Ottawa is the modern and picturesque capital of Canada, so you know there must be a number of reasons why it was chosen over other major Canadian cities like Toronto and Vancouver. Still, many tourists wind up visiting one of those two cities before experiencing the humble, diverse, and often overlooked uniqueness of “O-Town.” This bustling metropolis used to be a small town called “Bytown” and it has kept that nickname in the local media. There are many landmarks, attractions, and travel advantages that make this place a destination worth visiting at least once. More specifically, here are the top 10 reasons to visit Ottawa, Canada.
1. Flights Can Be Cheap Year-Round
Since most tourists who visit the capital of the Great White North will arrive by plane, cheap flights are a great perk for this destination. You can use a platform like flyporter.com to find the cheapest flights to Ottawa. By inputting your desired departure date and specifying whether you need a one-way or round trip, you can retrieve flight quotes from Porter Airlines where extra legroom, free snacks and beverages, and a fast check-in service come as standard. Check the link to find out whether your preferred flight dates are available: https://www.flyporter.com/en-ca/book-flights/where-we-fly/canada/ottawa
Statistically, the cheapest month of the year to fly into Ottawa is February, while the months of June-August represent the most expensive time of the year to book flights. Even during the high season, you can secure very reasonable flight prices by booking well in advance.
2. Everything You Need is Within 10 Miles of the Airport
In addition to finding relatively cheap flights, you’ll also find that there are many hospitality, entertainment, shopping, and other essential venues located conveniently within a 10-mile radius of Ottawa International Airport. Having everything located a reasonable distance from the airport will reduce your rideshare/taxi costs while also letting you spend more time enjoying your stay and less time commuting. Even Hog’s Back Falls is only about 3.7 miles from the airport, so you can hop in a cab and go from a busy urban district to seeing excellent scenery in just a few minutes, and that’s only one example.
3. The Largest Natural Ice Skating Rink in the World
If you like ice skating, you’ll love visiting Ottawa in the winter because it’s home to the world’s largest naturally frozen ice skating rink. During the winter, the Rideau Canal becomes a rink that occupies an area equivalent to 90 Olympic hockey rinks. The canal freezes from January to the end of February and sometimes into March, becoming what many consider to be the most expansive ice skating experience on Earth. Bring plenty of clothing layers and prepared for frigid weather because the temperatures will range from about 8-25 degrees Fahrenheit during February. The cold is one of the reasons why flights are so cheap during that time of the year, but that’s great news for tourists who like to ice skate.
4. Amazing Food and Shopping at Byward Market
If you’re looking for an awesome shopping and dining experience that provides plenty of options in one place, you should start your visit with a trip to Byward Market. There are more than 260 separate vendor stands and shops in the market, including dozens of restaurants that offer every kind of cuisine including local specialties. You’ll find a bustling farmers’ market, numerous talented street artists, crafts & clothing boutiques, and virtually any other kind of artisan or mainstream product, souvenir, or service. This is the city’s most popular tourist attraction because it brings all of the unique aspects of Ottawan culture together in one place.
5. The Winterlude Festival
As mentioned, February is the month when flight prices are the cheapest and it’s also the month when the world’s largest ice skating rink is frozen. Another reason for winter lovers to visit during this month is because that’s when Ottawa’s famous Winterlude Festival takes place on the Rideau Canal. Each year, more than 600,000 people flock to this event to watch and engage in epic winter fun. You’ll see some of the most amazing ice carvings found anywhere in the world, and you’ll get to watch them being made by the top ice sculpting professionals. The frozen Maple syrup is another highlight that your taste buds will appreciate.
6. Beaver Tail
No, we’re not suggesting that you eat the cooked tail of a beaver – although that is possible. We’re talking about Ottawa’s famous pastry that’s shaped like a Beaver Tail (hence the name) and is an absolute must-try dessert. What exactly is it, you ask? Picture this: a delicious, crispy brown, deep-fried pastry that is large enough to be compared to the size of an actual beaver’s tail, which you can then optionally have topped (recommended) with any custom combination of cinnamon sugar, bananas, crumbled Oreos, Nutella, lemon zest, and a numerous other creative toppings – although you probably won’t want every topping on a single Beaver Tail. If you think about it, Ottawa may just take another (unofficial) world record in this regard by having “the world’s most customisable fried dessert.”
7. Picnic and Meditation at Major Hill
The Ottawa area has plenty of parks and scenic areas, but one of the most interesting and relaxing spots within the city itself is Major Hill Park. With expansive lawns and beautiful tree coverage surrounded by elegant architecture, this park is one of the most popular and highly rated picnic spots in the region. Every tourist should make some time for a quick meal and meditation during the course of their city tour. Bring some healthy snacks and take a moment to soak up the scenery at Major Hill, or one of the city’s many amazing parks, which brings us to our next point.
8. More Than 1,000 Parks Across Thousands of Hectares
According to official statistics, the city of Ottawa has approximately 4,300 hectares of parkland and green space in the Ottawa area alone. All of this scenery and nature is spread out across 1,300 separate sites that are maintained by the City of Ottawa. In other words, you could visit 3 parks per day and you would have to do that for more than a year to see them all. Try to compile a list of parks that look the most appealing to you beforehand, instead of randomly park-hopping in the moment. That way, you you’ll have a chance to see the main parks rather than being distracted by random sites during your stay.
9. Discovering Canadian History
Ottawa’s Canadian History Museum is a must-see attraction that any history buff who visits the city should experience. This place contains more than 1500 artifacts along with interesting stories about the founding of Canada and the natives who lived in the Ottawa area.
10. See Canada’s Best Nature Museum
As the name of this museum implies, if you’re looking for the best nature museum in Canada, look no further. The Canadian Museum of Nature contains the country’s most extensive collection of archaeological finds, dinosaur bone exhibits, zoological findings, fossils, and nature-related art.
Plan Ahead and Give Yourself at Least a Week to Explore
If you want to really ensure that you’ll have the time and funds needed to experience all of the facets listed above, it would be best to aim for planning your trip at east one month ahead of time with the goal of staying for at least one week. That basic guideline will ensure that you’re getting an ideal price for your travel fare and hospitality expenses while also giving you enough time to freely explore the full beauty of the Ottawa area.