When is the best time to fly to Ottawa?
The most popular season to book flights to Ottawa is summer, roughly from June to late August. Temperatures are warm during this period, with the average July temperature usually sitting around 26°C. As the majority of tourists visit over this time, travellers should expect higher hotel rates and larger crowds. Book flights to Ottawa and accommodation in advance to get the best deal.
Winter, from December through February, can get very cold -- Ottawa ranks as the third-coldest capital in the world (after Ulan Bator and Astana). Average high temperatures rarely surpass -6.6°C. If you can brave the cold, cheap flights to Ottawa and discounted hotel tend to be easier to come by during these months. Tourists can still find plenty to do, for instance, visiting the National Gallery or the Museum of Civilization.
Spring and autumn can be great times to visit. The city is less crowded than the peak summer months, lower hotel rates are available as well as discounted flights. Although travellers won’t have to experience the cold winter, the weather can be unpredictable. Spring temperatures usually range from the 2-18°C, while fall generally welcomes 5-20°C.
Ottawa is Canada’s fourth-largest city, selected as the capital by Queen Victoria in 1857. The city is located on the Ontario side of the Ottawa river, opposite the French-speaking city of Hull and less than an hour’s drive from the border with the US. Ottawa itself is bilingual, with most residents speaking both English and French.
The city is home to the country’s parliament – housed in three spectacular gothic buildings perched atop Parliament Hill on the Westside of the Rideau Canal – and something of a cultural centre.
Museums, galleries and theatres abound, including the National Gallery, the Museum of Civilisation and the National Libraries.
Lying on the confluence of three rivers (the Ottawa, Gatineau, and Rideau), it is also one of the greenest cities in Canada, with many public parks and spaces as well as easily accessible surrounding countryside.
Its compact size makes it all the more appealing for visitors as most attractions are within easy walking distance.
Getting around Ottawa
Public transport in Ottawa is provided by OC Transpo (buses and the light rail O-Train). Driving is pretty easy and parking spots are freely available. Ottawa is a great city for walking and cycling too. Most of the sights in the Downtown area are within walking distance of each other. Taxis, tour buses and riverboats are all other ways of seeing the city.
Getting from the Airport to the City
The airport, Ottawa International, at which flights to Ottawa land, is well connected by public transport as well as by taxi and limousine. There are hotel shuttle and limousine services available to the centre of Ottawa. Buses depart from outside the Arrivals area. Taxis are also available.
Ottawa insider information
- The annual Canadian Tulip Festival is the largest of its kind in the world, and takes place every May through Ottawa and Gatineau. The festival dates back to 1945, when Queen Juliana of the Netherlands gave a gift of 100,000 tulip bulbs to Canada. Today, the festival showcases tulips throughout the city, with more than three million tulips on display for ten days in May.
- Canada Day, on 1 July, is celebrated best in the country’s capital. Major events take place throughout the city, but the focus of the entertainment is (understandably) on Parliament Hill. Hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets to celebrate with concerts, street displays and fireworks in the evening.
- Parliament Hill is the first spot most tourists visit. Don’t miss the sound and light show which runs on summer evenings. Half an hour long, the film about Canada is projected onto the Parliament Buildings accompanied by fantastic lighting effects. The show is free and no booking or tickets are required.
- The Byward Market, east of downtown, is a huge neighbourhood, characterised by its open air market stalls. Fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers and art are all on sale in the stalls, while the surrounding shops have become increasingly boutique in recent years. Visit during the day for some shopping or browsing, or at night time for some of Ottawa’s best restaurants, bars and clubs.
- For open air pursuits, the Rideau Canal is one of the best spots in town. Boat trips are available, for views of the city by water. These can usually be arranged at your hotel or at the canal. The banks of the river are popular routes for joggers and cyclists. Best of all, when the canal freezes over in the winter, it is transformed into a huge outdoor skating rink.