A few steps away from the Oude Kerk and De Waag and you’re immersed in the sleazy underbelly of Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District. Here barely clad prostitutes advertise themselves behind illuminated glass windows along the medieval canals and alleyways; if the curtains are closed, then you know that a deal has been struck, but if they are open, sometimes you can even glimpse the stark beds upon which the deal is done. Currently most of the girls seem to be from Eastern Europe and some (although by no means all) are exceptionally beautiful. Needless to say, throngs of testosterone-driven men circle these tiny alleyways egging each other on either to visit a prostitute or one of the live, hardcore sex shows that leave nothing to the imagination.
Despite all this, the Red Light District is seedy rather than dangerous; although you should keep an eye out for pickpockets, the area is generally safe. However, a word of warning: Don’t photograph the prostitutes; it might be tempting to take pictures of half-naked women posing in windows but it will not be appreciated by the thuggish bouncers who parade the area, and you may well find your camera in the canal. Dusk is the best time to visit, before the drunken/stoned hordes of Euro-trash youth arrive to ogle the girls.