Canada’s capital Ottawa is as modest, organised, well-mannered, tidy and likeable as much of the electorate that its parliament represents. It’s also Canada’s most comfortably bilingual place (a fifth of its 1.2 million-strong metro area lives in Quebec) and one that’s completely at ease with being cosmopolitan, thanks to the presence of many immigrants and dozens of diplomatic missions. Add to this good museums, an attractive and walkable downtown and some 600km of cycle paths through gently thriving neighbourhoods – to beaches and other outdoor recreation spots – and it’s hard to find fault with the city. Yes faceless suburbs exist, but avoid these, and timetable your travels to avoid rush-hour congestion, and you’d be hard pushed to find a better second-tier city on the planet.
Ottawa’s government buildings are as much a focal point for the city as they are the nation, and outside the strict security of the interior have a refreshingly causal air: turn up on summer Wednesdays at noon for yoga on the Parliament‘s front lawn with hundreds of others! From here it’s a 10-minute walk to Byward Market, Ottawa’s tourist and entertainment hub that’s focused on a tight grid of streets around a covered market. Day or night this part of town hums with visitors, diners and drinkers – no matter the time of year, which is a feat of sorts in a place that bears the brunt of famously harsh winters.
But Ottawa copes admirably with the these drops in temperature, particularly by embracing the Winterlude festival, an event that celebrates winter with ice sculptures and music, and with ice skating on the adjacent Rideau Canal. This canal is maintained all winter to offer the world’s longest skating “rink”, and so providing the city with a unique and unmissable attraction.
There are even more snow sports just north of the city in Quebec’s Gatineau Park, including enough cross-country skiing to keep you busy all winter and a modest downhill ski area to boot. Then, in summer its main roads and trails offering superb road cycling, mountain biking, and good hiking too – which all draw abundant numbers of locals.
Reasons for all this local energy might lie in the relative shortness of the summer season, or the fairness of government job working hours, but Ottawans are certainly more active than most. This also helps buoy the city’s busy festival calendar – when locals aren’t heading to those in Montreal (just two hours away by car, bus or train).
Ottawa itineraries will follow shortly. Why not drop us a line and let us know what you’d like us to cover?
This section of the website will be developed shortly. Why not let us know what you’d like to see covered?
Prices often fluctuate dynamically depending on capacity, seasonality and deals. We donât want to lead you astray by quoting exact prices that quickly become wrong. To give you a rough idea for budgetary planning purposes, though, we have indicated general price ranges for all points of interest.
Price ranges are quoted in C$.
See & Do
N/A => Not applicable
$ => Tickets less than $5 per person
$$ => Tickets $6-15 per person
$$$ => Tickets $16 per person
$ => Rooms less than $100 for a double
$$ => Rooms $101-200 for a double
$$$ => Rooms $201 for a double
$ => $1-20 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$$ => $21-40 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$$$ => $41 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
N/A => Not applicable
$ => Tickets less than $10 per person
$$ => Tickets $11-30 per person