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Top 10 Things to Do in Amsterdam


5 of 10

Explore De Wallen
Top 10 Things to Do in Amsterdam
Photo © Ricardo Liberato

Take a stroll in De Wallen, Amsterdam's red light district, to see what all the fuss is about ... and learn that there's more to this fabled district than the sex tourism it attracts. The red-lit windows where sex workers primp are often attached to historic townhouses, and monumental architecture abounds in this sliver of the city. The Oude Kerk (Old Church), established in 1306, presides over its own square, while Museum Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder ("Our Lord in the Attic" Museum), a former clandestine church sequestered in a townhouse attic, testifies to a time when Catholic worship was forbidden -- before the Netherlands became known worldwide as a beacon of tolerance. De Wallen is also home to a number of fine restaurants, and just a stone's throw from the diverse eateries of Amsterdam Chinatown.

And then, of course, there's the adult entertainment. The live sex shows at Casa Rosso and Bananenbar are popular with couples, bachelor and bachelorette parties and others, but performance reviews are ambivalent. Prostitution isn't limited to "windows", as there are also brothels and escort services to cater to more discreet clients. But be aware that, behind the scenes, prostitution in Amsterdam is not without its problems; some sex workers are still coerced into the trade. Look for the "Pimp Free Zone" stickers on window brothels for responsible fun. For a behind-the-scenes look at Dutch prostitution, take an informative tour of De Wallen with a former sex worker.

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