Canada’s capital city and seat of government is much more than just politics. Ottawa is a leafy metropolis on the Ottawa River, which flows by Parliament Hill, revered for its plethora of Victorian Gothic buildings and Peace Tower, one of the most widely recognized symbols of Canada.
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From cozy Fairmont Rooms to opulent suites, the Fairmont Château Laurier provides luxury accommodations in a magnificent downtown Ottawa setting.
Another of Ottawa’s famous waterways is Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is popular for boating and, in winter, becomes the world’s largest ice-skating rink. Back on land, Notre-Dame Cathedral, built in 1841, is one of the city’s most-visited structures. The neo-Gothic basilica is Ottawa’s largest and oldest church.
Other Ottawa must-see sights include the National Gallery of Canada, one of the largest art museums in North America; Canadian Museum of Nature, whose exhibits range from fossils and mammals to minerals and a butterfly garden; the Diefenbunker, a four-story underground bunker where during the Cold War top Canadian officials were expected to take shelter in the event of a nuclear war; York Street, the capital city’s capital of nightlife; and ByWard Market, home to a cornucopia of cafes, farmers’ market stalls, specialty food shops, restaurants and hip boutiques.
The best time to visit Ottawa is April and May when the crowds are thin, the weather begins to warm and Ottawa is in bloom. May is also when the annual Canadian Tulip Festival, the world’s largest, takes place. February is also a great month to visit Ottawa, which hosts the annual Winterlude festival, a celebration of Canada’s unique northern culture and climate that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors.