All photos (40)Red Light District
Red Light District
Red Light District

Red Light District

231 reviews
Sights and Museums, Neighbourhood
Popular with:
  • 9.8
    Nightlife Lovers
  • 7.6
    Adventure Travellers
  • 7.3
    Backpackers
  • 6.4
    History Buffs
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Amsterdam, The Netherlands
31 6 41853288
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Description
The "seedy underbelly" of Amsterdam, the Red Light District-- home to prostitutes and drugs and all that is good and evil in this world. During the day, it's actually rather unassuming. Family tours ... Read more
are held by various companies and you can walk the streets safely without encountering too much worth a gasp. By night, neon lights and bare thighs. Take a stroll through the district-- fancy a window shop? Girls are lined up in behind glass, each in separate booths, for your viewing pleasure. You can take a look inside, or just head to a bar down the street and enjoy the atmosphere. The air reeks of iniquity, but most tourists don't get into much trouble.

Member Reviews(231)

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Sydney

It didn’t do much for me. Just a normal street with people not wearing much clothing.

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Edinburgh

One of these places you should go visit. It's a little surreal having windows with ladies of all shapes and sizes behind them beckoning you closer mixed in between shops/cafes, but it's well worth visiting.

Try to pick a quieter night to wander down or you'll end up being surrounded by 'lads' who do a lot of screeching.

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Durham

Offering an alternative perspective: we walked around a lot during the day, and the "red light" part of the district is all but absent. Don't let the stereotypes fool you. This area is just as much about food and tourism during the day as...the other things at night.

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Ottawa

Obviously a must see while you're in Amsterdam! Lots of shops, cafes, bars etc for you to check out. Oh and obviously no photos of the women!

Recommended for:Nightlife Lovers
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The Hague

Yaas, well a place for thos who wants to stare... and wants maybe to forget themselfs, but thus they will forget only money there. Nothing to stare at

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The San Francisco Bay Area

This is sort of a thing to see when in Amsterdam. If you just want to check it out, I suggest to go around sunset or early in the evening when it's not as rowdy. Wander the back alleys to see some of the more offbeat ladies/gentlemen of the night.

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Haarlem

it is nice to see once in your life but in our opinion a bit messy and filled with youngsters and cheap bars

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Almere

The Rokin and Damrak run along the original course of the river Amstel. These two roads meet in Dam Square which marks the spot a bridge was built across the river in 1270. It had doors which were used to dam the river at certain times to avoid flooding. The Damrak then became a harbor and it was around this area that the red light district first appeared. The walled canals led to the names De Wallen and Walletjes (little walls).

Historically because of proximity to the harbor the area has attracted both prostitution and migrant populations and these are the features it is best known for today.

From late Medieval times the trade started to be restricted. Married men and priests were forbidden to enter the area. In 1578 during the Dutch Revolt against Spanish rule a Protestant city board was formed with fornication deemed punishable. Working girls were banned and forced underground. They would work for a madam who provided room and board, protection and advice. Often the madam and girls would venture out at night visiting pubs and inns to pick up clients. Parlours remained illegal but tolerated if kept hidden. Trade remained small scale though spread across the city. Well known areas were De Haarlemmerdijk, De Houttuinen, Zeedijk and around the harbor.

In the 18th century wealthy men would meet working girls at gambling houses on De Gelderskade and Zeedijk. The girls would then take the men back to the parlors where they came from. However these were often unappealing to a gentleman of means. A solution to this problem was for the gambling houses to provide board for the girls. This suited everyone including the authorities. The gambling houses invested in luxury furnishings and gradually they became brothels employing up to 30 girls. Famous brothels included De Pijl in Pijlstraat, De Fonteyn in Nieuwmarkt and Madame Therese on the Prinsengracht. For those who could not afford these there were still girls to be found around Oudekerk and unofficial policies of tolerance remained although prostitution was technically illegal.

In 1811 the ban on working girls was lifted. In this Napoleonic period, French soldiers were the main customers of prostitutes in De Wallen. Regulation was brought in and there were compulsory health checks to protect soldiers from VD. They were given a red card which was a permit to work. If found to be infected the card was taken until they could prove they were disease free again. Because there was no reliable treatment for syphilis until the early 20th century this could mean dangerous treatments such as mercury baths to ease symptoms.

In the early 20th century religious organizations ran campaigns to try to end tolerance of prostitution. In 1911 a law was passed banning brothels and pimping. Working girls themselves were not banned though. Once again it was driven underground and tolerated as long it did not cause a disturbance. With the closure of many parlors in De Wallen some girls moved to De Pijp.

In 1935 it was estimated that there were around 150 disguised parlors. Fronts included massage, pedicure, manicure, and beauty treatments. Working girls continued to work around the Oudekerk (Oudekerksplein). Instead of being visible as they are today they would stand behind closed curtains and peer through a small crack looking for customers. If they stood in the doorway they would be arrested.

De Wallen or De Walletjes is the largest and best known red-light district in Amsterdam and consists of a network of alleys containing approximately three hundred one-room cabins rented by prostitutes who offer their sexual services from behind a window or glass door, typically illuminated with red lights. These "kamers" are the most visible and typical kind of red light district sex work in Amsterdam and are a large tourist attraction.

De Wallen, together with the prostitution areas Singelgebied and Ruysdaelkade, form the Rosse Buurt (red light areas) of Amsterdam. Of these De Wallen is the oldest and largest area.

The area also has a number of sex shops, sex theatres, peep shows, a sex museum, a cannabis museum, and a number of coffee shops that sell marijuana.

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Menomonee Falls

I was told it was a must see so I booked a walking tour which was a good idea as I got a lot of information from a local about the history, laws, and how the transactions work and what they typically cost. I wouldn't have wanted to spend time in the area as it's "not my thing" but it's definitely a must see. It's very eye opening. I was also told that the blue lights indicate transgender prostitites. To my surprise the prostitites were most actually quite beautiful girls. I'd probably never visit again but you should at least see this once. Not recommended for families for obvious reasons.

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Local from Amsterdam

The Red Light District
In Dutch De Wallen or De Walletjes, named after the Oudezijds Achterburgwal and the Oudezijds Voorburgwal, is the largest and best known red-light district in Amsterdam and consists of a network of alleys containing approximately three hundred one-room cabins. In the evening and at night the red light district are very popular with tourists. But well worth the effort, is to walk during the day. Along the Oudezijds Achterburgwal, the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal and the Zeedijk, are beautiful houses, the old church and the clandestine Church Onze Lieve Heer op Zolder.

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New York City

Fascinating area of Amsterdam, and a bit sad. Gets very crowded at night, but totally worth a stroll thru.

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Los Altos

For better or for worse, the Red Light District is a massive part of Amsterdam.

Recommended for:Nightlife Lovers
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Mountain View

Definitely you have to walk through here. The shops are fun, but it's not a good place for the fam.

Recommended for:Nightlife Lovers
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Huntington Beach

Every human vice imaginable available here. Not a place to spend a lot of time. Tourists everywhere so just pass through and get a feel for it, then move on.

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Kuala Lumpur

When you see a red light on the front of any shop, you know that it's a place for business. At first it was very interesting to look at, but after one round you'll find the quality of ladies there are not that good.

Recommended for:Nightlife Lovers
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Klang

We walked along Red Light District and the tourist manager advised us not to take any photos of them. They looked quite pretty, sexy and young.

Recommended for:Outdoor Enthusiasts
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Norwich

Super guided tour which gave us an insight into the history of the area as well as experiencing the 'culture'. Not for youngsters.

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Melbourne

Creepy. But then after a while lots of fun! It's strange how quickly walking down a street which advertises sex so brazenly can become almost second nature and prudish senses can be vanquished. Families, children, couples and groups of friends frequented the area without fluttering an eyelid and that in itself, was comforting. Yes there are semi-naked ladies behind red tinted windows but it's refreshing how outrageously sex toys/peep shows/saucy lingerie and prostitute museums are encouraged. We came back 4 times during our short show and experienced the Red Light District in 4 different ways. We were'nt brave enough to visit a peep show though...

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Foster City

You will know when you're in the Red Light District simply by seeing an auto raised stool like poles (which blocks the vehicles) with red lights lit on top, marking of a boundary around the area. Simply walk through the narrow streets and you'll be sure to run into rooms with red lights lit and a girl waiting to greet you at every window.

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Berlin

Nothing to say... it is what it is.
A very good counsel is... DON'T TAKE PICTURES in this area. It's not nice to photograph the Ladys and its not so save for you.

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Red Light District

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