Although often overshadowed by bustling Toronto, chich Montreal and super cool Vancouver, Ottawa has lots to offer when it comes to culture. The city has museums and galleries that detail the country's First Nations and modern history – including the excellent Canadian Museum of History – as well as interesting sites such as Parliament Hill and Embassy Row, and the food and craft beer scene here is excellent (you must try a beaver tail – a flat doughnut traditionally topped with sugar and cinnamon). Ottawa holidays have a perfect balance of everything: chic restaurants are met with cool food trucks;
upmarket boutiques stand alongside second hand shops and market stalls; and you can experience trendy rooftop bars and basement pubs with live music all in the same night.
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The ByWard Market is at the heart of the city, and is a must visit while on holiday in Ottawa, but head just a little out of Downtown into The Glebe neighbourhood and you'll find an excellent Sunday farmer's market that sells amazing local products (do yourself a huge favour and buy a vat of maple butter, you'll thank us later) as well as some independent shops selling everything from high end olive oils to artisanal chocolate. Alternatively, head north over the river and you'll soon find yourself in Quebec province in the city of Gatineau, which has a whole Franco-focussed culture of its own.
One of Ottawa's top selling points for a holiday is the fact that it's ideal year-round, and there are treasures to be found whatever season you visit. Spring and summer are all about alfresco eating, warm evening walks, rafting on the Ottawa River, and relaxing in the sunshine at one of its many music festivals; autumn is when the city bursts with colour from the fall foliage; and winter turns the city into a snow-blanketed wonderland where residents ice skate to work along the Rideau Canal and regularly head out into nature for snowshoeing adventures. Plus, the colder seasons bring with it the amazing Winterlude Festival (particularly great for families) where you can immerse yourself in a snowy world of ice sculptures, snow mazes and more.