- There’s a TON of tram stops and bus stops where you’ll have to be waiting around whilst passengers get on and off.
- Traffic rules are complex. For example, on some roundabouts, you give way to people already on it. Other times, you give way to people coming OFF.
So whilst it’s SAFE to drive in Amsterdam, it’s a real headache. Don’t bother.
Cycling in Amsterdam
Amsterdam has to be one of the cycling-friendliest cities around the world. If you’ve been there before, you know how small and winding the streets can be. Therefore, getting around with a bicycle is the best and fastest option you can find (plus it keeps you in shape).
Since almost every citizen owns a bike, you can find designated bike lanes everywhere around the city. These lanes are marked in white, and you have to follow the rules, just like when you’re driving a car.
Although there are a lot of bicycles on the street, this way of transport is very safe – if you follow the rules of course. Generally speaking, you just need to use your common sense when riding your bike. Indicate where you want to go, don’t ride on the wrong side (which would be the left side), don’t drive over red lights, etc. If you want to know specific rules, you can check this article. We highly recommend wearing a helmet at all time when you’re riding your bike, even if it’s just a short trip – always be prepared for the worst-case!
There are many bike rentals for tourists and visitors. You can rent anything from the classic bicycle or mountain bikes to fancy e-bikes. The rentals normally don’t come with insurance, so if you happen to damage your bike, you’ll have to pay for the fixing costs. Rentals are super helpful and can provide tips and tricks or a bike lane city map. If you’re visiting Amsterdam for the first time, it might be worth asking your rental for a bit of advice.
Whenever you leave your bicycle (there are posts and parking spots around the whole city), make sure you lock it properly. You don’t want to end up in an argument with your bike rental or a friend about a stolen bike!
Is Uber safe in Amsterdam?
Uber IS safe in Amsterdam. All you’ll need is the app and some money in your bank.
Pay in-app, track your journey, know who’s driving you…all the usual benefits of Uber apply here. It’s a good way to get to or from the airport and a good way to get back to your hostel after a night out. Especially if you’re in a completely different part of the city.
Yep. It’s all good and a welcome alternative to the sometimes dodgy taxis in Amsterdam.
Are taxis safe in Amsterdam?
The actual licensed taxis are safe in Amsterdam.
But, not every taxi is licensed. In fact, there’s an estimated 2,000 illegal taxis driving around Amsterdam. That’s A LOT of unlicensed cabs.
You should really avoid taking one. Especially from the airport – which is where they like to operate. Taking an unlicensed taxi comes with significantly more risk.
So now you’re wondering, “Well, how do I spot a LICENSED taxi then?” Good question.
A REGULAR licensed taxi has:
- A blue numberplate
- A light on the roof with the taxi company name
Don’t just hail a taxi from the street and this can be risky. Go to a taxi rank in a busy part of the city to get one instead. Around Leidseplein and other hotspots in Amsterdam, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to taxis.
To be totally safe, get your hotel to recommend a taxi company.
When you get in a taxi, MAKE SURE THEY USE THE METER as they should. If they try and agree on a price first, get out and find another taxi. Also, be aware that they MAY try to take you round the houses to rack the meter up. Have a maps app open on your phone and know where you’re going.
Taxis are actually pretty expensive in Amsterdam and, honestly, not the best way to get around anyway. Since the streets are pretty narrow and often packed up with a whole load of other traffic.
If you must get around by car, an Uber is probably a better option.
Is public transportation in Amsterdam safe?
Amsterdam is a haven for public transport fans. The bus, the trams, the trains, the metro, the ferries; there’s a lot to choose from. All the public transport in Amsterdam is safe but here are a couple of things of note:
- Trams, buses, and the metro ALL run from 6 in the morning till 12:30 AM.
- Public transport doesn’t accept cash at all so you’ll have to get an OV-chipkaar. Having one is actually good since you won’t be fumbling around for change all the time. You can use this on ALL public transport through the Netherlands.
- There is a dedicated public transport safety team. This is a team of 150 police officers who ensure that everybody stays safe on Amsterdam’s public transport.
- But with LITERALLY millions of tourists visiting each year, and many of them getting completely drunk, 150 begins to sound like not enough. People WILL be rowdy, like in any European city when people have been drinking.
- The most hassle you MIGHT get is someone trying to pickpocket you on a busy service. They’re pretty much busy all the time, so just keep your valuables close to you and TRY not to look like an unsuspecting tourist.
- Like we mentioned earlier, the trams and trains that go from the Central Station to the airport are a favourite for petty thieves.
- There’s also the ferry that goes across the River Amstel to Amsterdam Nord. You can catch a ferry from the new jetty behind the Central Station and it’s free.
We’re going to go ahead and mention bicycles, too. Amsterdam is FAMOUS for being cyclist friendly. Know that cyclists still don’t have the right of way.
If you DO want to do as the locals do and bike around Amsterdam, just remember this isn’t a time for being foolish. Follow what other cyclists are doing and don’t get in people’s way.
Get the Bike app (it’s actually called just “Bike”). It’s cheap and you can use the yellow bikes that are dotted all around the city. When you’re done, leave it where you want.
There are, however, many bike apps e.g. MacBike. Do some research and find the best bike service if you’re planning on pedalling your way around town.
Is the food in Amsterdam safe?
Being a developed European country, the food in Amsterdam is safe, of course. Since the Netherlands has a colonial heritage, you’re going to have access to exotic fairs like Indonesian food, too. Satay is a tasty bet and rijsttafel (rice table) is a collection of shareable bowls akin to mezze. And there’s traditional Dutch cuisine to try out as well.
But it’s all about the coffee here; lots and lots of coffee. Whilst you’re trying that, you must get a stroopwafel – caramel syrup between two wafers!
But enough about that. Here are some food safety tips:
- Most of the food IS safe in Amsterdam, but there is one thing you need to be careful of – edibles. This is everything from weed cooked into various stuff, to mushrooms. They’re not gonna kill you but the important thing is DON’T eat too much of anything drug-related. And DON’T mix it with alcohol – or other drugs. You’re almost guaranteed a bad time if you do.
- If you DO try mushrooms, make sure you try them with someone sober or someone who is well versed in this kind of thing. They can help you get home if you start freaking out.
- (Back to normal food.) Go to busy places, establishments that look clean, to make sure you avoid dodgy food. If somewhere is busy, most likely it’s good for the tastebuds AND the tummy.
- If you really want to get a good idea of what to eat in Amsterdam that’s also safe, then get online. Look at Google reviews, TripAdvisor, foodie blogs, etc.
- Dutch herring is a dish that’s served raw. It might give you an upset stomach if you’re not used to raw food. Usually, this is safe, but just make sure you get it from a reputable place.
- THE most basic rule is to simply wash your hands. You’re the one touching the knives and forks and the burger buns and stuff, aren’t you? So make sure you’re the one who’s not making yourself ill. Bring sanitiser if you’re EXTRA worried.
- Traveling with an allergy? Research ahead of time how to explain your allergy. Keep in mind that store owners and restaurant staff might not know all the foods that contain allergens, so it’s helpful to know the names of some of these too. If you’re gluten-free, pick up a handy Gluten-Free Translation Card with descriptions of Celiac disease, cross-contamination risk, and local Amsterdam ingredients in Dutch.
Basically, the food in Amsterdam is safe; most likely, you’re not going to have to worry AT ALL about eating here.
And it’s GOOD EATIN’ too. You will literally be spoiled for choice. The options are endless, gourmet or not.
But obviously, the usual things apply. If you see a place that’s got bad reviews, you should probably avoid it. Do your research and seek out the best places to eat in Amsterdam. There will be a whole load of places to eat at, so you can afford to be picky.
Can you drink the water in Amsterdam?
Of course, you can drink the water in Amsterdam. The water is great, there’s not many chemicals used and has a nice neutral taste. If you’re a water connoisseur, chances are you’ll like it.
You can EVEN drink it from the bathroom taps since header tanks aren’t allowed. Everything is from the mains. That means you can use your own water bottle and avoid wasting money on disposable plastic ones.
Is Amsterdam safe to live?
Like pretty much any city in Northern Europe, Amsterdam is safe to live in. As we’ve said about a hundred times, Amsterdam is THE safest major city in Europe so that gives you a good inkling.
It’s also a pretty liberal city to live in.
Let’s put that into perspective:
- The Netherlands was the first country in THE WORLD to legalise same-sex marriage in 2001.
- You can choose to have a smoke whenever you feel like it.
- There’s not a load of pollution, thanks to the lack of carsand everyone going around on bicycles. Nice clean air, for the most part.
Once you’ve been living in Amsterdam a while, most likely you’ll be less targeted for petty theft than if you were just visiting the city. Knowing the streets, not wandering about with a backpack and SLR, etc. does wonders for your street cred.
The most crime you’ll face is getting your bike stolen. This is unsurprisingly frequent considering the number of bikes there are in Amsterdam (it’s around 800,000 – almost one per resident). It’s a lot of money to made by thievery.
Chain your bike up well. Always use TWO different (good) locks and lock the frame, not the wheel. Parking it in a safe bike park is a good bet.
Also, consider just getting an old bike. The newer and shinier a bike is, the more attractive it is for potential thieves.
All the unsafe areas we’ve mentioned still apply when you LIVE in Amsterdam, too. Amsterdam-Zuidoost is not a great place to live, for example.
But all things considered, you’ll love living in Amsterdam. It’s frequently voted one of the happiest cities in the world. Everyone loves living here, apparently.
The taxes are pretty high but the work-life balance is good. No one expects you to be in the office at 7 in the morning till 8 at night. It’s pretty normal to just work the prescribed hours and go home. Easy.
In general, it’s not only SAFE to live in Amsterdam, turns out it’s pretty awesome, too.
How is healthcare in Amsterdam?
You’re going to find a high level of healthcare in Amsterdam.
Health insurance is mandatory for everyone, even for public servants. Cost is generally pretty high, but that’s because the level of care is ALSO pretty high as well. So you get what you pay for basically.
If you’re part of the EU, you can get the same benefits as Dutch citizens with your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) as well.
There is a LOAD of great hospitals around the cities with A&E centres attached, too.
If you need to see a doctor, dentist, or go to a pharmacy, you contact the Central Doctors Service. They can help you find one that’s right for you.
As in many countries, stronger medication CAN be bought over the counter, but only in pharmacies. In fact, MOST medication must be bought from a pharmacy. Supermarkets don’t really stock stuff like that. Even paracetamol.
There are also private healthcare facilities. Obviously, these are going to be GOOD quality, but you also have to pay even more for the privilege. Make sure you have medical insurance if you do want to go to one of these. Your EHIC won’t cover it.
In short, healthcare in Amsterdam is great.
Final thoughts on the safety of Amsterdam
The stats kind of speak for themselves – Amsterdam is one of the safest cities in the world. And with that achievement, it also tops all other European cities, too. Amsterdam LITERALLY gets ten times the amount of tourists versus the population of the actual city itself. That’s truly A LOT.
With so many tourists, the petty crime 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 honestly even the Amsterdam government feels that this area is out of their control. It’s definitely the seedy side to Amsterdam and is devoid of all of the culture, sparkling canals, and chocolate box buildings.
But the easy way to stay safe in Amsterdam is to avoid this area at night and to avoid buying illegal drugs. Speaking of which, overdoing it at a coffee shop is going to be a good way to have a bad time. Or drinking too much and falling in a canal.
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 travel insurance will help protect you.
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! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means we earn a small commission if you purchase your insurance through this page. This costs you nothing extra and helps us keep the site going.
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A self-proclaimed travel-yoga-freak, Mathilde Magnier is French, raised in Brussels, and spent most of her adulthood in Sydney. Prior to working for The Broke Backpacker, Mathilde was working in the tech industry for a few years. She plans to spend most of 2020 balancing wellness and la Vida Loca in Central and South America.
You can connect and follow her journey on Instagram!