Coffee shops in the Netherlands (not to be confused with establishments of the bean, barista and latte art variety) are cannabis cafes where you can legally buy, possess and smoke marijuana. They have been part of Dutch culture for decades, thanks to the country’s permissive attitude towards what is classed as a soft drug.
While the Dutch government wants to close them down, many people in the country still support them as they feel that they are a symbol of freedom and tolerance. In recent years however, there has been increasing pressure on the country to tighten up laws on coffeeshops.
Although there are still plenty of high-quality coffeeshops that are open to foreigners in the Netherlands, some municipalities have decided to impose extra rules or restrictions for visitors. In these cases, it is best to ask at your local coffeeshop whether they are open to tourists.
In cities and districts that have opted to allow foreigners to enter their coffeeshops, it is important to keep in mind that the possession of marijuana can still lead to a police record if you are caught. Therefore, you should only visit a coffee shop that is licensed to sell it and always keep in mind that the consumption of marijuana can impair your judgement and ability to drive.
In Arnhem, for example, you can go to Upstairs, a coffeeshop that welcomes everyone over the age of 18. Here you can not only buy marijuana but also play some games such as foosball, chess or pinball and enjoy live music.