A walk through the Amsterdam red light district is a must when you’re in The Netherlands, simply because you won’t find anything else like it in the world. Before you pass judgement on me as a pervert, let me make this very clear: the Amsterdam red light district is a major tourist attraction. I strolled through the area with my mom, who is one of the straightest arrows on the planet (luckily, we have a cool relationship). You might not agree with what happens in the red light district, but it’s an interesting sight to take in.

Amsterdam Red Light District

Amsterdam red light district

The Amsterdam red light district looks like any other area in Amsterdam, except for all the glowing red lights (hence the name). The red lights highlight where a woman/prostitute is offering her sexual services. The women stand in front of glass windows and try to lure customers in. The prostitutes aren’t naked in the windows, but they aren’t wearing much clothing either. They dance, wave or do just about anything to lure you in. I saw one woman spraying guys with a water bottle as they walked by.

Many Americans feel slimy when they walk through the Amsterdam red light district. I even have a friend who cried when she was there, because she felt so bad for the prostitutes. The United States has strict laws against prostitution — that’s why tourists feel creepy strolling through there. But, prostitution is a legal and lucrative profession in Amsterdam. Some of the prostitutes make hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. They’re actually licensed workers, just like anyone else in the country. It’s such a normal scene that I actually saw two local children (probably no older than eight) playing soccer on the sidewalk just feet away from a prostitute selling herself in the window.

Amsterdam Red Light District

A slower alley in the Amsterdam red light district

The Amsterdam red light district was actually the most happening part of the city when I was there. There were hundreds, if not thousands of people, roaming the streets that night. Aside from the sex shows, sex shops and prostitutes, there are bars and restaurants in the red light district as well. I saw plenty of dudes gawking at the windows, but most of the people in the red light district appeared to be like my mom and me — just taking in the atmosphere of the Amsterdam red light district. We were there when it was dark, but not especially late, so the scene might get creepier as the hours pass by (like any bar in America), but I’m not sure. I wasn’t exactly willing to find out.

The Amsterdam red light district doesn’t come without its faults, but I think it’s definitely worth seeing (for men and women alike). It’s one of the areas that makes Amsterdam Amsterdam. It’s different from any other city in the European Union. The red light district is the first thing people ask me about when they find out I’ve been to Amsterdam. Everyone wants to know all about it. Well, that and “coffee shops”, but that’s a topic for a whole different blog post. Stay tuned!

Have you ever seen the Amsterdam red light district? What did you think of the area? We’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and/or Google+. Don’t forget to also check out http://catchthewinds.com for more on Amsterdam, Europe or any other destination you’re looking for! — TL

Amsterdam Red Light District

Amsterdam Red Light District