Although you’ve definitely read numerous articles about the French pharmacies (and they are incredible!), I’m here to write about the Dutch drugstores. I’ll be including some tips for visiting the Dutch drugstore, including useful products that you might need with some helpful translations, and some money-saving tips for shopping at the Dutch drugstore.
Note: I am not a doctor or a pharmacist. If you need urgent medical help, please consider talking to a doctor or pharmacist. You can call 112 for emergency services in the Netherlands.
Most hospitals in the Netherlands have a 24-hour emergency room as well as a “huisarts” (e.g. family doctor) area for less urgent issues if you need a doctor late at night. Seeing a doctor in the Netherlands isn’t overly expensive although
appointments are generally short and tests are extra.
In Amsterdam, I recommend OLVG for late-night care, which also has a 24-hour pharmacy. Similarly, there’s a pharmacy open later (but not 24 hours) within Amsterdam Central Station.
- Pharmacy v. Drug Store in the Netherlands
- Drugstore chains in the Netherlands
- Tips for the Dutch drugstores
- Useful products that you might need from the Dutch drug store with their Dutch equivalents
Pharmacy V. Drug Store In The Netherlands
In the Netherlands, there is a distinction between drug stores (drogist)and pharmacies. Dutch pharmacies (apotheek carry some variant of these basics along with more premium brands. There will be a pharmacist on staff, but the hours will be more limited. You can bring a prescription here to be filled. Pharmacies are typically independently run or run as a group, so just check to find the one nearest to you with good hours.
Dutch drug stores are consumer-focused shops that stock most of what you need for your health although you cannot get items with a prescription here, typically. These shops generally have later hours (5-8pm) although most will close in the early evening. You’ll also find baby products here.
Pharmacies are typically open during business hours (Monday to Saturday until 5pm; later if you’re lucky. You can generally walk in without an appointment. Drug store chains in the Netherlands typically do not have a pharmacist on staff and are open most days (6/7 days a week during normal business hours.)
Drugstore Chains In The Netherlands
Depending on the product that you’re looking for and your budget, you might want to head to a different drugstore chain. Generally, employees at most of these stores in the Netherlands speak good English although it can get a bit tricky with medicines. It’s sometimes best to focus more on the issue rather than the specific medicine that you’re seeking.
Etos is the most premium of the drugstore chains in the Netherlands. It has a clean layout, clearly labeled products, friendly staff, and the best selection of brands. (I’m not biased at all…) Of course, you pay a little more, but the shopping experience is the best of out of the drugstores and I find their selection of skincare and make-up to be the best. They’re known for having some of the most knowledgeable staff of the drugstores.
If you love deals and saving money, Kruidvat is for you. This Dutch drugstore is a bargain hunters dream although the cramped aisles, chaos in terms of product displays, and massive bargain bins make it an experience. That said, their weekly specials are often really great if you’re in luck or you know what you’re looking for.
Trekpleister is a smaller drugstore that generally stocks a bit less in the way of selection, but has the basics. It’s more similar to Kruidvat.
Holland And Barrett
If you’re into alternative medicine, organic products, or just prefer a premium experience, Holland and Barrett is a popular health food and product chains for those who want something less standard.
Hema is more of a department store (similar to Target in the US and Monoprix in France) that stocks everything you could need from clothing to beauty to drugstore items. They don’t sell any extra brands, but it’s a great place to come for beauty essentials and products on a budget.
Da And Dio
DA and DIO, which are two really nice drug stores found in the city centers of various Dutch cities with an amazing selection of products, far better than most other drug stores. I generally come here for makeup and beauty products that are harder to find. They’re a bit pricier.
Tips For Visiting The Dutch Drug Stores
Sale Promotions In Dutch Terminology That You Need To Know!
You’ll typically see several popular promotions around the store. A key word is korting, which means discount. 15% korting is a 15% discount. Similarly, you might see “op = op,” which means that the sale price is for a limited time as long as the product is in stock. A stuk is one product.
Another popular phrase used in Dutch sales is 1+1 gratis, which means that if you buy one of a product, you get the second free! You might also see 2 +1, which means that you must buy two to get one free. Similarly, 2e halve prijs means the second is half price. Mixen mag means that you can mix products from a certain selection as they’re all on sale, which is good if you’re a fan of one brand on sale!
People in the Netherlands love a good deal. As soon as you’ll walk into a pharmacy, you’ll see the “actiefolder.” This is the weekly pamphlet telling what is on sale. Some people will browse multiple pamphlets to see where they’ll find the best deals, but it’s worth a browse.
Card Issues For Foreigners….
A lot of Dutch drug stores only take Dutch cards at the moment. Unfortunately, this means that foreigners will need to pay in cash for their products unless they have a Maestro card. Some drug stores within airports as well as train stations will accept non-Maestro, but I can’t make any promises.
Useful Products That You Might Need From The Dutch Drugstore
As an experienced traveler, I can tell you that country-by-country differences in terms of where you can purchase certain items that you need can make it a bit aggravating if you’re traveling and have an emergency. I clearly remember looking endlessly for Ibruprofen while in Hungary.
I wrote this guide partially to help people who might need one of these basic products, often carried at the big drug store chains. I include a translation with the name of the applicable Dutch product.
Getting sick on vacation sucks. Unfortunately, you won’t find the magical purple drank (prescription-level cough syrup), however you can pick up Antigrippine. This is a tablet made with Advil, caffeine, and vitamin C to help you feel better. If you have a cough, look for Noscapine, which is cough syrup.
Advil And Ibruprofin
This one is more simple, but advil is available if you ask by name brand and it comes in various tablet sizes. Ibuprofen is under the same name!
Deodorant is the same word in Dutch as in English. If you’re looking for a vegan-friendly brand, I recommend trying out Weleda.
These are the same in Dutch as well as English. Easy.
The word for toothpaste in Dutch is tandpasta, which makes me smile every time that I read it.
Allerfre is the most common non-drowsy allergy medicine here used for those with hay fever, but you can also get generic alternatives for less. For those suffering from redness or swelling from an allergic reaction, I generally take Hooikoortstabletten, which contains Loratadine as its active ingredient as. I’m quite allergic to mosquito bites and this helps a lot with the itching.
If you’re in search of lens cleaner, you’ll be looking in the lenzenvloeistof section (literally lens liquid). You can buy various lens cleaners for cleaning and disinfecting lenses for about 2-4 euros if you’re okay with a generic brand.
Anti-cold Sore Medicine
If you have a nasty cold sore, look for Zovirax. This is a gel intended to help your core sores heal more rapidly.
Rennie is the most commonly seen brand for heartburn medication. It comes in a sugar-free package, if needed.
Medication For An Upset Stomach
If you’re having issues with diarrhea or an upset stomach, look for Imodium.
Tampons can be found at most supermarkets and drugstores although they’re typically just loose tampons. Tampax and Always are popular here, however, I also recommend Yoni tampons, which are made organically without any chemicals.
You’ll find most of the well-known brands here. This isn’t really exciting although only a fraction of the brands available are cruelty-free. For vegan makeup products and/or high-end products, I recommend heading to a makeup specialty store.
The Dutch word for sunscreen is a bit strange: Zonnemelk (sun milk). You can find branded sunscreen as well as cheaper alternatives typically in the skincare aisle.
The mosquitos are pretty terrible here. DEET is still a pretty common ingredient in bug spray here and you can even get tropical bug spray (intended for vacations in places like Borneo). That said, you can avoid the nasty bugs with citronella (known as citriodiol) here. Look for Anti muggen & teken spray.
Beyond basic pain medications, you might be looking for a gel to relieve pain. Ask the employee at the pharmacy what is apporpriate for your pain! I use Voltaren Emulgel at home when I’m having shoulder or back pain. You can also purchase temporary heat pads (Thermacare warmtepleisters) to help with pain in one specific spot. You’ll also find some basic braces although you might need to see a doctor for something a bit more complex.
Any Favorites From The Dutch Pharmacy Or Questions?