If there’s one place in Amsterdam that arouses the most curiosity, it’s the red light district. Located right in the city center, it’s one of the Dutch capital’s best-known tourist spots.
And with good reason: many things that are forbidden elsewhere are legal, authorized and practiced right in the street. All the more reason to attract and surprise. In the rest of this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know on the subject. We’re off!
What is Amsterdam's Red Light District?
This is a very famous district of Amsterdam, where you’ll find a large number of shop windows where sex workers display their wares. It’s a regulated area where people walk, look and enter the windows (for paid sex).
In fact, one of the main reasons the district is called this is because of the sex workers. They stand in the windows, facing people as they pass. These windows are lit by red neon lights… Now you know all about the history of this strange place.
There are also coffee shops, where you can buy and smoke cannabis. In addition to these unusual places, there are youth hostels, restaurants and a number of bars where you can relax for a few moments and have a drink.
Where is Amsterdam's Red Light District?
Amsterdam’s Red Light District lies at the very heart of the city’s historic center, not far from Dam Square. It’s one of the easiest places to get to. Once there, you’ll have no trouble getting around:
- If you’re on foot: go to Dam Square. Then take Damrak street to Beursplein square. Continue straight ahead on Rue Oudebrugsteeg. At the next intersection, turn left (rue Oudezijds Voorburgwal).
- By public transport: you can take the streetcar (lines 1, 2, 4 and 5) or metro (lines 51 and 52) to Amsterdam Central Station. Then follow the instructions above.
Prostitution in the Red Light District
This is one of the main reasons why Amsterdam’s Red Light District is so well known. Since 2000, both men and women have been free to prostitute themselves. The activity remains supervised and regulated.
Sex workers must, for example, be registered with the authorities. In addition, all prostitutes must be aged 21 or over. Finally, health checks are carried out regularly to ensure that no diseases are circulating.
What else you'll find in the Red Light District
As well as women in shop windows, you’ll find a whole host of other things on site, including brothels, strip clubs and pipe shows. Some of these places are very well known, such as the Hospital Bar and La Vie en Proost, two well-known strip clubs.
As for coffeeshops, you’ll find plenty of nice places, like The Bulldog, Voyagers and Coffeeshop Central. And don’t hesitate to browse our list of the 10 best coffeeshops in Amsterdam, for even more choice.
As far as bars and restaurants are concerned, we recommend that you leave the area and head further out towards Dam Square. Everything there is quite expensive. So avoid, if not limit, unpleasant surprises.
What you can't do in Amsterdam's Red Light District
Although Amsterdam’s Red Light District is very open and you can do a lot, not everything is allowed. Firstly, you’re not allowed to take photos of sex workers. This is seen as a violation of their privacy. The same goes for taking videos. In the end, it can cost you quite a bit!
Another point: it’s forbidden to use drugs in public. Although there are coffee shops and it is possible to smoke marijuana, you must be content to consume in the places designated for this purpose. Finally, we recommend that you do not bother the locals, or get too drunk on the public highway…
Is it possible to visit the Red Light District during your stay in Amsterdam?
Yes, organized tours take place around the Red Light District to discover how this funny place works, to learn more about its history, but also about the future and how it might evolve in the coming months, years.
If you choose the Treepeo option, in collaboration with GetYourGuide, you can also visit the only museum of sex work (housed in a former brothel), where you’ll discover the history of sex in Amsterdam and the crazy stories some of them have lived through.
How much does a guided tour of Amsterdam's Red Light District cost?
It all depends on the type of tour you choose. A classic tour costs 14.50eu per person. More comprehensive tours start at 36.50eu per person.
But that’s not all! You’ll find 2-hour tours, which are quicker, but include entry to a coffee shop (and a drink), for 36.50eu per person, as well as pub tours of the red light district with a boat trip included, for 49eu per ticket booked.
How do I book a guided tour?
Booking your guided tour is really easy. Treepeo, in partnership with GetYourGuide, invites you to click on the links on this page. You’ll be redirected to our partner’s page.
All you have to do is select the desired dates and add the number of tickets you wish to book. Once you’ve made your choice, you’ll need to make your payment.
Once your payment has been validated, you’ll receive an email containing the summary and your ticket! It’s easy and only takes 5 minutes.