The best Amsterdam coffeeshops

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Drug wars are rarely won, something the Dutch acknowledged in 1976 when they decriminalised marijuana and hash. Since then, the laws on cannabis have always been fuzzy, and it has never technically been legal. As for over-the-counter sales, coffeeshops weren't legalised until 1980. Amsterdam coffeeshops are under continual scrutiny and must regularly dance with the law. They can legally sell to you, but cannot buy from growers - the legislators assume that ganja magically appears in the storeroom. It's illegal to smoke tobacco in any working environment and this includes, perversely, coffeeshops. You can still smoke 'pure' weed, and many shops have sealed smoking rooms for ciggies. But fret not: Mary Jane has had a rough ride since the beginning, but she still enjoys more freedom here than just about anywhere else.


In terms of ambience, every establishment is different. Some offer amazing food, others are great for lounging. Some have a terrible atmosphere, but supply the best hash in town. Others have it all. The following list is our guidelines for what a great coffeeshop can be. With roughly 250 in Amsterdam, you could easily stumble across your own. Coffeeshops are banned from advertising, so some of the websites listed here don't reveal addresses or are fan sites. Thus information is not always strictly accurate, and operational telephone numbers can be few and far between. In other words, it's all suitably hazy.


Abraxas

  • Critics choice

Tucked away down a narrow alley, this lively shop is a tourist hot-spot. The staff are friendly, internet is free and chess boards are plentiful - as are the separate rooms connected by spiral staircases. They also have a healthy-sized drug menu, including half a dozen

  1. Jonge Roelensteeg 12-14
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Amnesia

  • Critics choice

Located off the main tourist routes, Amnesia is often cool and quiet, though it occasionally fills up with locals. Their pre-rolled joints are strong yet highly smokeable, and the food and drinks menu (ice cream, cakes and home-made smoothies) is a stoner's delight.

  1. Herengracht 133
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Barney's

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This small smoker's empire on the Harlemmerstraat includes a coffeeshop (at street number 102) and two toking-friendly bars that serve alcohol, Barney's Farm (number 98) and Barney's Uptown (number 105), with some of the best coffeeshop food around. The decor is

  1. Haarlemmerstraat 102
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Coffeeshop Katsu

  • Critics choice

On a pedestrian street, just a few steps away from the Albert Cuyp market, Katsu is decidedly homely with all its potted plants and dim, cosy lighting. Katsu’s cannabis selection (split between Jamaican, Mexican and ‘Nederwiet’ strains) comes highly recommended

  1. 1e van der Helststraat 70, De Pijp
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Dampkring

  • Critics choice

Known for its unforgettable (even by stoner standards) interior, the visual experience acquired from Dampkring's decor could make a mushroom trip look grey. Moulded walls and sculpted ceilings are covered in deep auburns laced with caramel-coloured wooden panelling,

  1. Handboogstraat 29
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De Rokerij

  • Critics choice

A marvellous discovery on an otherwise hideous touristy street by Leidseplein, De Rokerij is an Aladdin's cave. Lit by wall-mounted candles and beautiful metal lanterns, it's decorated with colourful Indian art and a variety of seating (ranging from mats on the floor

  1. Lange Leidsedwarsstraat 41
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Dutch Flowers

  • Critics choice

Squeezed on a little corner near the copious book and art sales on the Spui, this small shop has all its decor slightly askew - even the CD rack. It's known for exceptional, high-grade hash, including pre-rolled joints. The large window up front boasts a truly

  1. Singel 387
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Greenhouse

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

This legendary coffeeshop tenders highly potent weed with prices to match. They've won the Cannabis Cup over 30 times and, with the Grand Hotel next door, occasional celebrities stop by to get hammered. The vibe inside has grown a bit commercial, but it's still worth a

  1. Oudezijds Voorburgwal 191
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Greenhouse Effect

  • Critics choice

This snug shop is shaped like a long, sleek train carriage with a polished interior and high-quality ganja. It tends to fill up fast, but they have a separate space operating a similar policy under the same name next door. There you'll find a full bar, regular DJs and,

  1. Warmoesstraat 53
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Grey Area

  • Critics choice

Run by two blokes living the modern American dream: get the f*@k out of America. They did so by opening this stellar coffeeshop, which offers some of the best weed and hash on the planet (try the Bubble Gum or Grey Mist Crystals). Also on offer are large glass bongs, a

  1. Oude Leliestraat 2
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Hill Street Blues

  • Critics choice

With comfy couches and natural lighting via some well-placed windows, this cosy corner on the Nieuwmarkt is ideal for a mellow high. Delectable milkshakes, smoothies, space cookies and space truffles are also worth indulging in. But if harder and louder is more to your

  1. Nieuwmarkt 14
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Homegrown Fantasy

  • Critics choice

This brightly lit shop bears an ever-changing lineup of artwork, tables with chess boards and a UV light in the toilet that makes your pee a trippy colour. The ganja's all organic and Dutch-grown, including their famous Cheese weed, and the (non-alcoholic) drink

  1. Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 87A
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Kashmir Lounge

  • Critics choice

Lit with little beyond candlelight, Kashmir may seem too dark at first, but once your eyes adjust, it's an opulent cavern of Indian tapestries, ornate tiles, hand-carved walls and cushions swathed in zebra and cheetah prints. With a multitude of obscure corners and

  1. Jan Pieter Heijestraat 85-87
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La Tertulia

  • Critics choice

This mellow mother-and-daughter-run joint is decorated with plenty of plants, a little waterfall and lots of sunlight, which balances harmoniously with their all-bio buds and scrumptious weed brownies. Two floors provide space for relaxation, quiet reading or gazing at

  1. Prinsengracht 312
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Mr. K.

  • Critics choice

The only coffeeshop that looks like it's run by a hippie stoner (which it is). It's jammed full of knick-knacks and antiques, all for sale: old kitchenware, funky lamps, little tables, a hookah, even a saw. Sit among the bric-a-brac and smoke the modest weed. Simply a

  1. 2e Laurierdwarsstraat 44
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Paradox

  • Critics choice

One of the most easygoing coffeeshops around. This down-to-earth joint, with its understated decor and bare wooden tables, feels like a friendly corner café - with the kitchen to match. Substantial foodstuffs include sandwiches, soups, burgers and shakes. A note to

  1. 1e Bloemdwarsstraat 2
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Rusland

  • Critics choice

Known as the longest-running coffeeshop in all Amsterdam, this 'Russian' den has hardwood floors and colourful cushions that complement an efficient multi-level design. The top floor has a bar with forty different loose teas, down below is a decent pipe display, and a

  1. Rusland 16
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Siberië

  • Critics choice

Friendly and mellow, Siberië has regular free horoscope readings, open mic nights, exhibitions, and DJs at weekends. There's also internet access and plenty of board games, making it a cool place to while away any rainy day with great coffee or one of their forty

  1. Brouwersgracht 11
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Tweede Kamer

  • Critics choice

Small and intimate, this shop embodies the refined look and feel of old jazz sophistication. Aided by a bakery around the corner, their spacecakes are sweet and lovely. The hash is highly regarded, but seating is extremely limited (it's really rather tiny inside), and

  1. Heisteeg 6
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Yo-Yo

  • Critics choice

Located on a leafy street near Sarphatipark and the Albert Cuypmarkt, this chill spot lacks the commercialism and crowds found in more central shops. The herb is all-organic and it's run by a pleasant woman who bakes hot apple pie every day.

  1. 2e Jan van der Heijdenstraat 79
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