Perhaps due to its reputation for drugs and prostitution, many people worry that Amsterdam is an unsafe and lawless place. This could not, however, be further from the truth. Amsterdam is statistically one of the safest cities in the world and although there are the same problems with petty crime as any major capital, it is significantly safer than most.
But just how safe is Amsterdam?
Amsterdam has been ranked the safest city in Europe again this year (and the 4th safest in the world). If anything, the Dutch approach of regulating things that would be otherwise illegal has reduced the criminal problems usually associated with such activities. This isn’t to say that there is no crime in Amsterdam – the city has its share of pickpockets, scammers and other dodgy characters but is very safe compared to other countries. The Dutch also have one of the world’s highest rates of confidence in the police force (75%) and you will see plenty of police in Amsterdam- they are very used to helping tourists so don’t be afraid to ask!
Is Amsterdam safe at night?
Take the same precautions as you would in any other city at night and you’ll be fine. Taking simple steps to ensure you’re safe, such as not leaving drinks unattended, not buying drugs from street dealers and, perhaps most importantly, not peeing in canals (on average 18 people die every year from drunkenly falling in the canals in this way!). Don’t leave jackets, coats or bags unattended in bars – most will have a cloakroom or lockers where you can leave your stuff and this is definitely the safest way to keep all your belongings during a night out! Although almost all bars will have security (particularly at weekends), don’t be an easy target – getting drunk and leaving your phone and wallet on the bar or in an open pocket is a sure-fire way to get them stolen!
Amsterdam no-go zones… Is Amsterdam Oud West safe?
Absolutely. Whilst Amsterdam is considered to be the safest city in Europe, there are a couple of neighbourhoods with a bit of a reputation. This is not entirely fair however and Oud-West, in particular, is one of the city’s safest and most beautiful neighbourhoods.
Whilst it may have had its problems in the past, Oud-West is a popular part of the city for young professionals and students. Bos en Lommer and Bijlmer are probably the most notorious neighbourhoods in Amsterdam but are perfectly safe for tourists assuming that you take the same precautions as you would anywhere else. The less-than-complimentary news reports surrounding these areas tend to relate to gang-related violence rather than problems for tourists and ordinary locals.
Safe places to stay… Are hostels safe in Amsterdam?
Like hostels or shared accommodation anywhere in the world, there is a risk of theft from other people staying in the rooms. However, most hostels have lockers in which to keep your valuables or a safe at reception for passports and other important documents. The larger hostels will have security guards and night receptionists etc so they are not any more dangerous than other accommodation options. Always lock your valuables up and speak to staff about any concerns you may have and you’ll be absolutely fine – staying in a hostel is a great way to meet fellow travellers and have fun on a budget.
Top 5 Tips for staying safe in Amsterdam
- Do not take illegal taxis. Go to a proper taxi rank (or use an app like ViaVan or Uber) and do not be tempted by offers from ‘taxi’ drivers who approach drunk people in spots like Leidseplein offering cheaper fares. It’s just not worse the risk.
- Ignore Street dealers. Best case scenario, you get ripped off and pay a lot of money for some icing sugar – worst case, you end up buy something potentially deadly or getting mugged. Go to a smart shop or coffee shop and don’t be tempted into buying stuff from criminals on the street.
- Don’t pee in the canals after a few drinks – not only do you risk a hefty fine, you also risk falling in and not coming back out! Learn from the 18 people per year who make this mistake and pop into a café or use one of the public toilets.
- Watch out for the bikes! Perhaps the biggest danger you are likely to face in the Dutch capital is walking into a bike lane and getting hit by one of the hundreds of thousands of cyclists that speed around the city each day – take care and remember that they have the right of way. So, watch out – you have been warned!
- If you have a problem, speak to the police – they are here to help and all speak English. Do not be afraid to ask them for help!
Whatever you decide to do in Amsterdam, we hope you have a great time and by following the above tips and taking exactly the same measures as you would in any other city, stay safe and enjoy everything the Dutch capital has to offer.