Smoking a legal joint is a popular pastime in Amsterdam, but where are the city's best coffeeshops? Our roving reporter, Gavin Haines, has the enviable task of finding out.
1) Green House Centrum
A garter’s toss from the red light district, serious smokers make a beeline for this canal-side coffeeshop, which serves up an award-winning selection of skunk. The recipient of numerous High Times gongs, this coffeeshop is very popular so getting a chair can be a tad tricky. As well as great weed, this venerable establishment serves drinks, snacks and a jolly ambiance.
Oudezijds Voorburgwal 191
2) De Dampkring
Another High Times golden child, Da Dampkring had a cameo in the Hollywood film Ocean’s Eleven, which is why blurry pictures of Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Matt Damon adorn the walls – somehow they manage to fit in with the psychedelic, sixties décor. The warm colours, hackneyed bar and indoor plants conjure a laid-back living room vibe, which attracts a youthful crowd. The weed is top-drawer, particularly the hash.
Overlooking Herengracht, Amnesia is a cool, contemporary coffeeshop with an Oriental vibe; the décor borrows heavily from modern Southeast Asia, while Buddha figures festoon the bar. A fine selection of gear is sold behind the bar and it’s not particularly smoky inside – that might sound like a weird thing to praise a coffeeshop for, but its extractor fans mean you can enjoy the agreeable effects of your spliff, without being knocked out by your neighbour’s reefer.
4) The Spirit
Although The Spirit looks a little tired nowadays, that’s all part of its charm. Located in the trendy Jordaan district, this is a place for the active smoker; there are pool tables and various arcade games inside, which give you the opportunity to slay zombies while you toke. The Spirit is off the tourist trail (it’s a few doors down from a mattress showroom), so expect to be mixing it with local smokers. Patrons can also expect decent weed and a warm ambiance.
A pub-cum-coffeeshop in the heart of Amsterdam, this venerable establishment is a lively place to drink and smoke. Sealed off from the rest of the bar, its smoking rooms look out onto the busy street outside and are prime for people watching. For something more intimate cross the street to the sister shop, also called Kadinsky, which offers a more traditional take on the Dutch coffeeshop with its fine weed menu, hot beverages and laid-back vibe.
6) De Tweede Kamer
If you fancy chewing the fat with fellow smokers, then pull up a pew in De Tweede Kamer. Barely big enough to swing a spliff in, the diminutive dimensions of this coffeeshop encourages sociability. Its heroic weed selection, great music and off-the-beaten-path feel (it nestles down a narrow side street) make De Tweede Kamer popular with locals and those discerning enough to sniff it out. Getting a seat here is rarely easy, but do persevere: once you’re in, you won’t want to leave.
7) Barney’s Coffeeshop
One of the hippest coffeeshops in Amsterdam, this place looks more like a trendy bar than a hangout for tokers. There are four establishments to choose from in Barney’s burgeoning empire (Barney’s Farm, Barney’s Uptown and Barney’s Lounge are the others), but the Coffeeshop, which sells award-winning bud, is where serious smokers head to. A warm welcome and sophisticated vibe adds to the appeal.
8) Grey Area
When Cypress Hill visit Amsterdam they take hits from the bong in Grey Area, a cosy coffeeshop that has also welcomed celebrity smokers Snoop Dogg, Lou Reed and Woody Harrelson. Getting a seat can be an issue here – this place is small and oversubscribed – but the breezy atmosphere, helpful staff and first-rate ganga make it worth persevering with.
Oude Leliestraat 2
9) Happy Feelings
Living up to its name, this contemporary coffeeshop does indeed send punters away feeling warm and fuzzy inside. This sleek and sophisticated establishment might not have the best selection of wacky backy (or drinks for that matter), but it’s a great place to sit back, skin up and while away an afternoon. If you’re feeling particularly partial to the heady effects of weed, fire up one of the colour-changing bongs and let your mind wander.
Though off the tourist trail, Ibiza’s extensive marijuana menu pulls in smokers from far and wide. Located in the uber-hip De Pijp district, this coffeeshop is a place where punters can kick back on comfortable couches, commandeer a private booth or gobble some space cake and chat to the resident cat. The staff have a hard-earned reputation for friendliness and the timeworn décor gives the place a homely feel.