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When You Can't Drink Bottled Water

There have been other postings about whether it's safe to drink tap water in various places but my situation is a bit different. I cannot drink bottled mineral water -- the potassium in it makes me sick as a dog. This was a problem in Italy where restaurants balked or flat out refused to serve me tap water -- even when I told them bottled water would make me ill and offered to pay for tap water. We are about to head out on the Belgium/Netherlands tour and I'm hoping to avoid similar problems. I was thinking of buying bottles of purified (non-mineral) water in the a grocery and just carting it around with me. Has anyone had experience getting tap water in Belgium/Netherlands or buying non-mineral bottled water in groceries in those countries?

Posted by
3521 posts

When I took the RS Belgium/Netherlands tour a couple years ago, there was never any issues with getting tap water in restaurants. It was often served in decorative carafes or or other fancy bottles (not mineral water bottles) and usually was chilled.

From what I remember, most bottled water in the stores was mineral water at that time.

Posted by
12040 posts

Has anyone had experience getting tap water in Belgium/Netherlands or buying non-mineral bottled water in groceries in those countries?

Yes and yes (sort of). Just ask for tap water and they'll usually bring it. Realize that the term "mineral water" often has more to do with marketing than the actual content of the water. In many cases, the electrolyte concentration is the same as tap water. Just look at the label- potassium will be labeled as "kalium".

Posted by
2768 posts

Regular, non-mineral bottled water is easily available, so your plan of buying it in a market and carrying it around is good. Or bring a reusable bottle and fill it up at taps as you go.

In restaurants, can you bring a translated card explaining your allergy? People with food allergies, i.e. peanuts, gluten, etc, take a card in the local language explaining their needs. If you do this for water, it may help you get tap water.

Posted by
11507 posts

Gael .. many countries in Europe have no problem serving free tap water with meals.

Italy however is one country that is known to have restaurants that are a bit money grubbing that way. The tap water there is drinkable,, so its not concern for your health. They just insist you buy water. Its really annoying , and one thing I dislike about Italy. Some say its just a custom and they are so used to drinking bottled water then just can't imagine serving tap water.. I really have no idea.. but I know for a fact that Italy is a pain in the butt that way( I have been to Florence, Pisa, Venice, and Rome, twice now)

I think you will find the Netherlands and Belgium will be much easier that way. Enjoy your trip.

Posted by
2767 posts

We have found that in Amsterdam restaurants it is luck of the draw, some are of that same money-grubbing mentality. When that happens we drink from our own personal water bottles that we carry while traveling (filled with tap water), filling them in their restrooms as need be. We also noted this in Ypres, no restaurant wanted to provide tap-water.