Ottawa Travel Guide

by our Canada expert Terry Emery
Terry EmeryA rough travel rule is that if a country’s capital city isn’t its largest, it’s probably good for visitors - often wrong, but certainly true of Canada. Ottawa is a fascinating cosmopolitan city where you’ll hear French and English on the street, and see many reminders of its origins as an Algonquin trading post. (The Museum of Civilisation’s wonderful collection of totem poles, for example) It’s also a town for all seasons: “You’ve got to go to Ottawa in winter”; “You’ve got to go to Ottawa in summer”. Absolutely right! The Rideau Canal that runs through the city is a major waterway (linking to the Great Lakes) that has a spectacular August festival … and then freezes in winter to become the biggest skating rink in the world with an equally spectacular ‘Winterlude’ in February, with ice-sculptures and a ‘Snowflake Kingdom’ for kids. Year round, the ByWard Market is a buzzing farmers’ market and shopping area by day, and the restaurant and clubs hotspot by night. We said ‘cosmopolitan’ and historic international links have produced a Changing the Guard ceremony (Parliament Hill daily in summer) that matches the Buckingham Palace one, while each spring has a very colourful Tulip Festival originating from the city’s hosting of the Dutch royal family in WW II. Yes, it’s Canada’s administrative and political capital, with a major downtown financial district - but Ottawa’s a great place to be a tourist.

Canada Facts

National Flag: Canadian Flag
Language(s): English
Currency: Canadian dollar
Dialling Code: +1
Time Zones: Saskatchewan : GMT - 6
Newfoundland : GMT - 3.5
Yulon & Pacific : GMT - 8
Mountain : GMT - 7
Central : GMT - 6
Eastern : GMT - 5
Atlantic : GMT - 4
Newfoundland : GMT - 3.5
Tourism Website:

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