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What is the Best Time to Visit Ottawa?

Published: November 21, 2022
Last updated: November 21, 2022

When travelling to a new city, knowing what weather conditions await you is a good idea. Heading to Sicily in the height of summer? You’ll need sun cream and shades. Making a trip to the UK In the fall? A raincoat or umbrella will be required. Each destination has unique conditions, so a little bit of planning goes a long way. 

The positive news about visiting Ottawa is that it’s a good year-round destination with four distinct seasons. The right season for you will largely depend on your interests and the activities you most want to include on your travel itinerary. 

Below, we’ll run through the weather you can expect to find during each season in Ottawa and some tourist experiences you can enjoy while in town. And if you enjoy getting outdoors and exploring a city’s green spaces, check out our range of Ottawa Bike Tours and Bike Rental Options in Ottawa.

Spring in Ottawa

Thinking of journeying to Ottawa during the spring? You can expect mainly mild weather. Those who relish the sunshine will probably want to avoid March travel when the winter slush can still be lingering and instead aim to arrive in late April or May. 

The average spring temperature in Ottawa is about 6°C (43°F), so you’ll want to ensure you are bringing layers to keep yourself warm and comfortable when outside. 

Spring weather is mild enough to allow you to enjoy outdoor activities while also being an excellent time of year for museums and cultural sites. This is before the busy summer tourist season. 

Things to do in Ottawa during the spring…

With the mild weather varying between cool and warm, you’ll want to plan a mix of outdoor and indoor activities. Get to know Ottawa’s extensive number of green spaces and cycle paths, and consider Renting a Bicycle or taking a Bike Tour Around Ottawa’s Must-See Sights.

We recommend Exploring Ottawa’s Gardens if you’re looking for a quiet activity in a beautiful location.  

You may also wish to walk the city, taking in historic buildings, such as the Parliament Buildings that sit atop the 50-metre-high Parliament Hill, or climbing to the Peace Tower for panoramic views across the city.

Summer in Ottawa

Summertime in Ottawa is the perfect time to ride the city’s bike routes and try your hand at outdoor activities, such as kayaking, paddle boarding, and canoeing on the Ottawa River

In Ottawa, summer runs from late June to late August. You can expect warm weather hovering around 23°C (69°F) and minimal rain. 

During the summer, be sure to check festival listings for outdoor events happening across the city. Just prepare yourself for larger crowds and expect to pay premium prices for accommodation.

Things to do in Ottawa during the summer…

Ottawa is home to over 1,300 green spaces, so whether you’re in town for the first time or have visited previously, you will find an array of charming outdoor locations to explore. 

Enjoy long walks or cycles along the city’s picturesque Rideau Canal, Voyager Pathway, or Ottawa River Pathway, which takes you by Ottawa’s iconic Parliament Buildings. Or you eat a picnic lunch at one of the best parks in town. We recommend Major’s Hill Park or Strathcona Park. 

If you enjoy a tipple, grab a craft beer at one of the city’s many bars or brewhouses that have patios. 

Is art your thing? Ottawa contains lots of cool street art – summer is the ideal time to plot a route and tour the city’s colourful murals.

Fall in Ottawa

The end of summer is always a slightly melancholy time of year, but autumn has its own appeal. 

Fall’s enchanting beauty – all that orange, gold, maroon, and amber –  means the season is more than just a stop-gap between the summer and winter. Frankly, Ottawa in the autumn is breathtaking. This is our most favourite time of the year in terms of beauty in nature!

This is the perfect time to wrap yourself up in comfy clothing and get to one of the city’s marvellous farmers’ markets. Or rent a bike or take a bike tour to soak in the magnificent fall colours! 

You can expect temperatures averaging around 21°C (47.5°F)

Things to do in Ottawa during the autumn…

The cooler weather makes the fall a good time to explore Ottawa’s museums and indoor cultural attractions. History enthusiasts should head to the Canadian War Museum (Musée Canadien de la Guerre). This modern museum tells the story of Canada’s military past, from the 16th century until WW2 – guests of all ages will find the exhibits engaging and deeply interesting. 

Elsewhere, the National Gallery of Canada is worth visiting for its building alone. This modern architectural masterpiece is filled with thousands of striking pieces, including sections dedicated to the ever-popular European Impressionism and Inuit art. 

Those travelling with children should place the Canadian Museum of Nature (Musée Canadien de la Nature) at the top of their vacation itinerary. Located in an atmospheric, historic building, this museum of the natural sciences features rooms filled with dinosaurs – young travellers are sure to love it. 

Winter in Ottawa

Given we’re in Canada, you can expect cold days and plenty of snow during a winter trip to Ottawa.

Average temperatures can be as low as -21°C (-7°F), so you’ll need to travel with suitably robust attire. 

With the freezing temperatures, though, also comes the festive spirit. This a wonderful time of year for shopping, enjoying delicious warm food, and sipping hot chocolate.

Things to do in Ottawa during the winter…

An unmissable winter activity in Ottawa is skating at the world’s largest frozen rink – the Rideau Canal Skateway. Given the nation’s obsession with hockey, it should come as no surprise that ice skating is a popular activity during the winter months. It’s sure to put you in the holiday mood. Combine skating on the Rideau Canal with a visit during Ottawa‘s popular Winterlude Festival and enjoy the ice sculpture made by some of the most talented artists from around the world!

Skating through the Forest at Lac de Loups is another great choice – quality skating and amazing scenery. 

Our final recommendation is the Ottawa Christmas Market at Lansdowne. With locally made crafts and gifts, hot cider, and tasty snacks, this is our favourite way to soak up the magic of the winter season.

This brings to a close our discussion of when it’s best to visit Ottawa. As you can see, every time of year offers something unique. If you have any questions at all, please get in touch.

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