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A psychedelic guide to Amsterdam: What to know about getting weird, Dutch-style

Amsterdam travel: What to do and where to stay for your psychedelic trip

The Amsterdam sign in Amsterdam
Red Morley Hewitt / Unsplash

While the rest of the world is finally catching the psychedelic wave, the Netherlands has been ahead of the game for a while now — at least when it comes to psilocybin mushrooms. While the country’s laws regarding so-called “magic” mushrooms have swung back and forth frequently over the past few decades — ultimately resulting in a ban on possession as of 2008 — a legal loophole still allows for the sale, possession, and consumption of psilocybin mushroom “truffles:” the slightly less potent part of a mushroom that grows underground. An entire industry has sprung up as a result.

Accordingly, Amsterdam travel has developed a healthy element of psychedelic tourism. Some people visit the renowned city specifically to indulge in these mushie, trippy goodies, while others come for their own reasons, find themselves tempted by businesses with big, Mario-looking mushroom signs, and adopt a sort of “when in Rome” attitude. Whichever category you happen to fall into, it’s best to go into your Dutch trip with a bit of preparation.

A smart shop in Amsterdam
Nick Hilden / The Manual

What drugs are legal in Amsterdam?

For starters, let’s look at the legality of drugs in general.

Weed and hash are as legal as can be. “Coffee shops” sell the sticky-icky abound, and people smoke quite openly all over the place. It is not uncommon to smell the pungent aroma of pot wafting about restaurant and bar terraces.

As already indicated, mushrooms are a bit more up in the air. While psychedelic mushrooms themselves are illegal, the truffles from whence they sprout — also known as philosopher’s stones — are perfectly legal.

All the other fun stuff — LSD, DMT, cocaine, MDMA, etc. — is more firmly illegal, though still less illegal than in most of the world. If police happen to catch you with small quantities, the worst you can expect is confiscation and maybe a fine. But just maybe.

A festival in the street in Amsterdam.
Matheus Frade / Unsplash

Where to get psychedelic mushrooms in Amsterdam

Psychedelic truffles can be purchased from any of the “smart shops” (what a delightful moniker) that are scattered all over the city. These businesses tend to have the same sort of vibe that you get at a weed or head shop, the primary difference being the presence and emphasis on truffles.

I’m a fan of the Magic Mushroom Gallery, one of the oldest smart shops in town having operated out of its location right in the heart of Amsterdam for nearly 30 years. The shop has a good vibe in general, but I particularly appreciate how they take a moment to touch base with every truffle buyer, asking whether they have experience with the substances and providing a few tips for maximizing safety and enjoyment.

The Magic Mushroom Gallery in Amsterdam
Nick Hilden / The Manual

Where to enjoy psychedelics in Amsterdam

Pretty much anywhere, really. Amsterdam is, to sum it up in a word, chill, and it’s hard to imagine getting bad juju anywhere you go. Watch out for the ubiquitous bikes whizzing all over the place, but other than that, just wander and see where things take you.

If you’re in the mood for a bit of trippy, barry nightlife, check out Stone’s Café Bar and Nightclub, where the neon decor and 4 a.m. closing time make for a solid night of psychedelia. If you’re looking to enjoy a mellow afternoon outdoors, head over to Vondelpark — a massive park near the city’s key museums. And speaking of museums, the fluorescent art museum Electric Ladyland was more or less made for enjoying while under the influence.

Are there side effects of taking psychedelics?

Yes, there are some potential side effects of psychedelics, both short-term and long-term side effects. Before you partake, have a look at the possible side effects.

Short-term side effects can include the following:

  • Altered perception of time and space
  • Changes in mood and emotions
  • Hallucinations
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Panic attacks
  • Confusion

Long-term side effects of psychedelics are less common, but may include:

  • Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder: This is a condition in which people experience flashbacks of psychedelic experiences even after they have stopped using psychedelics.
  • Psychosis: This is a condition in which people lose touch with reality.
  • Cognitive impairment: This can include problems with memory, attention, and decision-making.

The risk of side effects from psychedelics varies depending on the type of psychedelic used, the dose, and the individual user. For example, some psychedelics, such as LSD and psilocybin, are relatively safe, while others, such as salvia divinorum, can have more serious side effects.

Party room at W Amsterdam
Nick Hilden / The Manual

Where to stay in Amsterdam

After a long day of wandering the streets of Amsterdam high as the clouds and wondering whether you’ve been walking over different canals or just the same one again and again, you need a good place to shack up and chill out for the night.

I suggest W Amsterdam for several reasons. First, it’s simply an all-around great hotel, comfortably appointed with outstanding service. Second, its central location makes it ideal for popping in and out of the Amsterdam bustle, and it’s just a couple of blocks down the street from the aforementioned Magic Mushroom Gallery.

Finally, it’s got a lot of weirdness going on. The decor is funky and unique. The shower is contained in a bizarre, fully enclosed chamber that imparts the impression that you’re bathing yourself in the vacuum of space. And if you’re in the mood for coming down in ultra tranquility, the spa — located in what used to be a subterranean bank vault — is super refined and super chill.

Travel to Amsterdam
Nick Hilden / The Manual

Update on Netherlands travel

Recently, there’s been a push by the Dutch people — particularly those living in Amsterdam — to take action to curb the flow of tourists who visit solely to party and get rowdy. To accomplish this, Netherlands travel organizations are promoting a more diverse range of cultural activities for visitors, and are even releasing advertisements telling partiers to stay away.

I bring this up to emphasize that if you’re going to Amsterdam to take psychedelics, keep in mind that the locals are sick of having wasted foreigners interrupt their chill society. In other words, have a good time, but keep your cool.

Nick Hilden
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Nick Hilden is a lifestyle and culture writer whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Afar…
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