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5 Best Amsterdam Coffeeshops: A Guide to Coffeeshop Culture

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If you’re curious about the coffeeshop culture in Amsterdam and you want to find a great spot to visit, this post covers some of the most notable and historic locations in the city.

This guide also provides details about the the differences between a coffee shop and a coffee house, what the rules are regarding the use of cannabis, and other helpful information.

Coffeeshop vs Coffeehouse: What’s the Difference?

If you’re just looking for a cup of coffee, chances are that you won’t have much trouble, because both coffee shops and coffee houses (koffiehuis) sell the delicious drink, as well as cafes!

However, visitors who want to partake in some cannabis will need to specifically find one of the many Amsterdam coffeeshops, as they are the only locations that allow this activity.

Here are a few other details you might want to consider before heading out to a coffeeshop.

Why do they call it a coffeeshop in Amsterdam?

They do actually sell coffee at these shops, but the reason this specific name was chosen is because it was used as a cover before the legal policy on cannabis had been clarified. 

Even though it has been decades since the policy was changed, the cover name for these locations remained the same. 

Do Amsterdam cafes sell cannabis?

As if it weren’t confusing enough, there are also a lot of cafes in Amsterdam.

These quaint little restaurants do not offer cannabis. Instead, they focus primarily on coffee, juice, pastries, and other small snacks.

A pastry and an espresso at a local cafe in Amsterdam. Image source: Pixabay user Edar.
A pastry and an espresso at a local cafe in Amsterdam. Image source: Pixabay user Edar.

Can tourists visit an Amsterdam coffeeshop?

Yes, of course! Although there have been recent calls to make coffeeshops off limit for tourists, no such measures have been put into place just yet.

Do Amsterdam coffee shops accept credit cards?

Most coffee shops in this city do not accept foreign credit cards, so you’ll need to bring cash if you want to visit.

Are Amsterdam coffeeshops open all year round?

For the most part, yes. That said, some will close for holidays, so you might have to look around for an open location on specific days of celebration such as Christmas.

Technically, it is not actually legal in the Netherlands. That said, as long as you get it from a licensed coffeeshop, possession of cannabis is permitted thanks to a legal grey area. 

If you want to avoid getting in trouble, all you really have to do is stick to the licensed cofffeeshops, as they will ensure that your possession and use of cannabis is fully legal.

The law requires them to follow a specific set of regulations, including the following:

This street in Amsterdam is lined with coffeeshops and cafes. Image source: Pixabay user Kevin Phillips.
This street in Amsterdam is lined with coffeeshops and cafes. Image source: Pixabay user Kevin Phillips.
  • 5 grams or less: Amsterdam coffee shops are not allowed to sell more than 5 grams of cannabis to anyone in one day. 
  • No advertisement: Coffeeshops are not allowed to advertise that they sell cannabis.
  • Age restrictions: Coffeeshops are not allowed to sell cannabis to minors under the age of 18.
  • No hard drugs: Cannabis is pretty much the only major drug they are allowed to sell.

For those who are still nervous, here are a few extra tips to consider:

  • Start slow: Don’t get out of control - if you’re new to cannabis, it probably won’t take a lot to feel the effects.
  • Ask the experts: If you’re going to visit a coffeeshop, you can trust that the people working there probably have the answers to any questions you might have.
  • Visit multiple locations: If you’re not comfortable at one coffee shop, just head to another one!
  • Don’t take it to the airport: You won’t be allowed to take cannabis back onto an airplane, so there’s no point in buying a lot of it, which is another reason not to get carried away.

TIP: As recently as 2022, there have been calls to limit the sale of cannabis at coffeeshops to only locals and residents of the city. The stated reason for this is that the city believes it attracts the wrong type of tourist. 

If you want to help keep this fun activity legal and safe in Amsterdam, please be courteous and try not to cause a disturbance while in or around coffee shops, as it may send the wrong message.

5 Best Amsterdam Coffeeshops

This section will list some of the most historic and best coffeeshops in Amsterdam, but if you want some help locating each of them, we recommend going on a coffee shop tour instead.

No matter which shop you choose, you can usually expect them to have a variety of both indica and sativa strains to choose from, pre-rolled joints, edibles such as space cakes or soda, and more on their menu.

Another street in Amsterdam lined with coffeeshops and cafes. Image source: Pixabay user 9189139.
Another street in Amsterdam lined with coffeeshops and cafes. Image source: Pixabay user 9189139.

1. Bulldog Coffeeshop

Leidseplein 15, 1017 PS Amsterdam

This is actually the first coffee shop in Amsterdam, so it’s definitely a great place to start if you’re looking for a location with history.

Another nice thing about this shop is that it’s centrally located. 

They even have a hotel right next to the canal, and that might be a better option for anyone who wants to have easy access to marijuana/cannabis within a few minutes walk from their hotel room.

2. Abraxas

Jonge Roelensteeg 12- 14, 1012 PL Amsterdam

If you’re looking for a different kind of vibe, this spot is known for having very unique and creative interior design.

One of the nicest things about this shop is that they offer free internet and are friendly to tourists. 

They also have longer opening hours than other locations, staying open until 1 am each night.

3. Grey Area

Oude Leliestraat 2, 1015 AW Amsterdam

Speaking of that legal grey area that allows Amsterdam coffeeshops to sell cannabis, this is another great location you might want to visit. 

Many consider them to have the best weed in the city, and it’s especially popular among Americans.

Famous visitors like Snoop Dogg, Bush, the Deftones and more are just another reason why this is a favorite for many visitors.

4. Original Dampkring

Handboogstraat 29, 1012 XM Amsterdam

This is a great option for anyone who is new to cannabis, as they cater to international audiences. 

If you’re a movie buff, you might want to visit just to see where the cast of Ocean’s 12 spent time while shooting in Amsterdam.

Like Abraxas, they are also open until 1 am each night.

5. Barney’s Coffeeshop

Haarlemmerstraat 102, 1013 EW Amsterdam

If you’re looking for some of the best marijuana in Amsterdam, Barney’s has won multiple awards for their weed.

They’re welcoming to both locals and tourists, and they also sell a variety of food as well. 

As a matter of fact, they’re almost like a small restaurant, offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner options.

The atmosphere here is relaxed, so it’s a great place to grab a bite and some bud.

About The Author


Justin is a travel content writer and editor with over a decade of experience in the field. He graduated from Portland State University in 2012. He has lived in the Pacific Northwest his whole life and knows the American West Coast very well. Justin has been part of the Free Tours By Foot content team since 2017.
Updated: May 24th, 2023
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