Amsterdam's most notorious, and popular, attraction covers one of the oldest parts of the city.
Rather like moths attracted to bright lights, most first-time visitors to Amsterdam are drawn to the seedy alleys of the Red Light District. It's human nature to be curious, and to want to know what goes on here. Though you do come across groups of drunken revellers, many of the people who ogle at the brazen sex shops, and the prostitutes promoting their wares in their undies in neon-lit “window brothels”, are entirely respectable. The area - which is roughly bordered by Zeedijk, Warmoesstraat and a line between Dam and Nieuwmarkt - is undergoing a gradual clean up, and over the last couple of years around a quarter of the window brothels have been closed. If you want a salubrious place to focus a daytime wander on, make it Our Lord in the Attic (Oudezijds Voorburgwal 40; www.opsolder.nl), a beautiful galleried Catholic church entirely concealed behind the façade of a canal house. (Though currently under restoration, it is still open).
Eating and drinking
A good pit stop is In de Waag (www.indewaag.nl), a café/restaurant in the medieval gatehouse on the Nieuwmarkt.