The Amsterdam Red Light District - Things to See in Adult Amsterdam

The Amsterdam Red Light District is unique in the world: in few places is prostitution more out in the open than in Amsterdam's window brothels. And then there are the sex shows, sex shops, sex museums, sex guides, sex... well, you get the idea.

But if you expect to find a crazy and wild place, you might be surprised. The atmosphere in the Amsterdam Red Light District is much more laid back than other such districts in the world. It's actually the oldest part of town with beautiful architecture, and a popular place to live for regular Amsterdammers.

The Red Light District in Amsterdam

At any time of the day you will find a collection of Japanese tourists with cameras, Amsterdammers taking the shortest route to the supermarket, police officers chatting to prostitutes, young women of religious organizations trying to save souls, a few junkies and weirdos, and actually some people looking for paid 'love'.

And usually, it all goes together without much trouble.

The Red Light District isn't any more unsafe than many other parts of town - but do stick to some simple rules (see below).

Visiting Amsterdam? Join a Red Light District tour and get to know all the details!

How Does The Window Prostitution Work?

Window prostitution in Amsterdam

Young women in lingerie sit or stand behind red-lit windows or glass doors. Men (or the occasional couple) walk by while the girls try to seduce them to come inside. If a man likes a girl, he knocks on her door. She opens and they negotiate what will be done, for how long, and against what price.

After reaching an agreement, the man steps inside her small room, the door and curtain closes behind them. After the deed is done, the man will disappear and the girl will get behind her window to catch her next client.

After visiting the Red Light area, people usually have a lot of questions. We've tried to answer these questions on our FAQ page about Amsterdam prostitutes.

Sex Theaters & Peep Shows

Besides window prostitution, you can also watch live sex shows at the Casa Rosso, see what women can do with bananas at the Bananenbar, or buy the most outrageous condoms you've ever seen at the world's first specialized condom shop "The Golden Fleece". Here's an overview of sex shows, sex shops and other x-rated stuff in the Amsterdam Red Light Area.

Rules And Safety

  • Don't take pictures of the prostitutes. If they see a camera pointing in their direction, you will receive some verbal abuse at the minimum, and they even might throw your camera in the canal.

  • While the Amsterdam Red Light District is generally safe to visit, there may be pickpockets active, so keep an eye on your valuables.

  • Occasionally, some guy may whisper "Psst! Cocaine! Ecstacy!" in your direction. Just ignore him or politely decline, and he will leave you alone. Be aware that the 'cocaine' might just be anything from flower to washing powder, and while 'soft drugs' (hash and marihuana) are allowed in Amsterdam, all other drugs are fully banned.

The Other Sights

While most attention usually goes to the adult stuff - it's OK, we understand - people forget that the Amsterdam Red Light District has much more to offer than just x-rated stuff. It's one of the oldest parts of town with some terrific architecture, excellent museums and fine restaurants.

It's even a quite popular area to live for ordinary Amsterdammers, and you would be amazed to see the number of very decent companies who have opened office right between the window brothels. See our page about the other side of the Red Light District in Amsterdam.

Guided Tours

Many companies offer guided walking tours through the Amsterdam Red Light District.

Make sure you visit the Prostitution Information Center (PIC), which is run by (former) sex workers. They really can give you the inside story. 

Visit the Red Light District with a guided tour

Viator Red Light District Guided Tour

Find out all the details on the Red Light District from a friendly tour guide.

Walk through the historic city center and find out what life in the Red Light District is like. The tour is interesting and has a lot of humor.

Get ready for one of the most unique experiences of your life.

Read more about the Red Light District tour.

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