Centretown, the best area to stay in Ottawa
Ottawa’s Centretown neighbourhood is a vibrant yet mellow centrepiece, where you will find many of the city’s main sights and a good selection of hotels. It is an ideal location to stay as you will always be within walking distance of many of the city’s star attractions, usually nevermore than about 20 minutes away.
Whether you decide to come to Ottawa in summer or winter, Ottawa has a comprehensive year round list of activities and sights to keep visitors entertained. Follow the picturesque promenade along the banks of the UNESCO World Heritage Rideau Canal to some of the city’s main highlights, which in summer is dotted with ferry boats and people taking a leisurely walk along the banks. You can jump in a paddleboat to explore Ottawa from a different perspective and enjoy a scenic ride along the water. In winter the canal is transformed into a wonderland of skaters and festive activities and many locals also also use the canal’s icy lanes to skate to work.
Stop along the way at the Canadian War Museum or head straight up to Parliament Hill, a conglomerate of imposing neo-Gothic and Gothic-style Parliament buildings built between 1859 and 1927 and home to the Canadian government. You can choose to do a guided tour that will show you the House of Commons and the Senate, where Canada’s laws are debated and made, or discover the grounds and try out the Whispering Wall monument, so named because if you whisper something at one end of the wall, someone else will be able to hear you at the other.
From Parliament Hill you can easily navigate to the National Gallery of Canada, where a plethora of paintings, drawings, sculptures and photographs are on display including works by Andy Warhol and Salviati, as well as native Canadian and Inuit art. The Rideau Canal also leads to the Canada War Museum where you can learn about Canada’s military history through a series of exhibitions that cover wars on Canadian soil as well as international, and commemorate those who lost their lives.
For a taste of the exotic you can soak up the sights, sounds and tastes of Ottawa’s Chinatown which paradoxically criss-crosses the Little Italy neighbourhood. It is one of Ottawa’s most lively communities with an abundance of restaurants, delis, bakeries, pubs and shops. In this neighbourhood you will be served up delicious cuisines from around the world amid a steaming hot pot of many different cultures, including Chinese, Italian, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, French and Middle Eastern.
Ottawa is also a city that likes to celebrate. The Spring Festival pays homage to the return of spring and the tulip that was presented to the city by Princess Juliana of the Netherlands in 1945 after the Second World War. Over a million tulips blossom across the city’s public spaces. In summer the city attracts jazz aficionados to the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival which features local and international acts and on July 1st the entire city literally explodes into gleeful party mode to celebrate Canada Day.