20 Things You Need To Know About Red Light District Amsterdam

If you go to Amsterdam without doing some research, you run the risk of a bad experience. Or maybe you miss the best beautiful highlights in the city. This overview offers the solution! 20 useful facts about the Red Light District Amsterdam that you absolutely must know. Some basic information about ‘De Wallen’ you want to know about.

1 | Amsterdam Has 3 Red Light District Area’s

red light district amsterdam
The Red Light District Amsterdam famous street.

First of all, there are three prostitution areas in Amsterdam. The largest and most famous is ‘De Wallen‘ – also known as Red Light District Amsterdam. Another area is located on the Ruysdaelskade where there are about 40 window brothels. The third area with window brothels is located around the Singel and Spuistraat. Also this area has about 40 windows.

2 | De Wallen Has 288 Window Brothels

red light district amsterdam windows
One of the windows in the Red Light District.

De Wallen is the biggest and oldest prostitution area in the Netherlands. Currently there are 288 windows here which are divided over 17 alleys and streets. Prostitution has been taking place here since Amsterdam was founded. The concept of window brothels is relatively new. It originated from the 1940s.

3 | Red Light District Amsterdam Has Around 375 Prostitutes

red light district

Knowing that this neighborhood has 288 window brothels that are rented out during the day and evening, but not all at once, it is estimated that around 375 sex workers are active in this area.

4 | Renting A Window Cost Between 80 And 180 Euros

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Prostitutes in the Red Light District Amsterdam pay rent to the window brothel operators. 80 to 100 euro in the daytime and 150 to 180 euro in the nighttime. This is a fixed price that the sex workers have to pay in advance after they have presented all their documents to the operator. Window workers are independent entrepreneurs who may charge their own prices. They do not have to pay commissions to the window brothels operators.

5 | Sex Workers Charge At Least 50 Euro

trompettersteeg
Amsterdam’s narrowest alley.

The prostitutes in the Red Light District usually charge a minimum of 50 euro per 15/20 minutes. There are no fixed prices. Negotiations with the customers take place in front of the entrance of the window brothel. Average prices are between 50 and 100 euros – depending on the service, time and friendliness of the customer.

6 | Taking Pictures Of Prostitutes Is Disrespectful

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Oudekerksplein in De Wallen.

Most sex workers in Amsterdam – and elsewhere in the world – lead a double life. Their family and friends often do not know what their profession is. This is caused by stigma, expectations and/or shame. They do not want to be photographed because of their double life. In the Red Light District Amsterdam it is not officially forbidden to photograph sex workers, but it is considered very disrespectful and rude. Sex workers often take their own measures to counter this. For example, there are stickers on the windows stating that they do not want to be photographed. Sometimes the prostitutes open the door and throws someone’s phone on the floor when they take pictures.

7 | Window Brothels Have Security

window brothels

All window brothels in Amsterdam – and the rest of country – are well protected by security-systems. The window brothels have panic buttons on the inside. In addition, there are always cameras installed on the outside of the window brothel that are monitored by the operators. When a sex worker would press the panic button, a loud alarm would sound. The people on the street are then alarmed. An alarm also goes off at the brothel keeper and the police. Good security is one of the reasons why so many (foreign) sex workers want to work here.

8 | Prostitutes May Refuse Clients

Amsterdam sex and the city

Clients in Amsterdam are regularly rejected by prostitutes at the window. Sex workers do not need or want to accept all clients. After all, they are their own boss.

9 | There Are 50 Police Cameras

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A local agent of the Red Light District Amsterdam stated in Amsterdam Audio Tours app that there are 50 police cameras in this neighborhood. These cameras are monitored 24/7 by the police making the area safer.

10 | Drinking Alcohol On The Street Is Prohibited

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It’s not allowed to drink alcohol on the streets.

For several years it has been officially prohibited to drink alcohol in De Wallen. A violation is fined with 95 euros – which must be paid immediately. Local enforcers monitor this strictly. The anti-alcohol signs on the bridges also point out this prohibition.

11 | Smoking Cannabis Outside is Allowed

red light district amsterdam street
Rolling a joint while sitting on the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal.

There is no (local) law that says that it is not allowed to smoke outside in De Wallen. Unlike the anti-alcohol signs in the area, there are no signs indicating a ban on public cannabis use. A visit to the Red Light District Amsterdam shows that people smoke weed or hash on the street.

12 | More Than 4,000 People Live Here

sex show amsterdam
People from all parts of society live here.

The Red Light District Amsterdam has 4,295 residents (source). People of all classes live here. Young, old, poor and rich. Some live above a sex show, next to a window brothel, or are neighbors of a coffee shop. In the middle of the Red Light District Amsterdam there is even a daycare center next to window brothels.

13 | Red Light District Amsterdam Has 14 Coffeeshops

the bulldog coffeeshop
One of the 14 coffeeshops in Red Light District Amsterdam.

The Dutch capital has 164 coffeeshops, 14 of which can be found in this neighborhood. Some famous ones are The Bulldog, Voyager, Jolly Joker, Het Gelderse and Rusland.

14 | Most Streets Are Car-Free

amsterdam chinatown
The Zeedijk street is car-free too!

You won’t find many cars in the Red Light District Amsterdam. The local government has made this neighborhood car-free for several years. The main streets – such as Warmoesstraat – in the area are only accessible to residents and delivery staff. Parking on the street is very difficult because of the few parking spaces.

15 | Red Light District Amsterdam Is Always Open

amsterdam wallen
The Oudezijds Voorburgwal.

Since this is also a residential area, De Wallen is accessible to everyone 24 hours a day. Also during the holidays! Of course there are closing times for the coffeeshops, window brothels, sex shows, cafes, restaurants, etc. The most flexibility applies to the window brothels. They only need to be closed between 6 and 8 in the morning.

16 | Best Way To See The Red Light District

oudezijds voorburgwal
Visit the area in the daytime and in the nighttime!

The very best way to experience the Red Light District is by foot because there are many narrow alleys and there’s lots to see. It is recommended to take a guided tour. This way you can learn more about the oldest neighborhood in Amsterdam. One option is to download the Amsterdam Audio Tours app. This app contains an audio tour in the Red Light District with a virtual guide, stories from 22 experts, photos and a GPS map.

17 | Blue Windows Indicate Transgender Sex Workers

red light district amsterdam blue windows
It’s not only women who work here.

The Red Light District Amsterdam also has a three streets where transgender prostitutes work. They often use blue lights instead of red lights.

18 | Undercover Police Officers Control The Streets

red light district amsterdam safe
The Warmoesstraat.

In addition to visible police officers on the street, there are also undercover officers present in the Red Light District Amsterdam. They mainly focus on pickpockets and street dealers. The Red Light District is safe, but just like any other cities, there are also bad people out there.

Tip: Leave your valuables in your accommodation and ignore street dealers.

19 | Social Control Provides Much Security

amsterdam red light district oude kerk
The Red Light District is really safe!

Many people don’t realise this, but one of the most important aspects that makes this neighbourhood so safe is social control. The many people on the streets, the local residents, the entrepreneurs, the employees. Together they make this a safe neighborhood because there is a lot of activity. The mixed cohesion of organizations, homes and good accessibility in the middle of the city offer safety through social control. For example, if something bad happened at a window brothel, everyone would witness it. This social control creates a barrier to breaking rules and laws. The social control in the Red Light District Amsterdam creates a barrier to breaking rules and laws.

20 | Window Workers Must Be At Least 21 Years Old

red light district amsterdam street
Amsterdam’s oldest canal.

Despite the fact that other sex workers – like escorts – are allowed to start this work at the age of 18, in the Red Light District Amsterdam there is a minimum age of 21 years. Every time a window prostitute goes to rent from a window brothel operator, the ID must be shown.

Want To Hear More Amsterdam Facts?

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Hear Amsterdam facts from 22 experts. Including the CEO of the FEBO.

Download the Amsterdam Audio Tours app which includes an audio tour with fascinating stories of 22 experts. Hear real prostitutes, real police officers and real historians. Two hours of audio for just 5 euro. Get the app and learn everything about Amsterdam.

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