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Ottawa - Canada

Canada’s capital brims with French and British history, abundant green spaces and chefs who work magic with local ingredients. James Williams savours the city

Travel Time 7hrs 30min

Why go?

Straddling the provinces of Ontario and Québec across the Ottawa River, this sprawling city balances its formal role as a seat of government with plenty of culture and laid-back outdoor spaces. Its thriving food scene has farm-to-fork at its heart, so expect great local produce, too. With temperatures in June hitting up to 24C, conditions are ideal to enjoy some of the month’s alfresco events, including Canada’s biggest free street party, WESTfest (7-9 June) and the Dragon Boat Festival (20-23 June).

What to do

Gaze up at the Peace Tower and you could be in London or Paris. The tall, gothic campanile that crowns Parliament Hill is studded with gargoyles and dates back to the 1920s. Ride the free lift to the top for a view over the copper turrets and rooftops and watch the changing of the guard by soldiers in bearskin hats, followed by a free sound and light show every evening in summer. Electric pleasure boats zip about the Rideau Canal, a Unesco World Heritage Site that in winter becomes the world’s biggest ice rink. Built to reach Lake Ontario during tense relations with the US, it led to the creation of a town that grew into a nation’s capital. Today the waterway offers 202km of cycling, strolling, fishing and camping along its route. Exploring downtown means running into a giant spider, Louise Bourgeois’s Maman sculpture, outside the National Gallery gallery.ca – one of seven national museums in Ottawa. Step inside to view Canadian, indigenous and international artworks and world-class exhibitions. Next, explore the eclectic array of shops along Bank Street with its colourful murals, Sparks Street’s heritage facades and ByWard Market byward-market.com for food, fashion and crafts. Cross over into the Québec side of Ottawa and visit Nordik chelsea.lenordik.com – North America’s biggest day spa. Wallow in a giant hot pool while enjoying a panorama of the city, then head into nearby Gatineau Park for tranquil woodland walks, cascading waterfalls and epic views.

Where to stay

The four-star Andaz hotel 00 1 613 321 1234, hyatt.com sits right on the doorstep of bustling ByWard Market and has a choice of 200 rooms. Views from floor-to-ceiling windows, designer decor and a rooftop bar for sunset cocktails make for a chic stay. Within walking distance of all the major sights, Arc The Hotel 00 1 613 238 2888, arcthehotel.com is a minimalist option with interiors by Yabu Pushelberg. The refined restaurant pays homage to Canada’s varied cuisine and is the place to devour Prince Edward Island oysters with a chilled Blue Mountain pinot gris. A city pad with all the right touches, from Italian armchairs to Egyptian cottons, the Alt 00 1 844 258 6882, althotels.com is a great-value eco-friendly concept in a good downtown location.

Where to eat and drink

It’s not all poutine and maple syrup here. Lieutenant-Colonel John By, who founded the city, also laid out the ByWard Market in 1826. Today it brims with fresh produce from hundreds of farms in and around the city limits, spread over 260 stalls. Check out Blue Bird bluebirdcoffeeottawa.ca – a bijou coffee roaster, BeaverTails beavertails.com for its famous tail-shaped, topped pastries and House of Cheese thehouseofcheese.ca for its 500 varieties from home (try the nutty Bénédictin) and abroad. Over 60 street vendors and food trucks can be found around town, hawking everything from gourmet lollies at Playa del Popsical to lobster rolls at Ad Mare Seafood. Head to streetfoodapp.com to keep track of what’s open daily. Set in a heritage building near parliament, Beckta 00 1 613 238 7063, beckta.com serves contemporary, seasonal plates – think Fogo Island cod with gnocchi and Alberta beef with oyster mushrooms. West of downtown, get a taste of the trendy Hintonburg district at Wellington Gastropub 00 1 613 729 1315, thewellingtongastropub.com with its homely, generously sized plates of scallops, squash and short ribs.

Time running out?

Ottawa is having a craft beer moment right now. Experience it for yourself on a brewery and tasting tour with Brew Donkey Tours (from £43pp). brewdonkey.ca


Travel Information

Travel Information

Currency is the Canadian dollar (CAD). Time is 4 hours behind GMT. Flight time from the UK is around 7.5 hours. The cost to carbon offset is £11.04. For more information, visit climatecare.org

Getting There

Air Canada runs a daily non-stop service between London Heathrow and Ottawa International Airport. aircanada.com

WestJet flies from Gatwick to Ottawa with one stop. westjet.com


Ottawa Tourism is the official tourist board. For events, itineraries and tips, see its helpful website. ottawatourism.ca

Average daily temperatures and rainfall

Min Temp-14-13-728131615104-2-9
Max Temp-6-32111924272521136-2

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