Ottawa Tourism

Ottawa at Night, Image: Robbie's Photo Art, Flickr
Ottawa at Night, Image: Robbie's Photo Art, Flickr

Ottawa, the capital of Canada is easily one of the most picturesque capitals of the world. It pays to mention that it’s also one of the most tourism friendly capitals. What do I mean by “the most tourism friendly”? It’s simple – unlike most capital cities, Ottawa has all of its interesting sites so close to one another, that you can visit them all on foot completely avoiding cab or public transportation fees. How’s that for great tourist destination? That being said – do not think of Ottawa as some form of miniature city. Ottawa has it all:

  • beautiful art galleries, great museums and thriving performance arts scene for all you culture junkies
  • rich history with countless historical spots, including absolutely majestic gothic Parliamentary buildings for all you history junkies
  • great restaurants with world class chefs for all you culinary junkies
  • busy athletic and sport scene that includes Ottawa Senators NHL team for all you sport junkies

Ottawa – Geographical Location

Ottawa is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in Canadian province of Ontario. The Ottawa River also outlines the border between Ontario and the French-Canadian province of Quebec. The North bank of the Ottawa River is the site of the French speaking town of Hull. This position between predominantly English province of Ontario and predominantly French province of Quebec makes Ottawa an exciting blend of English and French cultures.

Culture in Ottawa

Ottawa has grown to be a culturally diverse city. The Canadian National Arts Centre and the National Gallery of Canada are housed in Ottawa. If arts don’t fit your taste, you can visit the Canada Science and Technology Museum or the Canadian Museum of Nature. Ottawa’s twin city of Hull which is just across the Ottawa River from Parliament Hill is home to the Canadian Museum of Civilization. A number of theaters are available throughout the city for those looking to see a play or an opera.

Ottawa - National Gallery Art Museum, Photo: Derek Farr ( DetroitDerek ), Flickr
Ottawa - National Gallery Art Museum, Photo: Derek Farr ( DetroitDerek ), Flickr

Ottawa Downtown

Ottawa’s major attractions, such as Parliament Hill or the National Gallery of Canada are expectedly located within the downtown core of the city, however the downtown also has large residential area with attractive shopping centres and restaurants. The Rideau Shopping Centre or the Sparks Street Mall will surely fix your shopping itch, while Suisha Gardens or Hy’s Steak House will take care of the culinary one.

Peace Tower

At 92 meters (302 feet) high the Peace Tower is Ottawa’s main landmark. The Tower ascends the grandiose Parliament Buildings which pose proudly at the junction of three rivers – the Ottawa River, the Rideau River and the Gatineau River. Rideau Canal offers boat rides in summer and ice sculpting as well as skating in winter.

Ottawa - Parliament Building with High Peace Tower, Photo: Joel Bedford, Flickr
Ottawa - Parliament Building with High Peace Tower, Photo: Joel Bedford, Flickr

Ottawa Nightlife

For nightlife Elgin Street is a place to be. You can pop in to any of the clubs along the street to get a little taste of capital city’s nightlife. Bulldog Pub is great, but also try Griffin’s or Big Daddy’s Crab Shack.

The Glebe

The Glebe is a shopping strip along Bank Street just south of the Queensway, which borders Ottawa’s downtown on the south. With lots of specialty shops often focusing on art scene, The Glebe offers unusual experience and a look at more the alternative part of the city.

Sandy Hill

Sandy Hill is where most of embassies are located. The University of Ottawa is in this area which means there are many young people around all the time. To the north of Sandy Hill, across Rideau Street you can find the Byward Market – one of those “you name it” markets. Whatever your taste, you will likely find something of interest there. It’s also one of the most popular Ottawa tourism spots. You’ll find many visitors and vacationers browsing specialty shop during the day and enjoying the nightlife in any of numerous bars after the sun had set.

Somerset Heights

Somerset Heights used to be Ottawa’s Chinatown, however an influx of immigrants from Vietnam influenced the name change in the late 70’s. The Heights remains THE spot for people who like quality Asian food. Some of Ottawa’s finest Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants are located in Somerset Heights.

Rockcliffe Park

Rockcliffe Park is further east and north of Sandy Hill and is the home of Rideau Hall – home of Canada’s Governor General and 24 Sussex Drive – home of Canada’s Prime Minister. Some of Canada’s finest and most expensive real estate can be found in Rockcliffe Park, including the multi-million dollar home Michael Cowpland, the founder of software company Corel.

Parliament Hill reflecting on the Ottawa River, Photo: Vince Alongi, Flickr
Parliament Hill reflecting on the Ottawa River, Photo: Vince Alongi, Flickr

Ottawa is a lively city with lots of open spaces, green parks and some of Canada’s finest national attractions. Sightseeing opportunities are endless and the city is busy with fun festivals all year round so you’re guaranteed to have a good time and find something matching your interest level regardless of the season. Plus you’ll be in the capital city of Canada – a country notorious for its fun and friendly people. Welcome and enjoy.

7 thoughts on “Ottawa Tourism”

  1. now days no one understand nature value.its harmfull for human being and tourism is way to protect our nature,that why iam working and organised tour to protect nature value,people do mot do this result will be so by nature……………….

  2. Yes Skeeeter your Parliament’s Buildings is the bestest in the world. You too are also correct that our’s in Canberra is bad look – but new.

  3. Ottawa is an incredibly safe place just take an Uber instead of taking a taxi cab. Our cabbies are very aggressive and with Uber who is consistently reliable as opposed to our cabs coming to town, they have a huge battle going on between the two with most citizens wanting Uber and most cabs fighting to kick them out. Our bus system is incredibly unreliable so don`t trust the schedules and be at your stop at least 10 minutes (if not 15) before arrival time to ensure you catch the bus. They often remove buses from the routes without any notice which causes a lot of issues if you are on a timeline.

    As an Ottawa native, here`s more or less what the article is hinting at without saying:

    The Glebe = our hipster part of town. Boutiques, restaurants, all hipster joints. Very clean, very pretty, not very cheap.

    Sandy Hill – not a very rich community for the most part, but has some very nice old buildings, good shopping and great food at great prices. The university students dominate parts of this area since Ottawa U is right there with most of the dorms in Sandy Hill, but the locals living there 24/7 are a mix of classes and cultures.

    Somerset – our version of the Asian part of town. It is easily 80% Asian and that means the food is absolutely amazing. The ‘gate’ to little Asia is off Somerset (which is the main road through this part of town) and is quite elaborate. Not fun to drive in during peak times, but a great part of town to stroll, eat and shop.

    Rockliffe – stunning and wealthy. This is our rich part of town with a few hipster food joints. In the winter it`s a wonderful spot to drive around and admire all the xmas lights. The Beachwood cemetery is here which is a great spot to roam and has many themed areas (Japanese pavilion you can relax at under the canopy, military section with beautiful tanks and is a very moving place to visit, French portion has some beautiful statues, you get the idea).

    Missed in the article:
    Downtown – great food, great shopping, has many festivals throughout the year (Rib fest is a favourite you can smell the meat blocks away, Buskers fest is always a huge hit, Blues Fest is a hop skip and a jump away and plays anything but Blues). Tons of stunning buildings and free tours of our Parliament buildings are well worth it.

    Skip Orleans, Kanata, Gloucester & Nepean unless visiting someone. Museums galore with a free day to visit each during the week. If visiting for a while Montreal is a great day trip away and is another city I highly recommend visiting with a total vibe of its own and a good amount of history for North America which is only a couple hundred years, but it is filled with aggressive drivers so you are best to bus or take the relaxing approx. 45minute train ride there and walk around.(Ottawa it is primarily only the cabs that are aggressive unless you hit rush hour then it is the same as anywhere else, skip Toronto).

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