By Amy Gaffney, Student Brand Ambassador

As the interrail season approaches, Amsterdam is naturally a hot spot for young people ready to spread their wings! With an abundance of culture, sights and parties, this city is packed with endless opportunities of fun. Every time I have visited The Netherlands’ capital, I have left craving more. With this consistent return to the city, I have picked up some tips on how to stay safe specifically in Amsterdam, so you can leave prepared to make the most of this amazing destination… Signing up to email alerts at Travel Advice on helps keep you up to date with important travel information.

Personal ID

Anyone 14 and above must always be able to show valid identification. For British nationals that is their passport. If you are over 16 and fail to comply with identifying yourself, you will be fined 100 euros. If you are 14-15, the fine is 50 euros. I recommend keeping your passport in a money belt under your clothes, or a cross-body bag close to your person (I often keep a little padlock on my bag to reduce the chance of pickpocketing). 

Do not carry or use drugs

Whilst Amsterdam has a reputation of permitting ‘soft drugs’ like cannabis, this is only in designated premises of the city. Any other drugs are strictly forbidden, and buying or possessing them can result in a prison sentence. Drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis in public spaces is forbidden and can lead to fines. As The Netherlands is attempting to alter this reputation, there is a likeliness these rules will be implemented more as time goes on, so be sure to follow them. In addition, it is common for strangers to approach asking if you want to purchase drugs amongst the Red-Light District – avoid confrontation, decline, and walk away. Buying drugs on the streets is illegal, street dealers sell fake drugs so it can be dangerous, and you will be breaking the law.


People drown in these canals yearly, and the majority of these incidents occur after heavy drinking or smoking cannabis. If you have smoked or had a drink, be sure to stick with your mates and if someone is too intoxicated, get a taxi home instead of walking. In general, do not walk too close to the edge of canals.

Scams and fake police

Amsterdam police have warned that criminals are using fake police identities to trick tourists into handing over cash or credit cards. Whilst they will usually say it is part of an investigation into counterfeit money, real plain-clothed police are unlikely to carry out this type of inspection. Dutch police do not have shiny badges which fake police sometimes show as proof of ID. If this happens, politely decline and walk away.


Pick-pocketing and bag snatching is common, particularly in the centre of the city and near the train station. Thieves often operate in groups, especially on trams and trains – one distracts whilst the other takes your bag. Sleeping on trains makes you an easy target. They also can try to distract you in a restaurant – bags have been taken from between people’s feet whilst this happens. To help combat this, stay alert and keep your belongings in sight. Keep valuables on your person, avoid leaving coats on the backs of chairs and try not to sleep on public transport. Remember to get travel insurance that covers devices and belongings and an emergency travel document should you lose your passport. If you are a victim of theft, contact the nearest police station and get a report. 

To get emergency help in the Netherlands, their emergency services number is 112. Your travel insurer can also help you and will usually provide you with a 24/7 phone number if you need to use your travel insurance to seek medical assistance or something happens.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help when there, such as if you are in hospital or arrested. To contact them, follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. For urgent assistance telephone +31 70 4270 427 if in The Netherlands or the FCDO in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).

Following these rules helps increase your chances of a smooth-sailing city break to one of the coolest capitals in Europe, no matter what you want to get out of your holiday.

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