1 EXPLORE DE PIJP
The city's former working-class neighbourhood turned hipster epicentre, de Pijp – or the Pipe – is the ethnic melting pot of the city. Home to bohemians, immigrants and students, the area is filled with cafes, restaurants and quirky bars, but its main claim to fame is undoubtedly the daily street market.
Stretching a kilometre along Albert Cuypstraat, the market began trading in 1904 and now encompasses more than 300 stalls selling spices, vegetables, herring, dumplings, clothes and Dutch culinary classics, including the delectable "stroopwafel" – a hot, thin waffle with a thin layer of caramel sandwiched in between. So naughty, but oh, so good.
2 TRAWL EUROPE'S BIGGEST FLEA MARKET
Speaking of markets, bargain hunters should make a beeline for the mother of all flea markets: IJ-Hallen.
Taking place monthly, this Amsterdam institution is the biggest of its kind in Europe. Occupying two massive warehouses in the NDSM shipyard, the market comprises more than 750 stalls selling everything from antiques and books to furniture and vintage clothes. Entrance is €5 for adults and once inside, get ready to haggle.
3 BE A BOOKWORM AT EUROPE'S LARGEST LIBRARY
At 28,000 square metres, spread over 10 levels, the Amsterdam Library is bookworm heaven. Boasting unique collections, international newspapers, a theatre, a radio station, exhibition space, study pods and a cafe and restaurant, this is the ideal place to spend a rainy Amsterdam day.
Europe's largest public library also has something for non-literary lovers: a top-floor outdoor terrace overlooking the city, which offers spectacular views.
4 CHILL OUT AT VONDELPARK
In the heart of the city – south of Leidseplein and near the Van Gogh Museum – Amsterdam's largest park, Vondelpark, offers a quick escape from the hustle and noise.
Its sprawling gardens, ponds, lawns and winding footpaths are as beloved by Amsterdammers as they are by tourists. Here, diverse people of of all ages sun themselves, cycle, meander and picnic. And while the park welcomes 10 million visitors every year, it never feels crowded. If you're visiting during summer, be sure to check out the park's Open Lucht Theatre, which offers a calendar of dance, music and theatre, all free. Seats book up quickly so advance booking via its website is advisable.
5 GO DUTCH
While not known internationally for its cuisine, there is plenty of tasty Dutch foodie fare to be had.
To get a quick overview of the classics, head to the pretty Jordaan neighbourhood – one of the most historic and beautiful in the city – and join one of Eating Europe's walking food tours. Over four hours you'll sample a dozen or so local and national delicacies, from gouda cheese and bitterballen, to sausage and one of the best apple pies in the city (baked using a secret 100-year-old recipe). The tour also includes an hour-long private boat ride on the famous canals, during which you'll sample Dutch bubbles and beer too.
6 SWAP ANNE FRANK FOR THE RESISTANCE MUSEUM
Officially Amsterdam's most popular attraction, queues for the Anne Frank House can take hours. Instead, skip the crowds and get an insight into both the Holocaust and the Nazi invasion of Holland by visiting the Dutch Resistance Museum.
Detailing the history of the Dutch resistance during the country's German occupation, the permanent exhibition takes visitors from the invasion and rise of the resistance movement to the persecution of the city's Jewish residents and liberation through a series of recreated home and street scenes. See verzetsmuseum.org
7 GET OUT OF TOWN
As locals will testify, Amsterdam is a city best explored on two wheels.
Whether they're commuting to work, shopping for groceries or ferrying kids to and from school, everyone is on a bike. And biking is also the best way to see the surrounding countryside, be it tulip fields, castles, dykes or – most famous of all – windmills. An easy 15-kilometre cycle north-west of Amsterdam is the picturesque village of Zaanse Schans. A popular open air attraction, here you can get a sense of rural Dutch life in the 17th and 18th centuries. Its historic windmills – shifted here from nearby areas after being threatened by urban expansion – are all still in operation.
8 WORK YOUR WAY THROUGH DUTCH CRAFT BREWS
Amsterdam's craft and speciality beer scene is burgeoning. To get an overview, head to local beer bar favourite, In De Wildeman. Housed in a former distillery dating to 1690, this is a go-top place for anyone from the hardcore hop enthusiast to the casual beer drinker. More than 250 bottled beers and an ever-changing range of 20 tap beers cater to every taste.
9 EYE UP AMSTERDAM'S FILM INSTITUTE
Although it opened only in 2012, the building housing the EYE has already become a modern landmark.
Worth a visit for its riverside location and slick, architectural design; there is also plenty to attract visitors inside the building. Showcasing the best of cinematic history, this national film museum comprises a huge exhibition space, free permanent exhibition and the biggest film library in the Netherlands. Four cinemas screen classic films, alongside new independent releases and special screenings.
10 KAYAK THE CANALS
As the most water-rich city in the world, undoubtedly the best way to get to know Amsterdam is by boat or kayak.
Zeebaard Kayak Tours offers customised tours covering a portion of the 165 canals, 1281 bridges, 800 houseboats and 6800 merchant's houses that make up Amsterdam. Of particular note is the 400-year-old, UNESCO World Heritage, central canal ring.
Paul Ewart travelled at his own expense.