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5 Best Amsterdam Coffeeshops

A Guide to Coffeeshop Culture

Updated: December 9, 2023

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.

Our tour guides are always being asked about this subject, and we have compiled a lot of their most helpful advice in this post.

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

For even more helpful suggestions, make sure to check our section for tips from locals and travelers to get their perspective as well!

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 coffee shops, 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 coffee shop.

Why do they call it a coffee shop in Amsterdam?

They do actually sell coffee at these shops, but the reason this specific name was chosen is that 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 coffee shop?

Yes, of course!

Although there have been recent calls to make coffeeshops limits off-limits 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 coffee shops 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 coffee shop, 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 coffee shops, 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 coffee shops 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 coffee shop, 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 coffee shops 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 coffee shops in Amsterdam, but if you want some help locating each of them, we recommend going on a coffee shop tour instead.

No matter which shops 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 is lined with coffee shops 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 coffee shops 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.

Tips From Locals and Travelers

While you can trust our tour guides to give you a lot of helpful advice and information while visiting Amsterdam, there are some cases where it might be a good idea to get a second opinion.

When it comes to the subject of coffeeshops, both locals and travelers can be quite opinionated!

If you want to see what they have to say, check either the Amsterdam Travel Tips group or our very own Amsterdam Travel Tips and Hacks group on Facebook.

Here are a few of the better suggestions and tips we found regarding Amsterdam coffeeshops.

Sometimes tourists will have concerns about how busy the coffeeshops can get, but as this traveler confirms, it's really not that much of a problem.

Try as we might, we couldn't find anyone reporting a problem with coffeeshops being too busy to serve them.

As the third commenter notes, even on holidays it's usually quite easy to find a table and get whatever you want or need.

If, like everyone else, you're trying to figure out which coffeeshop is the best, here are some of the most popular locations recommended by locals and travelers.

Katsu is one of the locations most frequently noted on various Amsterdam Facebook groups.

A lot of locals consider it their favorite spot, but it's also frequently mentioned alongside a lot of the more popular coffeeshops, including some of the following.

New Times is another popular option, and you can even see it listed right alongside Katsu in an earlier comment.

Of course, that's not to say that some of the more well-known locations aren't also well-liked.

Abraxas, Bulldog, and Grey Area often receive special mentions in these Facebook groups, although they are usually considered more touristy.

If you're looking for even more advice, make sure to check some of these Amsterdam Travel Tips groups for yourself and maybe even asking them whatever question might be on your mind.

About The Author

Stephen Pickhardt

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers. Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo,, and more.
Updated: December 9th, 2023
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