mellow yellow coffeeshop amsterdam

Amsterdam – the city of bicycles, bitterballen and bloodshot eyes. We were 18 when we first visited the city and, like most first-timers, didn’t stray far from the exhilaratingly seedy Red Light District. We did all the usual stuff – ate a lump of microwaved cheddar and bread claiming to be ‘pizza rustica’, tried not to touch the glass at peep shows, drank at places with names like Dutty Sue’s and Father Teresa and sat in coffeeshops coughing at the stench of Ketima hash smoke.

We have visited the city most summers since then, moving away from the Red Light District to more matured pastures. Amsterdam is timelessly beautiful – it’s hard to beat a day on a bike trailing the perfect canals while the 17th-century buildings lean in towards you. There is apple pie, endless curiosity shops, world-class art and a charming pub on every corner.

This most recent trip, though, we decided to venture backward and take another look at the city’s famous coffeeshop scene.

There is one rule to remember when visiting Amsterdam, a ‘coffee house’ (koffie huis) is for coffee, and a ‘coffeeshop’ is for weed. It’s an important detail to remember to save you the painful embarrassment of going up to a bearded barista and asking for a ‘weak space brownie’.

We are anything but relaxed inside coffeeshops. Try as we might to sit back and let the good times roll, we usually end up looking around suspiciously at all the people that seem completely at home among the choking smoke and dub reggae. However, among the most unbearable coffeeshops are a few far more enjoyable ones. Despite rumours that the city is clamping down on marijuana regulations, Amsterdam seems to have stepped up its coffeeshop game. Here are a few that we braved this time around.

Barney’s Coffeeshop

This old timer of the Amsterdam coffeeshop scene is friendly, cosy and winner of the prestigious High Times Cup award. Located inside a 500-year-old building on Haarlemmerstraat, this local favourite is styled like an old apothecary, and each table offers a veritable feast of paraphernalia including vaporisers and digital menus. For a slightly more hectic experience, head down the road to Barney’s Uptown, a ‘smoker friendly’ bar with loud music, cocktails and delicious burgers. Though, quite honestly, everything tastes delicious at this point.

La Tertulia

The exterior of this corner café is a mural paying homage to Amsterdam’s artistic hero, Vincent Van Gogh, while the interior is draped in a paranoia-inducing amount of greenery and giant crystals. This family-run spot has been around since the early 1980s, as popular for its laid back vibe today as ever. The staff are ridiculously friendly, and in the summer months you can get cooked on their canal-side terrace.
Prinsengracht 312

Dampkring

Aside from that one time someone left the bathroom door open as they vomited up their hash brownie, Dampkring is one of the most pleasant coffeeshops in Amsterdam. Clean (again, other than that one time) brick-walled and run by the smiliest of staff, it’s a refreshing step up from some of the more heady spots in the city. Bulldog, we’re talking about you. Head to the vintage shops on Haarlemmerstraat beforehand to pick up beautiful coats, silk scarves and leathers. Or head there afterwards to pick up green felt hats, glittery bandanas, wooden Buddha key rings and all of the other things that seem like a good idea when you’re high.

De Tweede Kamer

It’s pretty hard to get a seat in this glowing, elegant little coffeeshop. But once you do, you’ll be glued there for hours. Trust us.
Heisteeg 6

Grey Area

Compact and cosy, Grey Area is nestled right in the heart of De 9 Straatjes – a dreamy tangle of boutiques and vintage shops. When shopping for antique sketches and chandeliers gets the most of you, head to this pleasant little spot for friendly staff and a clear-cut smoking menu. If it’s good enough for Snoop Dogg and Lou Reed, it’s good enough for us…

Barney’s Coffeeshop

La Tertulia

Dampkring

De Tweede Kamer

Grey Area

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