Coffeeshops in Amsterdam: A Quick Guide
When I first started blogging more about Amsterdam and offering up all my best of the best Amsterdam travel tips, I never thought I'd write a guide to Amsterdam coffeeshops. The main reason for this is that I do not frequent them. In fact, I spend most of my time living in this fantastic city utterly oblivious to coffeeshops in Amsterdam.
It's not until I catch a whiff of marijuana from a tourist passing me by in the centre of town, or when I get an email from a soon-to-be visitor asking where the best coffeeshops in Amsterdam do I actually remember that these places exist and that for many people Amsterdam's coffeeshops are the main reason they come to visit.
It has always been my intention with this blog to help you see that there is SO much more to Amsterdam than coffeeshops. You do not need to even step foot in the Red Light District to have a wonderful visit to Amsterdam. However, I know that this area, also called De Wallen by locals and the Dutch, has a lot to offer visitors whether you are planning on smoking in an Amsterdam coffeeshop or not, and it is very much considered the centre of the city's cannabis scene.
IMPORTANT UPDATE MAY 2020 - Due to current global events, Amsterdam coffeeshops are now either closed or open for take-away only, and social distancing (1.5 metre distance at all times) apply. Please check coffeeshops' social media and websites before visiting to check they're open for take-away purchases and what their opening hours are.
However, in reality coffeeshops are found all over Amsterdam, and indeed, some of the best Amsterdam coffeeshops are located outside of the Red Light District, so I felt it a good idea, and probably way overdue, to write something about the cannabis culture in Amsterdam and to put together a list of the best coffeeshops in Amsterdam, as well as a short history of how they came to be, why they are indeed called coffeeshops, and finally some tips for making sure you enjoy a visit to an Amsterdam coffeeshop safely and responsibly.
FURTHER READING & DISCLOSURE: Plan your trip to Amsterdam from start to finish from this page where you will find all my Amsterdam travel blog posts (including lists of best hotels, best Amsterdam budget tips, and seasonal guides), and before you read more, please note that this post includes affiliate links.
The (Important) Difference Between Coffeeshops and Coffee Shops
First things first. Why are coffeeshops called coffeeshops? Well, the reason it's important to differentiate between coffeeshops and coffee shops is because one sells cannabis products and one does not. Both will indeed servce coffee, but it's also fair to say that one will serve potentially much better coffee and have more steamed/foamed/hot/non-dairy milk options than others.
So let's break it down. Coffeeshops are where you can buy cannabis products (and coffee, yes). And coffee shops are where you cannot buy cannabis products but you will get more choice for caffeine-based drinks.
When researching coffeeshops in Amsterdam, you will find most (but definitely not all!) places will differentiate between cannabis coffeeshops and caffeine coffee shops by the spelling of the word (coffeeshops being all one word). But this is not a catch all, and indeed many shop fronts and signs for cannabis-related coffeeshops will say Coffee Shop, and very, very few will have the words "weed", "cannabis", or "marijuana" in their signage. However, once you've been walking around Amsterdam for a few days or even hours, you'll start to see the subtle differences between coffeeshops and coffee shops.
Most Amsterdam coffeeshops don't have windows you can look in. They often have blacked out windows or storefronts, and most don't have any noticeable reference to coffee or being a cafe. Tell-tale signs that you're standing outside a coffeeshop will include neon signs, quirky names hinting at cannabis culture or getting high, and yes, the smell. On the other hand coffee shops should appear to be more welcoming, have open seating areas inside and out, and will smell more like coffee than anything, you hope!
Google Maps has become better at showing you where coffeeshops are versus coffee shops, but I still find it fluffs up now and again when I'm in an unfamiliar neighbourhood and am craving a latte and I'm sent on a short walk somewhere only to find myself outside the wrong kind of coffeeshop!
So, Why are Coffeeshops Called Coffeeshops? (A Short History of Coffeeshops in Amsterdam)
The reason Coffeeshops are so-called is actually proof that it's not unusual to get confused because the very first place to sell cannabis products was indeed a place where you could also buy coffee. The Mellow Yellow Coffee Shop had long been established as a coffee and tea house when it secretly began also selling marijuana back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Other coffee houses and cafes followed suit and so it became more well known that certain coffee shops in Amsterdam were the place to go if you wanted some weed or hash, sold undercover alongside tea and coffee.
This was the age of hippie culture and the Amsterdam authorities were aware of what was happening but as was the political viewpoint of the time they didn't react by prosecuting or forbidding the practice explicitly (although it was still strictly-speaking illegal, and still is!). The general opinion was that if those selling and buying weren't causing any problems, the practice could continue, and so it has, and it didn't take long for Amsterdam to become world-renowned for its cannabis culture and many of the earliest coffeeshops in Amsterdam were famous places that people would travel from all over the world to visit. Sadly Mellow Yellow is no longer open for business but many of the first coffeeshops to sell cannabis in Amsterdam remain open today, like The Bulldog, Het Ballonetje, and Siberie, all of which feature on our list below.
Over the last few decades, there have been stop-start attempts to regulate coffeeshops more, because of the damaging effects of so-called weed tourism and subsequent overtourism in the Red Light District, and indeed in other parts of the Netherlands you need to have a residents-only Weed Pass to buy cannabis products from coffeeshops, but in Amsterdam such measures have never lasted very long.
That said, the number of coffeeshops hit a peak in Amsterdam in the 1990s (over 350) and their numbers have slowly been dwindling ever since, including the closure of Mellow Yellow just before its 50th birthday, something that upset many Amsterdammers and Amsterdam lovers. This is mostly due to rising rent prices for commercial premises alongside increased efforts by Amsterdam authorities to "clean up" the Red Light District which is often bursting with tourists and their bad behaviour.
Overtourism is very much a problem in Amsterdam and there are many who blame the coffeeshop scene for enticing more travellers than the city can cope with, but on the other side of the coin, many feel coffeeshop closures are a result of authorities and businesses trying to gentrify the city and make more money out of the tourists, of which only 25-30% go to coffeeshops. It's an interesting discussion that is often flared up by campaigners on either side, but where I live, away from the centre of the city, there are many neighbourhood coffeeshops that seem to continue to do well from mostly the business of local residents, and I can hand on heart say that in my 6+ years of living in Amsterdam, have never seen any problems close to a coffeeshop.
Tips for Going to Amsterdam Coffeeshops
Here are a few things to keep in mind before you start hitting up any of the list of Amsterdam coffeeshops I've added on below. Consider these tips for buying, smoking, eating, or taking away cannabis products to be a very basic overview of things that will help you enjoy your high (and time in Amsterdam) safely and responsibly.
Cannabis culture is very much part of Amsterdam's cultural make-up, but it's not the only reason to come here and indeed more tourists travel to Amsterdam without going to a coffeeshop, than those who do, so I share these tips not only for those who want to get high, but those who don't (and for us residents!) so we can all enjoy this fantastic city together.
- The best people to ask about anything you may want to buy, smoke or eat, are the people employed in the coffeeshop. They should all have considerable knowledge about their products as a result of training and also personal experience. They will be able to advise you the best choice for your wants and needs, and can also help you in terms of choosing how best to enjoy your high too (i.e. how much to smoke/eat, when to do it, what to have to hand, just in case). Please don't be embarrassed by asking for help or guidance. They don't care if it's your first time or your 100th, they just want you to be safe and enjoy yourself.
- If you feel intimidated or like you don't get the help or recommendations you would like in a coffeeshop, please leave and find somewhere else where you feel more welcome. There are so many coffeeshops in Amsterdam that you really are in a buyer's market so the staff and management should be doing their best to make you feel welcome and if they don't you should spend your hard earned money elsewhere.
- Most Amsterdam coffeeshops include a seating area where you can sit down and smoke, but some are take-away only so if you want to have a smoke inside a coffeeshop, do a little research to check that they include a seating area.
- You MUST be over 18 to go in a coffeeshop and buy cannabis products. This is something that coffeeshops may be quite strict about and you should have valid ID ready to prove your age when asked (Driving Licence, ID card or Passport). I think the coffeeshops in Amsterdam will vary in policy when someone who is under age enters the coffeeshop but doesn't buy anything or consume cannabis, so keep this in mind.
- Every coffeeshop should have a menu for what's available so the first thing you should do is ask to see one of those. They will vary greatly in terms of how much information is there, but again, if in doubt, be sure to ask for advice or help if something isn't clear.
- For the same reason, I recommend if you're a beginner, take it very slowly and opt to stay close to the coffeeshop you are buying from. The staff know better than anyone what to do if your high goes wrong or if you don't feel well at any point.
- Don't mix weed with alcohol in Amsterdam. There's a reason you can't get a beer in a coffee shop! Because it can get messy quickly if you're not used to smoking and drinking at the same time. Even if you are, I know many experienced smokers who say that the weed in Amsterdam is different and/or stronger to what they're used to, so it took them by surprise when they had a joint after a night of bar-hopping... and not in a good way!
- You can buy pre-rolled or loose hash for rolling yourself in most shops, but some may have more variety in the loose stuff. There is no shame in ordering pre-rolled! Most if not all coffeeshops in Amsterdam would much rather you do that than buy a bag of hash and have no clue what you're doing so you can enjoy their products.
- Not all coffeeshops have edible goods, but most do. If you really only want to eat space cakes and don't like smokey places (I hear you!) then be sure to do a bit more research and find the coffeeshops in Amsterdam that have cookies or space cakes. And if you're really interested in space cakes, you can even make some of your own so-called edibles during your stay in Amsterdam - they look yummy!
- But take note, ingesting cannabis (i.e. eating it) is different to smoking it and you should be cautious and tentative with how much start off eating because in most cases it will work quicker and have a potentially stronger impact. This can be hard actually as most of the very few space cakes that I've tried actually taste really good! But when the instructions say start with a quarter or half a slice of cake and wait to see what the effects are like, please do listen to those guidelines!
- Coffeeshops really are only for cannabis products. If you are looking for alternative drugs/mind-influencers, like truffles and magic mushrooms, you need to find a so-called Smart Shop, of which there are only a handful in Amsterdam now. Maybe one day I will write a post about them but that will require some more research!
- Prices for standard items will not vary much from coffeeshop to coffeeshop as it's regulated by authorities so really where you go is a choice of taste and perhaps where you are staying.
- Furthermore, do not buy or engage with anyone offering you cheaper products or deals on the street. Yes, believe it or not, street dealers do exist in Amsterdam and they will target tourists hanging around the most popular coffeeshops and streets in the Red Light District. Their products will be lacking in the quality that Amsterdam's coffeeshops ensure you can expect and enjoy, so please do not buy from them.
- Finally, you don't have to smoke weed in Amsterdam! Just in case you didn't know, it's very much okay to visit Amsterdam and even go to a coffeeshop in Amsterdam and not smoke weed or eat a space cake, if you want to tag along with friends who do want to smoke. You can absolutely sit there and watch them do their thing, and feel like you're part of it but not actually consuming anything... although saying that, it's polite and appreciated to buy a drink because coffeeshops have rent to pay too!
- There are many different ways to find out more about cannabis culture and coffeeshops in Amsterdam, without having to smoke or even step foot in a coffeeshop in Amsterdam. There's the Cannabis Museum for a start, and if you don't like smoking inside, you can also go on a boat tour of Amsterdam where you can also smoke too. If you don't want to smoke at all but want to see the cannabis culture in action, a tour of a number of coffee shops (many of them on the best coffeeshops list below) could be a great way to explore Amsterdam through this lens. There's also the Cannabis Information Centre (run by the team behind Boerenjongens, see below) which has general information about cannabis, including advice for growing and the genetics behind the cannabis plant.
The Best Coffeeshops in Amsterdam
Now you know roughly what you're doing once you get to a coffeeshop in Amsterdam, it's time to let you know some of the city's best coffeeshops. As I mentioned in the introduction, I'm not exactly a regular of coffee shops, but I have my ear close to the ground and know that some coffeeshops in Amsterdam are better than others.
In this list I recommend those that I have been to and liked, along with some other recommendations from friends, both local and visiting, who really like a certain Amsterdam coffeeshop. And finally, I've also asked a couple of travel blogger friends as well as members of the Amsterdam Travel Tips Facebook Group to let me know their favourite coffeeshop in Amsterdam.
All the listings here are correct as of May 2020, but please note that at this current time, some coffeeshops in Amsterdam will be closed, and those that are open are nly offering take-away service. You will find the street address for each coffeeshop next to their name, along with the neighbourhood or area they are located in, so this gives you an idea of where they are. Opening hours for Amsterdam coffeeshops will vary so please do check ahead of time if there's a place you really want to go.
Abraxas (Jonge Roelensteeg 12-14 - Centrum, near Dam Square)
Open since 1992, Abraxas is one of the more hippy-ish coffeeshops in Amsterdam, and they're open about their focus on the environment and ethics. They have lots of information about their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint and to also give back to their local community. They also score extra points for having wheelchair friendly access.
Definitely one to go check out if you also have a hippy soul, and they sell lots of merchandise and paraphenalia both in their stores and online too if that's of interest.
Amnesia (Bergstraat 11-1 - Jordaan) by Rai from Rai of Light
During my first visit to Europe I made sure to see as many of my favourite cities as the duration of my Schengen Countries Visa would allow. My time in Amsterdam was a definite highlight. A city filled with unique architecture, beautiful canals, and of course all of those coffee shops. One that stands apart is Amnesia. This trendy establishment located off the main tourist route in the village-like Jordaan neighbourhood, you're still in the heart of Centrum's canal ring offers a laidback, relaxed and polished atmosphere.
I found a very good selection of quality cannabis, everything from contemporary strains to local varieties, with an easy to understand pricing chart. Even though prices are higher than other places in the city, the product is of a good quality. Amnesia is also known for having a good selection of food on offer including some of the best milkshakes, and is well-worth a visit. (Photo - Source)
Baba (Warmoesstraat 64 - Red Light District)
Baba is on this list because it kept coming up in conversations and recommendations about the best edibles from coffeshops in Amsterdam. I've not personally tried them or visited here but for a Red Light District coffeeshop it certainly seems to tick all the boxes of what a visitor to Amsterdam may be looking for in terms of atmosphere, an old school coffeeshop feel, and a great location if you're exploring RLD.
Baba also have a second location on Barentszstraat 130 out in the Houthaven area to the west of Centraal Station.
Het Ballonnetje (Roetersstraat 12 - Plantage)
The Little Balloon as it translates in English, Het Ballonnetje claims to be one of the oldest coffeeshops in Amsterdam (and it's probably right since its doors opened in 1978), and that it is a favourite with celebrities and locals. Not sure exactly what that means, but again it's in a great location if you are exploring the centre of Amsterdam and want somewhere to pop in and have a smoke, although it is outside of the Red Light District.
In fact, it's actually found in one of my favourite areas of central Amsterdam, the Plantage neighbourhood, which is also where you'll find Hermitage Museum, ARTIS Zoo, the (fantastic!) Versetz Museum (Resistance Museum) and the Botanical Gardens. They focus mostly on weed, but do have some hashish on their menu, as well as a small selection of edibles.
Barneys (Multiple locations in Centrum and on Haarlemmerstraat)
While not as old as some of the coffeeshops on this list, the Barneys brand is one of the better known thanks to there being almost a mini-empire of Barneys coffeeshops, each one offering a slightly different experience. Three of the Barneys coffeeshops in Amsterdam are found practically next to each other in Haarlemmerstraat to the west of Amsterdam Centraal Station and the Jordaan neighbourhood, and there is Barneys Lounge on Reguliersgracht over to the east of the city centre.
For some people, hanging out at Barneys is a rite of passage when you visit Amsterdam and indeed, you can eat all your three meals a day at a Barneys hang out (classic bar food options at Barneys Uptown, or find a healthier menu at Barneys Farm) and you can make a night of it at Barneys Loung, Uptown or the original Barneys Coffeeshop, all of which are open until 1 or 3am depending on the night. (Photo - Source)
BasJoe (Kloveniersburgwal 62 - Red Light District)
BasJoe is a lesser known spot but it came to my attention, and apparently needed to be on this list of the best Amsterdam coffeeshops, because of its very good edibles, and because it's a more up-market coffeeshop in the Red Light District, should that be what you're after.
Looking more like a bar or nightclub inside, BasJoe is a firm favourite with visitors and many people have told me to try their Rainbow Cakes (which certainly look just like what they sound) although they also offer muffins, slices of more traditional space cake, and a weed tea too.
Best Friends, by Sydney from A World in Reach
When I visited Amsterdam, I knew that I wanted to partake in some of the famous Amsterdam weed culture. On our first day in the city, my friends and I made our way to Best Friends, a coffee shop near our Airbnb, in order to pick up some weed and a few space cakes.
When we went in the shop, we were immediately overwhelmed as none of us were marijuana smokers back home. I knew a bit about the differences between indica and sativa, but when I saw a menu filled with names such as “lemon skunk” and “blueberry cheese,” I had no idea what to choose!
The workers at Best Friends were SO helpful. They kindly explained the differences between the different strains and helped us make our choice. Since we were buying space cakes as well (or as Best Friends calls them, “happy cakes”), they also gave us some tips for what to do if we eat too much of the cake, as it is more difficult to control your intake with an edible than it is when smoking. The workers definitely made our experience much easier, and we frequented Best Friends throughout the rest of our time in Amsterdam.
There are three Best Friends locations in Amsterdam: one in Centrum, one in Oost (the one I visited the most), and one in Oud Zuid.
Boerenjongens (Utrechtsestraat - Centrum, and 3 other locations)
One of the relatively newer kids on the block, it's fair to say that Boerenjongens has capitalised on a corner of the cannabis market in Amsterdam and has done very well out of it, opening up four coffeeshops in 13 years. I first came across their second and more central stop located on Utrechtsetraat, which has an interior, exterior, and staff, that look nothing like your typical Amsterdam coffeeshop. At first sight, I thought it was a novelty chemist or bar with its waistcoat-wearing servers and tall open windows revealing marble floors and an apothecary style display behind a counter. But no, this is a coffeeshop done Boerenjongens style.
The name is also confusing as it literally translates as Farmer Boys, but it does the brand and their reputation no harm. The Boerenjongens wanted to add a bit of sophistication and class to the coffeeshop and cannabis experience and when you're greeted at the door of the Utrechtsestraat location by a man wearing a bowler hat, holding the door open for you, the tone is set. As it is when you also see the edibles they are serving and the fact they call their staff sommeliers. The bowler hat wearing gents aren't just there for show either, they're there to ensure the coffeeshop's customers and the local community all co-exist well together.
Their other locations are further out in Amsterdam neighbourhoods and some are dispensaries only, but check out their webpage for their exact locations in case one is near you; they also have one of the best blogs for a coffeeshop in Amsterdam with lots of interesting details and facts about cannabis and Amsterdam alike.
Bulldog - (Multiple locations in Centrum andRed Light District)
Another big Amsterdam coffeeshop brand and one of the oldest names in the game, the Bulldog is another mini-empire built around one first successful coffeshop, located in the heart of Amsterdam's Red Light District. The first Bulldog coffeeshop opened in 1974 and now there are 11 Bulldog-branded establishments scattered around the RLD, including a coffeeshop in an old police station (which let's be honest, you couldn't make up).
There five Bulldog coffeeshops, a hotel, a bar, a cafe and no fewer than three brand stores where you can get your Bulldog merchandise, and the Bulldog brand has now travelled to other cities in Canada, Europe and even the Caribbean. Its for this reason that some people - especially Amsterdam locals - don't exactly flock to Bulldog for their cannabis needs, but as the longest-running coffeeshop in Amsterdam (at the conveniently named Bulldog The First location on Oudezijds Voorburgwal 90) this could be something you wan to tick off, and you may then get sucked into the brand!
Cafe 420 (Oudebrugsteeg 27 - Red Light District)
Despite minimal neon signage outside, Cafe 420 is a classic laidback Amsterdam coffeeshop with a darkly lit interior and chilled music along with a comprehensive menu that includes pre-rolls and edibles too. For its super central location in the Red Light District, you'd think it was a tourist hotspot, however, while it does get a decent number of visitors walking in, it's remained a locals' favourite too
Cafe Katsu (Eerste van der Helststraat 70 - De Pijp)
I used to live on the same street as Cafe Katsu in De Pijp and never went inside once, which now feels like a bit of a shame after I've found out that it's also an art gallery. With a small sitting area outside that spills out into the busy foot traffic coming and going from De Pijp, Katsu is a brightly-coloured cafe with a comprehensive menu, a hippy vibe, and yes, artwork on display that's for sale.
Coffeeshop Amsterdam (Haarlemmerstraat 44 - Haarlemmerbuurt)
Occupying the spot that was formerly home to Dampkring 2 (and you can read more about Dampkring below), Coffeeshop Amsterdam is another take on the modern Amsterdam coffee shop with its subtly dark green exterior and clean hipster-friendly interior. Inside are three floors where you can have a smoke, have a drink, and have a meal.
The owners are experienced Amsterdam coffeeshop pros and have created a lounge-style coffeeshop that can be enjoyed anytime of day, and you'll be welcomed by a gent wearing tweed and a flat cap, rather than a bowler hat, but again this is to help customers feel welcome and keep their neighbours happy too.
Coffeshop Voyagers (Geldersekade 2 - Centrum)
If you're coming to Amsterdam for the full cannabis experience, you may want to know where you can stay that is smoker-friendly. Well, Voyagers is about as smoker-friendly as you can find in a hotel in Amsterdam in that it is a hotel attached to a coffeeshop, and while you're not allowed to smoke in your rooms the coffeeshop is literally part of the hotel and you can smoke in there anytime until closing. The location is incredibly central - less than a 5-minute walk from Centraal Station - and the hotel's website does specify that you need to be over 21 to stay in the hotel, and over 18 to go in the coffeeshop.
Dampkring (Handboogstraat 29 - Centrum)
There aren't that many places in Amsterdam that are visited just because they're in a movie (actually, that's a lie, there are lots of places in Amsterdam like that and I should probably write a blog post about them one day) but Dampkring coffeeshop is one of them. The location for a scene in Ocean's Twelve featuring Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon and Scottish actor, Robbie Coltrane, Dampkring now has a strain of cannabis named after the film, and indeed a flock of smokers and non-smokers wanting to have their photo taken at the table where the actors sat.
But the Dampkring is more than a tourist attraction, it's a very relaxed, brown-bar-esque Amsterdam coffeeshop that is well worth popping into during your visit as the staff is friendly and helpful, the crowd a mix of tourists and regulars, and you can act super nonchalant and cool that you had no idea it's also a famous movie location! (Photo - source)
The Dolphins (Kerkstraat 39 - Centrum)
When I first moved to Amsterdam I was amazed by firstly, just how many coffeeshops there are in residential neighbourhoods (as I made the mistake of thinking they were only really a tourist attraction - not so!) and secondly, I was surprised by how, errr, interesting some coffeeshops' themes and decor could be. Dolphins sort ticks all of these boxes as it's tucked away on Kerkstraat, one of my favourite quieter streets that wraps around the eastern corner of Amsterdam's centre, running parallel in between Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht.
Admittedly, it's on the busier stretch of Kerkstraat, just around the corner from Leidsestraat, but it definitely has one of the more interesting interior decor with its faux coral walls, underwater paintings on the ceiling and looming (thankfully fake) dolphin leaping overhead in one corner. It has to be seen to be believed, but of course, depending on how much you smoke, it's anyone's guess whether you'll actually remember it or not.
DNA (Achillesstraat 104 - Stadionbuurt)
DNA is primarily on this list because of its wide variety of and great reputation for edibles, but I think it's also worthy of being on here because it's a fine example of a more neighbourhood coffeeshop that also welcomes visitors warmly. You can also easily get there by hopping on the number 24 tram from Centraal Station.
Their cakes give any professional cake maker a run for their money in terms of appearance, and reportedly taste too, and they often have themed cakes available at certain times of the year like Halloween and Christmas. They won the trophy for best edibles in Amsterdam in 2019 and with multiple flavoured brownies and slices of red velvet cake among their repertoire you need to head here if you like spacecakes.
Greenhouse Effect (Nieuwmarkt 14 - Red Light District)
Another name that is on this list for its edibles are the Greenhouse Effect coffeeshop, and I think they should also get a special mention for their cool name. An unusually bright and airy (ish!) space, Greenhouse Effect is located in one of Amsterdam's oldest market squares, Nieuwmarkt, and is stumbling distance (hopefully not literally) from many of the Red Light District's most famous sights.
Looking more like a bar than a coffeeshop, they have a terrace outside where you can sit and smoke and watch the world go by. However, back to those edibles, I've been told the edibles are not only delicious (as is their food menu), but they can also be VERY strong so proceed with caution.
(There are also a small chain of other Amsterdam coffesshops called Green House with four locations all over Amsterdam, but their name didn't come up in my research or chats with local friends but if you have visited one of their coffeeshops and liked it, do let me know!)
Grey Area (Oude Leliestraat 2 - Jordaan)
One of the few names that kept coming up again and again when researching best Amsterdam coffeeshops was Grey Area, which also gets consistently good reviews online too. Located on a street not all tourists would stumble upon, Grey Area aims to cater to locals as much as it does visitors, and all in quite a small space.
To me, from the outside it looks more like a record shop or skateboarder hang out as its front is covered in stickers, and inside is more of the same with messages and autographs scrawled on rolling papers adding to the mix. As mentioned above, Grey Area is a small but popular spot so you may have to queue, then not be able to get a seat or get comfy for long, but maybe that doesn't matter so much if you just want to tick this one off your list of cool Amsterdam spots. Let's just say that Snoop Dogg, Woody Harrelson and Willie Nelson have all smoked there... so yep, expect eclectic but cooooooool.
Paradox (Eerste Bloemdwarsstraat 2 - Jordaan)
Finally an Amsterdam coffeeshop that I know well. Okay, I'll come clean, I've been there twice. But honestly, this is a lovely, very relaxed, cosy coffeeshop that is very much the pride and joy of the locals just as much as the tourists who wander around in search of this small side street in the Jordaan neighbourhood. It has long been associated with painters and artists in Amsterdam, which you'll pick up on as soon as you step inside.
We were recommended their spacecakes and while pretty plain in terms of flavour (both choice and quality), they certainly did the job and we felt in good hands getting advice. (Again, they were strong so we took it slow and listened to the guidelines and warnings we were given!)
The second time we stayed a while and inside (I had a tea while my partner and a friend smoked) other customers were mostly middle-aged or older men sitting reading newspapers or books, drinking coffee and having a long, slow smoke. It felt very far from the busy, noisy coffeeshops of the Red Light District, which for some is a win. (Photo - source)
Prix D'Ami (Haringpakkerssteeg 3 - Centrum)
From locals' favourite to another popular choice among visitors, Prix D'Ami is not only the largest coffeeshops in Amsterdam, but also the whole world (according to their website) even though it doesn't look like it from the outside or its location on one of the narrowest streets in central Amsterdam, just a short walk from Centraal Station. Occupying the full building you can find several attractions inside including a cinema, live televised sports rooms, and yes, more traditional coffeeshop smoking spaces, although expect this spot to get rowdier not quieter as day turns into night as they often host DJs at Prix D'Ami.
Reviewers and experienced smokers like how extensive the menu is and the food choices are just as broad although they very much cater to tourists - with pub-like food, snacks and a full English breakfast - but it's a combination that works because Prix D'Ami kept being mentioned by those I asked after they visited Amsterdam and indulged in the cannabis scene here.
Rookies (Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 145-147 - Centrum)
So-called because when they opened in 1992 they were seen as the new kids on the block, the name Rookies now doesn't apply at all because they will celebrate 30 years of business in two years time. Quite understated in terms of ambience and the variety on offer on their menu, I've added Rookies to this list because their edibles are reportedly among the best, and they only sell 100% bio cannabis products too (so no fertilisers or harmful chemicals were used in the growing procees.
Their location is also one that most visitors to Amsterdam will find easily if you're wanting to bar crawl or shop in and around Leidseplein and Leidsestraat respectively, so worth knowing about! (Photo - Source)
Siberië (Brouwersgracht 11 - Jordaan)
Located on one of the prettiest canals in Amsterdam (in my opinion!), Siberië is another long-established Amsterdam coffeeshop that visitors love to discover by accident. First opened in 1984, the interior feels almost sophisticated in style, while also cosy enough to sit down for an hour or two, and those who expect coffeeshops in Amsterdam to serve decent coffee!
Siberië is owned by the same group that run a number of other coffeeshops in Amsterdam and their group motto is "Smoke less, enjoy it more!" which I quite like, but maybe that's just because I'm a non-smoker!
La Tertulia (Prinsengracht 312 - Nine Streets/Jordaan)
I've often walked past La Tertulia and felt a curiosity to pop inside or sit at a table in the sun outside and actually, I didn't even know it was a coffeeshop (rather than a coffee shop!) until a few years ago. I think it's a lot to do with the Van Gogh style painting on the exterior wall. There is a definite earthy or even ethereal vibe inside La Tertulia, and you can talk to staff about crystals and meteorites as much as you can their cannabis selection, which isn't vast but is varied enough for basic needs.
Meaning "The Salon" in Spanish, La Tertulia has been running since 1983 and does have something of a teahouse or lounge menu for those not just interested in the cannabis. Their brownies have been recommended to me by more than one person, and they have vegan and gluten-free options too! They have to serve my favourite coffee in Amsterdam (Bocca) and this is definitely a coffeeshop to head to if you like your coffee and you don't want to sit inside a dark smokey room. (Photo - source)
Tweede Kamer (Heisteeg 6 - Centrum)
Named after the Dutch House of Representatives (literal translation "Second Room") Tweede Kamer is owned by the same team that bring you Coffeeshop Amsterdam so you can be reassured you're in for an experience stepping through the understated but sophisticated shop front which has been open for over 30 years.
Surrounded by bookshops (it's around the corner from my favourite Amsterdam bookshop - American Book Center) and more eclectic boutiques and restaurants, there's a good chance you'll miss this non-neon-fronted cosy coffeeshop that locals and visitors both love. If Coffeeshop Amsterdam is their yang, Tweede Kamer is definitely their yang as it's a relaxing and elegant, and that goes for both the decor and the staff's relaxed and friendly welcome and help. (Also I'm a little bit in love with their light features above the counter!)
That's it! But of course, if you know of any other Amsterdam coffeeshops that should be on this list please do let me know.
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Frances M. Thompson
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