Ottawa Travel Guide

Ottawa Travel Guide

Last Updated on June 22, 2020 by Laura Cooper

In honour of Canada Day, the Ottawa Travel Guide feature this week is a guide for touring our country’s stunning capital. From visiting the many renowned museums such as the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian War Museum, to shopping at more than 180 stores in the Rideau Centre, or catching an Ottawa Senator’s game at one of the many venues on Sens Mile, Ottawa has something exciting for everyone.  Ottawa hosts many festivals, notably the Canadian Tulip Festival which attracts about 600,000 visitors and Bluesfest, one of Canada’s largest outdoor music festivals. Quebec’s Gatineau is a short drive from Ottawa where the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Casino du Lac-Leamy, and the Mackenzie King Estate in Gatineau Park can be found.  For a list of accommodations and attractions in Ottawa, the team have compiled this helpful guide!

City Basics

From the Airport: The Ottawa MacDonald-Cartier Airport (or the Ottawa International Airport) is located about 15 km from downtown. Public Transit’s Route 97 departs outside of the airport and is a good choice for those travelling to hotels in the downtown area. There are also car rentals, and limousine and taxi services available.  Some hotels offer shuttle services to and from the airport.

Getting Around: OC Transpo is Ottawa’s public transit system. The fare is $3.  Weekend day passes for the whole family can be purchased for $7.75.

Photo by Amanda Stancati, Rideau Canal

Where to Stay

The Westin

With 496 rooms, this hotel is attached to the Rideau Centre mall and is located across from the Parliament Buildings. You may take a short walk to many of the city’s attractions, or enjoy the squash court or salt water pool in this elegant and contemporary conference hotel.

Fairmont Chateau Laurier

Built in 1912 to replicate 16th century French architecture, the exquisite Fairmont Chateau Laurier attracts admiration.  This luxurious landmark hotel has 429 uniquely designed rooms and is located by the Rideau Canal.

Courtyard by Marriott Hotel

Located in the heart of the ByWard Market, this hotel has access to the best of shops, restaurants, and nightlife. This reliable hotel chain has a prime location and is newly renovated.

Lord Elgin

Located in central Ottawa, close to Parliament Hill and the Supreme Court of Canada, this historic and quaint hotel overlooks Confederation Park and is across from the National Arts Centre.  Situated on Elgin Street, there are many fine-dining restaurants, pubs, and outdoor patios to be enjoyed.

Photo by Amanda Stancati, ByWard Market


Parliament Hill

Free tours of Parliament are available daily, where patrons can discover Parliament’s interior, learn the significance of the many Canadian and gothic symbols, and visit the extraordinary library that survived the fire of 1916.  During the summer months, the Changing the Guard Ceremony takes place every morning, and every evening is a bilingual Sound and Light Show.

ByWard Market

This neighbourhood is home to a historic indoor and outdoor market, many restaurants, bars, cafes, shops, unique fashion boutiques, bakeries, and outdoor patios.  It is the heart of the action, where talented buskers can be found entertaining crowds, and where the first permanent BeaverTails stand resides.

Love Locks

This hidden gem is a must-see for romantics. The Corktown Footbridge, also referred to as the Somerset Street Bridge, is a walkway over the Rideau Canal.  It carries on the tradition of lovers attaching padlocks to a bridge and disposing of the key.  If you’re in Ottawa with a special someone, take some time to read the messages written or engraved on the locks, or even attach your own!

Rideau Canal

The Rideau Canal is a National Historic Site of Canada and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Locals and tourists alike enjoy nice walks or bike-rides along the canal in the springtime, and skate on beautiful winter days.  You can always find people boating, reading, or running along this popular stretch.

Royal Canadian Mint

Guided tours of the Royal Canadian Mint, which produces Canada’s circulation and collector’s coins, are available for people to watch coins being made and to learn about the manufacturing process.  In the Mint Boutique, collector’s coins and souvenirs are available for sale, and you can even hold a solid gold bar that’s worth $750,000!

Photo by Amanda Stancati, Love Locks

If you have yet to make plans for this weekend, consider booking an Ottawa hotel to enjoy the Canada Day festivities on Parliament Hill.  For Canada’s 146th birthday, special guests will include Carly Rae Jepson, Metric, Chris Hadfield, and Canada’s Snowbirds.

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