Amsterdam Travel Advice
Security travel advice for Amsterdam
Threat level: Medium
Amsterdam is a renowned and popular tourist destination for many, and is considered to be one of the best cities in Europe. There are plenty of attractions to keep you busy, with many enjoying the cultural sites, beautiful river and large selection of restaurants, cafes and bars.
If you are planning to travel around lots and enjoy the extensive array of museums the city has to offer, it is advised that you purchase an I Amsterdam card which will provide you with discounted prices.
Although the general threat to Amsterdam is relatively low, recent events across other significant European capitals means that tourists to the city should remain alert to the risk of an attack.
Recent Security Risk Events
In 2014, a Malaysian Airlines aircraft that left Amsterdam was shot down en route to its final destination in Ukraine which killed all 283 passengers and crew on board. It is believed that the shooting of the plane was a mistake by pro-Russian insurgents in the deadliest and is considered to be the deadliest airliner shootdown incident.
In 2014, at least three tourists have fallen fatally ill in recent years from overdosing on what they thought was cocaine which turned out to be white heroin. Many more taking the same substance required serious medical treatment.
Whilst the police arrested a drug dealer thought to be selling the powder, there was little evidence and his conviction was minor. Tourists are strongly advised to not buy drugs whilst visiting Amsterdam for risk of illness or death.
The city is well known for its legal stature and availability of marijuana from shops to cafes. It is highly advised that you do not purchase this from someone on the street as there is no regulating its content. If you do choose to use marijuana, do so in moderation and with caution as it can differ to previous experiences you may have had.
Other drugs are also frequently available in the country and these are not legal. You should refrain from buying from dealers who take advantage of visitors’ lack of knowledge or experience and will sell you cheap or fake stuff.
The Red Light District has also proved a popular visit for tourists. It is prohibited to take pictures when in this area, trying to do so can cause lots of issues. Guided tour are available and considered to be an informative and safe way of experiencing this part of the city.
Like many other European cities, there is an issue with pickpockets operating particularly in busy tourist areas. You should ensure that your personal belongings are close to you at all times and when possible, leave important documents including your passport in a safe place in your accommodation.
The city is renowned for the large number of people that cycle in and around it. As the traffic flow of cyclists is probably higher than you are used to, remain aware of them when crossing the road and ensure that you check both ways before stepping into the street.
Travel around Amsterdam
One of the most appealing aspects of the city is that most of it can be explored by foot, however cycling is probably the most popular method of transportation – there are more bikes than people in the city!
You can cycle on almost all roads, however it is advised that you use bicycle lanes on the right hand side of the road. If the bike symbol is upside down then you are cycling in the wrong lane. Be careful of trams around the city and do not cycle in front of them.
Follow general safety rules; do not stop on the path suddenly, indicate with your arm when you are planning to turn and warn someone you are going to overtake by ringing your bell.
Public transport in the city is very good, with metros, buses, trams, ferries and trains all an option. The GVB Company provides the main public transport and integrates metro tram and bus services and OV cards can be used to ride them. These can be bought for time lengths between 24 and 168 hours of validity.
Driving is not recommended in Amsterdam, particularly within the canal ring. As with many cities, it can get extremely congested particularly during peak hours and it would be quicker to use public transport to reach your destination.
You can enjoy the views of the city by going on a city boat tour. There are a number of options available to suit all visitors’ wants and needs. It can offer you a different view of Amsterdam that could not have been seen on land.
Time now in Amsterdam:
Healthcare in Amsterdam
If you are an EU member and require emergency medical treatment, your EHIC card will cover you. For non-emergency treatment in which you may be referred to a hospital by a GP you need to check that you have been referred to a provider that has a contract with the Zilveren Kruis Health insurance company as this is the government contracted insurer.
You may still have to pay for treatment before you are seen or contribute towards the co-payments in the Dutch system. Some of this can be reimbursed by the government insurance company. Send your original bill, a copy of your EHIC card and bank details to:
Groep Buitenlands Recht
7300 AR Apledo
It is advised that all travellers to Amsterdam purchase comprehensive travel and health insurance to cover you for all medical treatments that may be necessary during your trip. Do not call an ambulance unless absolutely necessary as they cost to transport you to the hospital. You should also check that your insurance will cover you for this too as it can prove costly.
U.S. Consulate General
1071 DJ Amsterdam
Telephone: +31 70 310 2209
British Embassy Amsterdam
1075 AE Amsterdam,
Telephone: +31 20 676 4343
Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany
1071 DG Amsterdam
Telephone: +31 20 574 77 00
Dutch Consulate General
1017 HR Amsterdam
Telephone: +31 20 530 69 69
Spanish Consulate Amsterdam
Telephone: +31 20 620 3811
For further embassy information and locations please see our live travel map below.
Other useful info
Police emergency: 112
Fire emergency: 112
Medical emergency: 112