The law covering soft drugs in the Netherlands is complex. But from a visitors' point of view, all you really need know is that coffeeshops are places where you can buy and smoke cannabis and hashish, and get stoned to your heart's content, with impunity. At least, for the time being...In late 2010, the new right-of-centre Dutch government announced plans to stop foreigners from buying cannabis in coffeeshops. But so important is the coffee-shop culture to Amsterdam's tourist industry, you can be sure that this radical change will not happen speedily, or without a fight.
Here's what you need to know as the situation stands now.
You can buy ready-rolled joints (from around 3.5 euros), or the wherewithal to roll your own. Ask to see the menu: in reputable places, it should spell out the strength of what you're buying. Coffeeshops also sell space cakes, hot and soft drinks and sometimes basic snacks, but they are no longer allowed to sell alcohol.
In a Kafkaesque twist, a recently introduced ban on tobacco smoking in public places is intended to apply to coffeeshops. Many provide herbal tobacco substitutes to add to joints, and some have designated areas where you are allowed to smoke tobacco - and in reality, of course, it's hard to police whether a joint is mixed with tobacco or not.
Though their numbers are decreasing, there are still around 220 coffeeshops in Amsterdam. Given the sweet smell of dope emanating from them, you probably won't have any difficulty identifying what is, and isn't, a coffeeshop. But if in doubt, look for a green and white rectangular permit sign in the window saying "coffee shop"
MacBike – The largest bike rental chain in Amsterdam, the main MacBike shop can be found near the Central Station (Stationsplein 5) and there are also two smaller shops near Leidseplein (Weteringschans 2) and Waterlooplein (Nieuwe Uilenburgerstraat 116). They are open 7 days a week, and rental prices for a basic bike are €7 for 3 hours, €9.50 for 24 hours, and get cheaper if rented for more than one day. The deposit is €50, and insurance is also available.
Rent A Bike Amsterdam – Located just outside of Dam Square (Damstraat 20-22), this is another good shop for renting a bike, and if you visit their website, you can get a coupon for 10% off. Also open 7 days a week, rental prices for a basic bike are €6.50 for 3 hours, €9.50 for 24 hours, and up, with the option for insurance for an additional fee.
Bike City – Bike City is located in the popular Amsterdam neighborhood of Jordaan, at Bloemgracht 70. They strive to be environmentally friendly and are open 7 days a week. They rent out “inconspicuous” bikes to deter thieves for €10 for 4 hours, €13.50 for 24 hours, and up. They also provide optional insurance for an additional fee. The deposit is €50.
Ultimate Party Pub Crawl
Do you like to party? Book Amsterdam's most famous pub crawl and party like never before. This walking tour is the ultimate way to discover the city and its numerous bars and nightclubs. You'll meet other travelers and share your stories over a drink or two.
This trouble-free evening gives you a taste of the best nightlife Amsterdam has to offer. Your knowledgeable guides will lead you on a journey to handpicked local bars and nightclubs in Amsterdam where you can enjoy one free drink at each stopYou can choose from 2 different routes:
Leidseplein Square is one of Amsterdam's famous areas for nightlife. The square is full of pubs, bars and nightclubs to keep you entertained into the early hours. Delve into the depths of Amsterdam's infamous Red Light District if you dare. You''ll visit many pubs, bars and clubs to keep you dancing until dawn.
Both tours offers you a complete package including access to exclusive venues. Enjoy shots of vodka along the way and party like never before in Holland's capital city.
You must be at least 18 years old to participate in this tour. Photo ID will be required
The Red Light District
Everyone has heard something about the ever-so-famous red light district in Amsterdam. Regardless on what your thoughts and opinions are, it’s absolutely worth your time to see it with your own eyes. It’s the only place in the world of it’s kind. For all you newbies, the red light district is basically an area where all the prostitutes, sex-shops, sex shows, brothels, strip clubs and adult theaters and several bars are located. Prostitution is 100% legal in the Netherlands. In the daytime, the red light district looks like any other part of Amsterdam, with beautiful buildings and canals. At night is when the red lights turn on, the hookers come out, and all the activity happens. There’s really nothing more to say than to see it with your own eyes. If anything, you will at least get a good laugh out of it!