Amsterdam's Red Light District
A Guide To the Sex Shops, Girls and Bars
Erotic fantasies come to life in Amsterdam's Red Light District.
Forget the perception of a run-down area frequented by dirty old men in trenchcoats.
In Amsterdam's Red Light District, you are more likely to trip over couples or a grandmother than a creepy guy in search of a cheap thrill.
In a way, the openness of the Red Light District is refreshing. It's all right there, in full view, for the eyes to behold. Sex shops proudly show the latest vibrators in a display window as if they were the new spring collection at Harrod's.
An erotic museum boasts five floors of "enjoyment and arts."
Doormen stand in the street attempting to entice you into live sex shows.
Lingerie-clad women pose behind glass doors and solicit lust from not-so-innocent passersby.
Sex Shops, Bars & Red Light District Locations
Amsterdam's Red Light District is a tourist attraction all to itself. It's located in a largely a pedestrian area with few bikes and only locals in vehicles. The primary entry point is past the Grasshopper that leads to the easily recognizable main street. The majority of the sex shops, museums and live shows are located here.
Theater Casa Rosso (25 euros) has what many consider to be the "best" sex show in town, if one could rate such things. It's just what it advertises: Live sex on a stage. (Casa Rosa is distinguishable by the marble penis fountain in front of the door. Need we say more?)
You can watch sex here, or participate a few doors down.
The wildest such club has to be down the street at Banana Bar where it says, "our scarcely dressed girls show their erotic tricks on request (where) a special part is the banana."
Don't worry about finding the other live sex shows – they will find you. Their not-so-subtle doormen talk up their place to all comers.
It costs 25 euros for one hour, which may seem a bit pricey to watch other people do what many go to Amsterdam to find for themselves, but it does include drinks. A few shows are available for less and price adjustments can sometimes be negotiated.
If you believe sex to be a participation sport rather that a spectator one, try window shopping Amsterdam-style. Nearly 100 girls are lined up and laced up for your viewing (and more) pleasure.
Amsterdam's Red Light District at night.
Window shopping Amsterdam style in the Red Light District.
For 50 euros (and up), the girl behind the window is all yours.
To find some of the most popular girls, turn down what has to be the world's narrowest alley (Tromm Pett Str.) where you actually have to turn sideways to allow another person to pass. A block down on the right is an entrance to a building containing more female choices; dozens more can be found up and down the adjacent streets.
The heartbeat of the Red Light District beats one canal over from this area (Oude Zijds Acterburtwal). The majority of the girls are located here, and they come in a variety sure to please anyone.
Interestingly enough, the girls tend to congregate by types, of which there are many: Ethnic girls, average-looking ladies and young and beautiful lasses. Even big black women. The less attractive ones can be quite aggressive, frequently rapping on the window to get your attention.
Sometimes this can be quite amusing (especially after a visit to Coffee Shop 36); go down the little side street near the museum Amstelkring, just down from the Oude Kerk church – yes, a church – where girls ring a buzzer to unlock their door. Reasonably attractive and clean-cut males are signaled with a chorus of buzzes that rattle the senses.
Generally speaking, if a building has two stories of windows, the better looking and higher-price girls are located on the upper level. Prices for 15 minutes range from 25-100 euros depending on the service rendered and the quality of the girl doing the rendering.
This is not McDonald's, and the quality of the experience can be as varied as the girls themselves, so while some people may tell tales of exquisite encounters, others are not nearly as impressed.
Windows covered by a curtain are in use; go back a few minutes later to see who's behind it. If interested in soliciting a girl's service, walk up to her window/door. She will open the door allowing conversation. Ask the price and the service(s) but don't argue – an unseen bodyguard is watching every move.
If a deal is made she will open the door wider to let you in. Then she will draw the curtains indicating that she is "on the job."
Sex is performed with a condom; all the girls are licensed and must undergo an annual AIDS test. Supposedly, there's some type of certificate on the wall verifying this, but if you go in to look for it, perhaps you should not be in Amsterdam in the first place.
Not surprisingly, Amsterdam is full of escort services and even houses a few upscale brothels such as Yab Yum at Singel 295 (a cab can drops you right at the door).
The Red Light District is not all porno shops and window girls. There are several coffeeshops and bars contained within its boundaries. The best pubs are The Old Sailor and Cafe Zeevaart ("Sea Breeze" in English). As one might expect, the clientele is largely male.
Break away for a beer at the Old Sailor...
...or say high to PubClub's friend Fritz here at Cafe Zeevaart.
We like the Zeevaart, as it's owner/bartender Hans is quite a character. On the main street, you will notice round metal structures located next to canals. Occasionally, people disappear into them. These, believe it or not, are public urinals.
The Local's Red Light District
Most tourists are not aware of the sex opportunities outside
the main Red Light District.
Unknown and unseen by most tourists are two additional areas of prostitution. There are not many windows here -- less than a dozen -- but because the girls cater to the well-dressed Dutch businessmen they tend to be among the most attractive in town.
Grungy types need not apply. One is easily within walking distance from the main area. It is in a block or two radius of the corner of Oude Nieuw Str. (interestingly translating to Old New Street) and Korte Korsjespoort Str. near the Singel Canal. Several more windows are a few blocks further down Korsjespoort at Langestraat. The other section is several blocks south and east from the Rijksmuseum situated around the intersection of Ruysdaelkade and Govert Flinckstraat.
A final note on the Red Light District: Taking pictures is frowned upon by the police, not to mention the girls. We do not recommend attempting to shoot photos in any Red Light District, especially the main district.