In January 2012, I made my first trip to Canada's capital. It was freezing cold and snowy during that visit, but I nevertheless was able to pick out quite a few things that I really liked about Ottawa.
My first “5 things to love about Ottawa” post included:
- The fact that Ottawa is walkable
- The fact that Ottawa is bilingual
- The fact that Ottawa has a great food scene
- The fact that Ottawa has lots of cool bookstores
- The fact that Ottawa is not an overwhelming city
I still maintain that those things are great reasons to love Ottawa (especially the food bit… SO much good food here!). But now that I've completed my second trip to Ottawa — and in the springtime, no less — I have a few things to add to that original list.
And so I give you 5 MORE things to love about Ottawa:
Ottawa is bike-friendly. I couldn't really appreciate it in the dead of winter, but Ottawa is an incredibly great city for cyclists of all sorts. The city has a lot of well-maintained bike paths, and there are places to lock your bike up all over the city. Ottawa also just started a public bike share program called BIXI with 10 rental/drop-off locations around the city. I rented a bike myself over the weekend (through RentABike) and rode for miles along the Rideau Canal — a perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon.
Ottawa is green. Green in multiple sense of the world. Not only is Ottawa quite eco-friendly (with recycling bins next to every garbage can, and many restaurants pledging to use as many locally-grown ingredients as possible), but the city has quite a few nice parks, too. The place is literally green. There's the tree-line Rideau Canal, Major's Hill Park which overlooks Parliament, and Confederation Park near Dows Lake — just to name a few of my favorite “green” spaces in the city.
Ottawa is beautiful. I got a taste of it last year, but seeing Ottawa alive and bustling in the spring has confirmed for me that Ottawa is actually a pretty damn attractive city. There's the canal, the buildings on Parliament Hill, the parks, the river, and lots of historical old buildings downtown. Seeing the city sprinkled with tulips and flowering trees on this trip definitely helped confirm this, too.
Ottawa is full of things to do. I'd hazard a guess that most visitors to Canada don't include Ottawa on their itineraries. This is a shame, really, because there truly is a LOT to do here. There are fantastic museums to visit, Parliament to explore, the Byward Market neighborhood to eat your way through, outdoor activities to enjoy, and countless fun festivals to attend. Whether you're interested in food, art, music, culture, or nature, Ottawa has something (and probably a festival) for you.
Ottawa is safe. Lastly, Ottawa is a really safe city as far as world capitals go. As a female traveling alone, I have never felt wary walking on my own around the city (even at night). And as a tourist, I have never felt worried walking around with my camera out. There's a relaxed feeling to Ottawa that I really like, and that has made me feel quite safe traveling on my own here.
So now you have TEN reasons to visit Ottawa for yourself. Tempted?
*Note: My visit to Ottawa has been sponsored by Ottawa Tourism and the Fairmont Chateau Laurier. As always, though, all opinions are my own.