Amsterdam tourism: What's legal?


Amsterdam tourism: What's legal?

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Lovely canals and a vibrant cycling society are part of what defines Amsterdam. The city also has a global reputation for tolerance.

"Coffee shops," where smoking marijuana is permitted, are a tantalizing lure for international visitors. Plans to ban foreigners from coffee shops were scuttled by Amsterdam officials.

Marijuana and hashish are openly sold in coffee shops. Recreational drugs are illegal in the Netherlands, but the sale or possession of small quantities of cannabis is rarely prosecuted.

Many of the country's visitors skip the drug scene altogether, instead flocking to the city's spectacular museums. The Rijksmuseum just reopened after a 10-year renovation.

Works by Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh also draw large numbers to the Van Gogh Museum.

Whether just fascinated or ready to partake, a huge share of tourists are also drawn by the legal sale of sex in Amsterdam's red-light district, known as De Wallen.

Recreational drugs are illegal in the Netherlands, but there's an official policy of tolerance
Possession of small amounts of cannabis is not a crime
Prostitution is legal
Wearing a bike helmet is not required and there's no cigarette smoking in public places

Amsterdam (CNN) -- You may have noticed an interesting reaction when you tell people you're traveling to Amsterdam. They sometimes get that curious look, that knowing half-smile on their faces. "Amsterdam," they say with a mischievous grin, "lucky you!"
Are they thinking about Van Gogh and Rembrandt, about the fabulous museums, the flowing canals, the teeming bicycle paths, the gorgeous tulips -- or is it something else?
To many, Amsterdam is synonymous with freedom. With the ability to do what is forbidden in other places.
Throwback lodging: Stay in another era
Undoubtedly, millions travel to the Netherlands to see the just re-opened Rijksmuseum and its famous

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