Getting Around Ottawa

Transportation within the city of Ottawa is excellent on foot, by bus, and by bike. The downtown core is very compact and many of the sites and attractions are accessible on foot. Guided sightseeing tours, many of which operate on a schedule with flexible "on-off" privileges, allow visitors to stop and see the attractions of their choice. Sightseeing can be done via a walking tour, on an air-conditioned coach, a motorized trolley or on an authentic British double-decker bus. To experience the city up-close, visitors can rent a bicycle and pedal along Ottawa's designated bike lanes and scenic paths; or, pamper themselves and hire a rickshaw. Boat cruises along the Rideau Canal, Rideau River or Ottawa River are also a good way to see the sights.

The only public transportation is the 130-route bus network operated by the Ottawa-Carleton Regional Transit Commission (OC Transpo). For information about routes, where to buy tickets, etc, call 613/741-4390.

DayPass allows unlimited travel on all routes. Exact change, tickets, or the pass is required. You can buy tickets at 300 retail outlets, such as newsstands and PharmaPlus. All routes converge downtown at the Rideau Center; they begin to close down at midnight, and there is no service 1 to 6am.

In Hull, buses are operated by the Société de Transport l'Outaouais 819/ 770-3242). Transfers between the two systems are obtainable when you pay your fare on the bus.

You can hail a taxi on the street, but you'll find one more readily in front of major hotels and important buildings. Most drivers accept credit cards, usually MasterCard or Visa.

You probably won't want to drive in Ottawa, but you may want to rent a car to explore the environs or continue elsewhere in Canada.

When driving, remember that Ontario has a compulsory seat-belt requirement.

Cars can turn right after stopping at a red light in Ottawa, but not across the river in Hull, Québec. The Queensway (Route 417) cuts right across the city, adding to the confusion. The downtown entrance to the highway is at O'Connor Street. Exit the highway at Kent Street for downtown.

By car:
Driving from New York, take Interstate 81 to Canada's Route 401 east to Route 16 north. From the west, come via Toronto, taking Route 401 east to Route 16 north. From Montréal, take Route 17 to Route 417.

By Train
VIA Rail trains arrive at the station at 200 Tremblay Rd., at boulevard St-Laurent, in the southeastern area of the city. From here buses connect to downtown. For rail information, contact VIA Rail Canada at tel. 613/244-1660 or call your local Amtrak office.

By Plane:
Ottawa International Airport is about 20 minutes south of the city. A shuttle bus (613/736-9993) operates between the airport and downtown. A taxi from the airport to the city costs more.

By Bus
Buses arrive at the Central Bus Station, 265 Catherine St., between Kent and Lyon. Voyageur Colonial (613/238-5900) provides service from other Canadian cities and the United States.

Bike rental Rent-a-Bike, Mackenzie Ave, behind Château Laurier (April to Thanksgiving daily 9am-6pm; 241-4140).

Bus information Local: STO (Hull 770-3242); OC Transpo (Ottawa 741-4390). Long-distance: Voyageur Colonial and Greyhound (238-5900).

Dental emergencies Ottawa (523-4185); Hull (568-3368).

Hospitals Ottawa General, 501 Smythe Rd (737-7777; bus #85).

Train information (244-8289).