General Info about Ottawa, Canada

Ottawa General Info

The currency used in Canada is the Canadian dollar. There are no dollar bills, the lowest note is five dollars, so dollars and two dollars come in coin form.

The main languages spoken in Ottawa are English and French.

Ottawa has a humid continental climate and experiences four distinct seasons. Summer is usually quite warm and humid. Average highs of 20.5ºC are what you can expect in July, Ottawa’s hottest month. The weather in spring and autumn can be quite changeable while winters get very cold and see plenty of snow. January and February are the coldest months with average lows of around -11ºC. June tends to be the wettest month as it gets approximately 89mm of rainfall.

Time Zone
Ottawa operates on Eastern Standard Time which is five hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. Daylight Savings Time applies between April and October.

Opening Hours
Shops in Ottawa generally open between 10.00am and 6.00pm from Monday to Saturday, with many also opening on Sundays. Banks are usually open from 10.00am until 5.00pm on weekdays.

The electrical current used in Ottawa is 110 Volts AC/60 Hz, while sockets take 2-pin plugs (flat) or 3-pin plugs (2 flat & 1 round).

Visa Requirements
Visa requirements for visitors to Canada have become stricter in recent years. All people entering the country must have proof of citizenship. For most European residents and citizens of certain other countries, you do not need a visa but you must have a passport. Entry visas are required, however, for citizens of more than 130 countries so it is worth checking this out with the Canadian consulate in your home country. They will be able to tell you if you need a visa and, if you do, how to go about applying for it.

Tourist Office
The main tourist office in Ottawa is the Capital Infocentre at 90 Wellington.

Currency Exchange
For the best exchange rate, it’s usually best to change your money into Canadian currency at a bank. Travellers’ cheques are also widely accepted. ATM cards which are part of the Cirrus or Plus network can be used in machines displaying the relevant signs. All the major credit cards including Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted and can also be used to withdraw cash from ATMs.

To call Ottawa from abroad you first dial 00, followed by 1, the local area code and the local number. The main area code in Ottawa is 613. If you want to call abroad from Ottawa you need to dial 001, followed by the international calling code for your particular country and then the local number.

Post Office
Ottawa’s central post office is the Byward Market Postal Outlet at 298 Dalhousie Street.

The amount depends on the quality of the service but the usual tip is an average of fifteen percent and a minimum of ten. This also applies to hairdressers and taxi drivers. Porters, bellhops and similar staff at hotels, airports and railway stations are usually paid one dollar per item of luggage carried.

Public Holidays
It is worth noting what the public holidays are before you travel to a country as the majority of businesses, banks and shops usually shut for the day. In Canada they take place on January 1st, Good Friday, Monday on or before May 24th, July 1st, September 3rd, October 8th, November 11th and December 25th. It is a good idea to check the particular region too as certain towns and areas also shut down during special events.

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