Our Ottawa Travel Essentials lays out the essential information you need to help planning your trip to the capital city of Canada. No matter how frequently you travel, some questions will always need answers: What’s the weather like? How can I get from the airport to my hotel? What currency and type of plug do I need? We have all these answers plus other basic info about the best time to go, getting there, getting around, and a few useful travel tips.

It’s all compiled in this Ottawa Travel Essentials. After reading this short and easy-to-read guide, you will be a little more prepared to start your trip in Ottawa, Ontario.

  • When is the best time to travel to Ottawa?

    When is the best time to travel to Ottawa?

    Ottawa has a humid continental climate, with average temperatures ranging from -10ºC in winter to 21ºC in summer.

    • The rainiest time of the year is between April and November, with an average of 12 rainy days per month.
    • Snowfall can be expected between November and April.
    • June-August is peak tourist season, with hotel and flight prices rising accordingly.
    • March-May and September-October are great times to visit, you’ll avoid the peak season’s throngs, and flight and hotel prices are more affordable. The weather is pleasant, but pack a jumper and a raincoat, just in case.

    Location: Ottawa

  • Ottawa basics

    Ottawa basics
    • Languages: Primary: English; Secondary: French
    • Plug types: A and B
    • Electricity: 120 V
    • Currency: Canadian Dollar (C$)
    • International dialling codes: +1 613
    • Emergency telephone number: 911
  • How to get to my hotel in Ottawa?

    How to get to my hotel in Ottawa?

    Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport

    Named after 2 “founding fathers of Canada”, Macdonald–Cartier International Airport is the primary airport serving Ottawa. One of the busiest airports in Canada, it sits 12 km south of the city centre. It features 1 passenger terminal and 2 runways. Here, you’ll find a great range of dining and shopping options as well as facilities including banking and currency exchange services. There are several transfer options to reach Downtown Ottawa: 

    • A taxicab takes around 20-30 minutes. The taxi rank can be found on the Arrivals level 1.
    • You can also use Uber in Ottawa Airport. The pick-up area is on the outer curb, Pillars 12-13.
    • The OC Transpo bus route 97 takes around 30-40 minutes. The bus stop is on the outer curb, Pillars 13-16. You can purchase your ticket directly on the bus. It’s the cheapest way to reach central Ottawa.
    • Shared shuttle buses take around 20-30 minutes. The pick-up area is on the outer curb, Pillars 15-16.
    • Car rental agencies can be found on the ground level of the multi-storey parking facing the terminal.

    If you come by train to Ottawa

    Ottawa Train Station is a stunning glass and steel building located about 4 km east of the city centre. Nice and clean, it’s operated by The Canadian National Railway and the Canadian Pacific railway and served by Via Rail trains. The station features a few eateries and facilities that include free Wi-Fi and ATM machines. From here, you can get anywhere in the city by bus or taxi including uber.

  • How to get around Ottawa?

    Travel tips

    How to get around Ottawa?

    Downtown Ottawa is compact enough to be explored on foot. Settled on the south bank of the Ottawa River, it covers roughly a 3-sq km area. You’ll find, within walking distance, many landmarks and attractions such as the Parliament Hill and Building, the Canadian War Museum, and the Saint Patrick Basilica, just to name a few. The city centre also hosts a great choice of dining, shopping and nightlife entertainment options. For longer journeys, a good choice of public and private transport services is at hand. 

  • OC Transpo bus networks in Ottawa

    OC Transpo bus networks in Ottawa
    • OC Transpo is in charge of public transport in Ottawa, Ontario. It operates over 200 bus lines and the O-Train (light rapid transit) that cover the entire city.
    • Single tickets and 1-day passes are available. They can be purchased on the bus, at O-Train stations and online.
    • Note that if you cross the Ottawa River to visit Gatineau in the Province of Québec, the public transport networks there are run by the STO - Société de transport de l'Outaouais - which works with OC Transpo and applies the same ticketing system.

    photo by shankar s. (CC BY 2.0) modified

  • Taking a taxi

    Taking a taxi
    • Taxis can be hailed down on the street in Ottawa.
    • You can easily find cab stands outside hotels and near the main attractions and shopping areas.
    • You can also directly call popular companies such as Blue Line Taxi (613-238-1111), Capital Taxi (613-744-3333) or West-Way Taxi (613-727-0101), just to name a few.
    • Most taxis accept the payment of the fare by credit card, but it’s better to ask the driver before you get in.
    • It’s common to give a 10-20% tip to the taxi driver.
    • Uber, Lyft and local taxi apps can also be used to hail a taxi in Ottawa.
  • Cycle around Ottawa with VeloGo

    Cycle around Ottawa with VeloGo
    • VeloGo is the name of Ottawa’s bike sharing scheme. It’s run by HOPR and features over 500 docking stations throughout Ottawa and Gatineau.
    • You just need to download the HOPR Transit app on your mobile phone.
  • What are the main annual events in Ottawa?

    What are the main annual events in Ottawa?


    • What: Celebrate winter at this annual festival featuring an ice carving contest, ice skating on the largest ice rink in the world, and an ice dragon boat race.
    • When: February
    • Where: Various locations in Ottawa-Gatineau

    Ottawa RBC BluesFest

    • What: Showcasing world-class blues, pop, rock and soul artists and bands, the Ottawa RBC BluesFest is one of the bigger music festivals held in Canada.
    • When: July
    • Where: Lebreton Flats

    Canadian Tulip Festival

    • What: Featuring crush game competitions, a family fun zone, bouquet displays, an art exhibition and much more, the Canadian Tulip Festival celebrates spring in style. It’s one of the largest tulip festivals in the world.
    • When: Early May
    • Where: Various locations