Amsterdam
Red Light District

The Amsterdam Red Light District leaves nothing to the imagination. It is very likely that you will have heard about this neighbourhood and to be honest, everything you have heard is probably true.

The Red Light area is unlike any other place. Certainly, the Red Light District that everyone knows about is the one where women, of all nationalities, parade their wares in red-fringed window parlours, many ready to offer more than a school boy peep-show in a private cabin.

Another familiar image of the Amsterdam Red Light District is of packs of men, young and old , couples holding hands and pointing in shock of it all, giggling groups of women celebrating a hen night , and busloads of Japanese tourists toting cameras.

This is proof enough that this area deserves a visit, if not a little look in.

The Amsterdam Red Light District simply oozes charm and one cannot help but admire the old buildings that lean at odd-angles, and the tree-enshrouded canals.

Music, especially during the summer season, invites you to linger just that little bit longer while the arrival of new classier eateries and great authentic restaurants such as Café Pacifico, one of Europe 's first Mexican restaurants, make it so appealing.

Recently resurfaced streets, restored façades and trendier clientele to the area are now transforming what was once a dark and seedy part of town. Casa Rosso

Amsterdam prides itself, and rightly so, on its wholly liberal and tolerant attitude, embracing the fact that people may be into prostitution, soft drugs and pornography-and this is only human. So instead of criminalizing everything, this very upfront city wears its heart on its sleeve-what you see is generally what you get.

Enjoy the honesty of it all, as you won’t find it anywhere else. So how do you get to it? The main area is between Centraal Station and Nieuwenmarkt, and the other one,in de Pijp (behind the Rijksmuseum).

Perhaps what few really notice is that the neighbourhood is in fact one of the oldest and most beautiful parts of the city with its long winding narrow, cobbled streets and utterly charming 14 th century architecture, such as the gothic Oudekerk, or Old Church.

Prostitution in Holland

Prostitution is legal in Holland, and in Amsterdam most of it is concentrated in the Red Light District where it has enjoyed a long tradition of tolerance.

Since October 2000, window prostitutes have been allowed to legally ply their trade. Today, prostitutes in the Netherlands are also taxpayers.

Unfortunately, discrimination is still very much part and parcel in this trade as many prostitutes report that some banks even refuse to grant mortgages for example.

However, now as a legal profession, the government ensures that all prostitutes are able to access medical care and work in better conditions by regulating and monitoring working practices and standards.

Help is also at hand in the district itself thanks to The Prostitution Information Centre.

Also, contrary to popular belief, the Amsterdam Red Light District is actually the safest area in Amsterdam as clusters of policemen, and private bodyguards employed by the girls themselves are always on duty.

Moulin Rouge

Did you know?

Window prostitution is distinct to the Netherlands. Until recently, there was also a pick-up area servicing the needs of clientele on the move.

Utrecht, 30 minutes east of Amsterdam, has its own canal-based Red Light Area, Rotterdam has a number of sex clubs or private houses and smaller cities like Groningen and Alkmaar have also seen the potential of having an own Red Light District.

If curiosity does get the better of you, come down at night when the district really comes to life. During the day, the district is less lively and even less attractive as the more sordid aspects reveal themselves in natural daylight.

Although there are women forever tapping on the windows even during the light hours, most of the action takes place around 11pm , when the district is swarming with crowds and the red neon lights illuminate the inky canals.
The atmosphere pretty much thrives until around 2 or 3am when the crowds die down and businesses shut up shop.

Whether you are window-shopping, Amsterdam style, or actually wanting to buy something, there is likely to be a place, window, or even two, that cater to your every whim.

For those not easily offended, there are plenty of live sex shows and the most notorious of these go on at Club Casa Rosso and the infamous Moulin Rouge.

For the merely curious, there are numerous peep shows that may come with video booths.

But of course, for the more adventurous among us, there are more interactive shows, for example at de Bananenbar.

Exactly what goes on in these places is up to you to discover, if you so wish.

The Amsterdam Red Light District is also home to many gay bars and cinemas which can be found on the very busy Warmoesstraat. If the Red light alleyways are not your type of fun, there are a number of brothels and private houses that offer a more traditional form of prostitution.

For culture, you don’t need to look very far as the very picturesque Zeedijk, the Jewish quarter, Waterloo Square and Nieuwmarkt Square lie just around the corner.

The Amsterdam Red Light District also boasts a string of unusual shops and pubs, so be sure to visit the French brasserie Café Roux or head down to Chinatown.

Stick to these tips closely:



1. Do not take photos of the occupied windows - this is strictly prohibited and any attempt will be quickly stamped out (this is no joke, you have been warned!). Enjoy some discrete Red Light District pictures that are also available for free download, see our copyright license.


2. Watch out for pick-pocketers, as this is almost always an extremely overcrowded area.


3. Try and go in a group or at least go in twos to avoid attracting any unwanted attention.


4. Do not buy from dealers -whether its drugs or bikes- or else you will find yourself on the other side of the law!


5. Don’t visit Amsterdam Red Light District area first otherwise you may get the wrong idea about the Dutch and Amsterdam as this is not all we are about! Enjoy yourself, as a trip down The Red Light area will leave a lasting impression.


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