We visited Ottawa in the middle of January and, although it may not be the best time to visit, we got to see and do quite a bit. Here’s a few tips that worked for us.
- The ByWard Market, established in 1826, is a lovely place to visit -even in winter. The indoor market is open all year round, although I saw a couple of vendors brave the low temperatures who put up their stalls on the snowy sidewalks.
- Ottawa is a pedestrian-friendly cit (weather permitting, of course). So walk around.
- Walk around the Parliament Hill grounds and take a guided tour of the Centre Block. The Centre Block is where all the action takes place as it houses the Senate and the House of Commons, modelled after the British House of Lords and House of Commons, respectively. The Library of Parliament was designed in the High Victorian Gothic Revival style (that’s a mouthful…) and smells wonderfully of old books and white pine. The most fun though is going to the top of the Peace Tower. The views of the city are the best (according to our guide. I can’t argue with that.) The tours are free of charge.
- The Rideau Canal, which runs through the city, freezes in winters and an 8 kilometre long section becomes a skate rink. There are chalets (change rooms), food and drink vendors and washrooms along the way.
- People are very kind. They’ll answer all your questions with a smile and even have a chat with you. So talk to people!
- Fortify yourself against the cold with bowls of cafe au lait with croissant and pains au chocolat at the Boulager Française.
- Indulge in some retail therapy at the Rideau Center (or use it as a short cut to avoid icy streets) .
- Learn about the Group of Seven and other Canadian artists (both from European descent and First Peoples) at the National Gallery of Canada.