A Landsby Spotlight on Ottawa
Located in eastern Ontario, on the border with Québec, Ottawa is Canada’s capital city — a vibrant mix of green spaces and government buildings, good dining and lots of cultural events. For visitors, Ottawa has a walkable city centre and plenty of great neighbourhoods to explore. And if you need a break from sightseeing, nature is just steps away.
What’s there to do in Ottawa?
As the seat of power in Canada, Ottawa is home to Parliament Hill and a host of historic buildings and museums that are fun to visit if you enjoy learning about history and our democratic process. On the to-do list for first-time visitors who want the full ‘Nation’s Capital’ experience is the changing of the guard on Parliament Hill, a guided tour of the Parliament Buildings and a visit to the top of the Peace Tower. And with seven national museums to visit, there’s something to pique everyone’s interest.
Most visitors to Ottawa will want to stop at the year-round ByWard Market. It is one of the oldest farmers’ markets in Canada and is full of vendors selling everything from handmade crafts to coffee to lunch. Be warned that this area gets busy during the summer months as it is very popular with visitors.
For a different take on the city, head out on a Haunted Walk to learn about the city’s ghosts or take a cruise along the meandering Ottawa River.
Related: Read our interview with Glen Shackleton, owner of Haunted Walks in Kingston, Ottawa and Toronto.
While visiting the city, take time to explore the historic Rideau Canal (read our post on ways to explore the Rideau this summer) and cross the river into Gatineau, Québec. For those who have some extra time and enjoy a thrill, we recommend a nearby whitewater adventure.
Is it better to visit Ottawa in the summer or winter?
The changing weather doesn’t have much impact on the vibe of this city. In the summer you’ll be able to enjoy strolling along the waterfront with a warm breeze and bask in the sun while sipping a cold drink on a patio. Green spaces abound within and just a short drive away from the city, offering everything from kayaking/canoeing to hiking and swimming. Art and music festivals are also a big part of summer in Ottawa.
But in the winter, the city comes to life in a different way. Restaurants with top-notch chefs create warming menus with cozy dining spaces. A warm cocoa is the perfect accompaniment to a stroll around town. And best of all, you can strap on a pair of skates and head out on the famous 7.8-km Rideau Canal Skateway.
Our weekly 2022 Summer Spotlight series has short introductions to Canada’s 14 capital cities (10 provincial, 3 territorial and 1 national) and was created to inspire us Canadians to explore more of our own country. For more details on each province or territory, visit our Experiences page or search our Journal by location. Better yet, reach out to us! We’d love to tell you more about these great places and create travel itineraries for you to explore them.