Travel by Road (including rentals), Ottawa
If you are looking for parking in downtown Ottawa on weekends, head over to the World Exchange Plaza underground parking lot - it's free! during daytime hours. Normally daily rates are currently $18, and there is no overnight parking permited. If you are heading to Parliament Hill or the Rideau Canal, both are just a couple of city blocks away; a very short walk.
Drive north up Metcalfe and head down the entrance just after you cross Albert St.
Be careful about which shuttle service if you pick one. Shuttle service can be used for visiting rural areas which public transportation doesn't reach. Ottawashuttleservice.com is not a very reliable service. Friends of ours booked a shuttle there and the shuttle couldn't be bothered to come. This happened a few times. Be aware of this service and its reliability if you choose to book with them, but you really shouldn't if you want to get to your destination.
Ottawa has a car share network called VRTUCAR which allows members to use shared cars as and when necessary and pay only when being used. This however isn't really available to tourists and visitors as one of the qualifications for membership is an Ontario "G" driving licence and a 3-year Driver's Abstract.
Whilst Ottawa itself has a pretty good transit system there are times when hiring a car can be useful and so if you are elegible then this is worth having a look at.
VRTUCAR has fleet of modern fuel-efficient vehicles which can be accessed 24 hours a day and can be used for any pre-arranged legnth of time from 30 minutes upwards. Fees are simple, based on an hourly, or daily, rate plus a milage (or should I say kilometreage, if there's such a word!). There are no fuel costs, no repair costs, no insurance costs (except for a $2 monthly fee) and there about 40 locations around the city where cars can be picked up.
VRTUCAR is only available in Ottawa, but through its partnership with a similar scheme, Communauto in Quebec, members can also use vehicles in Quebec City, Montreal, Sherbrook and Gatineau.
Website below has all the details.
If you're using a car to get to and around Ottawa, it's probably not the fastest way to get there, but definitly the best way to get around once you're there.
If you're coming up from Toronto, you can take Highway 401 north east until you reach the intersection of Highway 416 near Maitland. Turn north and follow the signs to Ottawa.
If you want a more scenic route, the Trans-Canada Highway is another way to get to Ottawa. Take Highway 115 off the 401 near Bowmanville to Peterborough. From there, take the Trans-Canada and it will take you Ottawa.
All in all, coming in from Toronto will take around three to four hours.
From Montreal, take Highway 40, which will turn into 417 once you cross over into Ontario. That too will take you directly to Ottawa in around two hours.
From New York, Interstate 81 connects with Highway 401near Lansdowne. Follow 401 northeast till you reach 416.
It's only one hour north of the border with New York State.
It's between Montreal - 1 1/2 hours east and Toronto - 5 hours west!
Drive anywhere - very easy - one major highway only that runs east to west through the middle of the city - very very easy, simple , and most especially safe!
Quebec plates are a relatively common sight in Ottawa as Quebec is on the opposite bank of the Ottawa River.
OK, this isn't actually a bicycle, but it's *like* a bicycle. I saw this vehicle in Hull, actually, in late June, near the time of St. Jean Baptist Day. It looks like fun!
Take highway 417, 50, 20..all the roads lead to rome!!
Well..not quite..but anyways..
The Ottawa has a good bus system that passes often with large capacity buses.
WE got there by car and it was easy to find a parking space.
Then we walked around as that is the best way to get to know this city.