How safe is the Netherlands? The safety guide to visiting and living in Holland

If you’ve never been to the Netherlands before, you’re probably thinking, “besides all the lovely tulips and the windmills, is the Netherlands actually safe?”

Well, in theory, no place is 100% safe, however, the Netherlands is a relatively safe country to live in. Currently, it ranks as the 21st most safe country in the world, according to the 2022 World’s Safest Country index.

But to go deeper than this, we’ll give you the complete lowdown on what it’s like in the Netherlands, and how to keep yourself safe in every situation. (Hint: most of it is common sense!)

How safe is the Netherlands for tourists?

As a tourist, you are very safe here in the Netherlands. Of course, you still need to exercise caution when you are out and about (just because it’s considered safe, don’t do things such as flaunt your belongings, of course).

As a tourist, the thing you should be most concerned about is pick-pocketing, especially in Amsterdam. 🎒

Pick-pocketing is considered a medium risk throughout the Netherlands, so bear that in mind. If you take precautions, however, the risk is low. Make sure that you keep your belongings close to your body at all times, and don’t carry unnecessary valuables with you.

How about solo travelling as a woman?

Many people decide to travel solo, and women, in particular, tend to ask if it is safe for them to do so. When it comes to the Netherlands: yes, it is safe to travel solo, and yes, it is safe as a woman.

Of course, you should still take regular safety measures into consideration, such as avoiding secluded areas alone at night, for instance. Have your wits about you still, but in general, it’s no more dangerous than most places.

What is the most unsafe city in the Netherlands?

Statistically speaking, Amsterdam is the least safe city in the Netherlands, but this is to be expected — it is the capital, after all. Following behind Amsterdam are Rotterdam and Eindhoven.

Compared to other big European cities, these three still have a relatively low crime rate.

Most of the crime that occurs in the Netherlands tends to be related to theft, pick-pocketing and drugs.

Sex and drug laws in the Netherlands

Prostitution is legal and regulated in the Netherlands, as long as it involves two consenting adults. This decision was taken by the Dutch government to improve the working conditions of sex workers, and reduce criminal activity.

READ MORE | Criminalising prostitution in the Netherlands would be a disaster for women

Despite what is believed by many people, prostitution is not only legal in the Red Light District in Amsterdam, but all over the Netherlands.

Visiting the Red Light District is not unsafe, but like anywhere, it is safer to go there during the day. And pas op (be careful) tourists! Pick-pockets are quite active in the area.

The Red light district is relatively safe — but you should watch out for pick-pockets! Image: Pixabay

When it comes to drugs, the Netherlands has a very liberal attitude. Hard drugs, such as cocaine, LSD and heroin, as illegal in the Netherlands. Soft drugs, such as truffles and cannabis, are not legal but decriminalised for personal use.

READ MORE | Your complete guide to drugs in the Netherlands

While truffles can be bought at smart shops, cannabis can be purchased from coffee shops throughout the Netherlands, by anyone above the age of 18. As long as you are not carrying more than five grams of cannabis with you, you will not get in trouble.

Terrorism in the Netherlands

A question that is always brought up in the context of safety is: “What about terrorism?”

And with terrorist attacks occurring all around the Netherlands and throughout Europe, it’s natural to worry about it.

However, terrorism is still rare and, as morbid as this is, you’re more likely to be killed in your car on the way to work. Do not be put off moving to the Netherlands (and Europe) in general because of this.

The current terrorism risk for the Netherlands is ‘significant’ — according to the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV). This is medium risk.

Natural disasters in the Netherlands

Much of the Netherlands is below sea level, so in terms of environmental factors, the Netherlands can be considered unsafe in that way.

With sea levels rising, the Netherlands is vulnerable to rising seas, and the Dutch are battling to ensure that the Netherlands doesn’t go under.

READ MORE | Sinking city: Overtourism and how it affects Amsterdam

Thankfully, they have one of the best water management systems in the world, made possible by Delta Works, dikes and surge barriers. And so far, so good. If the Dutch weren’t so good at managing their water, then the Netherlands certainly wouldn’t be the place to be.

In the past, lives were lost due to flooding, but it is generally unheard of. Therefore the actual risk right of natural disasters is low.

things the dutch don't talk about
The Netherlands fights hard to keep water at bay. Image: Unsplash

Living in the Netherlands

Though generally considered very safe, if you live in the Netherlands, you still need to take precautions — like in most places. For example, make sure to keep your house locked every time you leave, along with your car.

This is especially true if you are away for more than a day (burglar alarms help here, or telling a trusted neighbour that you’re gone). No valuables should be on show, either.

We know the Dutch like to show their lovely homes with their open curtains, but if you’ve got a lot of valuables on display, it does make you more vulnerable to a break-in.

That’s not the only thing that can be unsafe when living here. Due to typical Dutch architecture, a fire in your home can be incredibly dangerous and not only damage your belongings but damage you!

Make sure to install some basic fire safety equipment in your home (such as fire alarms, distinguishers and blankets). Tip: you can buy these cheap at Action.

Getting around the Netherlands safely:

Use generalised safety precautions in the Netherlands, such as the following:

  • Ensure that you aren’t walking alone in secluded dimly-lit areas at night if you can help it.
  • Always keep an eye on your children. 
  • Keep an eye on your belongings.
  • Make sure you are visible on the road: always have lights on your bike, and don’t wear dark clothing.

If there is an issue, the police are here to help! 112 is the emergency number for the Netherlands.

If you are planning on coming to the Netherlands, then don’t forget to bring copies of all of your travel documents and keep them safe. It’s also a legal requirement to carry ID around with you at all times in the Netherlands, so bear this in mind. 😉

And you’re all set! Enjoy being in the Netherlands.

Do you find the Netherlands safe? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in January 2019, and was fully updated in December 2022 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Freepik
Emma Brown
Emma Brown
A familiar face at DutchRevew. Emma arrived in Holland in 2016 for a few weeks, fell in love with the place and never left. Here she rekindled her love of writing and travelling. Now you'll find her eating stroopwafels in the DutchReview office since 2017.

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  1. Carrying an ID is no legal requirement in The Netherlands !!!
    However one could be asked by law enforcement officier to identify yourself if, and only if, they have a valid reason to do so. In which case you could be punishable by law if unable to do so.
    Only applicable at the age of 14 and above.

  2. Hello, l would like to get some information on how the communities deter crime, what or how do the residents protect themselves, do they have a Crime group that gets together and walk around and check on vehicles to make sure they are locked, which is called Lock It or Lose It program.
    I am the President of our Crime Watch Association and being that my parents are from the Netherlands, to see the changes over the years on locking your doors to purchasing an alarm system, wow!! So, my interests is hoping to have a contact and discuss on the differences from Canada vs Europe on crime and the court system what are the steps taken to convict the criminal, programs for addictions. That is just a start, hoping to hear from someone, thank you,
    Bonny Swart

  3. Be aware young children get taken by so called “government officials” in Netherlands.
    There has been many instances where parents have to fight to get their children back from government and no Adequate Reason was given. See Elizabeth Salmin story


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