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Need to Know About Ottawa
If you are planning a trip to Canada, consider visiting the country’s capital Ottawa. Ottawa is the place to go to learn about all things Canada, between its history, politics, and everyday Canadian life. The Canadian government operates out of Ottawa, and there are several government buildings within the city that you can visit. In order to immerse yourself in Canadian life, the city is teeming with museums, parks, markets, shopping, and some of Canada’s cutest cafes. While Ottawa is located within the province of Ontario, you can visit neighbouring Quebec simply by crossing the river. The Quebec city of Gatineau is within easy reach of central Ottawa and will have you feeling like you’ve been transported to France. If you would like to extend your Canadian adventure beyond Ottawa, your options are endless. The city is surrounded by several national parks and mountains that will show you a completely different side to Canada. You could also hop to another major city by heading to nearby Toronto or Montreal. Booking cheap flights to Ottawa is the perfect way to start a trip around Canada for your next holiday.
When is the Best Time to Book Flights to Ottawa?
Ottawa experiences drastically different weather throughout the year. Summers are hot with temperatures of about 27°C, while winters are cold and snowy with average daytime temperatures of -6°C. Because summer is the warmest season in Ottawa, this is when the majority of tourists choose to visit the city. In addition to the great weather, summer in Ottawa is a lively time with regular festivals and outdoor markets. Because summer is Ottawa’s high season, hotels increase their rates during this time.
If you are after a bargain, you can find some amazing deals on cheap flights to Ottawa and hotels in the city centre during the winter. Be sure to bundle up warm and embrace the Canadian winter by going ice skating on the Rideau Canal, then warm up in a cafe with a cup of hot chocolate. If you are a skier, Canada offers some great ski resorts, and several are within reach of Ottawa.
Spring and autumn are other nice times to visit Ottawa. While the hotel rates aren’t quite as low as they are during the winter, prices are definitely lower than the summer high season. With temperatures of about 13°C during these seasons, you’ll have great weather for walking around Ottawa or going for hikes in the nearby countryside.
Travelling to Ottawa Airports
Ottawa is home to the sixth-largest airport in Canada. The airport is located about 13 kilometres (8 miles) south of the city centre and welcomes visitors to the country’s capital.
A variety of major airlines offer cheap flights to Ottawa from New Zealand, including Air New Zealand, Qantas, Air Canada, American Airlines, and United Airlines. While there are no direct flights available, travellers can visit Ottawa with one stopover from Auckland and two stopovers from Wellington and Christchurch. On average, flights to Ottawa from New Zealand arrive in about 22 hours.
Ottawa Macdonald Cartier Airport (YOW)
Once you have arrived to Ottawa Macdonald Cartier Airport, you can make your way into the city centre on public bus route 97. The bus is operated by the company OC Transpo and is available from pillars 13-16 outside the airport. The bus reaches central Ottawa in about 30 minutes. It departs from Ottawa Airport every half hour and offers service to the city 24 hours a day. Fare to ride the airport bus costs $3.50 CAD ($3.85 NZD).
Taxis are available from the airport and will get you to your hotel in no time. The drive from the airport into Downtown Ottawa takes around 15 minutes, and taxi fare comes to about $30 CAD ($33.20 NZD).
What to do in Ottawa
Parliament Hill is the hub of Canadian politics. It is used as a meeting place for the government as well as a site of national celebrations. Parliament Hill is made up of three buildings, which are each designed in a beautiful Gothic style. Parliament Hill is open to visitors, and free tours are available throughout the day. Outside of Parliament Hill, you can also watch a Changing of the Guard ceremony each morning during the summer that is modelled after the famous ceremony in London.
The Rideau Canal passes through Ottawa and connects to Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. During the warmer months, the canal is a scenic place to go for a walk with views of the city. In the winter, part of the canal is turned into an ice skating rink that stretches for about 8 kilometres (5 miles). Skate your way down the canal for a unique perspective of Ottawa.
This market is a favourite among both locals and tourists and is one of the oldest markets in Canada. There is a main market building that is open all year round, and additional markets stalls are set up outside during the warmer months. Markets vendors sell a huge variety of products, including fresh produce, flowers, souvenirs, and clothing. Several restaurants and food stalls are also set up in ByWard Market. Get some food to go, then head to the nearby Major’s Hill Park where you can take in the view of Parliament Hill and the Ottawa River.
Fairmont Château Laurier
Right beside Parliament Hill, the Fairmont Château Laurier was built as a castle in 1912. The castle has a French Gothic design that will make you feel like you’re in Europe. Today, the building is a luxury hotel, but parts of it are still open to the public for viewing. Inside, there are marble floors, stained glass windows, and chandeliers that are fit for royalty. The Fairmont Château Laurier offers an afternoon tea, which will give you the opportunity to admire the castle’s design.
Canada recognises the British royal family as their monarchy, and Rideau Hall is their official royal residence in Canada. The mansion was built in 1867 and will remind you of London’s Buckingham Palace, right down to the guards outside. Get an insight into how the royals live when they’re visiting Canada by taking one of Rideau Hall’s free tours that are offered regularly.
Getting Around Ottawa
In order to explore every corner of Ottawa, you can take advantage of the city’s two bus systems. On the Ontario side of the river, there is the OC Transpo bus network, while the Quebec side has the Société de Transport de l’Outaouais. OC Transpo operates almost 200 different bus routes in the Ottawa region with bus fares costing $3.50 CAD ($3.85 NZD) per ride. You can also purchase a day ticket for $10.50 CAD ($11.60 NZD). Société de Transport de l’Outaouais offers more than 130 bus routes in addition. Fare on this network costs $3.50 CAD ($3.85 NZD) for one ride and $7 CAD ($7.75 NZD) for a day ticket. Between the two bus networks, you’ll have no trouble getting anywhere you need to go in Ottawa.