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Overview to Ottawa: Travel Guide and Tourist Information

Parliament Hill and the Rideau Canal

Capital cities are rarely undiscovered, yet with Vancouver and Toronto drawing in the tourists, Ottawa has been left practically untouched. Travelers heading here will quickly get the impression that this is a real gem of a city, and feel privileged to be in the know.

Ottawa perches on the confluence of three major rivers, with the Rideau Canal running through its center. The city spreads out over a lattice of waterways and segues into Gatineau – a separate town which is nonetheless included in Ottawa’s metropolitan area.

Downtown – home to the tourist and administrative center of Parliament Hill – lies to the south and east of the canal. Directly opposite Parliament Hill, the Capital InfoCentre provides maps and brochures for the traveler, along with a cheapish bike rental service.

Ottawa boasts many attractions, largely situated along the lines of the T made by the canal and the Quebec Ontario. The National Arts Center and War Memorial downtown are worth a visit while, across the canal in Lowertown, the National Gallery and cathedral also stand out.

Other notable sights can be found a little further inland. To the east of the city lies the excellent Agricultural Museum and the Science and Technology Museum and, this time across the Ontario River, Gatineau is home to the fascinating Museum of Civilization.

Whilst in Gatineau, it’s well worth the money to hire a bike and explore the extensive green spaces, all marked out with cycling or hiking trails. Ottawa is made for outdoor activities and is very rollerblade, skateboard and, especially, bike-friendly. The canal in particular is a great place to whizz along.

Both the canal and the river are also fantastic during the winter when they freeze over, as hordes of locals showcase their (sickeningly good) ice-skating talent. Strapping on some skates is one of the best (and most authentic) ways to experience this unerringly friendly and inviting city.


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