If there were a city that every stoner in the world should visit, this would be Amsterdam. Apart from its fun nightlife and legal recreational weed, the “Venice of the North,” is a fascinating destination that draws in millions of tourists every year. The city is packed with wonders, with curiosity shops, exotic restaurants, and awesome bars to be found in every corner. And of course, let’s not forget the loads and loads of Amsterdam coffee shops!
I spent three days in Amsterdam, trying out as many strains as I could and soaking up on the local culture. In this article, I will share my experiences with you, so you know what you expect when you visit this amazing city.
Amsterdam Drug Laws
Despite what rumors you might have heard, Amsterdam is by no means some kind of “free drug utopia.” Cannabis and hash are classified as soft drugs and are technically illegal. However, coffee shops are given permits to operate by the authorities, provided they don’t have more than 500g of weed onsite.
This state of affairs not only confused me as a visitor, but it is also incomprehensible to many locals I asked as well. However, one thing is for sure: Hard drugs (like cocaine and LSD) are relentlessly prosecuted by the state, who want to make the distinction between them as clear as possible.
Although cannabis is available for sale throughout the country, the production of weed is surprisingly illegal in the Netherlands. Cannabis cultivators exist in a legal grey area, with their status continuously threatened by police. It was only in 2017 that the Dutch House of Representatives voted for a law to partially allow the production of weed to supply the coffee shops.
It is also worth noting that possession of more than five grams of weed is likely to get you in trouble. Airport checks are quite strict, especially if you look foreign. Don’t get me wrong: Amsterdam is indeed an open-minded place where anything can happen. However, not all state officials approve of the country’s liberal approach to drugs, with some mayors openly calling for the ban of coffee shops in their cities.
Overall, to my experience, Amsterdam is a great place to be if you want to enjoy weed, art, and food. Just remember: Don’t be an idiot and have a great time!
Weed Prices in Amsterdam Coffee Shops
Weed in Amsterdam is not cheap. Expect to pay from €7/gram for average indicas, all the way to €40/gram for premium USA genetics and cup winners. You can purchase your weed in dried flower form, as a pre-rolled joint (spliff or blunt), space cake or hash format. Prices are pretty much consistent around Amsterdam, although coffee shops in other towns tend to be a little cheaper. The average price for high-THC strains is significantly higher, with Haze variants going for €12-17/gram.
In most coffee shops, you will find several varieties of Skunk, Kush, Haze and Widow genetics. If you suck at rolling joints, you can ask a member of the staff to do it for you, or purchase a ready-made blunt. All coffee shops provide you with papers, roaches, and grinders if needed.
Code of Conduct
- You are expected to order something while you are in a coffee shop.
- Bringing your weed isn’t allowed in most cases. However, they might let you smoke your stuff in the lounge if the place isn’t too busy. I always had some tea of a latte to accompany my smoking sessions.
- Alcohol is not permitted on the premises of any coffee shop, with no exceptions.
- Meeting new people in coffee shop lounges is super easy, even if you are a Mediterranean-looking male solo traveler such as I. The atmosphere is relaxed and fun, more so in the lesser known coffee shops off the center.
- There are board games to play with your new found friends.
- You can always take your weed to go and enjoy it in some of Amsterdam’s stunning parks!
Best Friends Oud Zuid
Located in the Old South part of the city (Oud-Zuid), Best Friends was the first coffee shop I visited after I arrived in Amsterdam. Although I was a bit tired, I couldn’t help a little walk around the neighborhood!
The area around Best Friends is mostly residential, meaning that it is considerably less busy than the coffee shops around the Centrum area. Sadly, the lounge area was closed at the time of my visit, so I had to take my weed to go. However, its right next to the massive Vondelpark, so you can always enjoy a nice outdoor session if the weather allows.
Strain of Choice
The weed menu is quite broad, with mostly Haze and Kush genetics featuring on the list. As with most Amsterdam coffee shops, there is a decent variety of Hash and edibles as well. As a diehard Sativa fan, I went for the Strawberry Haze. Although it was not the original phenotype bred by Green House genetics, the quality of the bud was excellent. The flower was packed with shiny resin that made manual grinding a bit difficult, while the smell was overpowering and fresh. Dark brown pistils were woven onto the dark green plant matter which was dry but not crumbly. Overall, it was evident that the bud had undergone proper curation and drying.
Although I do like to consume weed in all forms, I decided to try the SB Haze in my trusty Da Vinci IQ vaporizer, to get the full flavor profile of the bud. The taste was pleasant and fruity, with hints of strawberry (but nothing too extreme). A temperature of around 200ºC seemed to be the sweet spot for this strain.
The high of the Strawberry Haze is light and cerebral. As the effects start to set, you will feel a pleasant tingling sensation throughout your body, that will soon turn into a creative rush. I absolutely loved the uplifting effects of the Strawberry Haze, and I believe it is the perfect kind of weed to share in social situations.
- Selection: 4/5
- Quality: 5/5
- Lounging Area: Not Available
- Neighborhood: Not very central but extremely quiet, just beside Vondelpark. There are two more Best Friends coffee shops around Amsterdam, but this off the beaten path. Great quality weed, worth a visit!
Three Floors Lounge
Amsterdam is famous for the narrow houses lining across its canals. Like the Dutch people themselves, these buildings are tall and thin (and not easy to move around when you’re high). The Three Floors Lounge in central Amsterdam is essentially a house like that, with the two floors above the lobby serving as separate lounges.
Although it sounds roomy and cozy, in reality, it wasn’t. The upstairs floors were quite dull and the couches were uncomfortable, as there was no way to avoid a staring contest with other patrons. There were several tables in the middle of the room, each one with its ashtray. The TVs playing sports on each floor didn’t help build any kind of pleasant atmosphere. Then again, they probably don’t want people hogging the premises, so that’s understandable. Kind of.
Strain of Choice
The menu was nothing special, with most of the Haze and Kush variants you’ll find in every other coffee shop around Amsterdam. However, they did have an Apple Haze variant which I chose for my session, as I haven’t heard about it before.
Let me tell you right here that the terpene profile on this baby was out of this world. Smelling and tasting it was the closest thing you’ll experience to eating an actual apple. Although this will only appeal to people who are fans of fruity strains, this is definitely one of the most intriguing weed I’ve ever tried and I only found it there.
Instead of using my DaVinci, I decided to roll a nice blunt this time. Apple Haze is quite potent but will relax you both mentally and physically. I spent a good hour in the lounge, chatting up with other patrons.
- Selection: 3/5
- Quality of the bud: 5/5
- Lounging Area: 3/5
- Neighborhood: Just a few minutes walk off the train station, this is a solid introduction to Amsterdam’s coffee shops. Nothing special though.
When I first arrived in Amsterdam, I swore I would stay away from the mainstream coffee shops, such as the Bulldog Palace and Jolly Joker. These places have a bad reputation, being right in the touristy center of Amsterdam. However, I succumbed to peer pressure and followed a group of friends inside. Contrary to most places I visited in the Netherlands, the Jolly Joker is quite spacious, decorated mainly with wood. It looks more like a pub and less like a coffee shop, with large windows and ample lighting. This is quite a change from all the dark and dodgy-looking coffee shops you’ll see when visiting central Amsterdam and was a very pleasant surprise.
Strain of Choice
Located in an extremely touristy area, the Jolly Joker caters to a very specific audience. The menu was not large, and the strains were less than exciting. Sadly, the Super Lemon Haze variant I tried was a huge disappointment. The bud was crumbly, a sign of a bad drying process and most likely had no Lemon genetics at all. This is not only a sign of bad curation but possibly misleading on purpose.
I tried vaping the bud to confirm my suspicions, and I was right. Super Lemon Haze from the Jolly Joker was downright bad. The terpene profile and the effects were definitely Haze-y, but not what was advertised. I suppose that’s quite alright if you just want to get high, but for me, the overall experience matters just as much. Therefore, I can’t recommend Jolly Joker to anyone who loves weed for the taste and smell. If you only want a quick session to get stoned though (which is perfectly fine) jump right in!
- Selection: 3/5
- Quality of the bud: 2/5
- Lounging Area: 3/5
- Neighborhood: Located in Nieuwmarkt, the dead center of Amsterdam, this is one of the easiest to find coffee shops around town. Perhaps that’s why the quality of the bud is so poor. Don’t be a tourist and search a bit harder!
You’ll find Het Ballonetje right across the street from the University of Amsterdam. With a distinctively blue decor and, of course, the trademark red balloon painted on the windows, it’s really tough to miss! The area is full of student restaurants and cafes, and although it is a 35-min walk from the center, it is one of the busiest parts of the city. It is also near the botanical gardens and the Royal Zoo.
Het Ballonetje (literally translated “The Balloon,”) is one of the most historic Amsterdam coffee shops, having opened back in 1978. The decor is basic but with a lovely artistic style that suits it just perfectly. Although the clientele consists mainly of students and locals, I did not, for one moment feel uncomfortable. Of course, later I discovered that this is a well-known destination for those in the know, so many foreign visitors go out of their way to try what’s on the menu (including the man himself, Samuel L.Jackson!)
Strain of Choice
The selection is fairly extensive, including some strains I’ve never heard of before (Shoreline, anyone?). I got me a gram of Girl Scout Cookies, one of the best strains in the world. Prices were pretty decent, even for the US genetics. There is also a good selection of hash and space cakes which I did not try, mainly to maintain some level of self-control.
You don’t need me to say that GSC is one of the hottest strains out there. Although nobody is sure about the exact phenotype of each batch in Amsterdam, this was a pretty well-cured bud, full of trichomes and frosty resin.
I rolled it in a blunt, and the experience was extraordinary. The pleasant surroundings undoubtedly helped me relax, and have a fun time with friends, but this is truly one of the classic flowers that anyone should try. The only “downside” was probably that afterwards, I had the worst case of the munchies in a long time. My fitness regime surely went back that evening, but I regret nothing!
- Selection: 5/5
- Quality of the bud: 5/5
- Lounging Area: 5/5
- Neighborhood: Het Ballonetje is located in a youthful area of the city, opposite the University of Amsterdam. With so many bars and restaurants around, you’ll surely stay a while. Highly recommended!
Other places to visit
During the limited time I had at my disposal, I tried to visit as many coffee shops as I could. I am sure I left out some pretty awesome places, such as Boerejongens, Grey Area and Dampkrings, to mention a few, but I promise to make up for it in my next visit to Amsterdam! For now, if you ever find yourself in the Netherlands, share your experiences in the comments! We’d love to hear your recommendations and tips!