Walking Alone, Amsterdam
In light of the many Danger/warning tips about Amsterdam, I'd like to show another view.
I don't perceive Amsterdam to be unsafe. Here's why:
I travelled a lot to Amsterdam for about 2 years when I worked there in the center, just behind Leidseplein (a famous nightlife location). As a woman alone, I walked or took a tram every day to my workplace from Central Station. Often late at night as well. I was never bothered by anyone, simply steered clear of suspicious individuals or groups. And I never felt unsafe.
I suppose that exudes a certain confidence which makes you less of a target. Or I've been lucky.
Unfortunately, a lot of tourists are attracted to Amsterdam because of coffeeshops and Red Light District. Both are on the fringes of legality. And so one shouldn't be surprised to be confronted with more crime. Or rather: don't complain too much, because one shouldn't seek out trouble, no?
I am a 20 year old female, and I walked all over the centrum by myself at all times of the day and night -- and was never offered drugs, never asked to follow anyone and not harrassed by anyone even once! Just look like you know where you are going, don't draw attention to yourself and for christ's sake don't carry your life savings with you in an easily accessible pocket!
Yeah, there were a couple of very persistant drug dealers selling their wares, but what about the guy who walked alongside me for about 10 minutes insisting that we get a beer together? Then a coffee. Then ____. No matter what I said, he wouldn't leave me alone. I began to ignore him, then after following a little while longer he trailed off on his own. These guys are probably harmless, but I didn't know what to expect. I don't think that I stood out as a vulnerable tourist- I had on a shoulder bag, there was no camera or map hanging out, I was just walking down the street.
Just stay on busy streets or duck into a shop, or just ignore them, I guess.
If you are planning on exploring the Red Light District at night by yourself then be careful! I've visited this city three times and people have tried to mug me three times. You will know the really bad areas when you see them if you have some street smarts. I just shoved the guy and walked away all three times somebody tried to mug me. I'm sure you could get hurt doing this but don't just give up your money to some loser who asks for it.
As a first timer in Amsterdam, i learned to be doubly careful with my money, and belongings. I almost got mugged at one of the metro stations.
A guy offers to help me figure out the ticket vending machine on the platform, and before i knew it, he had picked all the euros i had for the trip, out of my wallet.
I grabbed his hand- purely as an instinct- and somehow he owed up with a sorry face. Had he tried to flee, there was no way i could have done anything about it...
Guess it was my lucky day.
I am from Amsterdam and you have nothing to fear as long as you don't fear, a bit of a cliche i know. Don't walk around as a typical tourist, especially at night, conduct yourself with confidence and like you know what you are doing, if someone approaches you with indecent proposals (drugs,sex or whatever) act like you have been there and done that, they'll move on to the next very quickly. In the centre they target tourist especially, if you can come off as you were a local (not so difficult as Amsterdam is a big mix of people anyway) you have nothing to fear, even with the drug dealers you can have a laugh if you approach them right. A bit of confidence and even arrogance will bring you safely through a weekend of Amsterdam, but show weakness and you will be the main target every 100 meters in the wrong neighberhoods, which is mainly the red light district area, other then that area you should be safe anyway. Only thing is from Thursday to Sunday after 3 or 4 midnight can be tricky in the clubbing areas, but nothing letal. Most tourists that die in Amsterdam is either due to too much drugs, a tram, or people think they can fly out of hotel room windows because of excess mushroom use, No dutch person ever did that by the way, so perhaps that has not so much to do with Amsterdam anyway ;-)
Anyway Have fun !! That's what its all about.
As i live in a large city, i am very street wise to situations and can see a danger area developing before it happens.
In Amsterdam, i have not once had cause to worry about my surroundings be it day or night. Of course there are drug addicts around the red light area, and some of them can be a bit irritating, but my advice to you is just keep on walking and ignore them.. don't even make eye contact. If you do feel unsafe, head into the nearest pub or shop.
I have walked the streets of Amsterdam, at all times of the day and night. sometimes alone.. normally worse for drink in the night.. and i have never felt in danger.
Just remember....My main tip is this... Don't walk around holding your Map in your hand.... a dead giveaway that you are a tourist... plan ahead before you leave your hotel, get your minds eye... of your surroundings. Pick a monument as a meeting point if you get separated.
If you flash you wallet around, it will get noticed....don't put it in your back pocket...... If you must use a ATM, do it in daylight hours, in a main street.....not up a side street. Don't ware your expensive jewels and watches... and keep your voice down, as you will stand out in a crowd. And ladies.... don't leave your bags unattended under your chairs.. an easy target for the low life.
One important thing to remember is no matter where in the world you are..... If you are face to face with a robber who demands money or whatever, and he or she is armed with a weapon. a gun or knife... don't try and be a hero.. its better to be poor than dead.
Try to look as if you know where you are going..... even if you don't... be confident.
But remember most of all ENJOY Amsterdam... it s a wonderful place.
Please, fellow traveler, use your sober judgement if you decide to walk around this city by yourself. It is dangerous, especially after 1am. It is not Atlanta, but it is worth being very cautious while walking around late...
Beware if you are a female walking around Amsterdam on your own - I was accosted every ten paces, it was a real nuisance, either they blocked my way or tapped me on the shoulder, even just saying something (usually unintelligble) became enough to put me off ever wanting to visit again. I found though that to get away from the main shopping streets and as far away from the red light district as possible diminished the harrassment.
Unfortunately Amsterdam has two sides to it. Great buzzing place by day, but a place for opportunists by night.
By day the only thing really to watch out for is trams creeping up behind you and cyclists whizzing past without warning.
At night the place becomes a haven for drug dealers, prostitutes and muggers.
Generally, if you avoid the `red light district` you will in effect avoid these dangers as Amsterdam is a good city to visit. On my first visit we went back to our hotel around 10pm after having a large meal and drinks as the `clubbers` began to descend on the city. The second visit we were constantly approached for`Charlie` who is not a local guy but a means of selling hard drugs down backstreet of the`Red Light` district. The third occasion unfortunately resulted in one of my mates being attacked and mugged after leaving our group early to return to the hotel.
Amsterdam felt very safe to me. I never felt uncomfortable walking alone, and I'm a young female.
Exercise the same common sense you do at home (watch your bag, ignore the drug dealers) and you'll be fine.
There is a lot of public tranpsort in AMS and as a very good alternative you can rent a bike! Do so if you are planning to stroll around a lot on AMS; because the ways are often longer than expected and feet may hurt after a while...
Be careful walking alone in and around the red light district at night (stay with the crowd, I mean watch the people and stay with 'right' people), and don´t take pictures of the girls behind the windows!! (This picture is from the net!)
Don't flash the cash or count up the balance of your spending money in full view, same as anywhere. If walking the narrow alleys of the Red Light District keep you hand on your wallet or purse, as they are sometimes very crowded and pickpockets are always a possibility. If offered sex or drugs on the street, just say "no thank you" and move on. (I can never understand why anyone would buy sex or drugs on the street in Amsterdam.
Walking along the canals in the evening can be hazardous to your health! Whether it be bad drivers along the barely-wide-enough pathways shared by pedestrians and vehicles, or more likely, drunk or smoked-up college students, you're bound to find yourself in the midst of a physical threat - 'mostly harmless', as the HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy might say, but like in any big city, you need to watch your back.
You are more likely to be bumped into & knocked down by a drunk accidently, than mugged, but always be aware.
Crowds gather in the red light district to 'window-shop' the ladies, and it's frowned upon to photograph them directly, but families and seniors will trawl side-by-side with fraternity brothers and priests (I just hope they were researching an essay on sins of the flesh!)