Visiting Ottawa

Why Visit Ottawa?


Ottawa and its sister city Gatineau embrace much of the National Capital Region.  These two cities offer the visitor an opportunity to enter a fascinating and unique part of the Canadian tapestry, while the Capital Region itself opens the door to the Canadian experience at large.

                                            Capital                                             and                                            City

Much of the Canadian experience can be found in the Showcase Buildings of the National Capital Region.  These museums and galleries offer insights into both Aboriginal and European history in Canada, into the Arts, into Science and Technology, into Aviation and Space. With the national Experimental Farm, located in the heart of Ottawa, a trip is possible into on-going agricultural research as well as the rural history of the country.   Parliament Hill and its buildings, magnificent in themselves, introduce the visitor to Canadian political life. 


The national showcases are always an attraction and information is easily found; among the best for the capital is with a link to “Discover the Capital”.  And which tends to focus more on the capital than the city.


The two cities, however, have their own galleries and museums that interpret the local experience, one quite different from that of the national experience represented by the capital. 


In addition, the area with its waterways--three rivers and the Rideau Canal, the latter a World Heritage site--and its parks is a huge playground for lovers of the outdoors, both summer and winter.  In addition to hiking and biking on land, flatwater and whitewater paddling is available on the rivers, along with boating more generally, including on the Rideau Canal. 


The variety of outdoor activity rests on the Continental Climate: moderate in May and June, and September and October; often hot and humid in July and August; cold and snowy from December and into March, with less predictable weather in April and November. Visitors need to dress accordingly. 


Both cross-country and downhill skiing can be found in the Winter, along with snowshoeing.  Ottawa boasts a 7 kilometer skating rink on the Rideau Canal skateway within the city.  At winter’s peak there are nearly 200 kilometres of groomed cross-country skiing and snowshoe trails in nearby Gatineau Park.  The Autumn leaves are spectacular. Spring is aglow with hundreds of thousands of tulips.

There is also a rich offering of live entertainment, popular and classical, and it includes a number of festivals.  In Spring, the Tulip Festival; in Winter, the  Winterlude Festival.  Music includes the Jazz Festival; the Folk Festival; and the internationally-recognized Chamber Music Festival.  There are two symphony orchestras: the Ottawa Symphony, and the National Arts Centre Orchestra; local and national theatre, opera and dance.


Tulip Festival

On any inbound journey FFO hosts will introduce ambassadors to many of the qualities that make Canada the country that it is; and that make the Ottawa Valley and its cities one of the many identities that contribute to the greater picture.  It is for us an inspiring and often beautiful voyage. 

Click here for a description of a typical one week exchange with Friendship Force Ottawa.


For more information on Ottawa and its history, please read:




Arboretum at Ottawa's Central Experimenal Farm
Autumn in the City
The Ottawa Valley from the Gatineau Hills