Your Trip to Ottawa: The Complete Guide (Part 2)
Do you want to get to know the capital of Canada a little better? Whether you're planning a summer trip or are dying to experience what the city has to offer in winter, here's everything you need to know about planning a trip to Ottawa, from where to stay to what to do once you’ve dropped your bags.
We hope you enjoy watching this video about Ottawa Vacation Travel Guide
Where to stay
Due to a large number of government employees in and out of Ottawa, there are a few hotels to choose from, including well-known chains such as Hilton, Fairmont, and Marriott. Most of the hotel properties are clustered around the city center, but boutique hotels and guesthouses are all over the city.
The esteemed Fairmont Château Laurier is without a doubt Ottawa's reigning queen when it comes to accommodations. Located in the city center, on the banks of the Rideau Canal, this impressive castle offers an eclectic mix of history and modern luxury.
Looking for something with a more boutique style? Consider leaving your bags at Le Germain Hotel Ottawa. The Canadian boutique hotel brand emphasizes comfort and a personalized experience. It doesn't hurt that the charming property is right next to the ByWard Market.
Ottawa isn't necessarily known for its bed and breakfasts, but there are a handful of lovely options at affordable prices if you know where to look. Century House Bed and Breakfast Ottawa is a great centrally located option offering cozy rooms with a kitchenette to prepare all the fresh vegetables you've bought from the market.
Explore Ottawa's best neighborhoods to stay in during your trip, and choose the accommodations for your stay from our list of the best hotels in the city.
Ottawa is about a two-hour drive from downtown Montreal, a four-hour drive east of Toronto, and about seven hours north of New York City.
- Air: Ottawa International Airport is approximately 15 kilometers or 20 minutes by car from downtown Ottawa.
- Train: VIA Rail transports travelers to the Ottawa train station (a 9-minute drive from downtown).
- Bus: Orléans Express, Ontario Northland, and Maheux serve Ottawa from Montreal, Toronto, and other cities in eastern Canada and Ontario. Buses arrive at Ottawa Central Station on Catherine Street,
- Automobile: Ottawa is approximately 95 kilometers from the nearest US border in Ogdensburg, New York.
Culture and Customs
The two official languages of Canada are English and French, and while most signs and menus are bilingual, Ottawa residents mostly speak English - you don't need to test your French in the restaurant!
Most restaurants and bars add a 13% tax to your total bill, but you should still anticipate tips on top of that. A proper tip should be 20 to 25 percent, but 15 percent is considered the minimum3.
Tips to Save Money
- Take a Tour of Parliament: Looking for a great rainy day activity? Consider taking a walk up Parliament Hill for a tour inside the main government buildings. The walking tour is completely free and is a surprisingly immersive way to spend a few hours, even if you are not very interested in politics.
- Skating: Skating on the long Rideau Canal in winter is completely free and is considered one of Ottawa's top attractions. The 8km skating stretch is used by everyone from visitors to locals who commute to the office and is considered the largest skating rink in the world.
- Crossing the Border: While there are much nature walks in and around Ottawa, one of the best walks is crossing the Royal Alexandra Interprovincial Bridge. The Pedestrian Bridge serves as a pedestrian connector between Ontario and Quebec and offers great views of both provinces.
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