I should start by saying that with only a few exceptions, pretty much all the coffeeshops in Amsterdam are cool in their own way. It’s a bit like the “dive bar” thing where sometimes the coolest and most enjoyable places are the ones everyone else ignores. And then when a dive bar gets really popular it loses a bit of its appeal for the former regulars. Yeah, that sounds a bit pretentious, but my point is that there is no such thing as the best coffeeshop for everyone for every occasion.
You can pretty much get great weed and hash at any of Amsterdam’s coffeeshops, and even if you couldn’t it’s simple enough to buy what you want wherever you want, and then spend your time in the place you like most. So the supposed quality of weed shouldn’t determine where you hang out, even if you prefer to buy in one particular place. ‘Grey Area – All Areas’ is known for having some of the strongest weed in Amsterdam, but it’s tiny and really no fun inside. Buy it there if you like, then go buy some mango tea at the place you feel most comfortable and spark up your stash.
So here are my Top five, in alphabetical order:
in the Red Light District
I’m a huge fan of trance music, but I don’t blame you if you can’t stand it. Baba is a comfortable little shop with great views from its many windows on a busy corner of Warmeostraat in the Red Light District. They open around 8 each morning and close at 1 a.m. every night, and trance and vocal house is blasting out of their excellent sound system all day every day. Even if you aren’t a big trance fan, you might be surprised at how nice it sounds after a few tokes. Baba also sells very good spacecakes and other space items.
Lange Leidsedwarsstraat 41
The original location of this 4-shop chain is mixed in between all the restaurants in the Leidseplein area and I’d have to say it’s my favorite coffeeshop in Amsterdam. It’s actually hard to find unless you are looking closely for it, but once you find it you’ll discover that it’s usually packed inside. There is a really classy Indian theme in the place, and live DJs playing chill tunes on weekends. They used to sell booze and the wait staff always consisted of stunning women, but it’s still really nice anyway.
Hill Street Blues
in the Red Light District
This place is about a 30-second walk from Baba, and they used to have an excellent happy hour deal from 6 to 9 each evening, back in the days when coffeeshops could also sell booze. Hill Street Blues’ dumb name comes from the fact that it’s next to a police station, but don’t hold that against it. The cozy room in the back of the main floor has a great view of the little harbor that sits in front of Centraal Station. There is a game room downstairs that never seems to get much use, and they also sell a variety of space muffins and cookies and such.
Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 87a
behind the Kalverstraat shopping area
This place feels a modern art museum inside, and the pieces on display always somehow become a bit more interesting the longer you are there. It’s much bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside, and it’s easy to miss if you don’t know where it is. They are known for high quality weed as well as a black light in the men’s room that is a frequent topic of conversation among patrons. This isn’t on a really touristy street, although it’s very easy to reach from either Centraal Station or Dam Square. It’s really one of a kind and I highly recommend at least peaking in if you are in the area.
just off Leidsestraat near Leidseplein
You might consider this an Amsterdam coffeeshop equivalent of a dive bar because it’s a bit out of the way and rarely crowded. But people who find it are rewarded with the only coffeeshop with an excellent canal view (the lovely Prinsengracht in this case) in the whole city. The sound system is good and the staff are usually very friendly. Their internet café area in the back used to be the biggest and best in the city before Easyeverything moved in. This place also used to sell booze, which made it even cooler, but the canal-side location still makes it great. During summer the front doors open up and the outdoor seating can feel epic along this beautiful canal.
To find all these on a really good map and read further details, check out Lemming’s Amsterdam Coffeeshop Directory, which is definitely the best coffeeshop directory out there.
Again, these are my favorites and I recommend them, but there are loads of cool places I’ve never even been inside. What is your favorite and why?
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