Destination Spotlight: Amsterdam

Amsterdam proves to be a favourite amongst travellers touring around Europe. The picturesque city has canals throughout, and the artistic history of the nation is evident throughout the city. A highly liberal country, the Dutch experience freedoms that are often outlawed in other nations- this often draws in many young travellers. Below are ways to keep safe whilst exploring some of what Amsterdam has to offer.

Coffee Shops

Not to be confused with cafes, coffee shops are venues licensed to sell small amounts of cannabis to patrons over the age of 18. Coffee shops became part of the Dutch landscape during the 1970s when the government made the distinction between ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ drugs. Coffee shops are often deemed an essential part of the Amsterdam experience, but some things to take note of when visiting these premises: Dutch cannabis is often described as being strong, so ask for advice before trying anything. Furthermore you should only enter licensed coffee shops; these will display a green and white sticker in the window. Whilst the Netherlands has a laxer attitude to soft drugs than other nations, they still have strict drug laws. Below are some you should be aware of:

  • Possession of drugs is punishable with people only allowed to carry 5 grams of soft drugs. If caught with drugs police will seize them, forfeiting the drugs can help you scape prosecution
  • Hard drugs (e.g. cocaine, LSD, heroin, morphine, MDMA) are strictly prohibited, as are magic mushrooms of any variety
  • Drug use of any substance is not permitted in public

Red Light District

Perhaps the most infamous attraction in Amsterdam, the Red Light District is perhaps the best demonstration of the liberal and tolerant attitude of the Dutch. Filled with brothels, sex shops and museums, this diverse neighbourhood has a little bit of everything. How you choose to have fun in the Red Light District is completely up to you, but here’s some tips to ensure you stay safe:

  • Try to stay in a group – the district is most active between 11pm till 3am, being the most dangerous time to be out, staying in a group decreases the chances of attracting unwanted attention
  • Do not take photo of the occupied windows – this is strictly prohibited and any attempt could land you in hot water
  • Keep your possessions close, pick pocketers usually operate in crowded areas
  • Always practice safe sex and use protection – this of course is only relevant depending on what you choose to do

Bicycling

Bicycling is highly favoured throughout Amsterdam, with the Dutch being very proud of their biking culture. The infrastructure exists for tourists to jump on bikes and explore the magic of Amsterdam, but there are safety rules which need to be remembered and followed. These ensure not only your safety, but also the people around you!

  • Obey all traffic signals and customs (e.g. signalling when you’re going to turn) – the police won’t hesitate going after you for breaking a traffic rule just because you’re on a bike
  • Always use a light when biking at night
  • Walk your bike on crowded streets and in pedestrian zones
  • Always remember to lock your bike! Bike theft is rife throughout the city
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