After visiting the city two times, here are the obligatory things you must do if you go to Amsterdam.
1: Get lost in the city.
As last year the city became a popular destination, we expected crowded streets but it was funny to notice that 80% of tourists were concentrated at the main streets and the Red Light District. If you move far from these, it will be almost empty and you are going to be able to enjoy better the city and discover non-tourist sites.
After getting mesmerized by the tiny streets and lovely houses, I recommend you to make a free tour (most of them start at Dam Square) so a local can tell you historical curiosities of the city and recommendations while you stay there (like Bitterballen, a delicious meat-based snack).
2: Find the most crooked house.
No one can forget the first impression when seeing the tiny crooked (very crooked) houses near the canals. Even though you have heard about it, you can't believe it when you see it or when you try to put the horizon straight in a photograph. They're all different and they all have its own charm. And oh, the colours, Amsterdam has its own palette that you will definitely love.
You can also look at them doing a boat tour through the canals. We did it by the afternoon and it was really magical to see the sunsets from there while they explained you curiosities of the city.
3: A little bit of culture.
Amsterdam has a huge cultural offer: Anna Frank's house, the Heineken Experience, Van Gogh's Museum, FOAM museum, Madame Tussauds...
As we just stayed two days in the city, we decided to go to the Rijksmuseum. It was quite expensive but definitely worthy: you needed so many hours to see all the museum. You will see paintings from xxxx... among many other artists.
I recommend you to go at first hour in the morning as it gets so crowded at peak times, being difficult to observe the details of the paintings.
4. Get curious.
Don't be embarrassed to go the Red Lights District by night! It's like entering into a completely different city full of red neons, sex shops and showcases (if you know what I mean). Also look for The Bulldog, the first coffee shop opened in Amsterdam.
Don't be shy and enter into all the cheese shops you find. There you will be able to try different kinds of cheese as lavender cheese or red pesto cheese. You won't leave these boutiques with one of them in your hands, believe me! My recommendation? The herbs one, it's always a success. There's also The Cheese Museum where, apart from buying cheese, you can know a bit more about how is it done and get dressed as a typical Dutch.
Also, buy some tulips to plant at home and if you dare, you can rent a bike and cross the Vondelpark.
5. Find the windmills.
Early in the morning, we hired a trip to meet the Dutch mills and a couple towns from the coast.
The first stop was Zaanse Schans, a re-creation of a Dutch village from the late 19th century. Large extensions of green, furry sheep and windmills that turned magical with the first rays of sunlight, even though it looked like a stage. The trip also included the visit inside one of the mills to know how they work, a curious thing to see.
The next stop was Volendam, a small city by the shores of Lake Markermeer and full of pretty small houses. There we took a long walk along the pier and visited a cheese museum (and bought a cheese slicer!).
And a ferry took as to our last stop: Marken. Another beautiful and typical Dutch town where you can also visit a clogs' fabric to see how are they made (so impressive actually, they are made so fast!).
It was a really nice morning plan to get up close to Dutch traditions and architecture, which I totally recommend you.