Oudezijde and the Red Light District

The Red Light District in Amsterdam is of course one of the most famous places in the world. People come from all over to marvel at the countless red lighted windows, strip clubs, live sex shows, sex shops and peep shows which you rarely find in such numbers anywhere else. However, you will be surprised to find that the Red Light District is in the Oudezijde, Amsterdam’s most historically significant neighborhood with some of the cities oldest houses and sites such as the Oude Kerk, the oldest church in the city. Before making your own judgment on how this all works together it’s also good to visit the fascinating Prostitution Information Centre. Another eye opener is the Erotic Museum.

Heading South East through the Red Light District you will work your way to Nieuwmarkt, a relaxed cobbled market square area where they have an organic market here on Saturdays. Nieuwmarkt is surrounded by cosy cafes (Dutch Pubs) and restaurants with the medieval Waag (Weighing House) in the centre, which is now also a restaurant. Try not to miss the street that runs along the top side of the red light district. The Zeedijk is home to Amsterdam’s Chinese population, the Fo Guang Shan He Hua Temple or Zeedijk Temple as it's locally known and of course good Chinese restaurants

The Red Light District and Nieuwmarkt belong to the North part of the area historically known as Oudezijde with the University District to the south. From Central Station make your way south east, this will be with your left with the station behind you. If you are coming into the city by metro you can get off at Nieuwmarkt station. The border streets for this area are the Oudezijds Voorburgwal on the west side and the Nieuwe Herengracht to the east.

Known locally as the Walletjes because of the small walls on the canals, the Red Light District does of course have its own unique atmosphere and can be a fairly edgy place with a few shady characters walking around. However, it is a touristy place too and while exploring the busy streets you will no doubt be joined by large groups of elderly tourists as well as locals who live in this area with their families, oblivious to the fact that there is anything unusual going on. Due to its history and architecture it’s actually a fairly desirable and expensive area to live.