Amsterdam is a city known for a variety of attractions like the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House which helps the municipality pull in an estimated 14 million visitors each year. Although the aesthetic beauty of Vondelpark and the Royal Palace has something to do with the tourism spike, the city's reputation for its tolerance for marijuana usage in public is undoubtedly a major factor as well since it first decriminalized the substance in 1976 and weed enthusiasts were empowered to make the pilgrimage soon after.
According to Newsweek, "About a third of all visitors to Amsterdam step into one of its coffee shops at some point; nationally, the number is one in five."
While some people are only looking for a potent strain of marijuan to try, and others want a location that sits in a trendy neighborhood where they can bounce between smoking and commerce, the deluge of choices can often seem daunting.
Have no fear. We've sifted through the over 200 coffee shops to find five great places that should suit your needs.
Drawing its name from the short story, The Little Witch, by Otfried Preußler, Abraxas has been a mainstay in the Amsterdram coffee/marijuana culture for over 20 years and is tucked away at the mouth of an alley near the Royal Palace.
Lauded for its dreamlike interior, celestial lighting, hand-crafted mosaics and spiral staircases, their weed menu boasts several prominent strains like Hawaiian Haze, O.G. Master Kush and White Widow as well as hash offerings like Warm Ears and Afghan Cream.
As an added bonus, Abraxas also offers patrons free Wi-Fi and a treasure trove of boardgames to play should you want to take in the scene without feeling the pressure of indulging in a smoker's ritual.
The visual references inside De Dampkring range from Arabic to Bohemian - with sprinkles of Budha throughout the shop - which all serve as a welcoming indicator that people of all backgrounds and faiths are welcome inside. If that's not enough, the shop also has a cat named "Bowie" intermingling with guests who has been labeled "the cat of cannabis."
Located not far from the famous Amsterdam Flower market, the place boasts a number of favorite strains like Ceres Hilton with a "juicy orange" aroma, Green Crack which is a "sweet and fruity" indica, and Devils Brew which is a "rich and sweet" indica.
Additionally, their menu is very "first-timer friendly" as it clearly states how high a person should expect to get after smoking. Ranging from, "long song stoned," to "energetic high," De Dampkring is attempting to add something of a "spice level" to their menu as if a person were sampling Indian cuisine for the first time.
The Bulldog Palace
Housed in a former police station on the Leidseplein in the city’s nightlife district, many assumed that The Bulldog Palace was merely an April Fools Joke after opening its doors on the day of hijinks in 1985. However, this was no publicity stunt and was actually the latest offering from the group responsible for The Bulldog No. 90 which was the first coffeeshop in Amsterdam and laid the benchmark for the contemporary experience.
The interior remains an homage to the former police headquarters - complete with criminal artifacts and a decommissioned jail cell which delight both first-timers and frequent visitors.
Featuring tried-and-true strains like White Widow, Northern Lights and Purple Haze, there is also full-kitchen cranking out items like burgers and grilled cheese to satiate and stifle the munchies.
Situated near the Jordaan area with scenic views of the Prinsengracht canal, Amnesia is an upscale coffeeshop which more closely resembles a restaurant or craft beer haven thanks to the wooden bar that lines the periphery, high stools and purple mood lighting.
The menu at Amnesia features popular strains like Red Cherry Berry, Pineapple Chunk, N.Y.C.D., Laughing Buddha, Amnesia Lemon and Vanilla Kush and award winners like LSD, Acapulco Gold and Real Amnesia Haze and which took home the top prize at the Cannabis Cup in 2008 and the Sativa Cup in 2010 and 2012, respectively.
Like other top shops, Amnesia also has several culinary options including ice cream, cakes and home-made smoothies.
Barney's Coffeeshop is part of a quartet of businesses owned by the proprietors which include The Farm (for beer), Uptown (for food) and the Lounge (for a more sophisticated occasion).
The coffeeshop is located in 500-year-old landmark building on Haarlemmerstraat in the original building that the shop existed in when it opened 23-years-ago and features décor inspired by an old fashioned apothecary.
In 2014, Barney's took home the top prize at the Cannabis Cup for "Best Coffeeshop Flowers" for their Cookies Kush and "Best NederHash by a Coffeeshop" for their Cookies-Ice Cream.
As an added bonus, patrons of Barney's Coffeeshop can bring their purchases to any of the sister locations to enjoy.