Headline News By Laura Jackson 836 Views

Explore Ottawa: what to see and do in Canada's capital

With its imposing neo-Gothic buildings, heavy-hitting museums and political institutions Ottawa’s a place where serious business gets done. But it’s also a free-wheeling sunny summer city where you can dance your way around a raucous music scene, cycle through laid-back neighbourhoods and eat top Canadian cuisine on terraces overlooking the canal. Stuffy? You just haven’t got to know it yet…

Why go?

It’s 6pm on Saturday afternoon and at the Chateau Lafayette (or “The Laff” as it’s known) a group of fans are aiming cigarettes into the sound hole of singer/songwriter Lucky Ron’s acoustic guitar. Anyone managing to get one in earns a free drink.

Nobody seems to know exactly how long this tradition has been going, even Lucky Ron himself, but it’s evolved to become an Ottawa institution.

Taking place every Saturday at The Laff – the city’s oldest pub, first opened in 1849 – Lucky Ron performs a set taking in everything from Johnny Cash covers to original songs about quitting tobacco.

It’s certainly not the kind of boisterous singalong you’d expect to stumble on in Ottawa, a seemingly serious city known as the home of Canada’s parliament, ministerial departments, tech companies and top artistic institutions. But Ottawa does work hard/play hard very well indeed.

The warmer months are a great time to visit with the Canadian capital putting on the glitz, from firework displays to nightly light shows projected onto the Parliament Buildings, to flower festivals and Italian street food.

Plus, it’s one of the easiest cities in North America to get around by bike, with roughly 497 miles (800k) of cycling paths curling through Ottawa’s neighbourhoods of note.