Located in Southern Ontario, Ottawa is one of the most popular cities in Canada for tourists. However, if you’ve never visited the city before, it can be difficult to know what to expect. One thing’s for sure, though, you’re definitely missing out! Whether you’re travelling with your partner, your kids, or your friends, below is a list of eight reasons why you should choose Ottawa for your next vacation. And trust us, once you’ve visited once, you’ll definitely want to return!
1. Flights Are Easily Accessible
Traveling to Ottawa has never been easier no matter where you’re located. Porter Airlines is a top choice for those based in North America as they offer a variety of daily flights to Ottawa from locations including Orlando FL, Toronto, and Halifax with deals updated on their site daily. You can check out flyporter.com for specific information. Those flying from outside of North America will also find plenty of options for flights, with major airlines like KLM, British Airways, Air Canada, and Delta all providing services. The good news is, that wherever you are currently based, booking and catching a flight to the city shouldn’t prove too difficult.
2. It’s Home to the Largest Natural Skating Rink in the World
If you love ice skating (and who doesn’t?), a visit to the world’s largest natural skating rink should definitely be on your bucket list. And better yet, it’s completely free to use. The skating rink runs right through the city center, and goes all the way from Dow’s Lake to downtown. It’s almost 8 kilometres in length and is open as soon as the Rideau Canal is cold enough for the ice to be safe for skaters. It really is an impressive sight, and thousands of visitors head to the city purely to experience it each winter. Plus, with plenty of rest stops and concession stands lining the route, you don’t have to worry about not being a pro-skater. You can stop and start as often as you wish, taking in hot cocoa along the way!
3. It’s Full of “Haunted” Buildings
If you fancy yourself as a bit of a ghost-hunter, or just want to do something fun for Halloween, Ottawa is the city to visit. The city is host to a number of haunted buildings, and many people have reported seeing ghosts there. The HI-Ottawa Jail Hostel is a top choice for many. Named as one of the top ten haunted buildings in the country, it is said to be home to numerous haunted spirits. There’s one in particular, though, that many people report seeing; an innocent man called Patrick Whalen who was hanged for murder. The third floor of the hostel is said to be the most haunted, and guests can choose to stay for free if they’re brave enough… not that many are!
4. The ByWard Market Will Blow Your Mind
The ByWard Market is a great place to visit with friends and family as there’s so much to see and do that you won’t struggle to keep everyone entertained. You can spend hours browsing the boutiques and stalls, enjoy a coffee in one of the open-air cafes, or check out the fresh produce section of the market to buy some beautiful fish and local produce to cook for dinner. The buildings that surround the market are quaint too, and really add to the atmosphere you’ll relish when walking through the area. Breweries, power juice bars, chocolate shops, pizzerias and shisha bars can also be found here, offering you plenty of opportunities to relax and do some people-watching in between shopping.
5. It’s a Great Place for Live Music
During the summer months, Ottawa is host to a number of music festivals which bring thousands of tourists to the city. The celebrations begin at the end of June when the popular Ottawa Jazz Festival comes to town, followed shortly after by Canada Day (which is well worth sticking around for!). Early July is when the RBC Bluefest Festival happens; host to over 200 acts, it’s incredibly popular for a reason! Classical music lovers aren’t left out either with both the Ottawa Chamberfest and Music and Beyond both catering to their needs. If you plan on staying in the city around these dates, it’s highly recommended that you book flights and accommodation in advance.
6. You Can Stay Active While You Sightsee
Ottawa is home to something called the Capital Pathway Network, which is a 600km+ cycle route that passes through the downtown area of the city, as well as the scenic areas surrounding it. Rather than catching an open top bus tour, active tourists can hire a bicycle and explore the area safely at their own speed. To help tourists navigate the city, Ottawa Tourism has also provided a 7km map of some of the best sights that can be visited while cycling along the Pathway Network, and if you choose to follow this, you could cross off many activities in as little as one afternoon. The route begins at the Rideau Canal (where the winter skating rink begins) and ends at the Fairmont Chateau – the perfect place to relax with a glass of rose after an active day out.
7. It’s Great for Extreme Sports Too
Ottawa is one of the best Canadian destinations to visit if you’re a fan of extreme sports, especially during the summer. From May through to October, white-water rafting is an incredibly popular activity, both with tourists and locals alike, and there are plenty of schools and adventure companies in the area who will happily teach you the basics if you’ve never been out on the rapids before. Another option for those who love the water is kayaking. Again, this is a sport that will definitely get your adrenalin pumping, and there are some great spots to take part in this activity just west of the city centre.
8. It’s a Booze Lovers Paradise
From craft beer markets to gorgeous vineyards, there are plenty of great locations to enjoy a bit of booze in Ottawa. In fact, this is part of what makes the city an ideal destination for bachelor and bachelorette parties; except, the city has a lot more class than some of the more well-known locales. If you’re a wine lover, you absolutely have to visit the Kin Vineyards. Set in Ottawa Valley, they are spread over six hectares of land and are really a sight for sore eyes. If you’re more into beer, check out Donkey Beer Tours, as this company will help you to sample as many different creations as possible in a short space of time. You’ll visit lots of brewpubs and breweries while on the tour.
No matter what time of year you want to travel, Ottawa is a fantastic destination for your next vacation. There are dozens of attractions that draw visitors to the city each and every year, and there really is something for every kind of traveller to enjoy. Don’t be one of those who miss out; book your trip today and prepare for the vacation of a lifetime! With flights being so readily available, you really have no excuse.