The basics
Canada: Destination Guides

Ottawa City Guide

Take a tour of Canada’s capital city, Ottawa. We explore what it’s like to live and study in the city, including the top five things to do as an international student.

share image

If you’ve had your heart set on studying in Canada then it’s almost guaranteed that you would have come across the city of Ottawa in your research. The capital city of Canada, Ottawa is home to several universities and has much to offer prospective international students, from vibrant nightlife to numerous cultural attractions. We take a closer look at what you can look forward to if you choose to study and live in Ottawa. It’s time to find out the top five things to do as an international student in Ottawa. 

 

Visit Ottawa's world-class museums

 

If you’re in search of some history and want to get to know more about Canada’s fourth-largest city and the country, then visiting a few of the excellent museums that are dotted all over the city is recommended. There are options to suit all tastes, 14 museums in total, from the Canadian Museum of History to the Canada Science and Technology Museum.  

 

At the history museum, you will be able to immerse yourself in the history of Canada, including indigenous culture. The science and technology museum showcases the innovations, scientific breakthroughs and developments that have shaped Canada, including a precursor to the modern search engine dubbed Archie. 

 

Find out more about what makes Canada unique for international students and what it’s like to be a student in the country

 

Explore Ottawa's local culture

 

Ottawa is a city that is known for its multicultural community and history. It is a multilingual city, with both English and French widely spoken. You will encounter British, French, American and Indigenous cultural influences as part of the fabric of the city. It is estimated that at least a quarter of the residents of Ottawa come from an international background. 

 

While in the city you have the option of learning more about the indigenous culture of the First Nations of Canada, including the Algonquin, Cree, Mohawk and Inuit people. You can do so by visiting a museum, but there is also the dynamic option of participating in a cultural experience such as art creation workshops, music and dance classes, community meetings and a tour of significant sites. 

 

Discover more about some of the top universities in Canada

 

Attend the Ottawa International Jazz Festival 

 

Ottawa is often called the “city of festivals” with more than 35 taking place every year. The offering of events is extremely diverse, including the Canadian Tulip Festival for all lovers of things horticultural. However, one of the standout dates on the calendar is the Ottawa International Jazz Festival

 

The festival is usually hosted in the summer, at the start of July, and attracts some of the most well-known and exciting jazz musicians from around the world. Some of the famous faces and voices who have taken to the stage include Salif Keita, Aretha Franklin and Herbie Hancock. 

 

Thinking about a career in medicine? Check out the top medical schools in Canada

 

Pass by the Canadian parliament and supreme court

 

While you are in the capital of Canada, which by the way is the 7th coldest capital city on the planet, it’s worth taking a trip to see the seat of judicial power at the Supreme Court of Canada and the houses of parliament. 

 

The Supreme Court of Canada has been operating in its current location since 1946 and hears the most high-profile law cases in the country. You can take a guided tour through the building led by a well-versed law student, as long as no cases are being heard. 

 

Visiting parliament hill will bring you up and close and personal with the Canadian House of Commons, the Library of Parliament and the Centennial Flame. The flame itself has been burning since 1967 when it was lit to commemorate the centenary of Canada being a confederation. Parliament hill is not all about politics and legislation, it also plays host to many events including concerts and fireworks displays. 

 

Discover what makes Canada such a popular destination for international students.

 

Take in some of Ottawa’s art

 

If you enjoy spending your leisure time taking in and viewing the work of artists, then Ottawa has some good options for you. Firstly, there is the National Gallery of Canada, which houses Canadian and Indigenous art, sculpture, installation art and political art. You will also find work by world-renowned artists such Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and William Kentridge. 

 

You can also pay a visit to the Ottawa Art Gallery that focuses on regional Canadian art and the local arts community. One of the things you may not know about Ottawa is that it has a vibrant urban art scene that includes murals, sculptures and graffiti. Walking around the city you’re bound to come across some interesting pieces and you’ll get to know more about the city itself.

 

Explore Ottawa’s main universities, Carleton University and the University of Ottawa

 

While we’ve tried to cover some of the main attractions that the city of Ottawa has to offer, there are naturally many more that may be of interest. These include a number of picturesque hiking trails, river cruises on the Ottawa River, skating on a UNESCO World Heritage Site at the Rideau Canal, or enjoying some of the local French-inspired dishes. This goes for the whole of Canada too, with five places that you must visit

 

As you can see living and studying in Canada’s capital will give you lots to do and leave you with loads of experiences. So much so that you may want to stay on after your studies which means you’ll need to know how to renew your Canadian study permit. You may also find our guide to the most popular degrees for international students in Canada interesting and our take on the top law schools in Canada may inspire you. 

 

Must read

A beginners guide to study in Canada

From playing ice hockey on a frozen lake, to a very successful mentoring programme for international students, studying in Canada ticks all the boxes. Whether you’re using the country as a stepping stone to further your career, or you’re just excited to explore the beautiful countryside, there is no doubt that Canada is a brilliant place to hold your study abroad journey. If you want to know more about studying in the country which is home to the world’s longest

7.9K

City guide: Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada)

An introduction to Vancouver Vancouver is a coastal seaport city located in the province of British Columbia in the west of Canada. It’s actually the most populated city in this area of the country and the 8 th in the entire of Canada.   The city’s origins lie in the late 19 th century in the lumbering industry when Vancouver was originally just a settlement called ‘Granville’ (or ‘Gastown’ as it was also referred to, after a local proprietor

3.6K

City guide: Montreal, Québec (Canada)

An introduction to Montreal Montreal is located in Quebec on an island in the Saint Lawrence River. It is the 2 nd largest city in Canada and home to the largest French-speaking community in the world aside from France itself. French is the official first language of the city (specifically Quebec French which varies from the French spoken in France). However over half of Montreal’s population are bi-lingual which means they can speak both French and English.

3.3K