Most Western European police are friendly and helpful, especially if you have been a victim of a crime. You are required by law to prove your identity if asked by police, so always carry your passport, or an identity card if you're an EU citizen.

Illegal Drugs

Narcotics are sometimes openly available in Europe, but that doesn't mean they're legal.

  • The Netherlands is famed for its liberal attitudes, with 'coffeeshops' openly selling cannabis. However, it's a case of the police turning a blind eye. Possession of cannabis is decriminalised but not legalised (except for medicinal use). Don't take this relaxed attitude as an invitation to buy harder drugs; if you get caught, you'll be punished.
  • Austria, Belgium, Italy and Switzerland have all decriminalised marijuana use; possession of small amounts will incur a fine but won't result in a criminal record.
  • In Spain, cannabis has been decriminalised and is legal to use in private areas but not public spaces.
  • In Portugal, the possession of all drugs has been decriminalised, however, selling is illegal.