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Tap water in Netherlands and Belgium

I assume that the tap water is safe to drink, correct?

I do a lot of SE Asia travel and it is NOT a safe assumption in some places that I have been. Headed to Benelux and just wanted to check. I'm not a big fan of buying bottled water if I don't need to.

Posted by
21243 posts

Of course, those are modern countries with up to date water systems.

Posted by
1768 posts

It is absolutely safe. I am sensitive to this and had no problems whatsoever anywhere in Netherlands, Belgium, or France. Drink up.

Posted by
26 posts

it tasted better than the "Galley Springs" tap water on the plane.

Posted by
12040 posts

Like the others said, the water is perfectly safe... but you may end up drinking a lot of bottled water anyway, because drinking fountains are extremely rare. Inevitably in restaurants as well, if you ask for water, they will bring you bottled water (after asking if you want it with or without gas).

Posted by
446 posts

In restaurants in Europe, the general rule is that you have to specifically ask for tap water, and some restaurants will refuse to serve it, because they want to make money by charging you for bottled water. Some Americans get upset at this, but it's an accepted cultural practice in many places.

Posted by
881 posts

I found the water pretty heavily treated. (But we Seattlites are spoiled.) I drank the tap water when we lived there, but I did buy a Britta filter bottle which helped with the taste some.

1.5 litre water bottles are available in any grocery shop. Super sturdy bottles, and you get money back when you return them.

Posted by
12040 posts

Echoing Chris, the water in much of the Low Countries has an extremely high mineral content. Hence, you may find the taste a bit off. A few Belgian beers even have a slightly chalky aftertaste (Oerbier is an example that comes to mind), which probably results from using unfiltered municipal water.

Posted by
8290 posts

I asked for and received tap water in restaurants in both Amsterdam and Bruges. No one tried to sell me bottled water instead. The water tasted fine. I wish I had known to ask for tap water my first trip. It would have saved me a lot of money!

Posted by
242 posts

I think the water here tastes fine. Waiters are more willing to serve you tap water if you have bought another drink. However, I have been to a few places where they refuse to serve tap water.

Posted by
24 posts

Last year I had multiple resturants in Brussels tell me that they were not not allowed to serve tap water-I believe there was some local regulation banning resturants serving tap water.

Posted by
1 posts

Tap water in Belgium (and all the Benelux countries) is rigorously tested and totally safe. Beware, however -- restaurants in Belgium -- at least in Brussels and Bruges -- will tell you that they either don't serve tap water or don't HAVE tap water -- which leads to the question, are you then never washing your hands, dishes, etc.?

I have finally decided, by the way, to walk out of restaurants that won't serve me tap water with a smile when I request it -- which probably means I won't be dining out much here in Belgium. Bottled water is ecologically murderous and financially dumb in regions where the tap water is safe. I'm not unreasonable, though; if restaurants here were to serve filtered tap water (which does taste better than water straight from the tap) I'd be happy to pay 50 cents or so for a 500 ml glass; but please, between five and six euros for a litre of bottled water, that's completely sick.

AND if the water is really so unsafe (which it is not), don't gouge patrons for the bottled water -- charge a little more than it costs the restaurant, perhaps double, but not five or six times more than the cost of the water.

Posted by
588 posts

Belgian beer is supposed to be the best in the world. Maybe it's the water> :D

Posted by
20 posts

Just an update - We went, had a great time, and drank plenty of tap water form the hotels, B&B's, and a couple of restaurants. We didn't run into difficulty in the restaurants because we mainly ordered beer. :-)

Posted by
82 posts

My experience in most European countries has been that the restaurants are reluctant to bring out a jug of tap water to the table even though everyone knows that the tap water is perfectly safe to drink. I guess they want to make a little more money by charging an arm and a leg for "still or sparking" water.

However, I was pleasantly surprised during my recent trip to Switzerland that everywhere we went, the restaurant gave us tap water if we asked for it. It saved us a few francs in a country where food in restaurants is already sky high!

Penn

Posted by
446 posts

I had the same problem in Berlin. Some restaurants would not serve tap water. It's a money issue -- they want to make a few extra Euros by charging you for bottled water.

This is such an ingrained tradition in Europe that I see no prospect of it changing any time soon.

Posted by
1 posts

We spent a lovely weekend in Brussels last month. When I asked for tap water at a restaurant, I was told that serving tap water at restaurants was forbidden by Belgian law. Incredulous, but unfamiliar with the finer points of Belgian (or EU?) law, and with a thirsty and hot 3 year old who was abstaining from the beer her parents were enjoying, we had no choice but to pay the €3 for a very small bottle of water. Cheers!

Posted by
9110 posts

The thread is four years old, but just for the record: hogwash.

Posted by
11450 posts

In France they will serve you tap water without any hassle, as long as you are ordering food. It tastes fine to me and we have good water where I live. I personally would be tempted to walk out of a place that refused to serve tap water,, most especially if I had a child with me.

Posted by
16 posts

Last year at an Italian restaurant in Garmisch, Germany, I ordered a beer with my meal. Then I took out the medication I have to take with each meal and placed it by my beer in anticipation of taking the meds when the food arrived. The waiter automatically brought me a glass of tap water to use for taking the meds. Didn't even have to ask. This may be a good way to get your tap water without argument. Place a couple vitamins or aspirin by your plate and see if they will bring tap water for taking the meds.