Ottawa: travel tips to make the most of the Canadian capital

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)

Ottawa travel tips: what to see and do, from the famous ByWard Market to the Parliament Hill and the Rideau Canal. #Ottawa #Canada #traveltips
View from the top of the Peace Tower
  • 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.
Ottawa travel tips: what to see and do, from the famous ByWard Market to the Parliament Hill and the Rideau Canal. #Ottawa #Canada #traveltips
  • 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. 
Ottawa travel tips: what to see and do, from the famous ByWard Market to the Parliament Hill and the Rideau Canal. #Ottawa #Canada #traveltips
  • 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!
  • Indulge in some retail therapy at the Rideau Center (or use it as a shortcut to avoid icy streets).
Ottawa travel tips: what to see and do, from the famous ByWard Market to the Parliament Hill and the Rideau Canal. #Ottawa #Canada #traveltips
  • 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. 

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Ottawa travel tips: what to see and do, from the famous ByWard Market to the Parliament Hill and the Rideau Canal. #Ottawa #Canada #traveltips

Canada Ontario Ottawa

Ana View All →

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 Comments Leave a comment

  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).

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  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!

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  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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