Amsterdam boasts several attractive features that draw visitors from around the world, including its canals, museums, and yes, its cannabis.
Whether cannabis is your primary motivation for visiting Amsterdam, or simply something you plan to try when you’re there, this guide will tell you everything you need to know before you travel.
Understanding the Law Around Cannabis in the Netherlands
Contrary to widespread belief, it isn’t explicitly legal to smoke cannabis in the Netherlands. However, cannabis is decriminalised in the country, meaning if you’re consuming the drug you usually won’t come to the attention of the police. This is true even if you’re smoking cannabis on the street, but it’s most common for visitors to Amsterdam to smoke in one of the city’s coffee shops.
Where Do You Need to Go?
It’s important you know the difference between a coffee shop and a café. Cafés in Amsterdam usually don’t sell cannabis, and they’re most often frequented by locals having a coffee or cold drink and something to eat.
Coffee shops, on the other hand, are the places that sell cannabis. They’re usually filled with tourists, and as they’re most often visited by people wanting to smoke, the coffee isn’t usually too tasty! You should also be aware that coffee shops don’t sell alcoholic drinks. However, most bars in Amsterdam have smoking areas, so if you want to get drunk and high you can buy a joint from a coffee shop and then smoke it in a bar.
At the same time, not every coffee shop has a smoking area, although they may still sell cannabis. Make sure you’re good to smoke before lighting up!
What to Expect When You Visit a Coffee Shop
Most coffee shops in Amsterdam have a specific counter where you buy your cannabis. If you buy cannabis, you usually don’t have to then buy a drink to be able to sit on the patio or inside and smoke.
However, while Amsterdam’s coffee shops do most of their trade in cannabis products, it is good etiquette to buy something else while you’re in there.
How to Have a Safe and Enjoyable Experience of Smoking Cannabis in Amsterdam
Whether you regularly smoke cannabis at home or will be trying it for the first time during your trip to Amsterdam, here are some tips that will help you have a safe and enjoyable experience.
1. Know Exactly What You’re Consuming
Buying cannabis in Amsterdam isn’t as simple as walking into a coffee shop and just asking for it. Most coffee shops will offer you several ways to consume cannabis:
- Pure Cannabis. You’ll be able to buy pure cannabis leaves in most coffee shops, which you can then roll into a joint or smoke in a pipe.
- Pre-Rolled Joints. Be careful when choosing a joint as you might end up smoking something far stronger than you were expecting. “Joints” will usually have cannabis mixed in with tobacco and be less potent, whereas “pure joints” will usually be tobacco. If you’re unsure about which is which or labelling is unclear, look at the price. Lower priced joints will include less cannabis, while purer joints will be more expensive.
- Hashish. Some coffee shops sell hashish, which is cannabis mixed with tobacco and oils, either in pre-rolled joints or to inhale through a bong. Some coffee shops sell different “flavours” of hashish depending on the oils used in the mix. Like vaping, you can choose your preferred flavour.
- Edibles. If you’re uncomfortable smoking but want to try cannabis, you can consume it in an edible. Hash cakes and brownies are the most commonly found products, but you can find coffee shops that sell cannabis ice cream and various other edibles. The best advice when consuming cannabis this way is to have a small quantity. You won’t feel the effect straight away, and if you over-indulge you could find yourself quite ill when they do kick in!
You may also have to choose which strain of cannabis you wish to consume. The two choices are sativa, which provides an uplifting head high, or indica, which provides more of a body relaxing high. If you’re spending a few days in Amsterdam, you can always try both to understand which you prefer. Some coffee shops’ cannabis will be a hybrid of both strains, so ask if you’re unsure and would prefer to know.
2. Amsterdam’s Cannabis is Inconsistent but Expect it to Be Stronger Than You’re Used To!
As cannabis is decriminalised rather than legal, there isn’t any regulatory or quality control. As such, if you visit various cafés and consume cannabis the same way in each, you might find your experience of one is more enjoyable than the other.
Nevertheless, even if you regularly consume cannabis at home, it is best to assume that it’ll be stronger than you’re used to.
Take your time when smoking a joint. While it might take you a few minutes to smoke a regular cigarette, you might only need to take a drag on a joint every 10 minutes or so. It will take some time to feel the effects of the best cannabis, so buying a coffee, taking your time, and relaxing is the best way to ensure you don’t overdo it.
3. If You’re Unsure, Ask!
Amsterdam’s coffee shops are full of people trying cannabis for the first time. You don’t need to pretend you know everything! In fact, even if you’re an experienced cannabis user, it is worth asking for recommendations from the coffee shop staff. They’ll ask you about your previous experiences and what you enjoy, and more often than not they’ll find the perfect product to guarantee your enjoyment.
5 Great Places to Try Cannabis in Amsterdam City Centre
It’s easy to find coffee shops and placed to buy cannabis in Amsterdam. Here are five places to try if you don’t want to look for them yourself.
- Barney’s Coffee Shop & Breakfast Bar, Haarlemmerstraat 102. One of the rare café venues where you can smoke a joint as well as enjoying something to eat!
- The Tweede Kamer, Heisteeg 6. A location that calls itself a “hidden gem” but that everyone seems to know about, this is a wonderful place to hang out for a few hours and get high.
- 1e Hulp, Marnixstraat 194. In a quiet and residential area on the edge of the city centre, 1e Hulp also has one of the most comprehensive cannabis menus anywhere in the city.
- Grey Area Coffee Shop, Oude Leliestraat 2. An iconic venue particularly popular with Americans and a known “celebrity spotting” haunt but can get extremely busy.
- Boerejongens Coffee Shop, Utrechtsestraat 21. A great venue and popular with locals who enjoy a smoke. Known for the quality of its cannabis and a tasty range of edibles.
It doesn’t matter if you’re visiting Amsterdam with the explicit intention of getting high, or simply plan to explore a curiosity for cannabis while in the city. Ensure you take your time to find somewhere you feel secure and can relax either with the locals or fellow tourists and make your experience a fun and worthwhile one.