A Beginner’s Guide to: Ottawa

by Alicia Taggio

Whether you’re looking for the best places to photograph, or simply the best places to eat, I scoured the city with my camera and appetite for culinary adventure to share what every first-time visitor should experience:
Before you choose how you want to get to Ottawa, I would consider taking the VIA Rail train. If you’re really looking for a great way to see our country, this is it.


The trains now offer free WIFI so you can still check e-mails, tweet photos and make your friends on Facebook a tad bit jealous about your travels.



Ask anyone what to experience when you’re in Ottawa and they’ll most likely say the Byward Market, so I was thrilled to discover a hotel right in the heart of it. I spent a couple of nights at the Courtyard Marriott and absolutely loved it.


Not only was the hotel sleek and modern, but it was literally steps away from everything. I could easily walk to Parliament Hill, stroll through Byward Market or pop into Rideau Centre around the corner. With free WIFI throughout the building and tons of outlets to recharge your phones/laptops, this hotel is perfect for both business and pleasure.



I’m going to go ahead and assume that you already plan to visit Parliament Hill, so that being said I would recommend getting there in the morning to achieve the best light for your photos or closer to sunset. (Plus you’ll avoid the crowds).If you want to shoot Parliament from a different angle, head down to the Rideau Canal and stroll along the pathways. I guarantee you’ll find all sorts of great things to photograph.


From interesting building architecture, to serene park benches with a great view of the canal, it really is a fantastic part of the city worth experiencing.

When you’ve worked up an appetite, head over to ByWard Market which is one of Ottawa’s most vibrant neighbourhoods. The top floor of the Parking Garage provides a higher vantage point to shoot the ByWard Market streets with a backdrop of Parliament Hill in the distance.



If you’re heading to Byward Market, do yourself a favour and stop at Murrary Street for some fantastic Charcuterie. I mean, look at this spread!

Murray Street Charcuterie

To top it off, the staff was incredibly friendly and knowledgeable on which cheeses would be best paired with your meats and wine. If you’re a soft cheese lover, go for the Sauvagine and savour every second of it.

For dessert, head over to the infamous BeaverTails stand and try this classic Canadian delicacy.



Whatever you plan to do or see during your time in Ottawa, do yourself a favour and check out the Canadian Museum of Nature. I kid you not when I say I spent hours in this place watching short films, learning about how our water systems work in Canada and my absolute favourite; the Whales Exhibit.

Museum of Nature, Ottawa

Their magnificent world-class galleries are featured in a stunning gothic-style castle which is also one of Canada’s heritage sites and a wonder in itself. If you plan on visiting during the weekday, do yourself a favour and arrive in the morning before the school groups take over.

For those of you passionate about pushing pedals, you’ll be happy to know that Ottawa offers over 175km of paved cycling paths and is a great way to get around the city. There’s something about biking around the city and taking in Ottawa’s old-world charm that is simply breathtaking.


Looking for more information about travelling to Ottawa or looking to book your next trip? Contact one of our travel consultants at 1-877-967-5302 or check out our website for deals and packages. 

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