Amsterdam has long been considered to be ‘The OG Stoner Hotspot’–the place to go to get high and let loose long before the decriminalization and legalization of Marijuana started sweeping the globe.
Visiting a Dutch coffeeshop is still a rite of passage for the many tourists who flock to the city every year, but it can still be pretty overwhelming. Here’s my Amsterdammer’s guide to safely experience the city’s gorgeous ganja. This local 420 guide to Amsterdam includes the best coffeeshops in Amsterdam and what you need to know about cannabis in Amsterdam before you toke up written by a former coffeeshop employee!
Note: You must be above 18 to enjoy cannabis in the Netherlands. If you are not of age, please click away. Similarly, please use caution when smoking up and not mixing weed with alcohol.
- Amsterdam weed basics
- Dutch Cannabis 101
- What you need to know before you smoke cannabis for the first time in Amsterdam
- The Best Coffeeshops in Amsterdam
- Some other advice for smoking cannabis in Amsterdam
What you need to know about weed in Amsterdam
Legally wise, it’s a bit of a grey area, especially when it comes to growing. Whilst sweet cannabis fumes have lingered the canals of Amsterdam since the 1960’s, it wasn’t actually decriminalized until the 70s.
Today, large scale cultivation of marijuana plants is still illegal, although an estimated 80-95% of all marijuana sold and used in The Netherlands is also cultivated within the country itself. As of April 2019, the government has been moving towards a complete legalisation of the cultivation of miss Mary Jane and to minimize criminal activity within the industry.
Editor’s note: In the Netherlands, a coffeeshop often refers to a cafe where cannabis is sold while most locals will refer to a coffee shop (US/UK usage) where you can buy coffee and cake (no cannabis) as a cafe. The space is very important.
You may be thinking, “Right, but I just want to smoke a little weed. What do I need to know?” Let’s cut to the chase; here are the golden rules:
- Legally, coffeeshops are only allowed to sell products to Dutch residents, however this law is not enforced in Amsterdam.
- You have to be at least 18 years old to enter a coffee shop, buy, and consume marijuana products
- Make sure you always have your ID on you, otherwise you may be denied service.
- The maximum amount you are allowed to buy and have in your possession is 5 grams – the legal amount for personal use.
- You can smoke in public. (Please be considerate of passerby’s!)
- Smoking and rolling with tobacco is prohibited in many coffeeshops. Tobacco substitutes may be provided.
- Be chill and civil: don’t be a nuisance! Do not cause any disturbance in or around the coffeeshops.
- Coffeeshops close at 1 am.
- Coffeeshops do not serve alcohol.
- Coffeeshop do not sell hard drugs. (Hard drugs are still illegal in the Netherlands.)
- You cannot bring cannabis with you outside of the Netherlands.
Dutch Mary Jane: Cannabis 101
Whatever your preference, Amsterdam has something for you. From the first-timer to the connoisseur, the range of goodies available is mind-blowing–with sweet to cheesy to tangy flavours, sticky hash, crystal-laden buds, jellies, dabs, pre-rolls, pipes, bongs, vapes, oils, and delicious edibles.
On average, a gram of weed or hash averages at around 10 euros, and a pre-rolled joint or space cake will cost you about 5 euros.
Indica vs Sativa
There are two main types of cannabis, ‘Indica’ and ‘sativa’. Indica has more of a body high, inducing relaxation, best suited for evenings. Sativa strains have more of a head dominant high, stimulating the mind and providing euphoric feelings; perfect for times of creativity. Most strains are a hybrid of the two.
THC vs CBD
There are also two active components in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (TCH ) and cannabidiol(CBD), percentages of each vary with each strain. On average Dutch grown weed has about 15% TCH and 1% CBD.
What you need to know before you smoke cannabis for the first time in Amsterdam
Having worked in a coffeeshop myself. I strongly urge you to listen to your dealer–they are very knowledgeable about the varieties, potency, taste, and method of ingestion, and are there to help you achieve your perfect high.
First and foremost, make sure you’re feeling good and are in a comfortable environment with people that you trust. Decide whether you’d prefer a head, body or combination high and your chosen method, then kick back and chill out. If you choose to have an edible, don’t underestimate how potent edibles can be. A small corner is often enough!
You will soon begin to experience sensations of relaxation, euphoria and probably some hunger pangs (aka the munchies!) Your perception of the world may alter slightly and your reaction time may be delayed.
If you’re feeling like you have melted into the couch or feeling particularly light-headed, sugar will help with a surge of energy. If you are feeling too uncomfortably high, you may want to try some CBD products to ‘neutralize’ the effects of the THC. Some people may experience some anxiety and paranoia.
It can take up to a few hours to wear off so to make sure to start slowly and take your time, let the effects ease over you and listen to how you’re feeling. Remember, you can always consume more, not less.
If you’re traveling solo to Amsterdam or prefer to experience cannabis for the first time in a safe group setting, editor Karen recommends taking a cannabis tour in Amsterdam with a licensed tour guide. There’s one well-reviewed tour in Amsterdam that is a great introduction to cannabis in Amsterdam where a knowledgable guide will teach you what you need to know while ensuring your safety and keeping you fed!
For Regular Smokers…
As for the proper stoners, welcome to paradise! You guys should have plenty of experience to know when another bowl is one too many. That being said, there are tons of potent strains you will want to try and I would highly recommend doing some research online to ensure you get the most out of your visit, taste the most exquisite strains, and don’t end up getting too lost making your way from one coffeeshop to the next!
The Best Coffeeshops in Amsterdam
In Amsterdam, the term ‘coffeeshop’ is the term used for cannabis dispensaries, and yes, they also serve coffee alongside their sweet sensimilla. With over 250 coffeeshops to choose from it can be tricky to choose, but after a lifetime spent in the city, I’ve collected a few favourites. Here are some of the very best and most unique shops that sell cannabis in Amsterdam you don’t want to miss out on.
The Tweede Kamer
The Tweede Kamer is one of the oldest coffeeshops around. It is small, quaint and a little hidden. It sports a lounge-style interior with classy leather and a wooden finish.
The Original Dampkring
The Original Dampkring is a lively coffeeshop, famed for being featured in Oceans 11. It is a chill, cool, creative space, with a house cat and a large authentic bar to roll on.
1e Hulp Coffeeshop has a unique and swanky interior, decorated with oriental and Arabic elements, comfortable lounge seating and amazing Morrocan mint tea. (Note: They have a friendly cat if you’re a cat lover visiting Amsterdam.)
Coffeeshop La Tertulia
Coffeeshop La Tertulia is an organic coffeeshop which is cute and quaint with a wholesome atmosphere. It has both indoor and outdoor seating and is located in the canal district with a beautiful Van Gogh inspired outdoor mural.
Boerenjongen are super slick coffeeshops with marble counters, award-winning edibles, and professional cannabis connoisseurs. For a great experience, come here.
Grey Area is tiny grungy coffeeshop known for selling dank American style strains & amounts (like true eighths and quarters) and has been known to host some of the world’s most famous stoners. It even has the Snoop Dogg seal of approval!
The Dolphins is a playful and chilled out coffeeshop featuring a unique underwater-themed interior with quirky and colourful decorations.
Other Cannabis Experiences in Amsterdam
Depending on your high, your personal interests, and degree of motivation, Amsterdam has plenty to offer the toking tourist. Other weed-related things to do include visiting The Cannabis College or The Hash, Marijuana and Hemp Museum or taking a trip on The Smoke Boat.
You can also wander through the myriad of parks, alleys, and canals, check out the hidden gardens, enjoy wandering around the many classic and contemporary museums or simply relax in one of the smoke-friendly cafés and bars, such a Cafe Hill Street Blues and CoffeeShop Amsterdam Cafe. (Editor’s Note: Skip the Anne Frank House until you’re sober…) Click for a guide to the Red Light District beyond the coffeeshops!
Some last personal advice
DO try all the Dutch food when the munchies take over: stroopwafels, fries with mayo, poffertjes, cheese, and bitterballen! For more information about these typical Dutch foods, click here.
DON’T ride a bike high (or at all!) This is not the time to try out biking. Most tourists find walking in Amsterdam in the midst of all the bikes challenging. Click for more tips for biking in Amsterdam on another day.
DON’T mix alcohol and cannabis. If you’re trying out marijuana for the first time in Amsterdam, let the cannabis work its magic on its own. Mixing can be dangerous and it can increase the likelihood that you will get sick and/or blackout. Please be careful!