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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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Avg Max||-6.1 °C||-4.1 °C||2.2 °C||10.8 °C||19.1 °C||23.8 °C||26.5 °C||24.9 °C||19.5 °C||12.5 °C||4.8 °C||-3 °C|
|Avg Min||-15.3 °C||-13.3 °C||-7.1 °C||0.6 °C||7.7 °C||12.7 °C||15.4 °C||14.1 °C||9.1 °C||3 °C||-2.8 °C||-11.1 °C|
|Rainfall||70.2 mm||58.9 mm||73.9 mm||72.4 mm||79 mm||85 mm||90.6 mm||87.1 mm||85.3 mm||79.4 mm||80.1 mm||81.5 mm|
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.
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.
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.
Some of the options to rent a car include the following companies:
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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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.
For more options and traveller ratings, see below:
|Australis Guest House||89 Goulburn Avenue||Guesthouse||88|
|Barefoot Hostel||455 Cumberland St Ottawa, Ontario||Hostel||86|
|Candy Residence||641 King Edward Ave.||Hostel||88|
|Cardinal Suites||33 Sullivan Ave.||Hotel||-|
|HI-Ottawa Jail Hostel||75 Nicholas Street Ontario||Hostel||84|
|Ottawa Backpackers Inn||203 York Street||Hostel||81|
|Rideau Inn||177 Frank St Ottawa||Guesthouse||-|
|A Voyageurs's Guest House and B&B||95 Arlington Avenue||guesthouse||80|
|ByWard Blue Inn||157 Clarence Street||hotel||-|
|Embassy Hotel and Suites||25 Cartier Street||hotel||-|
|Travelodge Ottawa Downtown||486 Albert Street||Hotel||-|
|Algonquin College Residence||1385 Woodroffe Avenue||Hostel||-|
|Ottawa Apartment Suite Hotel||50 Laurier Avenue East||Apartment||-|
|Days Inn Ottawa Downtown||319 Rideau Street||Hotel||-|
|Templeton Bed and Breakfast||69 Templeton St||Guesthouse||-|
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.
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.
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. 
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Ask atw41year a question about Ottawa
Have lived in Ottawa with our two kids for the past 6 years.
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Lived there for 5 years as a student.
Ask traveller99 a question about Ottawa
I've been living in Ottawa for over twenty years. I'm familiar with the bus network and the tourist attractions.
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