Home of the gorgeous Amsterdam, the Netherlands is a European country that borders Germany, Belgium, and France. It is known as welcoming to travelers and tourists, having more than just enough things for them to experience and see – interesting cities, windmills, flat lands, and so on.
The country is divided into four regions, the Western – also known as Randstad, housing four of the country’s biggest cities -, Northern – the area with the least population, usually unexplored by tourists -, Eastern – shelters the country’s largest national park, Hoge Veluwe National Park, as well as seven medieval cities - , and Southern – known for carnival celebrations and a Burgundian way of life - Netherlands.
In terms of climate, sources suggest that the best time to visit the Netherlands is from May to September, as the maximum temperature is of around 18 up to 23 degrees Celsius. Here, summers are generally cool, and the winters are mild.
Still, no matter how great the country, a traveler must always know if he or she will be facing any dangers when traveling to it. Therefore, today we have prepared for you the Netherlands safety guide, compiling all of the risks the country comes with as well as a list of tips to help keep yourself safe while exploring it.
Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting the Netherlands
Overall Risks in the Netherlands: LOW to MEDIUM
The Netherlands is labeled as a generally safe country. However, tourists are recommended to be cautious, especially due to the risk of extremist terrorism. Other than that, one should worry about usual things, such as petty crime and robberies.
The highest risk of petty crime and such is in the country’s capital, Amsterdam, where thieves can and will enter restaurants, markets, and other public places in order to try and pickpocket tourists.
The latest safety update tells of the shooting incident that took place on 18 March 2019, when a man started firing a gun in the 24 October Square area of Utrecht, resulting in 4 deaths and 6 injuries. The man has been caught and charged with murder with terrorist intent. Therefore, you should take some basic safety measures when it comes to avoiding terrorist attacks.
Now, that we’ve seen which the overall risks in the Netherlands are, it’s time to see exactly how safe is the Netherlands for tourists!
Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in the Netherlands: MEDIUM
As mentioned before, petty theft is common throughout the Netherlands, especially in the country’s capital and around the latter’s Central Station. Reportedly, thieves usually operate in gangs, mainly on the trains from and to Schiphol Airport as well as on trams.
When approached by such a gang, one of the thieves will distract you – by either asking you for directions or for help – while the other one will snatch your bag or try to pickpocket you.
Moreover, these petty thieves are known to enter bars and restaurants, claiming that they have things to sell – souvenirs and such – while, in fact, they’ll distract people and pickpocket them.
- How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in the Netherlands?
Our Netherlands safety travel tips advise you to not let yourself distracted by anyone! Reportedly, people – including locals, tourists, foreigners – have had items, such as bags, cameras, and purses, snatched from between their feet or right under their eyes while being distracted by thieves claiming to sell souvenirs.
It is important that you do not lose sight of your belongings and always keep them in a place where you can see them. Bags/ backpacks should not be kept on your back and, instead, in front or sideways of you.
You should also avoid displaying any expensive items, such as gadgets or jewelry, as well as large sums of money in public.
Scam Risk in the Netherlands: MEDIUM
Given the fact that the country, especially its capital, is quite popular among travelers, you can surely expect to come across people trying to scam you. So, is the Netherlands safe to visit for the easily distracted traveler?
Obviously, it is not!
When it comes to transportation, you can encounter overcharging taxis, drivers that forget to turn on their meter or rig it beforehand, unofficial taxis, long hauling drivers, and people that try to sell you used public transport tickets.
Then, you may also be approached by fake police officers, people that are offering you their help only to charge you after, those that spill liquid on you and, while trying to wipe it off, pickpocket you, and people that try to scam you via local currency tricks.
Luckily, our Netherlands safety guide provides you with everything you need to know to avoid such scams!
- How to avoid getting scammed in the Netherlands?
In terms of transportation, it is recommended that you use only official taxis. You can either search for these online or have your accommodation give you a business card of a reputed taxi service. When entering a vehicle, make sure that the meter is functional, and that the driver turns it on when they begin driving.
If approached by police officers, keep in mind that the authorities in the Netherlands rarely carry out inspections on the street and, in case they do, they will never flash any shiny badges to you. The police here have normal badges/ IDs, which you should always ask for before answering their questions or handing them any of your valuables.
For the rest of the scams, it is better if you don’t interact with anyone that approaches you, even if they spill food/ liquids on you. Also, get familiar with the local currency so that you know exactly how much change you should receive and which exchange services to avoid.
Kidnapping Risk in the Netherlands: LOW
Back in 2015, the kidnapping rate of the Netherlands was of 2.5 cases per 100,000 population. Statistics also show that this rate has been continuously decreasing since 2005.
Moreover, there are no recent or notable reports of such incidents. Therefore, as long you apply some basic safety measures and avoid dangerous areas, you should not worry about such things.
- How to avoid getting kidnapped in the Netherlands?
However, we still have some Netherlands safety travel tips to help you avoid and prevent getting kidnapped. First of all, it is recommended that you stay away from remote and bad-reputed areas, including shady alleys, slums, and neighborhoods that have a bad reputation or which simply don’t look fit for tourists.
Also, you should not travel alone during the night. If you want to go anywhere or just return to your accommodation, it is better if you rely on an official taxi.
Terrorism Risk in the Netherlands: LOW to MEDIUM
Besides the terrorist attack we have mentioned earlier, there has been another one on 31 August 2018, when two tourists were badly injured in a knife attack that took place at the Amsterdam Central Station.
Even though these two incidents were the only ones reported as linked with terrorism/ terrorist attacks, one should still be careful and not rule out this type of risk. The Netherlands might be one of Europe’s safest country, but it is better to be safe than sorry, as they say.
In this respect, you, as a traveler, should take some basic safety measures that can help you avoid being the victim of a terrorist attack.
- How to avoid terrorism in the Netherlands?
As you may already know, terrorist usually target crowded areas – train station, shopping malls, markets, city centers, and such. Moreover, they are also known to target places of prayer and official buildings as well.
Naturally, we can’t tell you to completely avoid such areas, as you might have to pass through or visit them. However, it is advised that you either limit the time you spend in and around them or be extremely careful when doing so.
If you notice anything suspicious, it is better to flee to a safe area and alert the authorities. Also, even if you are in a crowd, always make sure that you know what’s the fastest way out of a location.
Risks for Women Traveling Alone in the Netherlands: MEDIUM
When it comes to if the Netherlands is safe for solo women travelers or not, all we can say it that depends on your location and on how careful you are. For example, if you are alone in a bar or night-club, you risk having your drink spiked, as there have been a couple of reports telling of such incidents.
Moreover, you are also likely to be targeted by thieves and pickpockets if you are traveling alone through the city. You’d be surprised with the time some pickpockets put in stalking their prey, so to say.
Therefore, while traveling alone through the Netherlands is generally safe, you should still always keep an eye on your surroundings.
- How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler in the Netherlands?
In order to keep yourself safe while traveling, our Netherlands safety guide recommends you to be cautious. In short, order your own drink and keep an eye on them, travel through areas that are somewhat populated so that pickpockets have a harder time robbing you – as they wouldn’t want to be noticed -, and keep an eye out for anything suspicious.
Moreover, you should not be traveling during the night and avoid anyone that approaches you, especially if they try to sell you drugs. Stay away from remote areas, dark alleys, bad-reputed neighborhoods.
Rape Risk in the Netherlands: LOW
Back in 2015, the Netherlands had a rape rate of only 7.1 cases per 100,000 population – a rate that was, and still is, continuously decreasing since 2006. Also, this country is known to have one of the lowest crime rates in the world – thus, one should be mainly worried about petty theft and such.
However, one cannot rule out this aspect, especially given the fact that there are reports of incidents involving the use of spiked drinks. It is recommended that travelers, especially women traveling alone, take the basic safety measures that can help them avoid and prevent such scenarios.
- How to avoid getting raped in the Netherlands?
In order to avoid getting raped, our Netherlands safety travel tips recommend you stay away from remote areas, shady alleys, the city slums, and bad-reputed neighborhoods, even if you are traveling with a group.
Also, avoid traveling/ walking during the night, especially if you are around train stations or airports, as such areas are likely to be targeted by criminals. Other than that, just keep an eye out for anything suspicious and stick to the areas that are meant for tourists and are usually populated.
Risks for People Traveling with Children in the Netherlands: LOW
So, is the Netherlands safe to visit for parents that travel with their children? Well, while the country’s modern culture, so to speak, may not be considered as appropriate to children, the Netherlands can be visited and explored with the little ones.
For example, if you wish to spend a couple of days in a more remote region, close to a village and to nature, then the Netherlands might be just the perfect country. There are little to no things that could pose as a threat to your children.
Still, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to take care of them, obviously.
- How to avoid unwanted scenarios?
When talking about children and unwanted scenarios, we don’t usually think of the worst things that could happen. Instead, we think about what the little ones might get themselves into – they can easily wander off and get lost if you are not paying attention to them.
In this respect, if you plan on traveling through the Netherlands with your children, we can only advise you to keep an eye on them and take the same safety measures you would take back home. After all, one important thing you’ve learned while raising your children is keeping them safe!
Natural Disaster Risks in the Netherlands: MEDIUM
In terms of natural disasters, the Netherlands is usually affected by storms, which come with a frequency of 66.7%, extreme temperatures (18.5%), floods (11.1), and earthquakes.
Extreme temperatures have the highest mortality rate, of 98.2%.
In order to avoid any dangers and keep yourself safe, it is recommended that you always check the local news and weather report before leaving your accommodation, and take the appropriate safety measures, depending on each type of natural disaster.
Also, depending on the time of the year you visit the Netherlands, you should prepare an appropriate first-aid kit or come up with a plan you can stick to in case you are caught off guard by either storms or extreme temperatures, for example.
Transportation Risks in the Netherlands: MEDIUM
Driving on a provisional license is not allowed in the Netherlands. If driving a vehicle that is not yours, then you must have the vehicle owner’s registered permission with you, as you may be asked for it by the authorities.
Mopeds and cycles enjoy right of way over motor vehicles and are known to usually ignore traffic lights and road rules. Therefore, be extremely careful when crossing the street. Moreover, jay-walking is illegal, even if it is safe to cross. You risk being fined if you cross the street without a green signal.
When driving, make sure to respect all of the traffic rules, as offenses usually carry heavy and on-the-spot fines.
Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in the Netherlands: MEDIUM
As mentioned before, while in a night-club, pub, or bar, you risk being either scammed or drugged. You should double check the change you receive as well as the bill, in order to make sure that you have not been overcharged.
When it comes to drink spiking, we strongly recommend you order your own drinks and to not accept any offered by strangers or people that you barely know. Naturally, after ordering, keep an eye on your drink at all times. If you think your drink has been spiked, alert the authorities and call for an ambulance.
It is not recommended that you visit such locations alone, as they may be frequented by pickpockets and opportunist thieves. Moreover, if your drink gets spiked, you’ll have no one familiar close that can help you.
Health Risks in the Netherlands
There are no health risks in the Netherlands. Medical facilities here are on par with those found in the UK/ USA and the staff is trained and experienced – and, in most cases, the doctors and nurses speak English.
There are no epidemics or diseases that you should protect yourself against.
If you want to bring any medication that you might need with you, make sure that you can actually bring it with you – however, it is likely that common medicine can be easily found throughout the Netherlands.
Before leaving for your trip, make sure that you have proper travel health insurance and more than enough funds available to cover the costs of any medicine or treatment that you might be subject to.
List of Vaccines You Need in the Netherlands
Below is a list of the vaccines that you need to make before traveling to the Netherlands.
- Routine Vaccines
- Hepatitis A and B
Most Dangerous Areas in the Netherlands
- Central Amsterdam
- Central Station
- Trains to and from Schiphol Airport, as well as surroundings areas
The areas mentioned above are not necessarily the most dangerous ones in the Netherlands – as mentioned, this is one of the safest countries in Europe. However, they are known to be frequented by pickpockets and thieves alike so you might want to be extremely cautious when traveling through them.
Concluding Remarks: Is the Netherlands Safe to Visit?
Therefore, is the Netherlands safe to visit? Clearly, as long as you take the necessary safety measures and keep an eye out for anything suspicious, you can safely travel through the Netherlands without any issue.
Obviously, if you plan on staying in one of the big cities, then you might want to be a little more careful than usual. But, if you choose a rural, quiet area, then you might not have to worry about anything at all!