If you’re in… Ottawa

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.

    View from the top of the Peace Tower

  • 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.

                Centre Block / Parliament Hill

  • 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.

            National Gallery

About Ana O

Hi, I'm Ana. I'm originally from Argentina but I'm currently living in Dallas (USA) with my British husband. I'd like to share my experiences as an expat and as a traveller.

6 thoughts on “If you’re in… Ottawa

  1. Ottawa sounds like a friendly place, although I’m not sure I could brave the winter cold! I think I’d be downing multiple bowls of cafe au lait (with some extra pain au chocolat for good measure lol).

  2. I’d go there even just for the café au laitand the pain au chocolat!! 😀
    I’ve always wanted to visit Canada, and of course, Ottawa in particular. Good tips and good to know that it is true what they say about people being polite and friendly there!

  3. I moved to Ottawa in 1992 and love being a “tourist’ in this city. There are tons of events, concerts and shows. Canada Day (July 1st) on Parliament Hill is a must with thousands of locals and visitors attending the festivities on the hill followed by fire works (don’t forget to wear red and white). Winterlude covers three weekends in February and it’s a great time to get the skates out or even just walk on the canal (weather permitting). Winterlude Plaza across from City Hall has ice sculptures, shows, Beavertails (yummy hot pastries), hot chocolate, outdoor fires and lots of people to watch. In early June, Doors Open Ottawa allows the public to visit many municipal buildings, embassies, gardens, theaters and galleries that we wouldn’t normally have access too. Fall is beautiful with all the changing leaves, crisp days and pumpkin stands. The Gatineau Hills are just across the river from Ottawa and have many wonderful hiking trails. In the winter, there are ski slopes and snowshoeing and cross country trails. There is always so much to do in this small city and I can’t imagine living anywhere else!

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