Located in the south of Ontario, Ottawa is the capital and fourth largest city of Canada. Home to some 1.1 million inhabitants, the city is recognised for its rich cultural diversity thanks to the large proportion of immigrants residing there. Unlike any other city in North America, Ottawa is bilingual. The principal language is English but a significant number class French as their mother tongue. Ottawa’s weather is often described as extreme. During the winter months, snow fall is heavy, ice is widespread and temperatures plummet to minus figures, often below -20 degrees Celsius. The weather during the summer months on the other hand is in stark contrast. Expect temperatures of 30 degrees or more and high levels of humidity.
Ottawa is a city renowned for its excellent public transport links, but a small, fuel-efficient car is more than sufficient for those who wish to transport themselves from A to B.
Driving in Ottawa
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Important things to note
- Drivers in Ottawa are advised to keep their wits about them at all times as tailgating and changing lanes without signalling is commonplace.
- Unless otherwise stated, parking is restricted to a period of up to three hours in the city in any one space.
- Parking is often prohibited during rush hour on many of Ottawa’s streets in order to allow traffic to flow freely.
Highlights & Hotspots
The Canadian War Museum is arguably Ottawa’s most famous tourist attraction. The site is an architectural masterpiece which offers visitors the chance to gain an insight into Canada’s military history through the numerous artefacts, works of art and pieces of photography that are on display.
At 200km in length, the Rideau Canal connects Ottawa to Kingston and is one of the city’s oldest landmarks. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the river bank and watch the boats go by. When winter sets in, the canal freezes over and becomes the longest ice skating rink in the world.
Arguably one of the most beautiful places in the city, the Major’s Hill Park is situated within close proximity to many of Ottawa’s museums, places of worship and, of course, the river. Head there for a leisurely stroll in spring time when millions of tulips are in bloom.
One of the most interesting museums in the city is the Canadian Museum of Civilization. It serves as the country’s national museum, documenting how the country came to be, as well as the history of those who have called the nation home.
The Macdonald-Cartier International Airport is Ottawa’s principle airport and is located 14km south of the city centre. It can be accessed by the 19 highway.
Flights throughout the rest of Canada and the USA are readily available, along with a daily flight to Heathrow and Frankfurt airports. The number 97 bus connects the airport to the city and departs from outside the arrivals hall at regular intervals throughout the day.