Amsterdam More Than Just a Red Light District

Amsterdam during daytime

Museums, Canals, Shopping and More in This Dutch Treat

Amsterdam has a reputation for growing magnificent tulips, producing wooden shoes and being the home to a world-famous Red Light District. It has also grown into a popular destination for those from all over the planet. Besides beautiful, centuries old architecture, what makes Amsterdam so special?

The Naughty Red Light District

people walking on sidewalk with balloons on the street during daytime

For the adventurous and those that are not easily offended, a walk through the Red Light District (there are actually three, but the main one is between Centraal Station and Nieuwenmarkt) is a must. It is hard not to find charm in the cobbled stone streets and 14th Century architecture, but the true stars of the show are the hard-working ladies showing their scantily clad goods inside red-lit windows.

Besides women of all nationalities working legally as prostitutes in this eye-popping part of town, there are live sex shows, sex shops and bars of all kinds sprinkled in among them. Literally, there is something for every taste and imagination.

The best time to walk through this cornucopia of flesh and fantasy is at night, particularly 11pm and on when things are in full swing. It is very common to see families with children, couples holding hands and groups of girlfriends on a girl’s night out walking among packs of young men and Japanese tourists. They are all here to see the real deal and it can be a very fun part of the Amsterdam adventure.

Canals Define Amsterdam

body of water under white sky

A great way to tour the city is by taking a boat excursion on the canals of Amsterdam. There are over 100 kilometers of winding waterways that were successfully planned and built during the 17th Century. With plenty of tours to choose from that run both day and night, there is a tour for everyone. The boat tour guides seem to know plenty of stories about the history of the canals and the magnificent homes and buildings that line them.

A regular sight are the many houseboats on the canals, many occupied by local residents. Some are truly enticing with all the modern amenities and conveniences such as outside terraces and gardens while fully equipped inside with well-planned layouts. A friendly owner may offer a peek inside to the curious.

Museum Seekers Revel in Amsterdam

There are over 50 museums in Amsterdam with the most famous being the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijik Museum. Besides plentiful and famous artworks, there are other interesting museums to visit such as the Ajax Museum (the professional soccer team), the crazy but fascinating Sex Museum, the Heineken Experience, the Houseboat Museum and many more.

The Anne Frank House is an exceptional exhibit showcasing where she hid from Nazi’s during World War II while writing her diary. The original diary is on display as well. If interested, it is wise to get information in advance as lines tend to form outside daily.

Dutch Designers Make for Cool Shopping

The Nine Little Streets (De Negen Straatjes) is a fabulous shopping district full of hip boutiques and cafes. Dutch designs are prevalent in the unique and stylish offerings that line this pretty area.

A fun, funky place to spend time exploring is De Jordaan. There are plenty of small boutiques and second-hand stores in this maze of a bohemian neighborhood. Art galleries and artist studios are found here as well.

The Oud Zuid neighborhood is a beautiful, residential area and is a lovely place to linger. Beethoven Straat is full of classy shops for men, women and children. Cornelis Schuytstraat has cool boutiques and Dutch specialties.

Tulips, Wooden Shoes and More

worm's eye view of tulips

There are plenty of touristy excursions as well such as visiting the tulip fields and the wooden shoe- making factories located outside of Amsterdam. The little town of Volendam is pretty as a picture and a fun day tour as well. Even driving to these excursions affords plentiful views of windmills and green pastures.

Make no mistake that Amsterdam is much more than wooden clogs and pretty flowers. It is a cosmopolitan city filled with delights made for discovering, both old and new.