It might come as a shock, but many people are unaware that cannabis is not actually legal in Amsterdam, despite its thriving “coffeeshop” industry. Confused? Understandable. Instead of legalizing cannabis, back in the 1980’s Amsterdam adopted what is known as a “Gedoogbeleid” (say that three times fast), which is basically a “tolerance” towards coffeeshops selling cannabis under strict conditions. People who prefer to smoke at home can also catch a break—once they fall within the legally accepted amount, which, according to the NL government, is a max of five grams of cannabis or five hemp plants.
Sounds great, right? But an announcement by the mayor of Amsterdam, Femke Halsema, earlier this year has left many of the (annual 1.5 million) tourists who patron coffee shops reeling—and no, it’s not paranoia. She plans to ban tourists from getting cannabis starting in 2023, a year that’s just a few months away at this point. According to Dutch News, Halsema commented that “the introduction of a ban would be the best temporary measure to ensure the cannabis market remains manageable.”
Yes, there are plenty of other valid reasons to visit the city, but let’s be honest… As of now, nothing is set in stone. But if you want to be on the safe side and visit soon, these are the best coffee shops, whatever your pleasure, to take in on your visit to Amsterdam—while you still can, that is. Milkshakes are totally optional, but encouraged.
Located on Bergstraat, Amnesia Coffeeshop is a relaxing space with a summer terrace overlooking the canal. There is a refined, high-end feel to the space with lots of comfy seating for singles or groups. Their milkshakes are famous, and there’s a decent food menu should the munchies rear their head. The cannabis menu won’t disappoint either, with some competition-winning strains making an appearance.
Going strong since 1985, Green House Coffeeshops now boast six locations in the city. Green House Centrum is the famous red light district location, situated in a 17th-century canal house with soothing decor, earthy neutral tones, and wooden accents. There is also a broad menu of snacks, drinks, and salads, plus the requisite milkshakes to be enjoyed in a picturesque, central canal side location.
On a quiet, cobblestoned street just two minutes from Central Station lies Prix d’Ami, the biggest coffeeshop in the world. Prix d’Ami boasts five smoking areas, a cinema room, and seating for up to 500 people across multiple lounges. There are live DJ’s on the weekend and an extensive menu of treats to gorge on. The décor ranges from neon pinks to a more subdued palette, so you can move around the space depending on your mood.
A family-run coffeeshop with a new-age feel, La Tertulia can be found in the affluent Jordaan district. The menu has 15 sandwiches to choose from, and the aura is enhanced by crystals on display throughout. The upstairs room offers amazing views over the canals, and there is a canal-side terrace with a towering Van Gogh mural outside.
Known as “the Apple Store of cannabis,” Boerejongens Coffeeshop is high-end. Well, high-end for an Amsterdam Coffeeshop. Honestly though, it doesn’t disappoint with its bright and airy interior, marble counters, and bow-tie-clad “cannabis sommeliers.” Staff are all enrolled in a mandatory “cannabis career” program, which takes two years to complete and means the standard of knowledge is high. The upscale theme runs throughout, and the space cakes wouldn’t look out of place in a slick French patisserie. There are four locations in the city and the Sloterdijk location is a nice escape from the busy city.
In a peaceful, residential area just two minutes from Dam Square, Coffeeshop Solo is a hidden gem right in the centre of the city. Its low-key appearance means it never gets too crowded and it’s not overrun with tourists. It has a relaxed, neighbourhood feel, and it can only seat 15, which makes it feel very intimate. It’s not the most inexpensive coffeeshop on the list, but the eager to please, friendly wait staff are a big draw. It’s quaint and cosy, and did I mention low-key?
“Old skool strains, old skool grown, old skool pricing, and old skool vibes” is what’s promised at Original Dampkring near the Amsterdam Flower Market. Dampkring is considered a pillar of Amsterdam coffeeshop culture, and the fact that George Clooney and Brad Pitt filmed a scene here for Ocean’s Twelve didn’t hurt their reputation one iota. There’s even a cannabis menu option named after the movie. The décor is eclectic with lots of Arabic, bohemian, and Buddhist influences. Atmospheric moodiness is the vibe at Dampkring, and they are nailing it.
One of the older coffeeshops in the city, Tweede Kamer has been churning out quality cannabis since 1985 and has a loyal following. It’s a small space with booth seating and a regularly changing menu. You’ll find most of the choices include newer, popular strains, but you’ll find a few old-school favourites, too. The owners are also involved in Amsterdam Genetics, suppliers of quality cannabis seeds, CBD products, and smoke supplies, so you know the quality will be good.
“25 years of dankness” is the Grey Area claim-to-fame, and the fans agree. It’s a cosy little space with a good variety of tunes and a snug, homely atmosphere. The owners are hands-on and pride themselves on their customer service—and with customers like Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson, and Woody Harrelson in the mix, they must be doing something right. Grey Area have scooped many awards, including the Amsterdam High Times Cannabis Cup and 4 Amsterdam Unity Cup. It’s notoriously small so be prepared to wait; word on the street is it’s worth it.
Located on the east side of the city, The Stud is very much a local’s hangout. That’s not to say they don’t get their fair share of tourists (they do), but the vibe is local and friendly. It comes across as a no-frills kinda place, but it has a stellar reputation and the perfect atmosphere to chill out with a coffee and a smoke.