Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Wed September 09 2015

Opinion Home | Tales From the Leap

  • Shannon Wolf | September 9, 2015 9:00 PM ET

    Amsterdam: Top Coffee Shops and Crucial Cannabis Info

    Amsterdam: Top Coffee Shops and Crucial Cannabis Info

    PHOTO: The iconic sign, to let everyone know that you’re in the land of weed, yippie! (photos by Shannon Wolf)

    The Van Gogh museum stole my heart, and there is plenty to recommend in Amsterdam outside of the coffee shops, but let's be real: when you're here, you're going to at least sample the cannabis offerings.

    It was like high school all over again, except here it’s legal and you don’t need to worry about arguing with your parents over your bloodshot eyes…

    Okay mom, I got high.

    I waited until 12:00 p.m., stood at the downstairs bar at The Bulldog and pretended like I knew the difference between ______ and _______ while staring excitedly at the screen in front of me.  I decided to wait until someone even less knowledgeable than me was advised to get the White Widow, which I also ordered a few minutes later.

    It is now nearing 2:00 p.m. and I have a beautifully rolled joint in hand (thanks to my new friend sitting on the stool next to me). The 14-year-old inside of me was singing “bad to the bone na na na na nah” and I smiled as I lit up for the first time in a coffee shop.

    Within minutes, I was as high as a kite and it was hands down the best high — like being on a cloud or wrapped in a blanket. I felt cozy, happy… and I craved chocolate.

    I left The Bulldog with new friends, happy and baked. With sunglasses on and smiles plastered across our faces, we were ready to go on an adventure.  We stood there for a minute or so just outside of the doorframe, looked at each other and couldn’t seem to remember why we had left the coffee shop in the first place. Our indecision resulted in a domino effect of uncontrollable laughing. Eventually, the smoke cleared and we remembered our hunt for the perfect chocolate.

    I’m not going to tell you how many times we forgot where we were going as we wandered the sun-filled streets, or how long it took to find the perfect chocolate bar. But what I will tell you is that we found it. When we walked into that candy store, awestruck by every Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup imaginable, I swear the heavens opened up and a choir of angels sang as I purchased my package of peanut butter cups in all its glory and devoured them just as quickly.

    It was the best thing I ever ate.

    PHOTO: I would like to call this diptych “The Hunt for the Perfect Chocolate” or “What White Widow Did to Me.”

    If museums aren’t your thing and you came for the coffee shops and party scene, keep reading:

    The 411 On Drugs

    • Soft drugs such as cannabis and mushrooms are still in fact legal as long as you are over the age of 18.

    • Hard drugs are illegal.

    • Mushrooms are known as "Philosopher’s Stone Truffles" in Amsterdam.

    • Smoking tobacco inside is illegal but some coffee shops will turn a blind eye towards it.

    • If you’re going to buy pre-rolled joints, your best bet is to go to The Other Side coffee shop. Otherwise, just buy loose.

    • The cannabis in Amsterdam is STRONG and will knock you on your face so take it slowly. Also, remember that mushrooms are psychedelics, so be prepared and, again, go slowly.

    • A coffee shop is different than a “coffee shop” or a “cafe.” The first one is where they sell weed. The others are where you buy coffee.

    • Best weed for newbies: White Widow.

    Top Coffee Shops

    • The Bulldog: Most well-known, friendly and informative staff. Great cannabis.

    • DampKring: Famous due to the “Oceans 12” movie and a favorite among locals. Standard prices and good green.

    • Trinity: Sick of tourists and inflated prices? Head a little out of the city center for a local favorite.

    • De Rokerij: Great atmosphere, decent green.

    • The Greenhouse: In the red-light district and famous for “The Haze” which won the Cannabis Cup.

    • Hunters Cafe: In the red-light district — Prices are a tad cheaper than other shops. No tobacco allowed here.

    • Mellow Yellow: First officially licensed coffee shop dating back to the 1960s.

    • Wonder Bar Two: In the red-light district — Nice psychedelic/relaxed vibe with comfortable seating.

    Top Spacecakes (Cannabis Edibles)

    • Baba

    • Hillstreet Blues

    Top Smartshops (for Magic Truffles)

    • Tatanka Amsterdam

    • Kokopelli

    PHOTO: It is an experience in itself walking through the red-light district, but a little disappointing when all you see is people in display cases on their cellphones. 

    Here’s the Best Places to Stay, Party and Eat:

    Top Hostels (With Budget Blowing Prices)

    • St Christopher's at The Winston: Party Hostel (€40.90 a dorm)

    • The Flying Pig Uptown/Downtown Hostel: Stoner Hostel (€30.90 a dorm)

    Top Clubs

    • Canvas

    • Disco Dolly

    • Supperclub

    • Club Up

    Top Bars

    • Paepeneiland

    • Joe’s Garage

    • Brouwerij de Prael

    • Roest


    • Poffertjes (mini pancakes) at The Pancake Bakery.

    • Stroopwafel: Two (very) thin, hot waffles oozing with caramel: found on every street corner or in the Lindenmarkt’s Saturday market.

    • Fries with the famous “patatje oorlog” at Manneken Pis.

More Amsterdam


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Shannon Wolf Tales From the Leap

Shannon Wolf Shannon Wolf is a freelance photographer and writer, traveling across the globe with an open itinerary and no intent of stopping. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she left behind a fast paced life to truly live and not just exist in an attempt to inspire others to follow their bliss. At age 26, Shannon has visited 20+ countries on four continents around the world. She has travelled overland by chicken-bus and tuk-tuks, hitchhiked by fruit trucks and through islands on horse and buggy. She has slept in the jungles of Nicaragua, on benches in London, secluded hidden beaches and she’s only getting started.
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