Ottawa is a vibrant, safe and youthful city, containing a diverse and eclectic mix of neighbourhoods. While perhaps a bit sleepier than metropolises like Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver, life in Ottawa will still give you access to excellent restaurants, sporting events, plenty of green space, and a bumping nightlife.
Best of all, Ottawa offers all of this for a fraction of the costs seen in many other Canadian cities.
In this article we outline some of the most talked about Ottawa neighbourhoods for those thinking of moving to Canada’s capital. Keep in mind that figuring out which part of Ottawa is right for you may take a while, so you might want to consider putting off a long-term commitment until you have arrived in Ottawa and seen more of the city.
You can see Ottawa’s many sights by watching our video tour of Ottawa, filmed in September 2021:
Temporary accommodation for arrival in Ottawa
If you’re moving to Ottawa and not sure which Ottawa neighbourhood might be right for you, we recommend booking a fully furnished rental in a central location so you can explore easily, all while enjoying the comfort of quality accommodation. For this, we suggest making an inquiry with Premiere Suites. Their professionally managed, audited, and insured rentals are larger than a hotel room, plus they come with all appliances ready, a bunch of extra amenities, and bi-weekly housekeeping. Rates in Ottawa start at $125 per night, much more affordable than a hotel.
Inquire about Premiere Suites’ rentals for your arrival in Ottawa using the form below.
Ottawa neighbourhoods guide
Find out which Ottawa neighbourhoods are more affordable, how far they are from the downtown core, and who you might find are new neighbours, plus a landmark and hidden gem for each profiled neighbourhood of Ottawa!
Click on any Ottawa neighbourhood name in the left column below to learn even more.
|Neighbourhood||Rent (out of three $$$)||Distance from Parliament Hill||Landmark||Hidden Gem||Typical residents|
|Downtown||$$$||0 km||Peace Tower||Sparks Street||Government workers, professionals|
|Centretown||$||1.54 km||Canadian Museum of Nature||Elgin Street Diner||Government workers, young professionals, students|
|ByWard Market||$$||1.05 km||ByWard Market Square||St Brigid’s Centre for the Arts||Affluent young professionals|
|Lower Town||$$||1.59 km||Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica||MacDonald Gardens Park||Young singles|
|Sandy Hill||$||1.5 km||University of Ottawa||Strathcona Park||Students|
|Old Ottawa South||$$||3.5 km||Rideau Canal||Mayfair Theatre||Professors, hipsters|
|The Glebe||$$$||2.5 km||Lansdowne Park||Dow’s Lake||Yuppies and progressives|
|Vanier||$||3.5 km||National Military Cemetery of the Canadian Forces||Sugar Festival||Young people on a budget|
|Somerset Street West||$||1.5 km||Chinatown Royal Gateway||Plant Recreation Centre||Bohemians, transients, students|
|Westboro||$$||4.9 km||Ottawa River Parkway||Westboro Beach||Quirky families and professionals|
|Hintonburg||$||2.8 km||Great Canadian Theatre Company||Remic Rapids||Artists, musicians, hipsters|
|New Edinburgh and Rockcliffe Park||$$$||2.7 km||24 Sussex Drive||McKay Lake||Lawyers, doctors, politicians|
|Alta Vista||$$||5.1 km||Billings Bridge Shopping Centre||Billings Estate National Historic Site||Families of all ages|
|Orleans||$$||17 km||Place d’Orleans Mall||Princess Louise Falls||Bilingual suburbanites|
|South Keys and Gloucester||$$||8.3 km||South Keys Shopping Centre||Conroy Pit||Middle-aged parents with kids|
|Kanata||$$||19.8 km||Canadian Tire Centre||South March Highlands Conservation Forest||Tech workers, government workers|
|Barrhaven||$||16.7 km||Strandherd Crossing||Barrhaven Legion||Mature adults with cars|
|Nepean||$$||10.1 km||Algonquin College||Andrew Haydon Park||Hockey families, immigrants|
|Gatineau and Hull||$||1.2 km||Canadian Museum of History||Papa (sculpture)||Thrifty anglophones and French speakers|
One of the main advantages to living in Ottawa is the affordability of living downtown, giving residents easy access to the city’s economic core, as well as to the places people go to socialize.
Ottawa’s downtown is dominated by government buildings, and many of the buildings here are devoted to the civil service. Other business activity does take place in this area, and you will also find plenty of hotels, apartments, and condominiums.
Downtown Ottawa offers almost every amenity in which an urban professional might be interested, including a plethora of decent restaurants and pubs. However, living in downtown Ottawa is not the same as living in the downtown of a larger city. By the end of the work day, the 100,000 people who work downtown will have headed home, leaving those in the mood for culture or excitement needing to look to other Ottawa neighbourhoods for a more vibrant scene.
Immediately south of the downtown core is Centretown. One of the most important Ottawa neighbourhoods, Centretown contains a mix of commercial and residential properties, including low- and high-rises, condominiums, townhouse developments, and traditional single family homes.
Centretown is a historic neighbourhood and is home to many landmarks, including the famous Canadian Museum of Nature. It provides good access to the Rideau Canal, the CF Rideau Centre (Ottawa’s biggest mall), and cross-town bus transit, and is walking distance from the Byward Market. Ottawa’s Gay Village is also located in Centretown.
Here you’ll find plenty of restaurants, bars and nightclubs, and unlike the downtown it doesn’t feel like it completely shuts down at night. Centretown is a desirable location for both the young and the old, which is part of the reason why this neighbourhood can be a bit more expensive than many of the others you’ll find in Ottawa.
ByWard Market and Lower Town
The centrepiece of downtown Ottawa is the ByWard Market, a historic bazaar where one will find many of the city’s most famous bars and eateries. By day this is a fine area to take a stroll or pick up some fresh produce from a farmers’ market, but by night the market takes on a different character, revealing itself to be the nucleus of Ottawa’s nightlife.
A little north of the ByWard Market is Lower Town, where the confluence of French and English cultures is at its most prominent. In this incredibly diverse neighbourhood, both French and English are heard and spoken interchangeably.
If having the ability to maintain an active social life without regularly needing to take a taxi home is a priority, the ByWard Market or Lower Town might be the perfect Ottawa neighbourhood for you. However as both of these Ottawa neighbourhoods tend to be a bit rougher and noisier, it is far more common to find professionals, students, and couples living here than families.