Red Light District Amsterdam

Amsterdam Red Light District at Night

It is very likely that you have heard about this neighbourhood and to be frank, everything you have heard is probably true. From brothels to sex shops to museums, the Amsterdam Red Light District leaves nothing to the imagination. But to really put rumours to rest, you have to check it out for yourself. The Rossebuurt, as the locals know it, is unlike any other place. And contrary to what a lot of people might think, the Amsterdam Red Light District has a very friendly atmosphere and isn't as dangerous as it used to be.

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 that it is only human. So instead of criminalizing everything, they enjoy the honesty of it all. So how do you get to it? Read further and we will explain everything to you.

You can choose from the list of Red Light District hotels on Booking.com featuring info on price and availability, or use the form below to do the same search for your exact travel dates.

Amsterdam Red Light District pubcrawls

You can get online tickets for Red Light District Pubcrawl and enjoy nightlife with other party seeking people.

Bachelor parties in Amsterdam

Can you imagine a better place to celebrate a bachelor party than Amsterdam’s Red Light District? Neither do we! This city is the best place to make the groom (or bride) enjoy a night that he’ll remember for the rest of his life.

Prostitution in Red Light District

Amsterdam Red Light DistrictNowadays, prostitution is legal in the Netherlands but not on the streets. That's why prostitutes in Amsterdam stand up behind a window and have their own room. The name of "Red Light District" comes from the red neon lights that highlight the 300 windows where women are working.

Amsterdam has three different Red Light Districts but the most famous and the most attractive is the one located inside the city center.

Since October 2000, window prostitutes have been allowed to legally offer their services. Today, prostitutes in the Netherlands are also taxpayers. Unfortunately, discrimination is still a part of this trade as many prostitutes report that some banks 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 Center. Also, contrary to popular belief, the RLD is actually the safest area in Amsterdam as clusters of policemen, and private bodyguards employed by the girls themselves are always on duty.

How to behave in Red Light District?

It is strictly forbidden to take pictures or film women behind their windows. A sign is sticked on every window as a reminder. Be careful if you try to take a photograph as working women can become very aggressive. The same rule is applicable if you go to a strip club, peep show or sex theater. The best is to keep your phone or camera in your pocket otherwise you risk to be kicked out by the bouncers.

When to go to Red Light District Amsterdam?

Well, 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.

Red Light District clubs and pubs

The Amsterdam Red Light District is not only about prostitution and coffee shops. You can find a great variety of sex shops, peep shows, strip clubs, sex theaters and typical Dutch brown cafes. Furthermore, you have a few cultural activities such as the Museum of Prostitution, the Museum of Erotism or the Museum of Cannabis.

Amsterdam Red Light District ClubsWhether 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 the theatres Casa Rosso (OZ Achterburgwal) and the infamous Moulin Rouge (Oudezijds Achterburgwal 5-7). 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 Amsterdam Banana Bar (Oudezijds Achterburgwal 37). Exactly what goes on in these places is up to you to discover, if you so wish. For goods, there is a somewhat eclectic mix of videos, magazines, sex aids and toys. The RLD 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 cup of tea, there are a number of brothels and private houses that offer a more traditional form of prostitution.

Things to do in Amsterdam Red Light District

To make sure you get the best out of the Red Light District in Amsterdam and that it doesn’t get the worse out of you, 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 (it could get messy, 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 the Red Light District 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 RLD will leave a lasting impression.

Although the area of Amsterdam Red light district may look dodgy, it is certainly not any dangerous place to stay. It is actually quite safe and well controlled part of the city, Amsterdam's heart of night entertainment. Hotels located direcly in the Red Light District are often prefered by visitors seeking the close feel and excitement of Amsterdam's night life. If you still look for more quiet area, there are many hotels just a short walk away.

Coffeeshops in the Red Light District

In the Amsterdam Red Light District are located most of the Amsterdam coffee shops. You can easily recognize a coffee shop. In fact, even if advertisement for cannabis is forbidden, most of the coffee shops have a cannabis leaf or a Jamaican flag on the front door. Discover the history of coffee shops in Amsterdam and the best places to experience the Amsterdam coffee shops.

Amsterdam Red Light District history

The Amsterdam Red Light District is located in the oldest area of the city. The architecture is particularly beautiful and typically Dutch. The beauty of its building is also a reason why everyone should walk around this area. The Red Light District of Amsterdam exists since the 14th century. At that time, the harbor was not far from there. That is why, a lot of immigrants were living there and how prostitution has started. In fact, sailors were coming to this area in order to enjoy some drinks in taverns and distilleries and also 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".

Red Light District architecture

Amsterdam Red Light District by DayPerhaps what few really notice is that the Rossebuurt (Dutch for ‘pink’ or ‘red’ 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 14th century architecture, such as the gothic Oude Kerk, or Old Church. 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.

Red Light District Amsterdam on the map