Canada’s capital city, Ottawa is located in the province of Ontario at the Québec border. Flying time: 1 hour east of Toronto, 1.5 hours north of New York City, 25 minutes west of Montreal and 7 hours (direct) from London. 

Ottawa is an impressive yet intimate metropolitan area of 1.1 million English and French-speaking residents and growing multicultural communities. Filled with attractions; from national and historic sites to cultural attractions, it boasts a beautiful natural setting which supports year-round recreation and adventure. It’s relaxed urban rhythm and distinctive neighbourhoods make it a delight to explore.

Ottawa is a compact city where you can enjoy lively urban experiences within a relaxed natural setting. Just beyond the walkable city centre, you’ll find diverse neighbourhoods that exude local vibes. Taste local flavours at Ottawa’s great restaurants, find treasures at independently owned boutiques, visit a local coffee roaster or cool off with a locally-made frozen treat – all while admiring urban art along the way.

Ottawa's History & Culture

The Canadian Museum of History celebrates Canadian and world cultures. The Grand Hall, on the main level of the museum, houses an exhibition of six Pacific coast Indian house facades connected by a shoreline and boardwalk, and the largest collection of indoor totem poles in the world. From pre-historic to more contemporary cultures of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, this museum walks you through the ages.

The Canadian Museum of Nature lifts your knowledge in an informative yet fun way and makes a great choice for the whole family. A Canada Goose Arctic Gallery recently opened, expanding its existing selection of modern galleries – think dinosaurs, blue whales and more!

Want to see and learn more about the famous Royal Canadian Mounted Police and their beautiful horses? Why not visit the RCMP Stables? Tour the stables, meet the horses and experience a living tribute to Canadian heritage and history. Rich in cultural treasures and attractions, Ottawa invites visitors to experience the best of Canada all in one place.

The National Gallery of Canada houses the country’s national art collection and hosts outstanding special exhibitions. The new Canadian and Indigenous Gallery is well worth a visit.

Famous Landmarks

Famous national landmarks and historic sights greet visitors around every corner in Canada’s capital, and foremost among them is Parliament Hill. It’s the seat of Canada’s federal government and the setting for pomp and celebration including Canada Day (July 1st), the daily Changing the Guard ceremony and nightly Sound and Light Show in the summer. Parliament offers free daily tours and rides to the top of the soaring Peace Tower for a spectacular 360º view of the city. The Rideau Canal, Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site, winds through the heart of Ottawa, and is filled with sightseeing cruises, pleasure boats, canoes and kayaks. Don’t miss a visit to Bytown Museum, located alongside the famous locks, for a glimpse at its history. It’s a real treasure trove!

Surprisingly intimate with a very walkable downtown, Ottawa offers an urban setting which is not only relaxed but friendly and welcoming. The eclectic ByWard Market just east of Parliament Hill is a visitor favourite: a farmers’ market and shopping district by day, with a chic dining, outdoor cafés and lively clubs and pubs by night. Ottawa’s culinary scene is alive with a community of chefs who’ve gained national and international acclaim. The Savour Ottawa initiative encourages and promotes the use of locally grown and produced foods and their appearances on local menus. For a change of pace, the Casino du Lac-Leamy offers exciting gaming and entertainment.

Ottawa's Deep Roots

The Ottawa region’s identity has been influenced by many cultures, including First Nations, French, English, Scottish and Irish. The city of Ottawa is located within the traditional Anishinàbeg Algonquin territory. Since several rivers meet here, the area was an active transportation corridor for an astounding diversity of Indigenous groups and travellers. In fact, the city’s name is derived from the Algonquin word “Odawa,” meaning “to trade.”

European explorers passed through the region beginning in the 1600s, followed by Irish, French and Scottish settlers, who launched the local timber trade in the early 1800s. The population also increased with the construction of the Rideau Canal (1826-1832) as a military defence and transportation route in case of war with the United States. The settlement was known as Bytown until it was incorporated as the city of Ottawa in 1855. Queen Victoria chose it as the new capital of Canada in 1857.

Outdoor Adventures

Ottawa is a natural choice for sports and outdoor recreation enthusiasts. May’s Ottawa Race Weekend attracts thousands of top national and international runners. During spring, summer and fall, Ottawa’s 600 kilometres of paved recreational paths welcome cyclists, inline skaters and runners. The Capital’s many waterways are ideal for kayaking, canoeing and boating, and the upper Ottawa River is one of the top five white-water rafting rivers in the world. Ottawa has more great golf courses within an easy drive of downtown than any other Canadian city.

Visiting Canada's Capital

There is so much to discover in the wonderful city of Ottawa, that you will require a few days to see everything you would like. You may choose to take a break solely to Ottawa or perhaps combine it with another location in Ontario. Here is our pick of the best:

Explore Ottawa – simply a five-night city break, which includes sightseeing tours.

Ottawa Winter Break – this short break does what it says on the tin, a five-night break in the winter months, which includes a number of sightseeing tours.

Ottawa & Toronto Experience – a tale of two cities. This seven-night package combines the incredibly diverse cities of Ottawa and Toronto, which includes sightseeing tours in both.

Ottawa & Algonquin Explorer – Combine the delights of the nation’s capital with the outstanding beauty of Ontario’s great outdoors on this beautiful six-night fly-drive.

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