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Located near the Ottawa River on southern Ontario's eastern side, Ottawa is the capital of Canada – and has a lot to offer than tourists may realize. Ottawa is a top city to stay in for those looking to move to Canada. The city, whose nicknames include “Bytown” and “Mudtown,” is among the other Canada’s three to be named a National Historic Site and UNESCO World Heritage. Being Canada’s Capital, Ottawa hosts so many national institutions, annual festivals, and over 2000 parks - and is a bicycle-friendly town – thanks to over 160 miles of pathways and bike trails within the city. Ottawa is a beautiful city to go to for a vacation – and it boasts great features, nothing but worthy of visiting. Here is everything to know before visiting Ottawa.


Related: Here Are Some Cool Things To Do Next Time You Visit Ottawa

The City’s History

Ottawa was founded in 1826 as Bytown and became Ottawa in 1855. Over the years, the city has gone through changes to become Canada's political center it is today. The city's original boundaries were expanded through various invasions, which led to new city incorporation in 2001, thus increasing its land area significantly. The city was named by the locals, which came from the neighboring Ottawa River. The name Ottawa comes from the Algonquin word, adawe, which translates to “to trade.” Of all the cities in Canada, Ottawa is the one with the largest educated population – and it hosts universities and colleges, cultural and research institutions, and various national museums.

Getting To Ottawa

Travelers planning to visit and explore Canada’s Capital have many travel options to choose from. It is one of the world’s capital cities and is located where three beautiful rivers join and border Quebec and Ontario provinces. Tourists can reach Ottawa by plane, train, or bus, depending on their preference and budget. Ottawa is one destination that is very easy to get to as it is situated just about two-hour drive west of Montreal and four hour-drive north-east of Toronto.

Parking In Town

The city limits the number of hours to park on the streets to three hours, with overnight restrictions for parking taking force in Winter. Most downtown streets prohibit drivers from parking and stopping during the rush hours to help keep the traffic moving. It is important to check the signs nearby for restrictions put in place.

  • Rush hours in Ottawa: 7:00 am-9:00 am, 3:30 pm-5:30 pm

There are designated parking lots for coaches and buses and are located next to the destinations’ points in the city.

  • Travel Duration to get to Ottawa: Toronto 4 ½ hours, Montreal 2 hours, Kingston 2 hours, New York 2 hours.

Ottawa International Airport offers airline services to most cities in Canada as well as the United States and Europe, with seasonal flight services to South America and the Caribbean. The airport is situated just about 20 minute-drive from Ottawa's downtown. Travelers can have access to over 100 daily flights to more than 40 destinations; both domestic and international. Just a few steps outside the airport, visitors can find taxi services to drive them to their destinations or wherever they're staying once they come out of the plane.

The Best Time To Explore The City

Ottawa comes to life during summer, and a lot is happening, including festivals and events – so many things to experience. Looking to witness the best Canada's Capital has to offer? May through September is the best time as the weather is splendid; mostly warm and travelers have incredible opportunities to experience Ottawa's most spectacular attractions if not attend the festivals and events happening throughout the city.

Related: 9 Of The Best Times To Visit Yellowstone National Park

Tourists can still explore the city during Winter and experience many beautiful sights in the city, including Ice Skating on the Rideau Canal, one of the world’s largest skating rinks. At this time, the authorities turn the canal into a pathway for travelers interested in skating.

Planning For A Trip To Ottawa

A trip to Ottawa needs travelers ready with all the required documents to explore the city. One should ensure they have their passports ready. Citizens of the United States can apply for a passport through the Department of State online. Those with ready passports must ensure they are valid no less than six months beyond the end of the tour.

Visitors should apply for visas if they are needed in the countries they’re going to explore. Checking with the embassies of the countries one is planning to visit is a good way of getting prepared. It is important to carry out financial planning for the entire trip. Tourists should calculate the amount they will spend and open a separate bank account to keep the trip money. Saving helps avoid overspending on a trip.

Planning well for a trip also means arriving early at the airport. This allows travelers to put everything in place and avoid doing things during rush hours. Travelers should arrive two hours and 3 hours earlier for domestic and international flights, respectively. An extra hour early is important for those traveling with young children. Also, visitors should have the correct currency ready if credit cards and other electronic payment systems are not allowed.

Visitors should plan well for accommodation beforehand, especially for those traveling to Ottawa in Summer. It is recommended that tourists do hotel bookings at least two months before touring. Don’t wait until prices for hotels hike as many people travel during Summer to have a glimpse of what Ottawa has to offer. Also, travelers should ensure they know all the places they want to visit before they embark on a journey to Ottawa.

Ottawa is a nice place to explore, whether one is visiting for fun or business. It is always a pleasure experiencing the city’s galleries, beautiful restaurants, museums, and many more.