Amsterdam is among Europe’s most welcoming and fun cities. And frankly, the coffeeshops take this feeling to extremes. These shops can be some of the most friendly and chill places on the planet to visit. After all, it is hub for stoners from around the world to meet and be themselves, free of oppression and judgment. You won’t find too many uptight people. Even so, there are some things to consider when it comes to local etiquette. Written and unwritten rules exist here. Violating them will quickly make you stand out as a “newbie” to the cannabis scene. Don’t worry; we’re not taking anything too serious. Still, if you avoid these list of Coffeeshop Don’ts you’ll fit in like an Amsterdam regular.

#1 Wear a Hat, Hood, or Sunglasses

If you walk into a coffeeshop wearing a hat, hood, or sunglasses, you will likely be asked to remove them. The explanation is usually “security”. They disguise your identity to varying degrees, and these businesses handle a lot of weed and cash on a constant basis. Of course they are on-guard. They are not immune to crime. Many coffeeshop owners and staff have been robber over the years. And on the other hand, let’s be frank. Sunglasses indoors? That’s kind of a douchey move, isn’t it? Just take these off before stepping in, and you’re fine.

#2 Take Pictures without Asking

The coffeeshop business is still a quasi-legal industry in Holland. Advertising is not allowed in Amsterdam. There is also a lot of illegal activity that goes on to support these shops, and perhaps some stigma about working in them. With these things in mind, some owners are very “old school”. They shun digital attention. If you pull out your camera in one of these shops and start snapping away, you may get yelled at, or worse, thrown out. Other shop owners are remarkably open with their customers taking pictures. Many even encourage social media sharing, as they understand this “free advertising” drives a lot of their business and customer connections with the shop. How will you know what kind of shop you are in? Simply ask. They will likely appreciate the respect.

#3 Over Tip

In our experience, the Dutch are very practical with tipping. At restaurants, a 15% service charge is usually included. Not exactly a tip, so most will leave a couple of euros per person extra, 5 if the service was exceptional. At coffeeshops, a couple of euros with your order would no doubt be appreciated, and is encouraged if you like the experience. You can give a little more if the service is great, but take heed. Throwing around euros like a drunken rock star trying to “make it rain” will not gain you much respect in Amsterdam. In fact, many are likely to take such “big shot” behavior as obnoxious and disrespectful.

#4 Be a Price Snob

This one falls under the heading of “just some good advice”. Here goes. Don’t always buy the most expensive thing on the menu. It isn’t necessarily the most potent, or best tasting, or least sedative, etc. The Dutch are practical business people like any other. Especially in the city center, a lot of owners know that many tourists like to shop by price… high price. Where is the best place to put that decent strain you picked up for steal? How about at the very top of the menu with the highest price tag? Can you say “margins!?” Of course, not every shop operates like this. But it is a good reminder to use your nose and experience first. Take the time to check what you are buying. There is a lot of great weed in the ‘Dam. Pay top price only if it’s really worth it.

#5 Smoke Tobacco

Europe’s love for mixed cannabis/tobacco spliffs took a big hit some years back, when tobacco smoking was restricted in coffeeshops. In order for this to be allowed in a coffeeshop today, it must have a separate smoking lounge. This area is to be closed off from the main selling area, so the staff and other patrons not wanting to be exposed can have respite from it. Given the limited size of many shops, a separate closed off tobacco room is not widely feasible. As such, most permit cannabis smoking on their premises only. If you see a separate closed lounge, you’re probably in one of the shops that does permit tobacco. Just ask first, to be sure. Of course, you can also search for shops with tobacco lounges right here at We’ve got you covered.

This next bit is important. Some coffeeshops seem to turn a blind eye to the law, or choose not to chase down every customer that might be in violation. As such, you are likely to see some mixed joint smoking during your travels, which shouldn’t be allowed. Please, don’t join in and ignore this rule. Shops have been given suspensions (temporary closures) for not enforcing the tobacco ban. A closure costs these shops a great deal of revenue, and there are also lost wages for staff. It is just bad for everyone. There are plenty of coffeeshops in Amsterdam that have invested in a tobacco room for you. Patronize them, and hold off on tobacco use in the others.

#6 Touch the Weed

A reader recently reminded us of some that what was so obvious to us, we completely overlooked it. So we’re adding #6 to the list – keep your grubby hands off the weed when you are at the counter. Cannabis buds are fragile, packed with tiny trichomes that are full of precious cannabinoids. You know when you break up weed with your fingers, and they get all sticky? Those are broken trichomes all over your hands. That’s the stuff you are paying for! So please, leave the buds alone. Look but don’t touch. We want them as perfect as possible when we make a purchase.


1 Review
Wish I'd seen these the 1st time I went

Been Amsterdam a few times and learned "rules" as I went along but wish I'd seen this post 1st

August 2019

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05 Sep 2016

By William L.