Although they are called coffeeshops (due to their origin in the 1970’s hippy movement) they do not actually sell any coffee. The term is derived from the fact that cannabis and hashish were sold illegally in cafes, such as the Mellow Yellow and Paradiso, while regular bars did not do so and therefore were considered more ‘secret’. Dutch law does make a distinction between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ drugs, which has led to the existence of Amsterdam’s unique coffeeshop culture in a legal grey area, unlike fully regulated smart shops that only sell psychoactive truffles. Coffee shops in the Netherlands

While many Dutch cities have their own coffeeshops, the capital remains home to some of Europe’s best. The city’s dazzling array of spaces, some of which boast a classy speakeasy vibe, cater to visitors and locals alike.

In the past, some politicians and local residents have tried to limit the amount of space that’s available for these shops. But, the majority of the Dutch population supports the coffeeshops and see them as an important part of their country’s tolerant culture.

As a general rule, you need to be 18 years or older to enter a coffee shop and you will need to show your ID card any time you want to buy something there. The majority of the coffeeshops in the Netherlands also ask you to be polite and respectful and they do not welcome people who are aggressive or disruptive. They may also refuse entry to a person who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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