Amsterdam and weed are notorious for going hand in hand. This is in part thanks to the world-famous Amsterdam coffee shops.
Whether or not you’re a cannabis smoker, a trip to Amsterdam often has visitors curious about Amsterdam coffee shops.
If you’re planning a visit to the Netherlands, or just want to fill your curiosity, this article has some key things to know about Amsterdam Coffee Shops.
Quick History of Amsterdam Coffee Shops
The Dutch drug policy has taken a different approach to what we’re accustomed to in almost every other country in the world.
Instead of being hard up about their drug control, the Dutch see drugs as a health matter and do their best to decriminalize the use of them.
So, in 1970, the Netherlands decided it was their duty to separate hard and soft drugs.
Hard drugs equalled substances like cocaine and heroin while soft drugs included weed, magic truffles, and salvia. This was determined based on their influence on a person’s health.
So in short, cannabis, in all its forms including weed, hash and hash oil are legal for personal use in Amsterdam (along with hallucinogenic mushrooms).
First Coffee Shop in Amsterdam
To be clear, selling cannabis in Amsterdam and the Netherlands is still illegal.
However, licensed coffee shops are allowed to sell limited quantities of cannabis. They’re not allowed to sell hard drugs or even alcohol.
Actually, it’s said Mellow Yellow was supporting the sale of cannabis even before it was decriminalized.
Visitors to Mellow Yello coffee shop would sit at the bar and order a cup of coffee while dealers inside would sit next to them and give them their side of weed.
Later, decriminalization would help Mellow Yellow set the tone of the Amsterdam coffee shop model. This helped pave the way for the popular Bull Dog chain and other establishments.
Now there are over 200 coffee shops in Amsterdam ranging in a variety of styles.
Tips for Coffee Shops in Amsterdam
By law, Amsterdam coffee shops aren’t allowed to cultivate their own cannabis. They’re also not allowed to advertise the sale of cannabis.
So just how do you find them?
The rest of this article will fill you in on where to find Amsterdam coffee shops and some important things to know about them.
Find the Amsterdam Coffee Shop for You
With over 200 coffee shops available in Amsterdam, it’s easy to find one that suits your style (and budget).
Either do some research beforehand, ask for recommendations, or stop into a few Amsterdam coffee shops and feel them out before settling in.
Not all coffee shops in Amsterdam are alike. Some might feel more upscale, some might feel like a pub, and others might feel like your living room.
Let’s be real. If you’re about to get bakedy-pants it might as well be in a comfortable environment.
If you haven’t already familiarized yourself with cannabis, don’t be afraid to ask questions!
It’s better to know what you’re getting into, and coffee shop employees are usually super friendly and helpful.
Coffee shop menus are usually broken down into sativas, indicas and hybrids. Usually, sativas will keep you energized, indicas will relax you and hybrids will have a balanced blend of the two.
Take your time in choosing, and don’t hesitate to get advice. I often ask for recommendations for migraines and I’ve received great strain advice from employees.
Know the Tobacco Rules
Along with alcohol, most coffee shops won’t allow tobacco on-site.
By law, tobacco isn’t allowed in coffee shops and most establishments (especially in touristy areas) enforce this rule.
That said, some coffee shops have designated smoking lounges or tobacco rooms that are closed off from customers.
Other coffee shops simply turn a blind eye to the rule which can be confusing. So, if you’re used to rolling with tobacco, be sure to ask before doing so.
Just like bars and cafes, you’ll want to make sure you have the correct form of payment available.
Some Amsterdam coffee shops only take credit cards, while others only take cash.
It’s best to be prepared instead of fumbling around (or being at the mercy of overcharging ATMs).
Amsterdam Coffee Shop Hours
Most coffee shops in Amsterdam have similar hours, and they’re pretty convenient.
Of course, this all depends on the establishment you choose. But usually, Amsterdam coffee shops are open between 9 a.m. and 1 a.m.
You’re Better off Rolling
While pre-rolls are commonly available at coffee shops, you’ll get the best bang for your buck if you know how to roll (or have/know someone nearby who does).
Most shops, especially in the central tourist area won’t have bongs or pipes available for guests either.
There are still a number of shops who have them available but who wants to be limited in their choices?
Keep it Light
Since coffee shops are a relaxed, social environment, it’s best to keep your sessions light while visiting an Amsterdam coffee shop.
Unless you’re a seasoned smoker, try to stick to lighter cannabis options or shorter sessions throughout your stay.
This certainly goes for edibles or “space cakes”. Start with a small dose and work your way up. Ask questions about dosage if you’re unsure.
Many coffee shops in Amsterdam do in fact serve coffee (as well as tea and other light beverages), so don’t hesitate to indulge. Some coffee shops even have snacks available.
While you should definitely take advantage of the coffee, take advantage of some glasses of water too.
Try to keep some water handy to stay hydrated throughout your Amsterdam coffee shop visits.
Be Careful with Souvenirs
While you don’t have to consume all of the cannabis you’ve bought inside the coffee shop, be careful about where you smoke it.
Smoking in public is pretty tolerated in Amsterdam, though it’s best to find a coffee shop.
If you’re in a situation where you are smoking outside, just don’t draw attention to yourself and you’ll be fine. Police are also more likely to remind you to find a coffee shop than fine you.
If you’re leaving Amsterdam to travel within Europe, know the laws of where you’re headed. It’s not common, but police checks do happen outside of the Netherlands.
And of course, be very careful about taking cannabis internationally.
Our Amsterdam Coffee Shop Recommendations
We had a great time checking out coffee shops in Amsterdam and these two were the ones we enjoyed most on our short trip.
Abraxas Coffee Shop – Central, Beautifully Decorated and Relaxed
Address: Jonge Roelensteeg 12-14, 1012 PL
This was one of the first coffee shops we went to in Amsterdam.
We were trying to find a recommendation from a friend and instead, stumbled upon Abraxas down a teeny alley near the downtown shopping area.
Abraxas was really inviting from the moment we stepped in. It was beautifully decorated with wood features throughout and colourful mosaics along the wall.
The prices were a bit steep, but once we settled into our spot beyond the winding wooden staircase on the second level, we felt comfortable and immediately at home.
They have a solid, high-quality selection, and their coffee is on point. The staff are incredibly nice and the guests are even nicer!
This easily became one of our favourite coffee shops in Amsterdam.
Katsu – A Homey Kind of Amsterdam Coffee Shop
Address: Eerste van der Helststraat 70, 1072 NZ
Just outside of the central core sits Katsu Coffee Shop, a cozy favourite amongst both locals and tourists.
We came here off an online recommendation and were so happy we did!
The prices here were much more reasonable than the others we visited, and it had a great down-to-earth, “artsy cafe” vibe I could easily get behind.
When we visited, the clientele seemed to be mostly local and regulars, but the staff are super friendly. While I felt out of place at first, that quickly went away in ten seconds.
This is where I was given the best recommendations for migraines, while I enjoyed a delicious cappuccino in their dimly lit lounge.
You can also expect high-quality bud here and I’d totally recommend it if you’re after something a bit more relaxed and off the beaten path.
What are your favourite Amsterdam coffee shops?