When to visit Ottawa

by SmarterTravel Staff

Ottawa has four distinct seasons filled with outdoor activities and festivals. Summer is an ideal time for swimming or sunbathing, and also brings many of the annual events. Late September through October is mild and brings colorful fall foliage. Winter is less busy due to the cold, but the Christmas shopping season and the popular Winterlude festival in February attract visitors. Spring is a moderately slow time because of rainier weather, but peaks with a massive tulip festival in May. The most popular time to visit is May through October. Prices, crowds, and the temperatures drop from late December through April.

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  • high season: February, May to October
  • low season: November to January
  • shoulder season: March to April

Weather Information

Ottawa experiences four full seasons, with the warmest temperatures and occasional high humidity occurring from June through August. The fall is temperate, with changing leaves and cooler temperatures. January through mid-March can bring heavy snow storms and cold weather. Spring is cool with occasional showers.

Crowd Information

Ottawa is at its busiest during the Winterlude festival over the first three weekends of February, the Canadian Tulip Festival in May, Canada Day on July 1, and fall foliage in October.

Closure Information

Several national museums close on Mondays, and some on Tuesdays as well, from November through April. Most shops either close or reduce hours on Easter Sunday, Remembrance Day (November 11), Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. Hotels and restaurants remain open all year.

When to Save

Late December through January, when hotel demand is at its lowest, is the least expensive time to visit. May can be a more expensive month since hotel occupancy rises due to conferences, school visits, and the Canadian Tulip Festival.

When to Book

Those with a flexible schedule can find last-minute deals. Book in advance if you want to stay during a specific time or at a specific place. Hotel packages are typically available three months in advance year-round.

Information provided by Ottawa Tourism.

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