Amsterdam Coffeeshops: Here’s What Not To Do

For many of us,

When we hear ‘Amsterdam’, the first thing that comes to our mind are the loud voices communicating and celebrating the legalization of marijuana.

Hundreds of what they call ‘coffeeshops’ are found all over this city waiting for you to visit.

On the other hand,

For a first time visitor, it may be quite intimidating to know what to expect, how to behave, what to do inside one, and even what one is.

 This article will help you understand the world of Amsterdam’s cannabis culture and coffeeshops in order for you to live your trip to Amsterdam at its fullest potential.

What are Coffeeshops?

With cannabis being legal for people of over 18 years old, coffeeshops have been popping up all around the Netherlands; especially in Amsterdam. In a few words, coffeeshops are literally shops where people can purchase cannabis (often in various forms) for personal use.

In Amsterdam, being a heavily touristic city, you can find a large concentration of coffeeshops in the center; especially around the legendary Red Light District.


When visiting the majority of coffeeshops in Amsterdam, you can expect the whole outside and inside of the shop to be quite unappealing if we’re being completely honest.

You will also notice that the air inside the shop does not quite resemble air at all; but rather a collection of smoke.

The outside aspect of the shops may differ from shop to shop of course, but are commonly identified by having dark windows that block the view from people on the outside, large signs that read ‘Coffeeshop’ and of course by the overpowering smell of marijuana.

If it’s your first time in a coffeeshop, you might be surprised to see such a wide variety of ways cannabis can come in: nuggets, pre-made joints, edibles such as space cakes, cookies, chocolates and even chewing gum.

Do this in Amsterdam Coffeeshops and you are under the radar

  • Make sure not to confuse ‘coffeeshops’ with ‘cafés’ or ‘coffeehouse’. In the Netherlands, it is actually illegal to publicly disclose that a business sells cannabis; the name ‘coffeeshop’ has been regarded as a great and ironic way to identify these places.
  • Because of the tolerance laws in the Netherlands, there is only a certain amount of cannabis that you are allowed to have with you – any more and you could be severely penalized, as well as getting a bitter memory of something that could have been a great experience.
  • Another important tip would be for you to not leave without buying something. You don’t need to feel pressured to consume items that contain hash or cannabis. Many coffee shops offer regular sodas or drinks and snacks that you can buy; not buying anything could be seen as rude.
  • The rules for using marihuana are actually quite vague and confusing; even among locals. On the other hand, something very important to know is that is not allowed to consume marihuana in public. There are indeed areas in which you can smoke publicly, but others are forbidden. Since there are rarely any signs that disclose if you are allowed to consume it or not, it is highly recommended to stick to using it inside recognized coffeeshops or at home.

This is what you can do in Amsterdam Coffeeshops

  • It is very important for you to do some research before you attend or consume any cannabis in Amsterdam. Although at first glance the cannabis culture may communicate that marihuana is entirely legalized, this is hardly the case. In reality, cannabis is indeed an illegal drug, but due to the tolerance policy implemented in the 1970s it is tolerated by authorities. This makes it okay for you to consume it under the correct circumstances.
  • Especially if you are consuming cannabis for the first time, please feel free to ask questions about the menu, and about the effects they may have on you. Don’t be embarrassed to say that you are a first time user. The coffeeshop workers would rather help you and explain the strains and options to you, rather than for you to have a negative experience.
  • It is also recommended for you to start small, and work your way up. The dosage levels and strength of soft-drugs in the Netherlands is known to be a lot stronger than people are used to. Therefore, in order for you to have a good trip instead of bad one, go a few levels down in intensity; or start at one of the lowest levels if you are a beginner.


Most Visit-Worthy Coffeeshops

If you are looking for an authentic trip to Amsterdam’s coffeeshops, it is likely that you will find this experience away from the coffeeshops located in the most touristic areas of the city. Below, you will see a list of coffeeshops offering you a genuine and different adventure from the mainstream.

1) Paradox

Located close to the Anna Frank museum is Paradox. Not only are their price ranges very affordable, but its interior lets you sit down comfortably while you smoke your joint and have a coffee at the same time. Many coffeeshops around the center are quite small, so having a seating area comes in quite handy after a full day of walking.

2) Pablow Picasso

If you want to go somewhere where the locals go to the most, Pablow Picasso is the place. Its small size makes contributes to the cozy atmosphere of the shop, and their small yet classic selection of strains makes it a perfect location for beginners or first timers.

3) Yoyo

Yoyo would be the perfect place for you to visit if you like to feel at home and are interested in organic produce. This coffeeshop is proud to offer their customers with organically grown marihuana, which they can enjoy in their living room-like setting, or in their outdoor terrace.

Yoyo perfect place for organic produce

4) Coffeeshop Abraxas

Although it is found in one of the busiest areas of Amsterdam, Coffeeshop Abraxas is one which you cannot miss out on. It has beautifully decorated walls and floors that give out an artistic and ‘hippie’ vibe.

Should you find anything worth to be added to this article, do comment below. 

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