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Ottawa Travel Tips

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While it lacks the global fame of Toronto and Vancouver, Ottawa is a lively capital city rich in culture and history, and boasts some of Canada's most important and eye-catching buildings. With major museums, as well as many smaller, independent ones, it's a fine city break destination, and also has large festivals taking place through the year.

 

Best Time to Travel

 

There's plenty to do both indoors and outdoors in Ottawa, so it's a year round destination, and there are distinct seasons with comfortably warm summers and very cold, snowy winters. Then there are the festivals to consider, with spring bringing the blazingly colorful Tulip Festival which leaves the beautiful city in bloom. In summer, there's a range of film and music festivals, and the holidays bring events such as the annual Harvest Festival and the Christmas Farmer's Market.

 

Not to Miss

 

A trip to Parliament Hill and the surrounding government buildings are essential for those interested in the history of Canada. You should also check out the vast Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau which explores how the country was formed. The biggest festival of the year on July 1st; Canada Day, sees the city transformed into a huge street party with a fun, friendly atmosphere.

 

Getting around

 

Ottawa is easily accessible by air, with Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport connecting it to many major other Canadian cities, as well as offering flights across the USA and down to South America. Once you arrive at the airport, it's just a 20-minute drive or taxi ride to downtown, or there's a regular bus service running until midnight, taking about 35 minutes. There's a regular, reliable bus service around the city that runs until late.

 

Cuisine

 

First time visitors to Canada will need to try poutine, a dish of French fries covered in gravy and topped with cheese curds that's much more appetizing than it sounds. Originating in nearby Quebec, you can be sure this delicacy is treated seriously. Butter tarts are also a contender for national food status, while Canadian wine is also worth a try, with unique ice wines created from grapes that have been frozen over the winter. Little Italy is a must for those who enjoy an authentic European experience, and grub like mama used to make.

 

Customs and etiquette

 

Canadians are generally very friendly and welcoming to visitors, and even in the city you'll often get a friendly greeting from strangers. Ottawa is also a fairly laid back city, so don't expect people to be in a huge rush. Tipping is expected when you receive good service anywhere, so add 15-20% to your fare for taxis, and the same sort of percentage for waiting staff. It's also polite to tip hotel staff such as the valet and house keeping, especially if they offer exceptional service.

Fast Facts

 

Population: 870250

Spoken languages: English, French

Electrical: Canada runs on 120V, 60 Hz current

Phone Calling Code: +1 613112