Is Amsterdam safe to travel? Yes, Amsterdam is a safe city to visit. In the Safe City Index 2015 Amsterdam takes the 5th position in the list of safest cities in the world (2015). Though you can buy marihuana freely in coffee shops, smart drugs in smart shops and prostitution is legal, Amsterdam is not a dangerous city. The city does especially well in regards to traffic. Because everyone travels by bike there are not many traffic accidents and the air in Amsterdam is not (much) polluted.
For crime, Amsterdam is also safe. The risk of violent assault in Amsterdam is pretty much absent, in all parts of the city. Also, crime rates in general in Amsterdam are doing down every year.
Still, most of the crimes like robbing and pick pocketing in Amsterdam happen to tourists. Tourists are more often targeted than Amsterdam residents because they are easily distracted. Tourists will need to be careful of petty thieves, like pickpockets and getting your bag, jacket or things from your car stolen. Here’s list to keep you safe in Amsterdam
Getting your bike stolen in Amsterdam
Not surprising in a city with more than 80.000 bikes, bike theft is the biggest crime of Amsterdam. Most Amsterdam people loose in average 2 bikes a year.
8 Tips how to avoid a stolen bike in Amsterdam
- Always use 2 different locks.
- Get at least one really good bike lock. A good bike lock is a steel chain and will cost at least 30 euros!
- Don’t use U-shaped locks.
- Always attach the frame to a bike rack or pole.
- If you have 2 bikes, don’t attach them to each other, unless you really want to help out the thieve.
- There are many (first 24 h free) bike parks in the city where your bike is safe and dry.
- The thieve follows the market: popular bikes (like ‘grandpa style’ bikes, shiny new bikes or bikes with accessoires) are easy to sell and so more popular among thieves.
- And oh yeah, try to remember what your bike looks like to explain the police or get a frame number…
Theft from your parked car
Leaving your car parked in Amsterdam is already expensive, but if you do, please empty out the car completely. Any visible objects in the car (especially if it’s rental or a foreign number plate) will let a thieve know there something worthwhile inside. Any car is very easy to open. Even ‘secure’ park&ride car parks will not guarantee that your car is safe.
Pickpockets in Amsterdam
In any city where there are tourists, pickpockets try their luck. Though Amsterdam is no Barcelona or Rome (true pickpocket havens), Amsterdam, with its high density of tourism, does attract thieves and so pickpocketing happens a lot, especially in summer.
That’s because thieves know tourists carry a lot of cash with them and they are easily distracted.
5 Tips to avoid getting pick pocketed in Amsterdam
- Always keep your bag close to your body and closed.
- Don’t use a big wallet. Don’t carry more money than you need.
- Don’t leave your bag or jacket with wallet unattended in the dressing room of a shop, a fast food restaurant, bar or club (all clubs offer paid cloak rooms) or hanging from a baby stroller.
- Places of high pickpocketing in Amsterdam: Central Station, Damrak (between Central Station and Dam Square), Kalverstraat shopping street, (getting in and out of) trams, buses and metros, the hotel lobby, restaurants and bars.
- Pickpockets either try to get into your bag or pocket when you are distracted or they try to distract you. Be very careful when someone asks you direction at Central Station (you probably look like a tourist and information stands are everywhere, so why would anyone approach you to ask directions?). Or they point out a ‘spot’ on your clothing. Or when then exit the tram, they ‘fall’ and while you help out, they take your wallet out of your bag. Usually they work in teams, so when one person is talking to you, the other has already robs you.
Getting robbed or mugged in Amsterdam?
How big is the chance you will be robbed or mugged in Amsterdam? Not very big. In average there are 5 robbings in the streets of Amsterdam per day (by comparison: just in Paris Nord station, there are 30-40 suitcases stolen everyday!).
In almost all of these cases, people were robbed of their mobile phone. Basically it was just taken out of their hands while talking on the phone. In most of the cases, the victims were teenagers and not tourists. When anyone confronts violently, just give away your belongings without hesitation. Please remember: it’s only stuff that can be replaced. Your health is more valuable.
Assault and armed robbery?
In Amsterdam most of the assault, with violence or arms, happen to people at their business, like shops and at their homes. So that’s where tourists are safe.
Violence and murder in Amsterdam
There are not a lot of murders in Amsterdam and if they happen, they are usually carried out between criminal groups operation in organized crime. In 2014 25 people were murdered. In 10 cases the victims were known by the police and active as criminals themselves. 2003 is a famous year, when criminal groups started murdering each other, resulting in 15 deaths.
In The Netherlands, homicide is not very common. In the United States every year 5,27 people in 100.000 are murdered. That’s higher than countries like Iraq and Iran. With 0.9 murders per 100.000 The Netherlands is surely one of the safest countries in the world.
Love these data? Find them via http://ourworldindata.org/
Is the Amsterdam red light district safe?
The Amsterdam red light district is full of crime, but you will never notice! Organised crime is high here, with women trafficking, prostitutes working for pimps (which is illegal), white washing of money in shady snackbars, dirty sex clubs and dodgy coffee shops.
BUT! For people just walking around, the red light area is not dangerous at all. There is not much street crime in the Amsterdam red light area, probably because it’s always so busy and there are a lot of police cameras.
Still, naming the red light district as the safest area of Amsterdam is taking things too far. The centre of Amsterdam is still the unsafest area for tourists, mostly due to all the pickpocketing.
Are there unsafe areas in Amsterdam?
As always, the poorest neighbourhoods in a city are the most unsafe. This is true also in Amsterdam. Most crimes are recorded in the West: Bos & Lommer and Nieuw-West. These are areas with a lot of social housing, low income families, immigrants, poverty and social problems. Still, it’s not dangerous around here. Most of the crime here comes from burglaries.
The only famously ‘dangerous’ area in Amsterdam is Southeast (Amsterdam Zuidoost), an area rather separated with some distance from the city. No chance you will wander around here by accident!
Southeast, also called Bijlmer was built in the 1960s as a new haven for young families. Since the 1980s, the area is home to a huge number of immigrants from all over the world. The Bijlmer is a poverty stricken area. It suffers from more crime than any other part of the city, though things are looking much better since a huge renovation operation of the area.
Still, the Bijlmer is safe and a lot of fun to visit during day time (it’s not a ghetto like Paris or something with gangs like Los Angeles).
The Amsterdam council has made an interactive map that shows the safety of different neighborhoods in Amsterdam.
Is it safe for a woman to travel in Amsterdam?
Amsterdam is safe for all people, but as a woman traveling on your own, I advise you to take the normal precautions: don’t wander alone in deserted areas like parks on your own after dark and don’t trust just any stranger! Other than that: Amsterdam is safe, also for women traveling alone!