Ottawa Destination Guide
Canada’s capital is one of the most unique cities you’ll find in the country. A truly metropolitan city with a harmonious blend of French and English culture, Ottawa continues to grow thanks to its booming high-tech business sector. Often overlooked by tourists, dynamic Ottawa offers all forms of food, shopping, festival and outdoor experiences. Its network of waterways and canals links it to Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay, while the Rideau Canal winds through the city core. Used by boats in summer, come winter Rideau Candal becomes a winter wonderland filled with skaters and ice sculptors and is the perfect example of Ottawa’s year round appeal as a travel destination.
You can rest assured that whatever time of year you visit, you’ll always find numerous things to see and do in Ottawa. Home to many architectural sites with old-world European charm such as Parliament Hill, Rideau Hall and the Canadian Museum of Nature, popular tourist activities include a trip to the observation desk of the Gothic inspired Peace Tower, a visit to the Canadian War Museum and watching the guard changing ceremony. Winter is when the UNESCO World Heritage Site Rideau Canal freezes over and becomes the world’s largest outdoor skating rink, while cross-country skiers will love and city’s extensive network of trails.
Eat and Drink
Satiating the countries government stiffs is no easy feat but thankfully Canada’s capital is well up the task and is home to some of the countries chief chefs. Restaurants are scattered all around town but some of the top destinations to grab a meal at are Elgin Street, Bank Street and Wellington Avenue. Those wanting to experience Ottawa’s French history can’t miss the Prince Edward Island mussels and fresh Malpeque oysters at Metropolitan Brasserie on Sussex Drive. For a more low key treat, follow Barack Obama’s footsteps and head to Byward Market where you can sample the doughy deep-fried pastry known as Beavertail.
Where to Stay
Two of the most popular areas to stay in Ottawa are downtown and Byward Market, with downtown Ottawa having a far more superior selection of hotels to choose from. Marriott, Delta and Fairmont Chateau are three of Ottawa’s finest hotels, while The Business Inn and Swiss Hotel top the list for many business travellers. Those on a budget have numerous motels to choose from including the Stardust Motel, Travelodge and Econo Lodge, while the airport has another selection of affordable accommodation to choose from.
Buzzing Byward Market is one of the best places to shop in Ottawa and in particular a top place to stock up on the best Maple Syrup Ottawa has to offer. Located on the edge of the parliamentary district just across from the Rideau Canal, at Byward Market you’ll find blocks of boutiques at the market that dates back to 1846. Sparks Street is another popular shopping street and a great place to trawl through antique shops, while Richmond Road and Bank Street Promenade are great places to pick up clothes and equipment for your trip to the countryside.
Ottawa Like a Local
If there’s one thing locals in Ottawa love to do it’s celebrate. Year-round the city revels at the more than 60 exciting festivals that take place annually in town. From Canada Day, to the Canadian Tulip Festival and the Ottawa Jazz Festival, winter is when the city hosts Winterlude, one of the annual calendar highlights. Started in 1979, the three-week long Winterlude is centred around the Rideau Canal but takes place at venues all around town encompassing all manner of icy celebrations including ice sculptures, snow slides and of-course plenty of ice-skating.