Ottawa is where it all happens in Canada: the seat of government is here as are the country’s most treasured museums and landmarks. Here are six reasons to visit Ottawa now.
Skating on the Canal
Ice skating along the Rideau Canal Skateway is a beloved local pastime. It’s also about the most fun way to tour Canada’s capital on holiday. At nearly eight kilometres, it’s considered the world’s largest rink. Warm up with hot cocoa from on-ice shops or try classic Canadian snacks like a Beavertail pastry or a poutine— french fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds.
At the annual Winterlude celebration, the area is transformed into an outdoor carnival with snow maze, ice carvings garden, snow slides, concerts, ice fishing, and a pond hockey championship.
You can spend hours picking up local produce and fresh fish, and browsing the boutiques, stalls, and cafés of open-air ByWard Market, Canada’s oldest continuously-operating farmers' market. In Lower Town, it’s bordered by George, York, ByWard and Williams Streets. The brick buildings are quaint and the place is always bustling. Make time for people-watching.
Fairmont Château Laurier
This landmark is one of Canada’s great railway-era hotels. With turrets reminiscent of a French-Gothic estate, it’s a 429-room icon overlooking the Ottawa River and Rideau Canal locks. Just next door? The Parliament buildings. Because so many famous politicians have met here over the years, its nickname is “the third chamber of Parliament.”
Steps from Parliament Hill in downtown, the National Gallery of Canada is the country’s showcase of visual arts and a spectacular architectural landmark, designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie. One of the nation’s oldest cultural institutions, it displays nearly 40,000 works of art from the 14th to 21st Centuries, including the 19th Century Rideau Street Chapel, saved from demolition in 1972.
Dine at Le Cordon Bleu
Dine at Canada’s one and only Cordon Bleu culinary school. Your four-hour meal is guaranteed to be over-the-top, as will your surroundings — the restaurant is located in the historical Munross mansion in downtown Ottawa. What’s not to like about sampling Canadian cuisine (local, seasonal) prepared using traditional French techniques by some of the world’s best-trained chefs?