When one thinks of Amsterdam, one thinks of the beautiful canals, the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House. Maybe Vondelpark and the Royal Palace. The infamous Red Light District. Bikes, beautiful blue skies, spring, greenery… But there’s another kind of green a stoner thinks of. You guessed it.
Amsterdam has a lax attitude towards cannabis. To put it lightly. Cannabis stores hide in plain sight literally everywhere in Amsterdam. Every street, every corner of the city is sprinkled with little shops.
First things first — the weed dispensaries in Amsterdam are called coffeeshops. It’s a little piece of information, but it’s a crucial piece of information. As soon as you know what they’re called, you’ll see them everywhere. They call the actual coffee shops cafés or coffee houses. Many “coffeeshops” don’t even have coffee.
We’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks for you to aid your hunt for cannabis when in Amsterdam.
1. No Signage
Selling weed is legal in Amsterdam. And so it buying weed. What’s not legal is to advertise it. So when you go looking for coffeeshops, don’t expect them to stand out. They’re more blended into the wall. But now that you know what they are called, you know what you’re looking for.
2. Pretend It’s a CVS
When you walk into the store, walk confidently. As if it’s a CVS and you’re just looking for some aspirin. They probably will still know you’re a tourist, but you don’t have to make it obvious. Some shopkeepers might charge you more than the regular price. So walk around, estimate the actual price and then part with your euros.
3. No Plastic
If you buy weed in the States, you’re probably already used to paying with cash. Even though some coffeeshops will accept cards, carry cash anyway. Another good note — your US cards don’t work in most smaller stores anyway. (They ask for a 6-digit pin; credit cards don’t have a pin, zip codes don’t work and debit cards have 4-digit pins.)
4. Ask Questions
If you don’t have Dutch friends to initiate you, ask the shopkeepers. Joints tend to have tobacco in them, along with weed. Of course, the ones labeled “pure joints” are all weed. In general, the joints that cost more are more likely to be pure. Most coffeeshops have menus, some with descriptions. But if you tell the shopkeepers what you’re looking for, they can help you.
5. Wander Around
Most of us travel to Europe on a budget. If you want the best weed for your few euros, just walk around the city. Just because you blew your cover and they know you’re a tourist doesn’t mean you have to pay tourist prices. Usually, towards the center of Amsterdam, areas that attract a lot of tourists don’t have the best weed. Not the cheapest either.
Bonus: look for coffeeshops with free wi-fi. Not that you need us to tell you that.
6. Rolled Joints
Pre-rolled joints are a luxury. Because in Amsterdam they are experts at cannabis in general, their joints are perfectly rolled. So why go through the hassle yourself? While you’re still in Amsterdam, buy pre-rolled ones. If you’re trying to save a few bucks though, there’s nothing wrong with rolling your own. But do make sure you look at the weed before buying.
If you don’t need a whole roll of papers, or don’t want it, just ask the shopkeepers for one. You can sit there and roll your own. You can also borrow their lighter. Another thing they can give you is permission to smoke on their property. Some coffeeshops are clearly a sit-down place where all customers are smoking. But it they don’t have visible seating, you can still ask them for permission.
8. Miscellaneous Part II
Apart from the weed itself, there are other things coffeeshops have to offer. You can get snacks, candies and umm, coffee. Don’t expect too much from the coffee though.
9. Where To Smoke In Amsterdam?
If you’re not too into the idea of smoking in the coffeeshops, and need a breath of fresh air with your weed — smoke outdoors. It’s technically illegal to do that, but when has that ever stopped you from smoking away in Brooklyn? Seriously though, it’s a law, but not enforced. No one cares.
10. Be Smart
Watch out of stoned bikers. There are plenty. Don’t be one either. Also, when in Amsterdam, you have no reason to buy weed from anywhere other than coffeeshops. If you want other drugs or mushrooms, look for a smartshop. But don’t buy stuff from strangers off the street. Sorry for nagging, we’re not your mother, but seriously, don’t.