Ottawa Vacation Guides & Ideas

Ottawa Vacation Tips

curated by Tomek Baginski

Originally founded as Bytown, the city was incorporated in 1885 as Ottawa, derived from the Algonquin word meaning "to trade," and has since evolved into a thriving center for technology, politics and culture; learn more history from here . In 2012, Ottawa was ranked as the best community to live in for the third year in a row.

Ottawa is a haven for museum lovers with a variety of state-of-the-art options. Visitors can explore everything from civilization to nature, history and architecture all around the city. Foodies will have a blast here as well with a cultural mix of cuisines. Experience food from all around the world in Little Italy and Chinatown as well as flavors from Africa, the Caribbean, France, Eastern Europe and Asia.

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When to visit Ottaw

Ottawa is a great place to visit during all four seasons, but winter might provide the most excitement. Taking a holiday in the winter allows you to experience some of Ottawa’s most exciting old weather outdoor activities like ice skating on the canal and the Winterlude festival.

Spring and summer also offer plenty to do both indoors and out. Meander through shops as your enjoy the warm sun shining down on you or stroll through a local garden.

Fall shows off its rainbow of colors all around Ottawa. Enjoy some fine dining from around the world while taking in views of the changing foliage.

What to Do in Ottawa

The Rideau Canal is a historic waterway in Ottawa that winds through the heart of the city, stretching an impressive 202 kilometers. In the winter, the canal becomes the world’s largest naturally frozen skating rink, where you can glide around for free. From May through October you can take part in a sightseeing cruise or go out on a canoe or kayak.

The Canadian Museum of Nature offers a close up look at Ottawa’s natural history. Gaze into a huge river aquarium that houses a blue whale, check out the Vale Earth Gallery’s impressive mineral and rock collection, explore the Talisman Fossil Gallery and finish your tour with a visit to the Mammal Gallery to see polar bears, arctic hares, bison and other animals. For the children, there’s the Discovery Zone, where they can get hands-on examining specimen.

After a long day, head to The Chateau Lafayette, also known as The Laff, is a local pub in the heart of the city’s Byward Market. It’s the perfect place to stop in for a drink and some food after a day of exploring Ottawa. Throughout the week, local performing artists take the stage, and on Tuesdays it hosts an open mic night for everyone to display their music and comedy.

ByWard Market

Ottawa City Life & Byward Market from Kaan Bayulken shared on

Staying in Ottawa

Vacation rentals are a great place to stay during your Ottawa holiday. With options like cottages, apartments, houses and condos, there’s sure to be plenty of space to accommodate everyone in your group comfortably. Vacation rentals allow you stay right near the action. If you’ve been looking forward to spending time on the water, you can rent a condo or cottage near the river or on the waterfront. Additionally, if you can’t wait to ski, you can rent a home near the best slopes so you can begin the fun right away.

Vacation rentals also offer all the luxuries of home. After a chilly winter day, curl up in front of your rental's fireplace or take a dip in the private hot tub. In the summer, enjoy a home cooked meal fresh off the outdoor grill after swimming some laps in the pool. Before you leave, throw a load of dirty clothes in the washer and dryer so you don’t have to worry about it when you get back home

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