Amsterdam's red light district, the city's sex quarter, attracts visitors just as much as Rembrandt, the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank or Amsterdam's canals
Amsterdam Red Light District Location
Visitors might find themselves in the red light area of Amsterdam by accident, as it’s right in the city centre, close to many of the other tourist attractions. In fact some of them, like the the Oude Kerk and the Zuider Kerk (two of the city’s most interesting churches) are actually in the red light district, so it’s hard to avoid seeing something of the sleaze, the sex clubs and the prostitutes in their doorways and windows.
The red light district, or rosse buurt in Dutch, is to be found roughly roughly south of Zeedijk, north of Damstraat and east of Damrak. If you come out of the main Centraal Station and turn left after passing the Sex Museum, then make your way to the Erotic Museum – you’ve found the red light district!
Amsterdam Red Light District by Day
If you want to see the churches and museums which are also to be found in and around the red light area, then you’ll be visiting by day when it’s a little quieter and safer. Not that it’s a dangerous place, but it naturally attracts a number of the city’s less savoury characters. By day it can be rather a sad affair, before too many of the red lights are switched on and the neon starts to blaze to give it a kind of Las Vegas brashness.
Amsterdam Red Light District at Night
At night the red light area is taken over by groups out for a good time – stag parties and coach parties. As the night goes on, the groups get drunker and louder, and if that’s not your scene then it’s time to head elsewhere. Whole streets are given over to girls who sit in what look like shop windows, wearing very little and trying to attract the passers-by.
Prostitution in Amsterdam is legal and controlled, but don’t try taking photos of the girls in the windows or on the streets as it isn’t always appreciated. The girls and their minders often take exception to people with cameras, and may even try to take them from unwitting visitors, although it doesn’t stop some of the male visitors from trying to sneak some photos.
Sex Clubs and Strip Clubs
There are sex clubs too like the famous Banana Bar, but only broad-minded visitors should venture inside and be prepared for some fruity behaviour. There are several entertainment venues which could be described as reputable disreputable clubs, and visitors who stick to these needn’t worry too much about being ripped off. Prices are high, obviously, but in general the sex trade here is well regulated by the police and the city authorities, like the drug trade which the city is also notorious for.
It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but as a sleazy slice of Amsterdam life the red light district should be on all visitors’ top ten list.
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