Amsterdam Coffeeshops
You Could Be In For A Surprise

But... Things May Be Changing

The scene in Amsterdam coffeeshops is changing, but we still want you to know about them while the rules are challenged and refined.

Oh yea... coffeeshops are different from coffee houses and cafés...

They all sound like places where you could stop for a bite to eat...


If you're traveling in the Netherlands, it will help to know the difference.

The New Law

We originally wrote this page a few years ago to give you fair warning what to expect when traveling in Holland... in case you didn't already know... but we have to tell you that things are changing.

The Dutch government has passed laws that will come into effect in the next few months if they are not stricken down... but we will leave the information here... for historical record, and in case things change more slowly for locals and tourists alike.

As things stand as of this writing, tourists and locals may still visit coffeeshops. 

 What Is A Coffeeshop In The Netherlands?

Amsterdam is one destination where you could be in for more of a surprise than you planned for if you just wander into a coffeeshop for a cup of coffee.

They may look like a normal restaurant from the outside, like this one, but in the Netherlands, coffeeshops are totally different from cafes, restaurants, and even bars.

Walk into one, and you're apt to get a buzz just from the smoke... and we're not talking cigarettes here.

Amsterdam Coffeeshops Are For Marijuana

Some Amsterdam coffeeshops LOOK psychedelic

In Amsterdam coffeeshops are where the Dutch and tourists go to buy and smoke marijuana.... pot.... cannabis.


Yep, very little coffee here. Since the 1970s, the Dutch have been tolerant of "soft drugs", and it is legal for coffeeshops to sell up to five grams of cannabis per person to their customers.

You can smoke there or take it with you. There are laws that govern these shops. They can't sell alcohol and cannabis on the same premises for instance. It's ironic that it's become harder to smoke cigarettes in public places than to smoke dope. Tobacco laws around Europe make smoking cigarettes more of a problem!

Some tourists go looking for Amsterdam's coffeeshops. Once inside, the bartender... yes, bartender... will give you a menu... yes a menu!

Amsterdam coffeeshops confuse some tourists!

The menus tell you what kind of pot is available and where it came from. The bartender (or sometimes the patrons) give advice on what to try.

You'll find a selection of marijuana and hashish... and how you can smoke them. (The new law is limiting how strong any of this can be.)

Wow, did you know there were choices?

But... Where Can You Go For Food?

There are plenty of traditional restaurants and cafes and bars all over the city if you're not feeling quite so adventurous.

If you're looking for that cup of coffee... you might want to look for a coffee house or koffiehuis in Dutch.

And Then There Are Brown Cafes

Amsterdam brown cafes can be cozy

For a tamer touch of local color, you might look for a brown cafe.

Brown cafes are local hangouts... they're sort of like pubs in England... places to get a simple meal and a beer... and meet locals.

Some have been around for years, so they'll look well worn. They may seem old and crowded. Think of them as cozy, and expect a warm welcome.

Don't Be Embarrassed

Even if you wander into Amsterdam coffeeshops, you don't need to feel embarrassed. People will be friendly and steer you to a restaurant.... or help you choose a soft drug.  They're used to it.

So when you're in the Netherlands, should you try Amsterdam coffeeshops and brown cafes? That's up to you, but at least now you know what you'll be getting into!

Happy travels... even if you don't travel the world... just remember that life is a journey... embrace and enjoy it! Judy and Mark

Curious about what else we've written about?  Search our site for a destination or travel tip.

Protected by Copyscape Online Copyright Infringement Tool

But... We'd love to have you share this page or comment on it…
Thanks, Judy and Mark

Go to International Travel Tips l Europe Travel Tips
Hotel and B&B Tips l Packing Lists and Tips
Go from Amsterdam Coffeeshops to MouseToursTravels Home Page

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Did it help with your travel planning and preparation? Eager to leave on that next vacation? Please leave your tips or comments in the box below.

Ready For A New Adventure?

We escape by traveling…
But there are more ways to escape. 
Work on something you LOVE…
With A Website
SBI Teaches You Everything

First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life

Timely Tips

Spring is here in the Northern Hemisphere...
The almonds and mustard are blooming
The grapes will soon bud out

California Spring - Grapes, Almonds and mustard

It's Fall in the Southern Hemisphere
Great time for an
Australian Wine Tasting Drive.

It's a great time to travel almost anywhere in the world!

DreamTrips can get you traveling sooner and cheaper that you thought possible

Are you planning your travels?
The weather can be changeable, so be sure to pack layers and some rain gear...

See all of our Packing Lists and Tips.

We're busy planning our travels
The Central Asian Silk Road should be an adventrure!

Where Do You Want To Go?
Things to See in Europe
Travel In America
Does Africa Call?

Don't just dream about it...
Start making plans!

Custom Tour Planning List
International Travel Planning Tips
Foreign Is Fun - Not Scary!

Check Your Passport
Do you have yours? Is it up to date?
Get Your Passports and Visas


Search MouseToursTravels
Travel questions or destination info?
Find our answers faster..


We want you to feel comfortable out in the world and on our pages - so surf away in your own language...

Updated Tips & New Travel Stories

  1. Travel Security Alert Packing Guide - Tips To Comply With Airport Security Rules

    Stay alert to what you can take and where to pack it when you fly. Our travel security alert packing guide will help you prepare for your flight and get through security checkpoints.

    Read More

  2. Acceptable Identification Document For Travel - What Qualifies?

    When you go through airports, you need an acceptable identification document, so what qualifies?

    Read More

  3. 2016 Travels - International and Domestic Adventures

    Our 2016 travels took us on domestic and international adventures… to look for culture, wildlife and antique airplanes.

    Read More

Two Ways To Like Us!

Like Our Site Top Left
Like Our Fanpage Below
Thank You!

More On
BeNeLux Countries


Amsterdam Coffee Shops 

Amsterdam Red Light District

Belgian Beers




Trappist Monastery Beers

Netherlands Aviodrome

What Our Readers Say

"I tried Pepto-Bismol on a recent trip, and it really worked.  Now I want to read all of your travel tips."
--Joe, New York

"Thanks again for the wonderful information, especially as regards motion sickness."
-- Didi, Oregon

"I keep coming back to your web site.  I love that I can travel all over the world with you!  I recommended your site to a friend of mine who has been to many of the same places you have."
--Boyce, California