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Ottawa

Photo © Taffski

Travel Guide North America Canada Ontario Ottawa

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Introduction

Ottawa

Ottawa

© All Rights Reserved -reece-

Ottawa is the capital of Canada, built on a high cliff to protect against the potential advance of American invaders, the capital is now a welcoming place for visitors. The winters offer the opportunity to skate on the world's largest skating rink, at the end enjoying a sugary treat called a Beavertail. The summer provides festivals, the beautiful flowering of the tulip festival and the biggest Canada Day party on July 1st.

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Neighbourhoods

  • Byward Market - the downtown area east of the Rideau Canal and near the University of Ottawa, it features a number of bars, restaurants, and daily outdoor street markets in the summer.
  • Centretown - west of the Rideau Canal it features Sparks Street, a pedestrian only walking route, the parliament buildings, and along Elgin Street you will find a lot of great restaurants and pubs. The museum of natural history is also located in this area.
  • Glebe - south of the Queensway (Hwy 417) and centre town, it has a lot of older buildings, and the canal goes through the neighbourhood. The main street (Bank St.) also has a number of shops, restaurants, etc.
  • Chinatown - west of centre town, but east of Little Italy, this area is the best place to find asian cuisine, and there are occasionally unique events and festivals here. The main street is Somerset street, and entering this way, you'll pass under an archway.
  • Little Italy - west of China town, this is the best place for Italian food. They also feature unique events here several times a year.
  • Hintonburg & Westboro - the foodie mecca of the city, this is where you want to go. Any restaurants in the area are bound to be good. It's an up-and-coming neighbourhood with a lot going on.
  • South Keys, Nepean, Orleans - predominantly residential areas a bit further out around the city.
  • Hull - across the river from Ottawa and in the province of Quebec, Hull boasts many attractions, and provides the gateway to the Gatineau hills.

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Sights and Activities

Ottawa

Ottawa

© All Rights Reserved -reece-

Parliament Buildings

Visitors can tour the grounds and buildings of the Parliament buildings, site of architectural beauty, historical significance and federal political power in Canada. Tours are free, lasting between 20 and 60 minutes. See the Official Tourism Website for more details.

ByWard Market

The ByWard Market is one of Canada's oldest and largest public markets. Roughly four blocks square, the market contains museums, cafés, food shops, boutiques, galleries, restaurants and pubs.

Known locally as the "NAG", the National Art Gallery hosts a large collection of Canadian and international art in a beautiful Moshe Safdie designed glass and granite building in downtown Ottawa. The gallery is open from 10:00am until 5:00pm (8:00pm on Thursdays) 7 days a week. Admission is $5.95 for adults for the main collection. Special exhibits have additional costs.

Museum of Civilization

In Hull, Quebec sits the most visited museum in Canada, providing a history of Canadian civilization: the Museum of Civilization. There are two halls, the Native Peoples' Hall, documenting the pre-European lifestyle of the indigenous population of Canada and the Canada Hall, documenting the history since the initial contact between European and Native Canadian.

Skating on Rideau Canal

In winter, the Rideau Canal becomes the world's largest skating rink. The Rideau Canal Skateway is 7.8 kilometres long, starting in downtown Ottawa and running down to Dows Lake in the south. Along the way are a number of huts to get warm drinks and sugary snacks to fuel your skate.

Summer biking

Ottawa has over 170 kilometres of bike paths, many of them completely isolated from car traffic and winding through beautiful natural settings. A map of the bike paths can be obtained from the internet at the City of Ottawa website.

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Events and Festivals

  • Canada Day - July 1st is Canada's national holiday, and no one celebrates it like the Canadian capital. Fireworks and concerts on Parliament hill. Check out the Canadian Capital Region website for more details.
  • Canadian Tulip Festival - In the fall of 1945, Princess Juliana of the Netherlands presented Ottawa with 100,000 tulip bulbs. Since that time, the Canadian Tulip Festival has grown into the largest Tulip Festival in the world, displaying millions of blooming tulips and hosting cultural and musical events.
  • Winterlude - Every February, Canada's Capital Region is host to the winter festival of Winterlude. Running for three weekends in the dead of winter, Winterlude provides an opportunity to skate on the world’s largest skating rink, see majestic snow sculptures and glittering ice sculptures or catch musical acts at the Snowbowl.
  • Italian Week - every year in June the festival lasts for a week to ten days and happens on Preston Street in the heart of Little Italy. It features races - horse, ferrari, and bike - musical and food events. There are daily events and activities for the duration of the festival, so be sure to check their website for the current year's program.
  • Bluesfest - Ranked as one of the top 10 outdoor music festivals in the world by Billboard Magazie, it's a 2-week long outdoor music festival in July, it features music from a range of genres and hosts both large and small acts on 6 stages.
  • Wine & Food Show - Every year in November it's a 3-day event. They often have a spring edition as well.
  • Oktoberfest - Beau's brewery just outside of Ottawa hosts Oktoberfest and busses run from the city centre. Outside of the beer, there's typically some live music playing, and a number of competitions including "wife-carrying" races.

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Weather

Ottawa has warm summers and cold winters. Temperatures range from 24 °C during the day in summer on average, to -16 °C in winters at night. Temperatures have been recording though of 38 and -37 °C respectively. Precipitation is evenly distributed throughout the year with around 10 to 14 days of rain or snow each month. From November to March, most of it is actually snow. Summers are a little wetter regarding the amount of precipitation, around 90 mm a month, compared to around 60 in winter.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max-6.1 °C-4.1 °C2.2 °C10.8 °C19.1 °C23.8 °C26.5 °C24.9 °C19.5 °C12.5 °C4.8 °C-3 °C
Avg Min-15.3 °C-13.3 °C-7.1 °C0.6 °C7.7 °C12.7 °C15.4 °C14.1 °C9.1 °C3 °C-2.8 °C-11.1 °C
Rainfall70.2 mm58.9 mm73.9 mm72.4 mm79 mm85 mm90.6 mm87.1 mm85.3 mm79.4 mm80.1 mm81.5 mm
Rain Days1713.113.61212.912.211.611.112.713.415.317.7

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Getting there

By Plane

Ottawa International airport (airport code: YOW) is located to the south of the downtown area. The majority of flights arriving at the international airport are from Canada or the east coast of the USA. From the airport, travellers can use the OC Transpo Route 97 to get downtown.
Some of the main destinations include Frankfurt, London, New York, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington, D.C. and quite a few seasonal flights to Caribbean destinations like Jamaica, Cuba and Cancun.

By Train

Intercity train service arrives at the Ottawa Train Station to the east of downtown. Via Rail operates service from Ottawa to Toronto and Montreal. Information on routes, schedules and times can be found that the Via Rail website. Travellers arriving at the train station can take OCTranspo bus routes 94 or 95 from the train station to downtown Ottawa.

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Getting around

By Public Transport

OCTranspo is the public transit service in Ottawa. They run light rail service (O-Train) and bus service in the Ottawa area. A number of the bus services run in the "Transitway," a bus only road system. Fares, routes and schedules can be found at the OCTranspo Website.

By Car

Some of the options to rent a car include the following companies:

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Drink

Try walking down Elgin Street as there's loads of Irish, British and Canadian Bars and restaurants very close to one another.

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Sleep

Converted Jailhouse hostel in Ottawa

Converted Jailhouse hostel in Ottawa

© All Rights Reserved shinenyc

Backpacker dorms can be found for $20-30 a night. Bed and Breakfasts can be reserved for $80 and up. Hotels are $90 and up.

  • The HI Ottawa International Hostel, also called the Jail Hostel, at 75 Nicholas Street, is a unique experience for the traveller. Located in downtown Ottawa, the hostel was a prison prior to being converted into a hostel. Originally known as the Carleton County Gaol, the jail was open from 1862 until 1972 when it was closed for unsanitary conditons. The jail was one of the most disheartening buildings in Canadian history, and is rumoured to be haunted. The hostel provides a tour of the facility and explains it's past. Rates are $24.15 in a shared dormitory or $56.70 for a double room, which is not much more per person. Reservations can be made at their website.
  • The Business Inn is a great and cheap hotel with suites to stay at while in Ottawa. For less than $100 (up to 3 people per room) you get a large room with cable TV, a kitchen with cooker, fridge and microwave and most importantly, a free PC and printer in your room with Broadband Internet. For 3 of you sharing this would cost you $33 a night. It is within walking distance of the bus station and very central. And there is even a bar on the lower floor.

For more options and traveller ratings, see below:

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Australis Guest House89 Goulburn AvenueGuesthouse89
Barefoot Hostel455 Cumberland St Ottawa, OntarioHostel88
Candy Residence641 King Edward Ave.Hostel89
Cardinal Suites33 Sullivan Ave.Hotel-
HI-Ottawa Jail Hostel75 Nicholas Street OntarioHostel83
Ottawa Backpackers Inn203 York StreetHostel83
Rideau Inn177 Frank St OttawaGuesthouse-
A Voyageurs's Guest House and B&B95 Arlington Avenueguesthouse-
ByWard Blue Inn157 Clarence Streethotel-
Embassy Hotel and Suites25 Cartier Streethotel-
Travelodge Ottawa Downtown486 Albert StreetHotel-
Algonquin College Residence1385 Woodroffe AvenueHostel-
Ottawa Apartment Suite Hotel50 Laurier Avenue EastApartment-
Days Inn Ottawa Downtown319 Rideau StreetHotel-
Templeton Bed and Breakfast69 Templeton StGuesthouse-

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Keep connected

Internet

Internet usage is wide-spread in Canada. Wi-fi is available in many locations in larger cities, sometimes free and sometimes at a cost. You will find Wi-Fi in coffee stores, some restaurants and also hotels and motels more and more offer this service for free, but with a code usually. Internet cafes are common along major streets, and and in larger cities, charge between $3 and $4 for an hour, usually in 20-minute increments.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to Canada is: 1. To make an international call from Canada, the code is: 011. Emergency services can be reached by dialling 911. This number will give you free access to Police, Fire and Ambulance services and can be used from landlines, phone booths and cell phones.

The populous areas of Canada along the border with the USA have excellent cellular and wired telecommunications, meaning that travellers are never fair from an international phone call home, a WIFI connection or an internet cafe. Depending on the mobile phone provider, coverage could be either CDMA and GSM coverage. Travellers wishing to purchase SIM cards for GSM phones should look for Rogers Wireless, Telus Mobility and Bell Mobility, which all offer nationwide availability.

Post

Postal service is provided by Canada Post, a crown corporation owned by the government but run as an independent business. Most post offices keep hours from 9:00am to 5:00pm though in bigger places longer hourse might be available.

To format the envelope of a letter sent within Canada, put the destination address on the centre of its envelope, with a stamp, postal indicia, meter label, or frank mark on the top-right corner of the envelope to acknowledge payment of postage. A return address, although it is not required, can be put on the top-left corner of the envelope in smaller type than the destination address.

The lettermail service allows the mailing of a letter. The basic rate is currently set at $0.63 for one standard letter (30 grams or less). The rates for lettermail are based or weight and size and determine whether the article falls into the aforementioned standard format, or in the oversize one. The rate is the same for a postcard. Mail sent internationally is known as letterpost. It can only contain paper documents. The rate for a standard letter is of $1.10 if sent to the United States, and $1.85 if sent to any other destination. Oversize or overweight letters may be charged a higher fee. Larger parcels can be shipped via Canada post both domestically and internationally, the rate is dependent on the weight and destination. [1]

Federal Express, TNT, UPS or DHL also provide interntional shipping from Canada and are usually very quick and reliable though might cost a little more compared to Canada Post.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 45.423494
  • Longitude: -75.697933

Contributors

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This is version 41. Last edited at 16:02 on Nov 6, 14 by Utrecht. 37 articles link to this page.

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