Amsterdam, capital of the Netherlands, is a truly cosmopolitan country and the epitome of tolerance, whether it's drugs, prostitution or immigration.
It is not a "glamour" city in the same way that Paris, London or Barcelona is, yet the first-time visitor is bound to be awed in more ways than one - by its architecture, its leafy streets, its numerous canals and its healthy way of life with bicycles being truly the king of the road.
The Royal Palace is the centrepiece of Dam Square, which together with the Leidseplein Square and the Rembrandtplein Square, are the very pulse of Amsterdam city life.
One of the places to visit in Amsterdam is the flower market (Bloemenmarkt) which is actually a floating market as the stalls float in the Singel canal. A more popular type of market not to be missed is the Albert Cuyp market along Albert Cuyp street, behind which can be found many ethnic restaurants. It is perhaps the largest daytime market in the whole of Europe.
Apart from the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum (see below), art lovers also make it a point to visit the Rembrandt House Museum at number 4, Jodenbreestraat. Rembrandt lived here from 1639 till 1658 when it was auctioned due to his bankruptcy, after which he had to live in a small, rented house till his death in 1669. Combine this visit with a visit to the flea market at Waterlooplein, which is not far away from here.
Queen's Day (Koninginnedag) is celebrated in a big way in Amsterdam on the 30th of April each year (or on the 29th if the 30th is a Sunday). On that day too "freemarkets" (vrijmarkt), where everyone is allowed to sell things in the streets, are held all over Netherlands and many people are dressed in orange for the occasion.
Public transport in Amsterdam:
For unlimited travel in trams, buses and the subway in Amsterdam you might want to buy a tourists' card upon your arrival. It costs 7 euros for 24 hours, 11.50 euros for 48 hours and 15.50 euros for 72 hours (July 2011 prices). If you are a museum buff you might want to pay more for the Iamsterdam City Card, which besides the unlimited public transport, also includes free museum admissions as well as a canal cruise. Go to their website for full details. There are other options here.
Useful links for Amsterdam:
The Anne Frank House
The Van Gogh Museum
The 9 Streets (De 9 Straatjes)
NEMO for a day's excursion with the kids.
Day trips to Volendam, Delft or Rotterdam from Amsterdam