Home CITY TOUR Amsterdam’s red light district: guided tour, history, museum & info

Amsterdam’s red light district: guided tour, history, museum & info

As one of the oldest and most beautiful neighbourhoods in the Dutch capital of Amsterdam, the Red Light District is worth a visit. It is considered one of the main attractions. The locals call it Rossebuurt – the red neighbourhood. Tourists will find almost everything their heart desires here, from brothels and sex shops to restaurants and museums. It is often referred to in travel guides as De Wallen or De Walletjes.

As the centre of the city’s nightlife, nightclubs, bars, and coffee shops are also lined up here. The neighbourhood is characterised by scantily clad ladies in floor-to-ceiling shop windows and an open, tolerant attitude towards prostitution and pornography. There is much to discover – both in daylight and when the red lights come on at night.

TOP 5 Activities in the Red Light District
💯 Tickets for Red Light Secrets17.00 €Book Online
💯 Museum + canal cruise27.00 €Book Online
💯 Red Light District Tour36.50 €Book Online
💯 Red Light District Exclusive Tour44.50 €Book Online
💯 Guided tour of a strip club21.00 €Book Online

Behave correctly – avoid trouble

Behave correctly - avoid trouble

📷 NO PHOTOSAs you can read on numerous signs, rule number one in the Dutch capital’s entertainment district is: photography is prohibited! This applies at least and above all to taking photos of the ladies in the shop windows. Even the mere attempt to do so can, in the best-case scenario, result in the camera ending up in the canal thanks to a bodyguard or the lady photographed herself.

⛔ Do not disturb – The second rule relates to disturbances – both to the ladies at work and to neighbours. It is important not to knock or disturb in any other way when the curtain of a shop window is closed, as the lady behind it is busy. In addition, unnecessary noise should be avoided urgently to avoid depriving neighbouring residents of sleep.

🗣️ No small talk – It should also be noted that the ladies work here – they are not available for time-consuming small talk or even interviews. Looking is allowed, but touching is only permitted with permission and, of course, for a fee.

💰 Attention pickpocketsDistracted by the many impressions, it is easy to forget your valuables. Pickpockets in the neighbourhood like to take advantage of this. It is, therefore, essential to keep your handbag and mobile phone close to your body at all times. For this reason, it is advisable to stroll through the streets in a group at best. This can also prevent dealers from trying to sell their drugs. Possession and consumption are severely punished – a fact that many visitors underestimate, given the apparent marijuana consumption.

Prostitution with a long tradition

The tradition of prostitution in the Dutch capital is long and primarily characterised by tolerance. As early as the 17th century, sailors would stop off in today’s Red Light District after months of travelling to enjoy themselves. However, a ban on prostitution ensured that women were only allowed to offer their services in hidden parlours.

These were tolerated, as was prostitution in playhouses, which, from the 18th century onwards, provided beds for some ladies and thus increasingly turned into brothels. The ban was lifted in 1811, but open prostitution was still frowned upon and tended to take place behind closed doors.

♥︎ Prostitution was legalised in Amsterdam in 2000 – one of the first places in the world to do so. You can also gain an insight into the history of the oldest trade in the world at Red Light Secrets, the Museum of Prostitution, at Oudezijds Achterburgwal 60h. Here, you can even get a first-hand insight into English.

Tickets for the Museum of Prostitution

The entertainment district by day

The entertainment district by day

Since the legalisation of prostitution, millions of pleasure-seeking tourists have flocked to the world-famous red-light district of the Dutch capital every year. It runs close to the central station along the banks of the Oudezijds Voorburgwal and Oudezijds Achterburgwal canals. With a total area of around 6,500 square metres, there is plenty to do and discover:

First, a series of guided tours through the entertainment district exists. These cover the highlights and provide exciting insights from a local’s perspective—those who prefer to explore on their own do so just as well.

In daylight, the quarter’s long, narrow cobblestone streets become visible, and the 14th-century architecture leaves an impression. In the middle of the entertainment district stands the Oude Kerk, or old church – built in Gothic style and recognizable by its ornate tower, which can be spotted from the central station.

Directly in front of the old church is the Belle Statue, a bronze statue erected in honour of all prostitutes around the world. It is the first and only monument in the world and was designed by the artist Els Rijerse.

As you stroll along the canals, you will be surprised by the restored facades and the mix of trendy residents and visitors. The old buildings and winding alleyways exude charm. In the summer months, restaurants and live music invite you to linger. Caf̩ Pacifico, for example, is considered one of the first Mexican restaurants in Europe. The smell of marijuana can usually be detected from the numerous coffee shops. In addition to the green drug, coffee, tea, and soft drinks can often be comfortably consumed here Рalcohol is prohibited.

The entertainment district by day

A visit to the numerous sex stores is worthwhile in any case, even for those who have no intention of taking souvenirs with them. Here, you can find suitable accessories and curiosities for every sexual preference. Probably the best-known of these stores is the Condomerie – whether it is considered more of a souvenir store or a museum is up to you. Also known as the condom shop Het Gulden Vlies, the store offers condoms in all imaginable colours, shapes, flavours, and sizes. There are also plenty of books and information about contraceptives available.

And for lovers of unusual museums, there is much more to discover: The Marijuana Museum provides insights into the world of cannabis – from cultivation and consumption to its use for medicinal purposes. Erotic sculptures, literature, and drawings are waiting to be marvelled at in the Erotic Museum. It welcomes visitors with sexy animated films and is divided into different sections – one dedicated to sadomasochism, for example.

Red light district by night – sightseeing and adventure

Red light district by night - sightseeing and adventure

The red lights come on as soon as it gets dark in Amsterdam. The ladies in the shop windows take their places and offer their services. Prices for 20 minutes of pleasure range from 50 to 100 euros. If you have particular preferences, there is an alley for coloured ladies only, another one almost exclusively for overweight prostitutes, and another one for so-called ladyboys. A blue light in the shop windows indicates that there is a transsexual prostitute behind it.

🍻 A pub crawl is ideal for party-loving tourists. Here, the night is turned into the day – together with other revellers in various clubs in the district. In terms of music, there is something for everyone – rock pubs sometimes play live music, nightclubs attract dance fans with hip hop, Irish pubs serve Guinness, and there are numerous bars where you can sip delicious cocktails. There are also unique bars and cinemas for homosexuals in the Warmoesstraat. The party crowd usually occurs between 11 pm and 2-3 am in the red light district.

Red light district by night - sightseeing and adventure

During this period, the infamous Casa Rosso and Moulin Rouge theatres, for example, offer numerous live sex shows that attract crowds of onlookers night after night. Another option is peep shows, where visitors sit in video booths. If you are already in Amsterdam and want to do the obligatory tour of the red light district and then enjoy a show, we recommend the Casa Rosso erotic theatre. In summer, at weekends and after 9 p.m., it can get crowded here and there can be queues. Ticket holders for the Casa Rosso have skip-the-line access.

If you want to enter the red light district as a tourist and feel unsafe, you should join one of the many guided tours or walks through the notorious streets. To avoid falling into the wrong hands, here are a few booking tips:

Red Light DistrictPrice*Ticket
Red Light District - Tour 2 hours36.50 €Book Online
Red light district tour through De Wallen44.50 €Book Online
Guided tour of a strip club21.00 €Book Online

*As the tours are subject to price fluctuations, only the current price of the provider applies.

For all those who would like to experience for themselves how a prostitute might feel in one of the shop windows, it is worth visiting the PIC. This is an information centre about prostitution, which was founded by a former prostitute and has been a point of contact for visitors and prostitutes alike ever since.

A guided tour of the centre includes exciting facts about prostitution, background information about the district, and a visit to a window brothel or a sex show on request. A one-hour course takes interested tourists into the world of a prostitute – including a suitable outfit and showing off their own body in a shop window.

If you’re looking for a bit of history and culture, the Jewish Quarter, Waterlooplein, and Nieuwmarkt Square are just a short walk away.

🎉 Incidentally, the entertainment district is the city’s party hotspot par excellence and a residential area. There is also a kindergarten right next to the prostitutes’ shop windows. Access is by iris recognition to ensure maximum security. To prevent unwanted or undesirable incidents between tourists and residents or the prostitutes working here, there are some important basic rules to follow when visiting the district – both in daylight and at night.

Party in De Walletjes

Party in De Walletjes

Those who have seen enough of Rembrandt, Vermeer, or Van Gogh and want to experience Amsterdam more fun can go off on their own in the red-light district or join pub and party tours.

🛈 There are also a few suggestions here:

Red Light District ToursPrice*Ticket
Red light district & coffee shop36.50 €Book Online
De Wallen tour31.50 €Book Online
Nightlife Ticket Amsterdam + Champagne28.50 €Book Online

*Prices are subject to change. The provider’s current offer applies. Everything worth knowing, including details and content of the respective tours, can be found on the provider’s website.

What makes the red light district so unique?

✅ Neighbourhoods like the one just described can be found in numerous cities worldwide. So why travel to the Netherlands first? It is a very safe area for tourists. Police officers and bodyguards are constantly on duty and ensure visitors and service providers feel safe. Prostitutes are required to undergo regular testing and adhere to professional guidelines.

This and more makes a visit to the entertainment district just as attractive for bachelors travelling alone as it is for couples looking for a change of pace. The best thing to do is to stroll through the narrow streets, experience one or two surprises, and see the hustle and bustle of the Dutch capital.

Location of the red light district

The neighbourhood is centrally located in Amsterdam, about 10 minutes from Central Station. The various postal addresses are Oudezijds Achterburgwal or Oudezijds Voorburgwad. You can also find your way around the famous Nieuwmarkt, a lively square in the centre of Amsterdam with numerous restaurants and stores.

Metro lines 51, 53 & 54 also stop here. There is also a lot going on around the famous Oude Kerk, the oldest preserved building in the Dutch capital of Amsterdam. It is also located in the middle of Amsterdam’s red-light district.

🏳‍🌈 By the way, this also exists in Amsterdam – Rainbow Bar Stroll

✅ Tip: If you prefer to go dancing, say goodbye to the pub districts of Amsterdam and head to the international Amsterdam Club Escape at Rembrandtplein 11.

Proposal for stag party

Suppose you are looking for something for a stag party and don’t want to experience any nasty surprises in Amsterdam’s red-light district. In that case, you should join a 3-hour, privately guided stag party tour. Very suitable for groups of up to 20 people. Click here for details and to book.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here