These International Weed-Friendly Cities Are Perfect For Fall Travel
American cannabis tourism is growing by leaps and bounds (particularly on the West Coast), which is why we took time out — very recently — to cover ten ideal weed-friendly domestic destinations. But America certainly doesn’t have a premium on awesome cities where you can happily get stoned and enjoy some bomb food. There are cities all over the globe that either have legalized cannabis or maintain a practice of turning a blind eye to it.
If you can afford to book a flight and take some time off work, you could easily be sitting on a tropical white sand beach next week toking the locally grown herb. Or you could be getting high in a cannabis café before wandering through a respected museum with a newfound appreciation for other people’s creativity. And, no matter where you visit, you will have to take advantage of your weed-enhanced appetite and eat all the foods. Travel is meant to be a feast for the senses, after all.
The following cities both allow for cannabis use and are dope destinations for travel, drugs notwithstanding. We included a place to stay and a place to eat with all of them, but you’re encouraged to make your trip your own. And, above all, when getting high abroad, behave yourself. You gotta respect your host country.
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This year’s hottest international travel destination has a rad climate (it gets more sun than anywhere else in Europe), massive amounts of street art (there are even tours), and an amazing food scene (which includes a ton of rooftop bars and restaurants). Better still, small amounts of all drugs were decriminalized in 2001, when optional therapy replaced jail sentences. That doesn’t mean that there are any legal sales or lounges, but it does mean if you have some bud, you aren’t likely to be hassled by the police for it.
There aren’t any accommodations that are cannabis-friendly per se. You won’t find a bud and breakfast in Lisbon. But there are a lot of incredible properties to stay in that make for a fab vacation. And really, how much time are you going to be spending in your room anyway? We’re big fans of My Story Hotel Rossio, which feels like the baby that the 17th century and the pop art movement never intended to have. Think ancient tiles, chandeliers, and neon lights. Also, 18 of the rooms have a view of the Rossio — so you can watch the hustle and bustle of the city whenever you want.
Lisbon is known for its iconic egg tart and if you’re the kind of person whose sweet tooth goes into overdrive when you get high, get thee to a pastelaria as part of your trip. In fact, your best bet is to head to Antiga Confeitaria de Belém in Lisbon’s hardcore tourist neighborhood and suffer through a long tedious queue early in the day. Grab a box of these puff pastry and egg custard delights and save them for after you roll home from partying.
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The proliferation of “cannabis social clubs” in Barcelona might feel like coffeeshops in Amsterdam to some people, but they remind us a bit more of bars in Utah. No, not because they are full of lapsed Mormons. It’s because any adult with an ID can bust into a Dutch coffeeshop, but Spanish clubs make you pay for a membership first. Thus, when you lay down your funds for their bud, you aren’t buying it, you are simply “donating” toward the club’s cultivation costs for members. Tricky. You need to know that there is a two-week waiting period before membership activation, so plan ahead. If you want to really have fun, go in March, when the city holds Spannabis — the largest gathering of the cannabis community in Europe.
Hotels in Barcelona aren’t likely to encourage guests to toke up anymore than they are to cheer cigarette smoking (which, to be clear, is far less stigmatized in Europe than the US). If you want to use cannabis in the privacy of your room, your best bet is to rent a private accommodation. Check listings on a site like Bud and Breakfast. But if you think you can pull a fast one or you don’t need to get high in your room, we vote for you to stay at Hotel chic&basic Ramblas — designer digs inspired by the Barcelona of the 1960s. The interiors are visually arresting, running the spectrum from an all-white billiards room and library to spaces filled with pops of dayglo joy. There is a genuine Seat 600 bubble car in the huge lobby. And they serve G&Ts in fishbowls.
You should legit make time for some of the gastronomic wonders of Barcelona, but when you get filthy high and wander out of a club into the city, make your way to The Box for a hotdog. It’s a Latin-themed rum bar with a wall of housemade rum and vodka in jars, so if you liek to drink on top of your cannabis, prepare to be fucked up. It’s also just a happy, upbeat place with understanding employees who play cartoons a lot of the time, making it the perfect place to go to grub and stare into space. As if this isn’t enough, they’ve been voted best hotdogs in Spain by Harper’s Bazaar.
Freetown Christiania, Copenhagen, Denmark
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Located in Denmark’s capital, this semi-autonomous ‘hood was formed in the 1970s, when residents took control of an unused military base and set up a commune that has remained functioning for decades. Now before you pack your bags to move there because that sounds like living the dream, you should know that some things have changed. Whereas the bohemian enclave was known for its “green light district” in the past, in 2016 two police officers were shot on the aptly named Pusher Street and residents tore down the weed stalls of the area. The cannabis trade is still practiced and you can score bud easily, but it is illegal so be cautious.
You don’t have to remain in Christiania the entire time you are in Copenhagen, obviously. Venture into the city proper for your accommodations and book directly with The Andersen — which gives you your room for a flat 24-hours instead of adhering to a set check-in and check-out time. Every one of the 69 (nice) rooms is decorated in a different style and there are actually three classes of accommodation, from Cool to Amazing. Plus you can enjoy a daily wine hour every evening. Score.
When you are high and the joy of talking about how your anarchist collective would function has faded, you have to get some food. We suggest hitting up Christiania Falafel, the best falafel stall in the city. It has been there for over 30 years and the Palestinian family who runs it has used the same recipe (with a secret blend of spices) from day one to make gorgeously crisp pillows with fluffy, fragrant centers.
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In 2013, Uruguay came out swinging when the South American country became the first to fully legalize cannabis. Not only can residents grow weed or purchase it from government-approved pharmacies, but they can also give it away freely. So a visit to the capital city means Atlantic beaches for everyone from beach bums to the filthy rich, amazing architecture with a healthy helping of art deco and neoclassical references, a wonderful weekly market, cozy tango bars, and, potentially, a person just handing you weed. It’s all good.
There are a lot of really cool hotels in Montevideo, so if you want to stay in a highrise with a rooftop jacuzzi, that’s absolutely an option. We’re big fans of renting a guest room in an art deco apartment in the center of the Old City quarter. There is a property owned by a couple named Karen and Sergio (she’s Welsh and he’s Argentinian) that we think is choice. You can smoke outside and on the balconies. In addition, it’s across from the Uruguayan Association for Cannabis Studies, which is a primary lobbying group for legalization. So your weed is covered.
While you’re in Uruguay, you really should try the national sandwich, an ideal stoner food. At Bar Arocena you can get the perfect chivito — a thin steak with bacon, ham, eggs, melted cheese, lettuce, tomato, red peppers, garlic, and mayo on top of a toasted bun. You might recognize the sandwich and the restaurant from Parts Unknown; in season 11, Anthony Bourdain called the Bar Arocena chivito the Everest of sandwiches.
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Of course, Amsterdam was gonna be on the list. It’s the real gimme when it comes to international cannabis tourism. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the city’s coffeeshop scene formed a strong foundation for reform arguments in the U.S. and helped the city develop a reputation as a stoner’s dream. As a tourist, you can purchase five grams of weed and consume it in one of the city’s coffee shops. To be clear: Cannabis isn’t legal in the Netherlands, but police have been ignoring the sale and consumptions in designated shops since the 1970s. Because you will be doing your smoking in one of the coffeeshops, do some research beforehand to find one or two that match your vibe.
There are smoker-friendly hotels and hostels in Amsterdam, and we like St. Christopher’s at the Winston — an award-winning hostel in the heart of the city. It is affordable, right in downtown overlooking the red light district, and remarkably close to a number of coffee shops. The hostel also has its own nightclub, themed rooms by up and coming artists, a pool table, and indoor smoking room, an outdoor beer garden, laptop rental, and free walking tours. Plus, you can get a single ensuite if you want to avoid dormitory living.
We aren’t looking for gourmet cuisine when the munchies hit. What we want are fried foods, and if we get to score a double cheeseburger or an elongated croquette spilling out molten ragout from a vending machine, that’s a win. That is the glory of FEBO, a chain of infamous fast food restaurants that are simply filled with ceiling-high vending machines offering hot snacks prepared regularly by chefs. If you are at a point in your weed use where you are fuzzy, hit up a FEBO and get the grub you need without interacting with people.
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Jamaica is another country pretty closely tied to cannabis in most people’s thinking, thanks to the Rastafari religion whose followers use it as a sacrament and reggae’s very public relationship with herb. As the nation passed a bill decriminalizing weed, consumption is fairly common — despite the lack of a system in place for sales. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t buy fresh-picked ganja on the side of the street. You just can’t buy it in a dispensary. That little hassle won’t bother you one bit as you sit on a white sand beach with a rum punch in one hand and a hand-rolled joint in the other.
The area is filled with resorts, so can always stay at a Sandals. But, we prefer The Cliff, a modern boutique resort. It isn’t built into the cliff face as many of Negril’s hotels are, but it tends to be a little quieter than those located closer to bars playing loud music. It’s nice to be able to return to your room after a crazy night and actually fall asleep. Plus, it’s beautifully designed without trying too hard, and there are a ton of ways to have fun in the sun — including a saltwater pool and an open-fronted beachside treatment room for massages.
If you are doing things Jamaican style, you have to do jerk. We like Kool Vybes Bar & Jerk Centre, which hasn’t been around very long but serves some awesome chow. You can choose from a variety of proteins, so a craving for conch, goat, or lobster can be totally satisfied. And, if you go, the pineapple coleslaw is a perfect side for any dish.
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Wellington, New Zealand
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Now, cannabis remains illegal in New Zealand, but that doesn’t seem to have stopped residents from using a ton of it. In fact, their weed use is among the top ten nations in the world. You do have to be careful with your pot, lest you garner a $500 dollar fine, but the chances of that happening are small if you avoid drawing attention to yourself or being a dick. Instead, enjoy the beauty of this breathtaking island country and get all of your Lord of the Rings fantasies satiated. If you’re looking to score some weed, scope out dealing spots where you can score a tin or hit up “tinnie shacks” in the suburbs.
For lodgings, we are all about Ohtel — a harborside boutique hotel with large rooms, mid-century furnishings, and Kiwi artwork and textiles. The bathrooms in each of the ten rooms are so cool because they are set behind glass screens (and a curtain) and feature huge backlit wall images of the city. Plus, some offer two-person tubs and huge shower. The hotel is right next to Wellington’s main entertainment precinct, which means you can easily get to the city’s best restaurants and clubs, as well as the Oriental Bay beach.
The Library is a little fancy for grubbing while high, but it has such a tasty menu and a cool ambiance that you can’t miss it. Start with tapas, like cauliflower tempura with curry mayo and triple cooked fries with spicy ketchup. Then move on to the killer dessert menu, which includes the Stoners Sundae: peanut butter dulce de leche, candied bacon, doughnut, and a Moro bar slice. Plus, there’s a cheese menu.
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Thanks to The Cannabis Act, passed by the Canadian Senate on June 21, Canada is on track to become the second country in the world to allow legal consumption of recreational weed. Oh, Canada. With every province able to open stores that sell regulated, quality-controlled cannabis, what is already an awesome vacation destination will be that much more enjoyable. Although, you don’t necessarily need to wait until this all comes to fruition as Vancouver has been pretty tolerant of weed for a while — including looking the other way at coffee shops where smoking is an open affair. Head to “Vansterdam,” where these aforementioned coffee shops can be found operating alongside seed sellers, especially on the Pot Block on Hastings Street.
You can find a lot of privately owned, cannabis-friendly digs in Vancouver. Want a cottage? Done. Stay in a sailboat? Sure. A resort? Absolutely. If you want to stay in a hip hotel, however, try The Burrard, a retro dream made for Instagram. First opened in 1956, it’s filled with pops of jellybean colors and contrasting whites like something straight out of Palm Springs. Plus, you can grab one of the hotel’s cruiser bikes to make your way around the city. They come with baskets.
Since 2000, the New Amsterdam Café has been North America’s cannabis-friendly café … or at least, that’s what they say. If you are already visiting the Pot Block, you have to stop in and grab a samosa or a sandwich while you vape at the bar. Be sure to take some pics for your social media because it definitely feels weird to be able to openly smoke pot in a café in North America. It’s worth documenting. Also, finish with a Nanaimo bar when you need something sweet.
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Australia is a great destination, but it’s not one with legal recreational cannabis. Bummer. However, the city of Nimbin has a pretty big rep as a hippie hub. Since the 1970s, they have openly consumed and celebrated herb. In fact, before the police were hard asses, the city experimented with a Vancouver-style coffeeshop. Point being, when you get high there, you will be breaking the law (and that shouldn’t be taken lightly), but you will probably be able to do so without negative legal consequences. Further, Nimbin is just a good time with friendly locals and amazing murals. And this may not seem like a very fresh recommendation, but we still insist the Nimbin Candle Factory — where they use a traditional water-powered dipping system — is worth seeing.
Get high and watch some candles get made. It’s riveting.
The Nimbin Hotel was established in 1924 when it was called the Freemasons Hotel. Currently, it is the only pub in the village and offers comfortable rooms for most travelers, including backpackers. You do have to pick between a two or four-person room, but they all open out on to a verandah. Plus, in addition to the proximity to great beer and live music, the hotel is steps away from the city’s main street, so the walkability is insane.
You can totally get stoned and grub at the pub, but you should also consider a trip to the Phoenix Rising Café, located in Nimbin’s historic butter factory. It’s is so named because it rose from the ashes of the Nimbin Fire of 2014. The focus of the food is sustainability, with much of the menu grown on-site or produced locally. That may sound a bit too healthy for your munchies, but the nachos and burgers are legit. They also host movie nights with a special menu, so consider that as an activity during your visit.
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Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
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Costa Rica decriminalized cannabis, but that doesn’t mean you can buy and use it legally. There are still members of the Public Security Ministry’s Special Support Police manually destroying crops in the mountains of the country. However, in general, law enforcement is quite passive about people smoking pot. And a lot of people say that finding someone to sell you a little bud is easy peasy. Just keep an eye out. Puerto Viejo, specifically, is a beach town on the southern Caribbean coast and residents are super friendly and relaxed about cannabis. If you want to spend the day chilling on the beach or walking through the rainforest, no problem. But know that the laidback beach town vibe is replaced at night with a sea breeze, a ton of reggae music, and plenty of cold beer.
If you are going to Puerto Viejo, you might as well make it a full Caribbean vacation by staying at Hotel Banana Azul. It’s nestled in gardens with a chocolate-sand beach that feels private. If you want to get around, rent one of the hotel’s beach cruisers. But if you want to get in on jungle hikes and ocean excursions, you may need to rent a car. The whole place is tropical to the max with things like brightly colored hammocks and decorative shells. Plus, the staff is super attentive. Prepare to feel pampered.
Obviously, this is the kind of city in which you should eat seafood. But when stoned, fresh octopus might not get the job done. Therefore, we suggest stopping in at Bread & Chocolate. This tiny bakery and bistro in the heart of the city only does breakfast and lunch so you may be looking at a wake and bake situation, but it’s totally worth it to get stoned early and roll up there for the food. If you haven’t had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich where every ingredient was made in-house, this is your spot.
When cannabis is a part of your life, why wouldn't you want to include it in your vacation?
All the states where marijuana is legal — and 5 more that just voted to legalize it
Marijuana legalization is spreading around the US.
Since 2012, 15 states and Washington, DC, have legalized marijuana for adults over the age of 21. And 36 states have legalized medical marijuana — meaning that a majority of Americans now have some form of access to marijuana, whether medically or recreationally.
Four more states — New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota — just voted to legalize recreational cannabis, though it won’t become legal immediately. On top of that, voters in Mississippi backed the creation of a medical cannabis program.
Though Canada legalized marijuana federally in 2018, the US has not followed suit, forcing states to chart their own courses. As it stands, marijuana is still considered an illegal Schedule I drug by the US federal government. The House in September was set to vote on a bill to legalize marijuana and expunge the records of those convicted under previous laws, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, though the vote was punted to after the election.
Joe Biden’s projected victory in the presidential election could give marijuana a bigger boost in the US.
Biden has said he would support federal decriminalization of the drug. Vice-president-elect Kamala Harris sponsored a previous version of the MORE Act in the Senate. A Democratic administration would sign that — or a similar legalization bill — into law if passed in the House and Senate.
Control of the Senate remains unclear. If Republicans maintain control, federal legalization is unlikely, because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is vocally opposed.
House Democrats included a provision in the recent stimulus bill, the SAFE Banking Act, that allows cannabis companies to access banking and financial services much like any other company so they don’t have to rely on cash transactions. It remains to be seen whether it will be included in the final legislation.
Despite the political back-and-forth, most Americans want legal marijuana, according to recent polls. Sixty-seven percent of Americans polled by Pew Research said marijuana should be legal, with only 32% in opposition.
All the states where marijuana is legal:
This article was first published in January 2018 and has been updated with new information about where cannabis is legal. Melia Russell contributed to an earlier version of this report.
Marijuana is legal for all adults in 11 states, and for medical purposes in 34. Five more states just voted to legalize it.