Amsterdam Coffeeshops Guide
The following pages are for the purpose of education and information only. This should not be considered in any way to condone the use of cannabis or other mind-altering substances.
Amsterdam counts about 160 coffeeshops and most of them are located in the Red Light District. From psychedelic to hipster-ish but also from very local ones to more touristic places, each of Amsterdam coffeeshops has its own atmosphere. You can find some notable examples categorised at the bottom of this page.
Amsterdam coffeeshops are not only to smoke weed. They are real social places where you can easily meet people and spend some good times with friends. Watching TV, playing chess or card games and much more can be done here. And always in a very relaxing way.
Due to the allowance of cannabis consumption and sex work, the Netherlands are reputed to be a very liberal country. This is true but you should be aware of the Dutch laws and the rules inside a coffee shop.
If you would like to get more interesting information you can visit the
Hash and Marihuana Museum in Amsterdam.
- Possession of drugs is punishable, but with a maximum of 5 grams of weed or hash the police will just take the drugs. You can give them up and you will not be prosecuted.
- If you have more soft drugs than the quantity for personal use (5 gram) you will be fined and risk a prison sentence.
- Minors are not allowed to have any drugs, the tolerance policy does not apply to them, so you must be 18 or over to buy drugs.
- Growing weed at home is illegal, however 5 plants or less you can give them up and you will generally not be prosecuted.
- Hard drugs are not allowed.
- Import and export of drugs is illegal.
- You cannot smoke in public. You can smoke weed only in Amsterdam coffeeshops.
Amsterdam coffeeshop rules
- You must be 18 or older (21 years old in some establishments) and always have your passport or ID with you.
- You are allowed to come twice a day maximum to the same coffee shop.
- You can buy maximum 5 grams per day.
- Alcohol and cigarettes are forbidden.
- You must not cause any nuisance.
- The use of hard drugs is strictly forbidden.
What to do in Amsterdam while being high
Most of the coffeeshops are in the touristic part of Amsterdam old town. And so are most of the attractions. Here is a list of some recommended Amsterdam attractions to explore when enjoying marijuana consumption.
- Amsterdam Dungeon - A horror theater show, where you get to experience short performances accompanied by sound, smell and light effects while walking through a dungeon.
- Body Worlds - Disected bodies of real people serve to illustrate detailed human anatomy.
- Canal cruise - A boat ride through the canals of Amsterdam is a must when there.
- Helicopter ride - Do you dare to sit into a helicopter?
- Heineken Experience - There are many interesting things to see in an old Heineken brewery.
- Amsterdam Lookout - See the whole city. There is a restaurant there too.
History of coffeeshops in Amsterdam
Amsterdam coffee shops, not to be confused with cafés, have been a part of the city since the 1970s, when the Dutch government made a clear distinction in the law between 'hard' and 'soft' drugs. Unlike Amsterdam's fully legal smart shops, Amsterdam coffeeshops have always existed in a legal grey area.
Everything started in the 70's with the growing hippy community. Weed and hashish were illegal at that time, but places like the Paradiso or the Melkweg were famous to have great artists playing and people would enjoy some good music there while sharing a joint. That's how in those music places we could find some house dealers. The dealers were though tolerated to do their business inside the houses.
In 1972, the first coffee shop opened its doors: the Mellow Yellow. At that time, the place was called a "tea house" and it was the only place where you could buy and smoke weed in a tolerated way. In fact, even if regarding to the Dutch law consuming cannabis was forbidden, the explosion of hard drugs such as heroin and the fast increasing amount of their users led the government and the police agreed that tolerating soft drugs would keep people away from the hard ones.
The owner of the Mellow Yellow - Wernerd - did a great bet with his business. He had no idea it was going to become so popular and then even a part of the Dutch history and culture.
These days, an agreement between Amsterdam city council and the coffeeshop union Bond van Cannabis Detaillisten (BCD) allows coffee shops to operate in a tricky legal loophole and they are tolerated. An official green and white sticker must be displayed in the window of each Dutch coffeeshop.
How to order weed in an Amsterdam coffeeshop
Amsterdam coffee shops are not allowed to make any advertising but you will be able to identify them easily. Official Dutch coffee shops have a green and white licence sticker on the window.
To enter a coffeeshop in Amsterdam, you must be older than 18 years and have an ID.
Coffeeshops are not allowed to do any advertising so you will generally not find any details posted outside or inside. Just ask the person at the counter for the menu, and they'll give you what you pick. Ask for advice if you are not sure. These people are here to make sure everything is safe.
Some tips: Tips and hints for buying marijuana and cannabis from Amsterdam coffee shops.
Basic smoking tips
A general rule of thumb is that the more expensive, the stronger the weed. For inexperienced smokers a gram of weed will get you high about 8 times. You can mix the cannabis with tobacco and roll it into a joint. You can also roll a joint from pure marijuana but it will be strong and you will most likely get so stoned that you will not even enjoy it. The advice is to start slow. Also don't smoke marijuana after drinking alcohol.
Many local residents of Dutch cities are unhappy by the amount of drug tourism. That is why many cities in the Netherlands require you to have a "weedpass" to enter a coffeeshop. These are issued only to the residents of The Netherlands. So an ID and the proof of residency (extract from the Municipal Personal Records Database) is needed to buy marijuana in these towns.
It is not like this in Amsterdam. In amsterdam tourists are free to visit coffeeshops and buy cannabis. But there are voices trying to change that. So you better hurry if you plan to do some coffeeshops tourism.
These places can get crowded, with a mix of locals, expats and tourists looking for a good time. Located close or in the center of the city these three coffeeshops have a good weed selection and a nice atmosphere.
Special décor, a different feel, a pool table. These locations offer much more than just weed and will transport you to far far away.
These coffeeshops are a node to the relaxed vibe weed brings. With comfortable chairs, friendly staff and good tunes, these places are the ones to pass the hours away.
Lots of wild youngsters visit these places. Students, backpackers, artists, workers.. You might fit just in.