We visited Ottawa, the capital of Canada, 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 are a few tips that worked for us. (Updated)
- The ByWard Market, established in 1826, is a lovely place to visit -even in the dead of 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. ByWard Market is Ottawa’s main destination for shopping, dining, arts, and entertainment.
- Ottawa is a pedestrian-friendly city (weather permitting, of course). So walk around. There are lots of photo opportunities too. Ottawa is highly instagrammable!
- 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 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 skating rink. There are chalets (changing rooms), food and drink vendors, and washrooms (Canadian English for restrooms, toilets, whatever you call them in your corner of the English-speaking world) along the way. Check out the Rideau Canal Skateway website for details. The canal, opened in 1832, is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- People are very kind and polite. They’ll take the time to 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 (The French Baker).
- Indulge in some retail therapy at the Rideau Center (or use it as a shortcut to avoid icy streets).
- Learn about the Group of Seven and other Canadian artists (both of European descent and First Peoples) at the National Gallery of Canada. The museum also has contemporary, European, Asian, and American works of art on display.
- You can explore Ottawa with a private tour led by a local guide.
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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.