Red Light District Amsterdam
From prostitution to erotic shops and from museums to churches. Amsterdam Red Light District has it all.
Amsterdam has three different Red Light Districts but the most famous and the most attractive is the one located inside the city center.
Red Light District Safety
Contrary to what a lot of people might assume, the Amsterdam Red Light District has a friendly atmosphere and isn't as dangerous as it used to be. It is actually a safe area as many policemen and private bodyguards are always on duty.
When to go to Red Light District Amsterdam?
During the day, the district is less lively and even less attractive as the more messy aspects reveal themselves in natural daylight. Although there are women tapping on the windows even during the light hours, most of the action takes place around 11pm. The district is swarming with crowds and the red neon lights illuminate the canals. The atmosphere lives until around 2am or 3am when the streets get emptier and businesses shuts down.
Attractions in the Amsterdam Red Light District
Because RLD is in the historical centre of Amsterdam city, it is close to many interesting attractions and architectural wonders. For example:
- The Madame Tussauds wax figurines
- Body Worlds
- Rembrandt House
- Amsterdam Museum
- Our Lord in the attic
- Oude Kerk
- Amsterdam dungeon
- Torture museum
- Marijuana museum
- Erotic museum
Visiting Amsterdam is easier and cheaper with a "City Pass".
With one card you can go to most tourist destinations without other tickets.
Comparison of Amsterdam city passes and discount cards.
DO's and DON'T DO's - how to behave
It is forbidden to take pictures or videos of the women behind their windows. A sign is sticked on every window as a reminder. If you try to take a photograph, the working women may become aggressive.
The same rule is applicable if you go to a strip club, peep show or sex theater. It is best to keep your phone or camera in your pocket or bag. Otherwise you risk being kicked out by the bouncers.
Watch out for pick-pocketers as this is almost always a crowded area.
Do not buy from dealers. They sell drugs, bikes or other stuff. It is risky and illegal. Do not support such activities.
Don't visit the Red Light District first. You may get the wrong idea about Amsterdam. This is not all we are about.
Accommodation in Red Light District
The best way to compare Red Light District accommodation options is by using the well-known booking engine "Booking.com". As the largest provider of this service they often have good deals and list all accomodation types. Hotels, hostels, apartments even houseboats. From budget to luxury. You can access their listings on this
Red Light District accommodation deals webpage.
Amsterdam prides itself on its liberal and tolerant attitude. Embracing the fact that people may be into prostitution, soft drugs and pornography. And that it is only human. So instead of criminalizing it, they enjoy the honesty of it.
Prostitution is a legal profession in the Netherlands. But not on the streets. Legal prostitutes in Amsterdam stand up behind a window and have their own room in the back. They are also regulated and controlled by police, tax and health authorities.
Health of Red light district prostitutes
The city health services inform the prostitutes about free or low-cost medical care. A number of organizations, some of them established by the prostitutes themselves, try to help sex workers with their problems. The whole profession is in good condition thanks to legality and regulations of practices.
RLD clubs, pubs, shows and shops
The Amsterdam Red Light District is not only about prostitution. You can find here a great variety of strip clubs, sex theaters, peep shows, coffeeshops, typical Dutch brown cafes and sex shops. Furthermore, there are a few fun yet educational establishments such as the museum of prostitution, the erotic museum or the museum of cannabis.
For the daring, there are shows that will be presented to you personally. For example in the Amsterdam Banana Bar.
For the shy there are peep shows. Those may come with video booths.
The RLD is also home to many gay bars and cinemas which can be found on the very busy Warmoesstraat.
For goods, there are many eclectic shops of videos, magazines, sex aids and toys.
Coffeeshops in the Red Light District
Most of the Amsterdams coffeeshops are located in the Red Light District. You can easily recognize them. Read our page dedicated to them and discover the history and the best places to experience such atmosphere.
Ban on public marijuana smoking of 2023
The ban is in effect from May 2023 in the public areas of Dam Square, Red Light District, Damrak and Nieuwenmarkt. It is still possible to smoke cannabis outdoors on coffeeshops terraces. But if you are caught smoking freely on the street you will be charged with a 100 euro penalty. This law is trying to calm down disorder in touristic areas.
Short history of Amsterdam Red Light District
The Area of Red Light District was built up since the 14th century. At that time, the harbor was not far from there. And that is why prostitution has started there. Sailors were coming to this area in order to enjoy drinks in taverns and to enjoy girls.
In Dutch, the Red Light District is called "De wallen" (the walls) because some of the canals located in the area and next to the old harbor used to be walled. The second explanation is because "wall" used to be a code name for "paid sex". Locals call this area also "Rosse Burt" (Dutch for red neighbourhood).
Red Light District architecture
The Rossebuurt is one of the oldest and most interesting parts of the city. The architecture is beautiful and typically Dutch. The beauty of its buildings is a reason why everyone should walk around this area also during the day.
It has long, winding, narrow, cobbled streets and utterly charming 14th century architecture. Such as the gothic Oude Kerk and other old buildings that lean at odd angles. Also nice tree enshrouded canals.
The arrival of new and classier restaurants, resurfaced streets, restored facades and trendier clientele are transforming what was once a dark and seedy part of town.
Churches in Red Light District
Public transportation to Red Light District
As you can see on the map below, the Red Light District is in the centre of Amsterdam old town. So to get there from the touristic part of town shouldn't be a problem on foot.
And if you are further away then you can use:
- trams numbers 4 or 14 to the tramstop Dam
- trams numbers 2, 12, 13, 17, 26 to the tramstop Centraal Station
If you get the right version of Amsterdam city pass you may have transportation included.