What are coffeeshops
In the Netherlands, a café is the equivalent of a full bar, and sells liquor, cocktails, wine, and beer. A "koffiehuis" serves coffee, while a "coffee shop" (using the English term) sells soft drugs (cannabis and hashish) and is generally not allowed to sell alcoholic beverages.
Amsterdam's coffeeshops are a popular tourist attraction. Don't expect a hot, steaming coffee here. Coffeeshops in Holland offer something totally different. Their business is in fact selling hashish and offering smoking facilities with loud music to smoke a joint. The anti-smoke law for public spaces does not apply here. Many people visit the city to smoke marijuana.
Amsterdam, to many people, means drugs and regardless of your moral viewpoint it's hard not to visit Amsterdam and not come across drugs in some shape or form.
Illegal but tolerated
The "coffeeshop" is a unique Dutch institution. For over 40 years, coffeeshops have operated with quasi-legal status in the Netherlands. Although there is no law that allows soft drugs to be sold, the Dutch tolerate the presence of coffeeshops because they separate the soft drug users from the hard drug dealers. So, in short, it is actually illegal to sell weed, but not punishable.
→ Read more on the 'Drug policy of the Netherlands' on Wikipedia
Coffeeshops are not allowed to advertise, so you won't see a big sign saying "Marijuana for Sale". Coffeeshops can be recognized by their signs with cannabis leaves on the window or door. If you don't see a dealer's booth, just go up to the bar and ask to see the 'menu'. You will be presented with a list of the various different grasses and hashes available at a range of prices.
In some shops cannabis is sold by weight, in others by value. Cannabis prices vary according to shop location and type. In the centre of Amsterdam prices tend to be a little higher, especially in places that cater for tourists.
Safe Amsterdam coffeeshops
See our 4 suggestions for well-established coffeeshops in Amsterdam with a nice and safe ambiance.
Rusland 16 - Old Centre
The First Official Licensed Coffeeshop of Amsterdam
Rosmarijnsteeg 9 - Spui
recently renovated, modern design, nice place to smoke, can be crowdy
popular and famous grand café with downstairs a coffeeshop since 1985, former police office, live music
Brouwersgracht 11 - Canal Belt
well-established coffee shop since 1984, beautifully located at the Brouwersgracht
Plan your trip to Amsterdam
Pick your neighborhoodand find the best nearby attractions, hotels, restaurants, lunch places
The most idyllic café terraces to drink a cup of coffee or glass of beer outdoors
Did you know that ..... the Dutch invented gin or jenever as the Dutch call it?