Amsterdam is one of those places that are flooded with tourists during the peak season. Some of the tourists spend their nights dangerously in public places, like parks and railway stations. And this has brought me to the question I have heard many times. Is it allowed to sleep in Amsterdam Central Station? If so, is it safe?
You are not allowed to sleep at Amsterdam Central Station. The only exception is when you have a valid train ticket. Staying at the station overnight won’t be safe. Besides, you will probably be thrown out by security guards. Sometimes you can even be fined by the police.
Trust me, sleeping in Amsterdam Central Station would be nothing but a nightmare. There are many different options to choose from and most of them are really affordable even if you’re on a budget. In the article, you’ll find some more details about sleeping in Amsterdam Central Station, as well as some cheap alternatives.
Sleeping in Amsterdam Central Station
For some travelers, a train station (if it’s open all night long) might be a free and warm place to stay for a night. However, as above, you definitely shouldn’t sleep in Amsterdam Central Station. The station is technically open 24 hours, 7 days a week but you can only enter if you prove you have a night train. I used to see people sleeping in the passage (homeless people) but nowadays it doesn’t happen often. On the opposite – if anyone tries to sleep there, they are usually cleared out. However, if you have a valid ticket or train pass, you are entitled to stay for free in a station’s waiting room because you are just waiting for your train. If you don’t have a ticket to somewhere for tomorrow’s early morning, you may be removed.
A Few Words About Amsterdam Central Station
At Amsterdam Central Station, you’ll find all train, bus, tram and metro lines, as well as the city ferry lines. Trains run every 15 minutes between 6:00 am and 12:30 am and the night service runs once an hour during the night. Besides transportation services, various facilities are offered to travelers:
- information desks;
- ticket machines for train tickets;
- luggage lockers and lost luggage desk;
- shopping center;
- coffee house;
- underground parking;
- bicycle parking and repair.
What to Do With Your Belongings?
If you cannot afford a hotel or a hostel, and you are about to spend a night somewhere in the city, the most convenient, as well as the safest option is to leave your belongings in one of the lockers in the Central Station. You can easily store your luggage there for a day or two. The accepted luggage dimensions are:
- 90 cm x 45 cm x 40 cm – small locker;
- 90 cm x 60 cm x 40 cm – large locker.
The lockers vault is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s located at the East Entry (on the ground floor). If you walk in through the main entrance, turn right and walk along the passageway until you see a set of ticket gates. Baggage storage starts at 5.10 euro for a small locker. Be aware that you can only pay with a credit card (VISA or MasterCard), debit card or a special chip card (you can buy such card at the Service Center), coins are not accepted.
Other Options for Luggage Storage
If storing your luggage in an Amsterdam Central Station’s locker is too expensive for you, there are some cheaper luggage storage options. For example, around 5 minutes from the station there’s an independent, private company. It’s at Damrak 247. They accept cash. There’s also Drop&Go at Prins Hendrikkade 86.
Is Amsterdam Central Station Safe?
Most locals say that Amsterdam is a friendly, welcoming and very safe city. And in general it’s true, I really love Amsterdam’s hospitable ambiance. However, even if a serious crime isn’t very common, it’s quite the opposite of petty crime. Pickpockets are everywhere, especially during peak season, mostly in crowded places like cafes, bars, restaurants and… train stations. This is why you should always mind your luggage carefully. If possible, you should leave your belongings at the hotel/hostel your staying at, or in a safety deposit box / a locker. Amsterdam Central Station should be a safe place but in fact, it’s full of pickpockets all day long (still, to me Amsterdam Central Station is safer than e.g. Brussels’ main stations). It’s less likely to get robbed there at night but on the other hand, Amsterdam Central Station is almost empty at night so in case of a potentially dangerous situation, you will probably be left to your own devices.
In general, I do not think the atmosphere is very threatening. However, make sure you have eyes in the back of your head while traveling between the Central Station and the airport. The trains themselves are considered to be the most dangerous spots in the city!
Warning: if someone asks you a question, watch your belongings. Someone else may just be grabbing your bag! Same with someone spilling something on you ‘accidentally’ while someone else’s taking care of your bags. Pickpockets often work in teams so if a stranger is talking to you, this might be a form of distraction.
How to avoid it: always keep your bag to yourself. Never let them out of your sight. You wallet shouldn’t be kept in an easily accessible pocket and your valuables – in a backpack hanging on your back.
Alternatives to Sleeping in Amsterdam Central Station
Sometimes you just need a last-minute cheap place to sleep. There are many cheap hotels and hostels around Amsterdam Central Station, most of them are only a few minutes away. You don’t need any mean of communication to get there – they are in the station’s direct vicinity. When it comes to budget accommodation I recommend my all-time favorite The Flying Pig Uptown. It’s one of the cheapest hostels in Amsterdam in a great location and you won’t get that quality for this price anywhere else.
If you’re looking for some tips on how to visit Amsterdam on a budget, check out THIS ARTICLE.
Couchsurfing in Amsterdam
Instead of wandering all night long or paying for a hotel / hostel, you might also try out Couchsurfing. When it comes to Couchsurfing, Amsterdam is one of the leading cities in the world. Amsterdam’s unique atmosphere and diversity make the city perfect for such an option. In short, Couchsurfing lets you save money by staying at the home of locals. You book a place (e.g. a room) online via Couchsurfing website Couchsurfing and that’s it! Quick, easy, cheap and convenient.
Do you know how Couchsurfing works? The idea behind it is that people share a bed in their place and then when they travel, some other person lets them sleep in their house. It’s out of charge, free, but everyone knows that you should say thank you somehow, so you can buy some groceries or prepare breakfast.
You can also try Airbnb – there are thousands of apartments to rent and it’s up to you if you want to rent a whole place, a single room or just a place in a shared room. When compared to hotels and hostels, Couchsurfing is much cheaper (prices start at 20, 30 euro). There’s one more advantage of such a way of traveling: you have a chance to get to know locals better.
Is It Legal to Sleep in Public, e.g. in a Park?
Nope, I really don’t recommend doing so. In Amsterdam, it is considered illegal. Very quickly you will be picked up by the police. Trust me, police cars patrol Amsterdam’s parks often. It’s likely you’ll get caught. If you are lucky and you don’t get caught by the police though, you will probably be robbed. Oh, and don’t forget about Amsterdam’s rainy weather! Moreover, under no circumstances should you pitch a tent in a park. It’s illegal and you will be definitely fined by the police and probably arrested.
However, if you want to pitch a tent and stay for a night somewhere close to the center of the city, try Camping Zeeburg. It’s located on an island in the IJmeer, 15 minutes from the city center. You can pitch your tent there or stay in a cabin. It’s very often chosen by students coming to Amsterdam for a long weekend or so.
And What About Sleeping in a Car?
Definitely not an option. Sleeping in cars (in vehicles in general) is not permitted in Amsterdam and it is for your own safety. In some municipalities in the Netherlands you are allowed to stay in mobile homes at specifically designated spots though. If you are caught sleeping in your vehicle in Amsterdam, you will be imposed a fine of 140 euros. Painful, huh? For such price, you could for sure stay at a very good hotel. In my opinion, if you are traveling to Amsterdam on a tight budget, the best option to stay overnight is to choose a cheap hostel or try out the Couchsurfing services.