City guide: Ottawa, Canada | Private jet charter
Ottawa is Canada’s capital city and located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern province of Ontario. The fourth largest city in Canada, Ottawa is home to just under a million people and has much to offer visitors including historic sights, canal boat rides, rich cultural and gastronomic offerings and a thriving market scene. Ottawa also has myriad of outdoor activities to enjoy including skating, skiing, rafting, sailing and climbing.
Top five must-see sights and attractions
Home to Canada’s Government, Parliament Hill and the Parliament Buildings are located on Wellington Street in downtown Ottawa overlooking the Ottawa River. The hillside site is a popular tourist attraction, especially in the summer during the Changing of the Guard ceremony on the front lawn. Summer is also the season for the spectacular Sound and Light show with projections onto the Parliament Buildings accompanied by music. On Canada Day (July 1) the area is the focal point for the city’s independence celebrations.
Join a free guided tour of the Parliament Building and visit the Senate of Canada – even watch live proceedings – as well as the House of Commons during Question Period. The four Gothic Revival buildings are worth a visit in their own right and are located in beautiful landscaped grounds.
Ottawa is renowned for its eclectic gourmet and restaurant scene with many chefs sourcing their produce from the historic downtown Byward Market – Canada’s oldest farmer’s market. An easy stroll east of Parliament Hill, the Byward Market district is home to independent shops, boutiques and lively nightlife that surround this popular outdoor market with stalls selling local produce as well as veggies, fruits and fresh flowers.
The cosy neighbourhood vibe makes it the ideal destination for brunch and shopping. At night the area transforms into a vibrant club and restaurant area popular with tourists and locals.
If the city buzz becomes too much, head to the calming Rideau Canal – a UNESCO World Heritage Site stretching 202km between Ottawa and Kingston – Canada’s former capital.
The Rideau Canal is a popular year-round destination – follow the 45 locks that are open between May and October and take a walk back into history when the canal was a main thoroughfare for British shops. In winter the canal becomes the longest skating rink in the country, while in summer it’s the playground of walkers and cyclists.
National Gallery of Canada
The glass panels and granite stonework of Canada’s National Gallery are outstanding architectural features of Ottawa’s most renowned gallery, while artist Louise Bourgeois’ weird giant spider (Maman) adds to the unique vibe on the plaza in front.
You’ll need at least a morning to see just some of the 40,000 works of art displayed here – much of it by Canadian artists – with rotating monthly exhibitions from lesser-known contributors and strong showing from European and American artists, including some of Warhol’s most famous pieces. There are superb views of Parliament Hill from its Sussex Drive location.
Notre Dame Basilica
Ottawa’s oldest and largest church is a must on your visit to Canada’s capital city. Built in 1846 of wood and stone, the church offers a bilingual service in French and English and is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Ottawa.
Within easy walking distance of Parliament Hill, the Basilica interior is impressive with highly decorative stained glass and Gothic arches either side of a high, narrow nave. The stained glass dates from 1879 and was created by the renowned English craftsman Harry Horwood.
Walking is the best way to discover Ottawa’s historic and downtown districts, and there are many taxi and limo services, as well as an efficient public transport system including the city’s riverboats. Joggers, walkers, skaters and cyclists will enjoy some of the 170km paved pathways running across the capital.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Ottawa is between March and May. Festivals in spring include the Maple Sugar Festival (March), Canadian Tulip Festival (May) and the Ottawa Marathon (May). Notable summer events include the Ottawa Fringe, the Bytown Oyster Festival and TD Ottawa Jazz Festival, and Canada Day on July 1. Between September and November the summer heat has subsided making sightseeing easier, while winter can be snowy and cold but is the perfect season to go skating on the frozen Rideau Canal.
Ottawa is the perfect year-round city destination. In the summer months the restaurant tables are outside, the region’s vineyards are beckoning and the city’s cultural and festival life is alive. In winter the city becomes a skater and skier’s paradise, and warm up in one of the many pubs with a mulled wine and a deep-fried ‘beavertail’ doughnut.
For all your private jet charter requirements to and from Ottawa, contact us today for a personalised charter quote.