Situated in southeastern Ontario, just a stone's throw away from Quebec, you'll find Ottawa, Canada's capital city.
On the south bank of the Ottawa River, nestled between the Rideau Canal and the mouth of the Rideau River is the oldest region of Ottawa, known as Lower Town or Bytown. It's here that the celebrated Byward Market is located. Filled with unique shops, galleries, cafes, restaurants and nighttime hot spots, the market remains largely unchanged from when it was first built in 1826.
Across the canal lies Centretown, the city's financial and commercial hub. Today, this region is simply referred to as downtown. Here, you'll find Parliament Hill and the many government buildings and landmarks visited by tourists from around the world. From the hill, you'll see the Peace Tower (whose bell still tolls every quarter hour) and to the east, opposite the canal, you'll see the stunning Chateau Laurier ̵ one of Canada's original grand railway hotels.
In the winter when the Rideau Canal freezes, join locals and don your skates while taking in the sights of the 7.8-kilometre meandering path of ice. You'll see Christmas lights and exciting winter festivals like Winterlude, as well as kiosks selling Beaver Tails ̵ a delicious fried-dough pastry hand stretched to resemble the tail of a beaver. In the spring, summer and fall, the pathways running alongside the canal offer another great way to see the city.
Ottawa also has a vibrant nightlife scene with numerous places to catch local theatre performances (check out the National Arts Centre or Ottawa Little Theatre) or dance the night away to live music.
Ottawa has distinct seasons with a broad range of temperatures perfect for whitewater rafting and outdoor activities in the summer and skating on the frozen Rideau Canal in the winter. It's a good idea to check the forecast before you pack. Be sure to take seasonal items such as coats, boots and mittens in the winter months and your bathing suit in the summer.
Summers here are warm and humid with temperatures often reaching as high as 30 C in the midday heat. With the humidex, summer days may feel even hotter ̵ but it’s nothing a quick dip in the pool can't fix.
Spring and fall temperatures in Ottawa vary by year but often see warm temperatures like the summer and cool temperatures much like the winter. It's definitely a good idea to have a peak at the forecast when travelling in these variable seasons.
In the winter, snow is commonplace in Ottawa. Outside, children can often be seen building snow forts and ̵with average annual snowfalls of 235 centimetres̵they certainly have plenty to work with! Average January temperatures here hover around -10 C, but with strong wind chills it can often feel cooler.
What makes it different?
Ottawa is a sightseer and history buff's dream. Downtown you'll find the Canadian Parliament Buildings, Peace Tower and Rideau Hall, which has been home to Canada's Governor General since 1867. You can also explore Canada's past at the Museum of Civilization and Canadian War Museum, which offer a unique insight into Canada's rich history and culture.
Nearby, the National Gallery of Canada delights art fans with works from many periods and styles, including one of the largest collections of Group of Seven and Tom Thomson paintings.
Take a tour of the region on the Hull-Chelsea-Wakefield Steam Train and admire the beauty of Canada's capital. The five-hour trip takes you around the Gatineau River to the town of Wakefield. On board the train, tour guides share stories about the region while musicians play. When the train turns around in Wakefield, you'll have the opportunity to take a guided tour of the village or have a look inside the conductor's cab.
Ottawa also offers many modern sightseeing opportunities. If you're a hockey fan, stop by Scotiabank Place and check out an NHL game with the Ottawa Senators. There are also plenty of restaurants, pubs and nightclubs in the city to keep you entertained after the game.
Whatever you choose to do in Ottawa, you're never far away from historical sights and beautiful spaces.