Travelers booking Ottawa flights and vacations will fall in love with the cross-pollination of cultures that grace the capital of Canada. The 19th- and 20th-century buildings that line the downtown district stand next to late-Victorian brick houses, which function as retail shops, restaurants, and homes. Ottawa's downtown area is welcoming and inviting and plays to the tourist, but Ottawa is generally a government town. Its Gothic Parliament Buildings reign over the city and provide a backdrop for national museums, official residences, and memorials.
Flights to Ottawa might be booked with dignitaries and deal-makers, but vacationers traveling to Ottawa will find the city is clean, easy to navigate and overall a friendly place to visit.
Winter can get very cold in Ottawa: the second lowest temperature in a capital city was recorded in Ottawa in 1943 of -33 degrees Fahrenheit. Travelers can likely get cheap flights to Ottawa during this time, but it's not a recommended time of travel. Temperatures in the summer, however, are relatively warm. The average July temperature is around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Best Time to Fly to Ottawa
As with most cities, Ottawa is a year-round destination with something to do even in the depths of winter.
The most popular season to visit the city is during its summer, roughly from June to late August. Cheap flights to Ottawa are likely found in the Spring and Fall as temperatures and weather are unpredictable. Heavy snow has been known to fall as late as May. However, there is still much to do in the city: most attractions are open year round and there are annual events and festivals taking place. Check the events and festivals page of the Ottawa city Web site for detailed information.
Winter time (November through February) is the least popular time to visit Ottawa. The weather can be brutal, but if you're willing to cold air, it's likely you'll find cheap Ottawa flights and hotels during this season.
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Getting around Ottawa
The easiest way to get around Ottawa is by foot. Most of the city’s attractions are close to each other. If you don’t feel like a walk, you can hop on the O-Train, a light rail transit system covering five miles. The buses are an excellent option, since there are many routes and the buses move quickly through traffic in dedicated bus lanes. Taxis are cheap and accessible, and you can also take summer boats on the Rideau Canal.
Ottawa Travel Information
- The annual Canadian Tulip Festival is the largest of its kind in the world, and takes place every May through Ottawa and Gatineau. The festival dates back to 1945, when Queen Juliana of the Netherlands gave a gift of 100,000 tulip bulbs to Canada. Today, the festival showcases tulips throughout the city, with more than three million tulips on display for ten days in May.
- Canada Day, on July 1, is celebrated best in the country’s capital. Major events take place throughout the city, but the focus of the entertainment is (understandably) on Parliament Hill. Hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets to celebrate with concerts, street displays and fireworks in the evening.
- Parliament Hill is the first spot most tourists visit. Don’t miss the sound and light show which runs on summer evenings. Half an hour long, the film about Canada is projected onto the Parliament Buildings accompanied by fantastic lighting effects. The show is free and no booking or tickets are required.
- The Byward Market, east of downtown, is a huge neighborhood, characterized by its open air market stalls. Fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers and art are all on sale in the stalls, while the surrounding shops have become increasingly boutique in recent years. Visit during the day for some shopping or browsing, or at night time for some of Ottawa’s best restaurants, bars and clubs.
- For open air pursuits, the Rideau Canal is one of the best spots in town. Boat trips are available, for views of the city by water. These can usually be arranged at your hotel or at the canal. The banks of the river are popular routes for joggers and cyclists. Best of all, when the canal freezes over in the winter, it is transformed into a huge outdoor skating rink.