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A blend of French and English, Canada's capital region is a relaxed urban setting that's friendly and welcoming.

Ottawa, Canada's bilingual capital city is home to 1.1 million people, yet it's surprisingly intimate, with a very walkable downtown. It's a spirited, cosmopolitan place that celebrates Canada's achievements and culture with historical sites, national museums, a non-stop roster of festivals, plus shopping and delightful dining. Its beautiful natural setting supports year round recreation and adventure.

Tour the Gothic-style Parliament Buildings overlooking the confluence of the rivers Ottawa, Rideau and Gatineau. The 92 metre (302 ft) Peace Tower affords a panoramic view of the city and its surroundings. Witness the colourful Changing the Guard daily in July and August on the Hill. Come back in the evening for Mosaika, a free colourful sound and light show projected onto the Parliament Buildings; it's a powerful journey through Canada's physical, historical and cultural landscapes.

Spend a day or two museum-hopping. Do not miss the Canadian Museum ofHistory and the Canadian War Museum – both considered cultural and architectural wonders. There's also the newly revitalized Canadian Museum of Nature, plus the Canada Aviation & Space Museum, Canada Science and Technology Museum, Royal Canadian Mint and many others. Indulge your passion for the arts at the National Arts Centre and National Gallery of Canada. Admire beautiful antiques at Rideau Hall, the residence of the Governor General of Canada.

Stroll the cobblestone courtyards of the ByWard Market, one of Canada's oldest and largest markets with an eclectic collection of boutiques, fruit, vegetable and flower vendors, restaurants and nightlife. Be sure to sample a BeaverTail, a sweet local delicacy.

Amid all this history and culture, take time to cruise, stroll or cycle along the Rideau Canal, a spectacular focal point of the city – and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In winter, go skating after it transforms into the largest rink in the world, stretching 7.8 km. And if you want outdoor adventure that cranks up the adrenaline quotient, the Ottawa River is one of the top 5 whitewater rafting rivers in the world –and it's just 90 minutes away. Family-friendly tours are available.

Festivals and events are year-round affairs in Ottawa. Each February, celebrate Winterlude. Taste sweet maple treats at the many annual March-April maple syrup festivals in Lanark County - the "Maple Syrup Capital of Ontario." Admire a city awash with brilliant colour during the Canadian Tulip Festival. Scat, be-bop and swing at the Ottawa Jazz Festival or dig the blues at the Ottawa Blues Festival.

Check out Active Ottawa and Ottawa's Culinary Scene