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Prostitution in Amsterdam

Is prostitution spread across all of Amsterdam or just in the red light district? Is it easy to avoid or is it "in your face" like Vegas? I'm not a prude but I don't care to see that aspect of the city.

Posted by
16883 posts

Last year, I stayed at Hotel Brouwer on the Single canal and found it a comfortable, good value - small single with bath and canal view for 60 euros (and a wireless router right in my room!). I thought it would be outside the official Red Light District, but in reality, there were prostitutes in windows on my block and several nearby blocks. They just sit there in their lingerie, and are more present in the evening. I don't think you can count on avoiding them. But my visit also reminded me how beautiful Amsterdam is, as a whole.

Posted by
2081 posts


this is how i saw it.

To me it was "centralized" in several blocks. If you dont want to go/see the area, have someone mark the areas on a map for you. I ran across it several times wondering around. Also, they are behind doors/windows too. at least the ones i saw.

Just my opinion, when i was in vegas last nov, i only saw one street walker. Maybe i was in the wrong/right part of town?

I see more street walkers in PDX than i do in Vegas.

happy trails.

Posted by
16 posts

Becky,,, Amsterdam is such a wonderful city-- you can avoid the Red Light District easily-- so many other terrific sites-- dont miss it= the Dutch people we met were so nice-- great hotels and b & bs-- you will be glad you went!!!!

Posted by
5777 posts

I think you can easily avoid the red light district. There are actually three areas in Amsterdam, only one in very central Amsterdam. If you stick to the main routes, basically start from the train station, head up Damrak, the main street, heading up to Dam Square, you can wander ahead and to the right all you want, head to the Museum areas, the flower market, and most of central amsterdam without an issue. To the left, is the RLD and many of the coffeeshops. On our first trip, it was actually an effort to get there.

That said, the canals and building in through what is the red light district are very scenic and a nice walk. If done in the first half of the day, the working girls will be relatively unobtrusive, many windows empty. At night, a different story, more people, barkers for clubs on the street, the gals giving a bit more of a show in their windows, and usually groups of people out to have a good time...or already had too much of a good time.

Posted by
14 posts

Thank you to everyone for all your helpful insight!

Posted by
2828 posts

There are two clusters of women in windows. One in De Wallen. Other near the Spui (it is a small area).

The government is coming down hard to close as many windows as possible. The ultimate goal is to take this type of filth out of the visible realm of the city, and leave it confined to the Internet or establishments far outside city centers.

If you pick a hotel on the 2nd canal belt, Joordan, Plantage, IJbrug, De Pijp or other areas you are guaranteed to be nowhere near prostitution activities.

Posted by
1713 posts

Hi Becky, I visited Amsterdam last May and stayed in the museum district for 4 nights. I liked the area very much as it was within walking distance to the Riks, Van Gogh, and modern art museums. I also visited the flower market and took a canal boat ride. I didn't see any prostitutes outside of the designated red light district. Amsterdam is a very nice and vibrant city and I felt very safe.

Posted by
354 posts

Hi Becky, I've been to Amsterdam three times in the past couple of years and only passed through the Red Light district once. If it troubles you, choose a hotel that isn't near the Red Light district. On my first visit I stayed in the museum area which was pleasant and very central. Amsterdam is a wonderful city, artistic and creative, culturally diverse, and of course the canals make it look so beautiful. Take time to walk - the Jordaan area is great for a ramble, the Nine Streets or De Negen Straatjes area has nice shops and cafes, and the de Pijp market is fun. It's too bad that many people still think 'pot and prostitution' when they think of Amsterdam - that does the city such an injustice, it's so much more than that!

Posted by
3336 posts

My husband's uncle was the police chief in the area of Amsterdam encompassing the red light district for many years and said that, while working, prostitutes are required to stay within that small area to ply their trade. That doesn't mean that they aren't out of that specific neighborhood, it just means that you won't see evidence of their profession outside of it. The windows where they stand and advertise are in a specific area contained within just a few blocks and if you don't want to see it, you can easily avoid it. The girls aren't even allowed outside their "advertising space" onto the street to lure clients in - clients have to approach them. It is a highly regulated industry in Amsterdam.
The rest of the city is generally very Dutch looking, just like what you'd expect, with little evidence of the sex trade outside the red light district.

Posted by
14 posts

Thank you again for taking the time to respond to my question. All the different perspectives are very helpful!

Posted by
5668 posts

I too stayed at the Hotel Brouwer and it was a bit startling to see the women sitting in the window in the same block. But, it really wasn't a big deal and I was very happy at Hotel Brouwer--great breakfast, lovely room and bath and an absolutely fantastic canal view! I remember when I went to Amsterdam the first time when I was 19. We all trooped over to the Red Light District to see what it is was like and gawk at the women. Now that I'm older, I see them and it's more of a shrug, and move on to what I want to see. I guess too that it's better that it regulated vs the situation you in have other cities.

And, BTW on that first trip to Europe, I did see my first prostitute ever, but it wasn't in the Red Light District which came several months later. Nope, it was sitting in a cafe on the Kufurstendam. I was staring at her as she walked by in her red outfit with white fur trim and one of the guys informed me about her profession. It was the early 70's and everyone was wearing very short skirts back then. At least in Amsterdam there was no mystery.


Posted by
4 posts

It is only spread in the three red light areas. Street prostitution does not exist in Amsterdam and girls need to work inside the rooms in red light areas, so they can not solicit on the street.