Holland may be small (if you drive fast for two hours in a straight line, you are in a different country!), but with nearly 17 million people, it can get quite crowded.
Amsterdam is a truly international, but still village-like city. make sure you come and visit on the 27th of April, the Kings birthday, when everybody dresses in orange (our national color) and parties in the streets and canals.
For more insight into Dutch culture and our weird habits, I recommend reading The Undutchables by Colin White.
I have so many favorite places and they change with time. Some suggestions:
I am more into window shopping than buying, but I love to stroll these streets with local feel, no big retail chains but small shops, galleries, cafes etc.: