The Definitive Tourist’s Guide to Exploring Downtown Ottawa

The Definitive Tourist’s Guide to Exploring Downtown Ottawa

Ah, Downtown Ottawa, this is where you can find the pulse of the city. Without a doubt, this is the part of the capital that is bustling with the most activity, as everywhere you look there are groups of people walking and doing different things.

For someone exploring this area for the first time, it can be a bit overwhelming as there’s a lot to unpack. This is why I’m here to give you a breakdown of everything you need to know about the city’s downtown.

An Overview of Downtown Ottawa 

An Overview of Downtown Ottawa

Downtown Ottawa is the primary business zone of the capital city. It is also known as the Central Business District and is home to Ottawa’s financial sector. 

The Ottawa River borders it to the north, the Rideau Canal to the east, Gloucester Street to the south, and Bronson Avenue to the west. This location, together with the residential neighborhood to the south, is known as ‘Centretown’ as well.

This location is surrounded by significant government buildings, such as Parliament Hill and the Supreme Court. The most notable of these can be found on Wellington, Sparks, and Elgin streets. 

As you continue to explore the area, you will notice that the majority of the structures are office towers housing various government offices. 

While the majority of Ottawa’s high-tech business is located elsewhere, the downtown core maintains a substantial presence. 

You can find a number of apartments, hotels, and condominiums, as well as older single-family residences and townhouses in the area’s vicinity

Notable Locations in Downtown Ottawa

Downtown Ottawa features some of the city’s most prominent attractions that are hotspots for tourists. When you go and explore the area, take note of the following landmarks to have the best experience possible! 

Parliament Hill

Parliament Hill


Address: Wellington St, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A9, Canada

Contact details: 613-992-4793

Operating hours: 

  • 24/7

Parliament Hill embodies the very essence of Canada’s political and historical identity.

Its grandeur is unmistakable, with its gothic architecture, particularly the regal Peace Tower, which adds a distinct touch to Ottawa’s skyline. More than a mere seat of government, it’s a visual masterpiece that captivates both locals and visitors alike.

It symbolizes the core of Canadian democracy and governance and is the place where decisions shaping the nation are made. The Centre Block serves as a beacon of political continuity and national unity.

During the summer months, the lawns of Parliament Hill come alive with the Changing of the Guard ceremony

Changing of the Guard ceremony

Beyond being a military ritual, it’s a vibrant display of precision, tradition, and national pride—a must-see event known by locals to add an extra layer of significance to the hill.

Despite its grandeur, Parliament Hill isn’t merely a distant institution. 

It’s a place where locals gather for events, protests, or simply to take in the view. The open lawns create a democratic space where citizens feel connected to the pulse of the nation.

One notable example of this is the Canada Day celebrations, where Parliament Hill becomes the heart of the festivities. 

This is where we Ottawans gather to socialize and commemorate our beloved city, and it is a must-attend event if you are a first-time tourist.

There are plenty of activities, good food, and of course, the signature fireworks display. Even if you aren’t a local, you are guaranteed to have a great time thanks to the eclectic atmosphere. 

Rideau Canal


Address: Rideau Canal, Ottawa, ON, Canada

Contact details: 613-283-7199

The Rideau Canal is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and for good reason. 

In the summer, it’s a winding watercourse that gracefully snakes its way through the city. The canal, with its historic locks, provides a scenic route for boat tours, creating a tranquil atmosphere that contrasts with the urban bustle surrounding it.

Come winter, and the magic truly unfolds. The Rideau Canal transforms into the world’s largest skating rink – and yes, locals take full advantage of this. 

It is a complete joy to glide along the frozen water while observing snow-covered trees and famous sites. We cherished this amazing activity, and it’s a quintessential Canadian experience that brings both locals and tourists together in the crisp winter air.

But if you ask me, the sheer versatility of the Rideau Canal is what makes it stand out. It’s a year-round playground that allows you to take a leisurely summer boat ride during the winter or a brisk icy skate where you can enjoy the cool breeze. 

But let’s not just talk about the the canal is woven into the fabric of Ottawa’s history. 

It’s a testament to the incredible engineering feat undertaken in the 19th century, connecting Ottawa to Kingston for military purposes. Today, it’s a living artifact, reminding us of our past while providing a dynamic backdrop to our present.

And let’s not forget the scenic beauty it adds to the cityscape. The canal meanders through downtown, offering charming views of historic buildings and green spaces. 

Supreme Court of Canada


Address: 301 Wellington St, Ottawa, ON K1A 0J1, Canada

Contact details: 613-995-4330

Operating hours: 

  • Monday-Friday: 8:00 AM-5:00 PM

As the heart of Canada’s government, you can find the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa too, just right beside Parliament Hill. It’s a striking blend of contemporary and classical architecture, standing out amidst the city’s notable locations.

The court serves as the apex of the Canadian legal system, with landmark rulings and constitutional debates taking center stage within its walls.

What sets this forum apart is its accessibility. Unlike some courts shrouded in exclusivity, the Supreme Court is open to the public. 

Anyone can stroll in, attend hearings, and witness the judicial process in action, making it a unique and democratic space.

Now if you want a more educational experience, you can always avail of its guided tours. These further enhance its accessibility, providing insights into the court’s history, its role in Canadian democracy, and the intricacies of the legal process. 

It gives you an opportunity to unravel the inner workings of the judicial structure and gain a deeper appreciation for the rule of law.

Beyond its significance to the justice system, the Supreme Court contributes to the city’s aesthetic appeal.

With its location nestled against the Ottawa River and in close proximity to Parliament Hill, it becomes part of a carefully designed urban landscape, adding to the overall charm of the capital’s downtown area.

National Gallery of Canada


Address: 380 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1N 9N4, Canada

Contact details: 613-990-1985

Operating hours: 

  • Tuesday-Wednesday, Friday-Sunday: 10:00 AM-5:00 PM
  • Thursday: 10:00 AM-8:00 PM

The National Gallery of Canada is what you can call a true masterpiece. The architecture is a showstopper, being a marvel of glass and granite.

The gallery is an architectural statement that stands out against the historic backdrop of the city. With its sweeping lines and expansive windows, it’s a visual feast that sets the stage for the artistic wonders within.

Now, let’s talk art. From iconic Canadian works to international masterpieces, it’s a journey through the ages and across continents. 

Every visit unveils something new, whether it’s a Group of Seven classic or a contemporary installation that challenges your perception. It’s not just a gallery; it’s a dynamic conversation with art itself.

And then you have the Indigenous collection, an absolute gem of creativity. This wing showcases the rich tapestry of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit artistic expression, giving voice to stories that are an integral part of our Canadian identity.

It doesn’t stop there, though. The permanent collections found in the gallery aren’t the only art pieces worth noting.  

As you explore further, you will come across the special exhibits section, with works that are simply breathtaking. It features a rotating canvas of artistic crafts that keeps things fresh and exciting. 

In this wing, you can find cutting-edge contemporary art and thematic retrospectives from artists both big and small. Each one adds a layer of intrigue to your every visit.

But beyond the art, the National Gallery is a space that invites contemplation. 

The Great Hall, with its soaring windows and natural light, creates a serene backdrop for reflection. This makes it the sanctuary for those seeking a moment of connection with art and themselves.

The Canadian War Museum


Address: 1 Vimy Pl, Ottawa, ON K1A 0M8, Canada

Contact details: 800-555-5621

Operating hours: 

  • Tuesday-Wednesday, Friday-Sunday: 9:00 AM–4:00 PM
  • Thursday: 9:00 AM–7:00 PM

This museum stands as one of the most important buildings in Ottawa, as it remembers the country’s military service and honors the brave men and women who gave up their lives on the front lines.

The Canadian War Museum not only serves as a repository of significant artifacts, but it also tells a narrative that unfolds across wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping missions.

You can find many kinds of wartime relics here, such as vehicles that served during the war all the way to personal letters that soldiers sent to their loved ones.

And if you explore even further, you may even come across important military documents that dictated the decisions of the government leaders during that time.

Needless to say, each exhibit has a tangible connection to the individuals who shaped our history. From my own perspective, witnessing these artifacts isn’t just an educational experience; it’s a moment of reflection on the sacrifices made for our freedom.

As with any museum, the facility also features plenty of special exhibits that add depth to the experience. These tend to focus on highlighting lesser-known aspects of certain conflicts or featuring contemporary art inspired by war.

Finally, you have the Memorial Hall. It’s a solemn space that definitely strikes a chord with those who enter it.

With its commemorative plaques and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, this special wing serves as a poignant reminder of the human cost of war. It’s a space that commands respect and introspection.

Notre-Dame Basilica


Address: 110 Notre-Dame St W, Montreal, Quebec H2Y 1T1, Canada

Contact details: 514-842-2925

Operating hours: 

  • Monday-Friday: 10:00 AM-4:30 PM
  • Saturday: 9:00 AM-4:00 PM
  • Sunday: 12:30 AM-4:00 PM

The Notre-Dame Basilica is one of the largest and most popular churches in Ottawa. On a regular day, it is a place of worship, one where we pay reverence to our creator.

But you see, there’s more to the basilica besides being a church. It’s a living piece of our history, standing tall for over a century.

The architecture, with its timeless grace, whispers tales of days gone by, adding a touch of historical charm to our city.

The stained glass windows serve as both decorations and storytellers, with each hue telling a story that goes beyond the physical structure. It provides you with a glimpse into the narratives that have woven our local identity.

But it’s not just about the past; it’s a haven for the present. Besides being a place of worship, it’s a sanctuary of serenity in the midst of our urban hustle. 

The quiet hum of prayers and the gentle echoes of hymns create an atmosphere that locals find comforting—a site for silent reflection and a connection to something greater.

And of course, the Notre-Dame Basilica serves as a cultural hub. You may be able to catch concerts and community events depending on the time of your visit, where you can socialize with other tourists and Ottawans.

Useful Tips When Touring Downtown Ottawa

If you really want to get the best experience when exploring Downtown Ottawa, try out the following tips I’ve provided below. 

Walk around the streets.

Walk around the streets

Downtown Ottawa is a compact and walkable city, so ditch the car and explore on foot. You’ll discover hidden gems, charming streetscapes, and vibrant neighborhoods along the way.

Time your visit right.

You can avoid the peak tourist crowds by visiting during the shoulder seasons (spring or fall) or on weekdays. You’ll find shorter lines, more attentive service, and a relaxing atmosphere.

Explore beyond the usual streets.

Explore beyond the usual streets

If you want to see some more hidden marvels in the city, try to venture beyond the iconic Parliament Buildings and ByWard Market to uncover the city’s lesser-known spots. 

You can stroll through the Glebe’s quaint neighborhoods, discover trendy boutiques on Wellington West, or immerse yourself in art and culture at the National Gallery of Canada.

Savor the local flavors.

Savor the local flavors

Ottawa’s culinary scene is a melting pot of flavors and influences. You should sample local specialties like BeaverTails (deep-fried pastry with sweet toppings) at ByWard Market or indulge in poutine, a Canadian staple of fries, gravy, and cheese curds.

Go on a canal cruise.

Go on a canal cruise

A cruise along the Rideau Canal is a different way to experience the city from a new perspective. By doing this, you can glide past Parliament Hill, locks, and historic landmarks that offer a unique vantage point of the city’s beauty.

Bask in the green spaces.

Bask in the green spaces

You can escape the urban buzz by seeking out Ottawa’s abundance of green spaces. Major’s Hill Park offers stunning views of the Parliament Buildings and the Ottawa River, while the Arboretum at the Central Experimental Farm provides a tranquil oasis.

Immerse yourself in art and culture.

Immerse yourself in art and culture

Ottawa is a haven for art and culture enthusiasts. To see more of these beautiful works, head to the National Gallery of Canada, explore the Canadian Museum of History, or catch a performance at the Centrepointe Theatre.

Experience the different seasons.

Experience the different seasons

Ottawa transforms with each season, offering unique experiences throughout the year. You can go skating on the Rideau Canal during winter, enjoy vibrant festivals in spring and summer, and witness the stunning fall foliage in autumn.

Support the local businesses.

One way to discover the city’s unique character is by supporting local businesses. 

The best way to do this would be to shop at independent boutiques, savor culinary creations at local restaurants, and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of community markets.

Converse with the locals.

Ottawans are friendly! If you’re ever in need of directions or recommendations, don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation with a local as we love sharing our city’s highlights.

Where to Shop in Downtown Ottawa

If you’re looking to go shopping in Downtown Ottawa, make sure to drop by these locations. They are some of the most popular places to go to and for a very good reason. 

ByWard Market


Address: 55 ByWard Market Square; Ottawa, Ontario; K1N 9C3

Contact details: 613-244-4410

Operating hours: 

  • Monday-Sunday: 9:00 AM-5:00 PM

ByWard Market is defined by its large selection of shopping choices that make it an excellent option for buying all sorts of things like unique trinkets, handmade crafts, or fashionable finds.

Of course, shopping isn’t the only offering that this famous district offers. This place has some delicious food that will have your mouth watering in anticipation. 

You can find dishes made from local produce and international delights that practically make the market a foodie’s paradise. Beavertails, poutine, shawarma, tacos, and sandwiches—there are a ton of tasty treats just waiting to be discovered here. 

The best part? The open-air stalls where you can sample fresh produce and artisanal dishes, adding a dash of authenticity to your culinary exploration.

That’s not all, though. Part of the charm of dining at ByWard Market is the lovely atmosphere. 

The district is dotted with charming cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating, creating the perfect ambiance for people-watching. This gives you a relaxing backdrop as you get to watch the eager shoppers while chowing down on your meal. 

And let’s not forget the nightlife. When dusk arrives, it’s pretty much a party. 

The pubs, bars, and clubs come alive, and the streets become a lively scene for those looking to extend the night. There are also live performances by bands, and you can even drop by the numerous clubs to catch some live DJs playing their beats. 

CF Rideau Centre


Address: 50 Rideau St, Ottawa, ON K1N 9J7, Canada

Contact details: 613-236-6565

Operating hours: 

  • Monday-Sunday: 10:00 AM–9:00 PM

The CF Rideau Centre is a retail haven where you can find everything from high-end fashion to everyday essentials. As someone who frequents it, I really appreciate the diverse range of shops, ensuring there’s something for every taste and budget.

The architecture of the place seamlessly blends historic elements with modern design, creating an atmosphere that’s both chic and welcoming.

As for the brands, you will be pleased to know that The CF Rideau Centre boasts a lineup of renowned international names as well as some beloved local retailers to support the city’s business scene.

 You can find stores such as UNIQLO, American Eagle, and more.

In terms of convenience, the CF Rideau Centre is a one-stop shop for pretty much everything you need. Fashion, electronics, beauty products, or grabbing a quick bite—it has it all!

We appreciate the efficiency, making it a go-to spot for both planned shopping sprees and last-minute needs.

Depending on the schedule, you may also come across some events taking place in the mall. You can catch all kinds of shows and seasonal celebrations, adding an extra layer of entertainment to your shopping excursion.

Sparks Street


Address: Sparks Street Ottawa, ON

Contact details: 613-230-0984

Operating hours: 

  • Monday-Sunday: 8:00 AM–10:00 PM

Sparks Street isn’t your typical shopping trip. When you set foot into this popular district, you are greeted by a pedestrian oasis that combines historic charm with modern vibrancy.

It’s lined with red-brick heritage buildings, creating an inviting atmosphere that reflects Ottawa’s rich history.

You’ll find a curated selection of shops offering everything from artisanal goods to trendy fashion, making it a hotspot for those seeking something beyond the ordinary.

What I love about this feature is that you can encounter some interesting items that you won’t ever see in a mall. Part of the enjoyment of shopping at Sparks Street is the exploration as you look for a few unique finds. 

To add to that, the area has a year-round calendar of events. Sparks Street hosts various festivals, markets, and cultural gatherings, adding an extra layer of excitement to your shopping experience. 

Let’s not forget about the nearby cafes and restaurants here. You can find some local names that offer incredible food that mainstream diners don’t offer.

Finally, there’s the street’s proximity to other famous landmarks. When you’re done shopping and eating, you can take a quick walk to Parliament Hill and the National Arts Centre to make your trip more interesting. 

Stittsville Carp Road Flea Market


Address: 2079 Carp Rd, Carp, ON K0A 1L0, Canada

Contact details: 613-791-2272

Operating hours: 

  • Sunday: 9:00 AM–5:00 PM

The Stittsville Carp Road Flea Market is a treasure trove of diverse items. You can find all sorts of stuff here, like vintage finds, handmade crafts, and antiques that can stand out in one of the corners of your home. 

This is possibly the best place to go if you are seeking one-of-a-kind pieces, though you really need to plan your trip properly as it’s only open on Sunday. 

The Carp Road Flea Market often features seasonal themes, whether it’s a springtime celebration or a festive holiday spirit. So depending on the time of your visit, you may have a different experience as the area is filled with decor that matches the season. 

Now let’s talk about the main star of the show: the bargains. Due to the low prices that the flea market offers, it’s a gold mine for bargain hunters to flock and discover unique items at affordable costs. 

Ottawa Farmers’ Market


Address: 1000 Exhibition Way, Ottawa, ON K1S 3W7, Canada

Contact details: 613-417-3595

Operating hours: 

  • Sunday: 9:00 AM–3:00 PM

The Ottawa Farmers’ Market is a direct line to fresh, locally grown produce that can only be found here in the capital. 

Everywhere you look, you can find vibrant fruits, vegetables, artisanal cheeses, and handmade crafts. If you’re someone who appreciates the quality that comes from local farms, this is definitely the place to be.

Another major highlight of this place is the changing seasons. The Ottawa Farmers’ Market adapts to them, offering a variety of produce and products that reflect the rhythm of nature.

During the summer, you can find some fresh berries, while in the fall, there are plenty of hearty root vegetables for you to choose from.

There are also plenty of rare finds here, ranging from rare heirloom tomatoes to handcrafted soaps and unique artisanal creations.

One thing I personally adore about the market is its eclectic atmosphere. You will find that it is often accompanied by live music, cooking demonstrations, and a vibrant, family-friendly ambiance.

This really serves to spice things up, as it makes my shopping trip all the more exciting as I see live demonstrations of how I can use the ingredients I bought to make tasty dishes while relishing the music.

Where to Eat in Downtown Ottawa

When you explore such a huge place like Downtown Ottawa, you are bound to get hungry. These are some of the area’s most-known restaurants, and they are sure to fill up your stomach with delicious dishes. 

Spin Kitchen & Bar


Address: 100 Kent St, Ottawa, ON K1P 5R7, Canada

Contact number: 613-783-4202

Social media: 

Operating hours: 

  • Monday-Friday: 6:30 AM–11:00 PM
  • Saturday, Sunday: 7:00 AM–11:30 AM, 4:30–11:00 PM

Must-try dishes: 

  • Marriot Burger
  • Eggs Benedict
  • Charred BBQ Red Cabbage

Price: $$ – Average

Comfort food done right is one of the biggest highlights of Spin Kitchen & Bar. It is also quite known for its emphasis on seasonal ingredients, which makes the menu all the more exciting. 

For its food, we have the Marriot Burger. This is what you can expect from this delicious sandwich: a succulent patty cooked to perfection, topped with all the right fixings, and sandwiched between a pillowy-soft bun.

Locals swear by it, and once you sink your teeth into that Marriot Burger, you’ll understand why.

And now, the Eggs Benedict. These are perfectly poached eggs, resting atop a bed of Canadian peameal bacon, all crowned with a velvety hollandaise sauce.

It’s brunch perfection, a dish that makes mornings in Ottawa a bit brighter.

For those who prefer their veggies, the Charred BBQ Red Cabbage is here to make your taste buds go wild.

The red cabbage, kissed by the flames, takes on a smoky flavor that pairs exquisitely with the tangy BBQ glaze. It’s a testament to how Spin Kitchen & Bar transforms even the simplest of dishes into a culinary adventure.

To top things off, the overall ambiance of the place is just incredible. The chic, modern decor sets the stage for a memorable dining experience, whether you’re there for a casual lunch or a night out with friends.

Grounded Kitchen


Address: 100 Gloucester St, Ottawa, ON K2P 0A4, Canada

Contact number: 613-567-1234

Social media: 

Operating hours: 

  • Monday-Tuesday: 9:00 AM–9:00 PM
  • Wednesday-Thursday: 9:00 AM–10:00 PM
  • Friday-Saturday: 9:00 AM–11:00 PM

Must-try dishes: 

  • Pulled Pork Sandwich 
  • Breakfast Sandwich
  • Brisket

Price: $$ – Average

If there’s one thing that Grunded Kitchen is good at, it’s cooking its meat to flawlessness. It’s a cozy, welcoming space that feels like a second home. 

We appreciate the laid-back atmosphere, making it a perfect spot for a leisurely meal or a quick bite during a bustling day in downtown Ottawa. Now, let’s talk about the food.

First off is the Pulled Pork Sandwich. This is tender pulled pork, slow-cooked to perfection, piled high on a fresh bun, and crowned with the impeccable balance of savory and tangy barbecue sauce. 

Every bite is smoky, succulent bliss, and it has made it a certified favorite among Ottawans and tourists alike.

Next up is the Breakfast Sandwich. It’s a harmonious marriage of fluffy eggs, perfectly cooked bacon or sausage, and gooey melted cheese – all cradled in a fresh-baked roll or bagel.

Then you have the Brisket, a melt-in-your-mouth masterpiece. This is also slow-cooked to achieve perfect tenderness and give it flavors that will make a strong impression in your mind and taste buds.  

Whether it’s paired with a side or nestled in a sandwich, it’s a dish that showcases the art of cooking meat to exquisiteness.

OCCO Kitchen


Address: 160 Bay St, Ottawa, ON K1R 7X8, Canada

Contact number:  613-422-6192

Social media: 

Operating hours: 

  • Monday-Wednesday, Sunday: 11:30 AM–9:00 PM
  • Thursday-Friday: 11:30 AM–10:00 PM
  • Saturday: 10:00 AM–10:00 PM

Must-try dishes: 

  • Candied Bacon Cheeseburger
  • Beef Short Rib
  • Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl

Price: $$ – Average

OCCO Kitchen is a chic and inviting space with an atmosphere that’s as delightful as the menu. This makes it one of the more popular restaurants in the downtown area, and we simply adore it.

To kick things off, you have the Candied Bacon Cheeseburger. With a juicy patty that’s perfectly cooked and adorned with candied bacon, it manages to strike a perfect balance between sweet and savory. 

And let’s not forget the cheese that adds that gooey, melty perfection. This combination makes it one of the heavy hitters in the district’s burger game.

Downtown Ottawa is also known for its slow-cooked and tender meat, and OCCO Kitchen is no exception. The Beef Short Rib here is amazing, with meat that melts in your mouth and features rich, savory flavors that will leave you craving more.

If you’re a fan of fish, then the Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl is a must-try.

The tuna, fresh and marinated to perfection, is an impeccable combination of flavors and textures. Every bite you take oozes with freshness, and it almost feels like you are savoring the sea’s very essence.

North and Navy


Address: 226 Nepean St, Ottawa, ON K2P 0B8, Canada

Contact number: 613-232-6289

Social media: 

Operating hours: 

  • Monday-Saturday: 5:00 PM–10:00 PM

Must-try dishes: 

  • Duck & Spaetzle
  • Halibut with Asparagus & Morels
  • Bistecca Alla Fiorentina

Price: $$$ – Expensive

North and Navy is a resto that’s a bit on the higher-end of the pricing spectrum, and it specializes in comfy Northern Italian cuisine. If you choose to dine here, get ready to savor the tastes of Venice with an Ottawan twist. 

First on the list is the Duck & Spaetzle. I want you to imagine this: tender duck paired with perfectly crafted spaetzle, a marriage of flavors that’s nothing short of exquisite.

Everything about the dish is culinary perfection, from the flavor and seasoning of the duck, its sauce, and the fries. It comes together to form a meal that’s not only Instagram-worthy but also brings an unforgettable dining experience. 

Another dish you must try is the Halibut with Asparagus & Morels. The halibut is exquisitely cooked, and it dances on your palate alongside the vibrant notes of asparagus and the rich, nutty undertones of morels.

And last but not least, is the Bistecca Alla Fiorentina. Hold onto your taste buds because this is not just a steak; it’s a carnivore’s dream come true. 

When you order this, you will receive a perfectly grilled Fiorentina steak, a meaty delight that captures the essence of Tuscan dining.

Every bite you take makes the meat melt in your mouth, and you will fall in love with all the flavors that your tastebuds sense. Before you know it, you’ve finished the dish and want more! 

The Whalesbone Elgin Street


Address: 231 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K2P 1L6, Canada

Contact number: 613-505-4300

Social media: 

Operating hours:

  • Monday-Thursday: 4:00 PM–11:00 PM
  • Friday 11:30 AM–11 PM
  • Saturday-Sunday: 3:00 PM–11:00 PM

Must-try dishes: 

  • Steak Frites
  • Jerk Cornish Hen
  • Baked Oysters

Price: $$$ – Expensive

When talking about The Whalesbone, many locals would agree that it’s one of the more luxurious restaurants in the downtown area, and it’s well-earned. While a bit expensive compared to other restos, the dishes definitely make up for the tag.

Of its many delectable dishes, none quite stand out like the Steak Frites. It’s a slice of beef exquisitely cooked with a charred exterior and an interior that’s tender and juicy.

The moment you take your first bite, you can feel the steak melting in your mouth and releasing a burst of delectable flavors. To top it all off, it also has some crispy fries to add more zang to the meal. 

Next is the Jerk Cornish Hen, chicken that is roasted just right and is covered in a special sauce. It features a bold and spicy flavor that will liven up your tastebuds and is definitely an awesome choice, especially if you are a spicy food lover. 

There’s simply so much to love about the chicken, from the taste all the way to how easily the meat separates from the bone. 

While you’re waiting to get your main course, you can also order some oysters in the meantime. These plump and briny clams are carefully baked to bring out their flavor, and you can add in a few drops of lemon to give it a more zesty taste. 

Where to Stay in Downtown Ottawa

Ottawa’s downtown area offers a ton of great accommodations with strategic placements near popular landmarks. These are some of the city’s inns and hotels that give a quality experience and allow you to get to some attractions quickly. 

Saintlo Jail Hostel


Address: 75 Nicholas St, Ottawa, ON K1N 7B9, Canada

Contact number: 613-235-2595

Social media: 

Price: $ – Affordable

The Saintlo Ottawa Jail Hostel isn’t your typical inn. Far from it actually, as it offers quite possibly one of the most unique gimmicks in the city.

You see, this particular inn houses the former Carleton County Gaol, and the architecture echoes stories of its past life. 

The moment you step in, it feels like you’ve entered a time capsule of sorts. Everything is in pretty good condition, as the hotel is still complete with the original cell doors and ironwork from the past.

Thanks to its status as a historical building, the Saintlo Ottawa Jail Hostel also doubles as a museum. There are guided tours of the site that provide a captivating journey through Ottawa’s history, offering you a chance to delve into past tales.

One thing I need to mention here is the affordability of the place. Besides its fame for being a former jail, the Saintlo Ottawa provides an incredibly affordable option without compromising on the experience.

Ottawa Marriott Hotel


Address: 361 Queen St, Ottawa, ON K1R 0C7

Contact number: 613-238-1122

Social media: 

Price: $$$ – Expensive

As one of the 4-star hotels on the list, the Ottawa Marriott comes with a heftier price tag but features rooms and amenities that are a cut above the cheaper alternatives. 

This is a retreat where you can unwind in well-maintained lodging, take a dip in the indoor pool, and stay in great shape in the fitness center.

Of course, the location is definitely something worth talking about too. The Ottawa Marriott Hotel is situated in a part of the downtown area where you can reach Parliament Hill, the Rideau Canal, and the ByWard Market through a short walk. 

This really gives you plenty of options to explore, as each of the aforementioned landmarks leads to even more must-see attractions. 

Speaking of Parliament Hill, you can get a glimpse of its famous government buildings and the Ottawa River from the comfort of your room. It also makes for a great view upon waking up. 

It’s one of the many things locals and tourists love about the Ottawa Marriott’s location!

Now, let’s talk food. The hostel features nearby dining options such as the Spin Kitchen & Bar for some great Canadian classics and handcrafted cocktails at Lift Bar & Grill.

If you want something else, it’s also pretty easy to go around and explore for a specific meal that might catch your interest. 

Lord Elgin Hotel


Address: 100 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K1P 5K8

Contact number: 613-235-3333

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Price: $$$ – Expensive

The Lord Elgin’s main appeal is its central location in Ottawa’s cultural and historical epicenter, with Parliament Hill just a short stroll away. It has a longstanding tradition of supporting the arts community, with an impressive art collection adorning its walls. 

Another key selling point of the Lord Elgin Hotel is its status as an iconic structure that has witnessed decades of the city’s evolution. 

For us locals, this location provides more than just a good night’s sleep; it also gives us the chance to experience Ottawa’s rich heritage all around us.

Then you have the hotel’s views, another great feature of Lord Elgin. The rooms offer breathtaking sights of Confederation Park or the historic Rideau Canal, and they look gorgeous during the morning.

And the personalized service? Simply incredible and high-quality. 

The staff of the hotel makes sure that it’s a space where guests are welcomed with a genuine warmth that reflects Ottawa’s hospitality.

We definitely appreciate the dedication to making every stay more than memorable. This is a place that creates unforgettable experiences in the heart of the city, ones that stay with it forever.

Andaz Ottawa 


Address: 325 Dalhousie St, Ottawa, ON K1N 7G1

Contact number: 613-321-1234

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Price: $$$ – Expensive

If you want a hotel that’s in the center of the ByWard Market but also offers a ton of luxury, look no further than Andaz Ottawa. 

It’s a general consensus among locals that this is one of the best ways to really immerse yourself in the heartbeat of the capital’s culinary and cultural scene, especially if you are a tourist with plenty of cash to spare.

It’s extremely convenient, as you only need to take a short walk to reach the bustling stalls, trendy boutiques, and iconic landmarks of the ByWard Market.

Now, let’s delve into the design of the place. The Andaz Ottawa is a visual delight where you are surrounded by sleek, modern aesthetics that reflect the chic vibe of the city. 

Simply put, it’s a stylish retreat that adds a touch of cosmopolitan flair to the local landscape.

The views are nothing to laugh at either. With stunning sights of Parliament Hill, the Ottawa River, or the vibrant ByWard Market, you can take pictures of these signature landmarks from a unique perspective.

And the culinary offerings? All I can say is that you should prepare yourself for a gastronomic adventure. 

The Andaz Ottawa boasts restaurants such as Feast + Revel, where locally sourced ingredients are the main stars of the show. It truly feels like a destination for refined palates seeking an elevated dining experience.

Château Laurier


Address: 1 Rideau Street, Ottawa – Ontario K1N 8S7, Canada

Contact details: 613-241-1414

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Price: $$$ – Expensive

Ottawa is home to many hotels, but none are as notable as the Château Laurier. This building is a masterpiece that blends Gothic Revival and French Renaissance styles.

The turrets, copper roofs, and intricate detailing give it a timeless charm that stands out against the modern cityscape. Even if you’re not checking in, you can’t deny that it’s a visual feast for the eyes.

Now, let’s talk history. It first opened its doors in the year 1912 and ever since then, it’s hosted dignitaries, celebrities, and countless notable figures.

The halls echo with tales of political meetings, grand events, and a touch of glamour. You can strike up a conversation with some of the staff if you’d like to know more about these exciting stories.

I personally think that one of the Château Laurier’s biggest selling points is its close proximity to Parliament Hill. This gives guests front-row seats to the nation’s political epicenter.

The hotel’s nearness to the Rideau Canal and ByWard Market adds to its allure, making it a hub for both business and leisure travelers. This makes it a central player in Ottawa’s downtown landscape.