Downtown Real Estate Listings & Downtown Profile
Bustling with history and urban amenities, Ottawa’s downtown core is home to the principal functions of Canada’s government. Canada’s Parliament Hill sits proudly in downtown Ottawa and is home to several key buildings, including the Centre, East and West Blocks of Parliament, the Peace Tower and the Library of Parliament. Outside sits the Centennial Flame, which has burned nonstop since 1967. The Supreme Court of Canada and Senate of Canada buildings are also located in the Downtown area, which is bordered by the Ottawa River to the north, Rideau Canal to the east, Gloucester Road to the south and Bronson Avenue to the west.
Though technically not included in the boundaries of Ottawa’s downtown core, many (ourselves included) would include Centretown and the Byward Market / Lowertown as part of downtown Ottawa. The Market is characterized by pretty storefronts and walkable streets full of restaurants and shops.
The famed Fairmont Château Laurier Hotel faces Parliament Hill and is separated from it by Plaza Bridge, underneath which the Rideau Canal runs into the Ottawa River. Though the Ottawa River is located roughly 30 metres below the Rideau Canal, locks 1 to 8 are configured to allow boats safe passage. Pedestrians will enjoy watching these locks in action. You can view this from the Plaza Bridge or the Château Laurier’s patio, La Terrasse. The Château Laurier is also a draw to those who wish to enjoy afternoon tea at Zoe’s Restaurant. Across the street from Parliament Hill is The National War Memorial, a tribute to members of the Canadian Armed Forces who have bravely sacrificed for our nation. The Memorial and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier are at the heart of Confederation Square. The National Arts Centre (NAC) occupies a central location between the Square and the Rideau Canal. Having been reinvigorated through a $110.5-million renovation in 2017, The NAC is home to the National Arts Centre Orchestra (NACO) and a venue for English, French and Indigenous theatre. Also on the menu are dance and more varied music and performing arts programming.
Confederation Park encompasses 2.63 hectares (6.5 acres) and is the hosting grounds for Winterlude and the Ottawa Jazz Festival. Just across the street are City Hall and the Ottawa Courthouse. The downtown core is also home to many offices and corporate flagships, including e-commerce giant Shopify’s headquarters. The offices of CTV, CBC and various radio and other stations are also located downtown. Adjacent neighbourhood Sandy Hill is home to the University of Ottawa.
One of the things we love about Ottawa’s downtown is the access to greenspace and recreation. The Ottawa River Pathway is a beautiful place for a walk or bike ride, extending approximately 30 kilometres (18 miles) and stopping at the Canadian War Museum, Parliament Hill, the Ottawa Locks and the Rideau Canal. It is part of Ottawa’s 600-kilometre (373-mile) Capital Pathway network. The Ottawa River Pathway connects to the 8.8-kilometre (5.4-mile) Rideau Canal Western Pathway, which travels along the Canal up to Dow’s Lake and is a picturesque walk, bike or run in summer or winter alike. Major’s Hill Park also offers downtown greenspace with history. In addition to being Ottawa’s first park – dating to the 1800s – Major’s Hill Park affords fantastic Parliament views. In the warmer months, restobar Tavern on the Hill opens up in Major’s Hill Park. This patio offers a delightful way to enjoy the views.
Shoppers will appreciate downtown Ottawa’s stores, many of which are concentrated in the Rideau Centre mall. Nordstrom, Tiffany & Co., Simons, Apple, Aritzia, Lululemon and many other brands have locations here. There are also several restaurants onsite, including JOEY Rideau, Bazille at Nordstrom’s and a full food court. The Westin Hotel is attached to Rideau Centre and home to popular restaurant The Shore Club. Popular event space, Shaw Centre, is also attached to Rideau Centre and The Westin. Having been redone and tripled in size in 2011, the Shaw Centre is a draw for weddings, galas and conventions. Its large windows glimpse Parliament Hill and the Rideau Canal. Nearby is The Ottawa Art Gallery, which occupies 55,000 square feet (5,109 square metres).
The ByWard Market includes a collection of streets with many shops and restaurants. Just a few great restaurants are Sidedoor, Luxe Bistro, Khao Thai and e18ghteen. Le Moulin de Provence and La Bottega offer great gifts and sandwiches for lunch. French pastries can be purchased at Le Boulanger Français. Stores are varied and include an elegant apparel store Anik Boutique, where Marie and Natalie will style you to perfection. Along Sussex Drive are found the Gordon Harrison Canadian Landscape Gallery, run by the inimitable Phil or Zone Maison for home accessories and gifts. The Richard Robinson Fashion Design Academy offers lessons in haute couture for the professional or hobby-minded.
Reconciliation, The Peacekeeping Monument, sits centrally between gorgeous Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica, The National Gallery of Canada and Major’s Hill Park. The National Gallery of Canada is home to more than 75,000 artworks and is architecturally distinctive, having been designed by celebrated architect Moshe Safdie. Looking back at Ottawa from the Québec side of the Ottawa River, its imposing glass structure forms an integral and important part of the skyline. Steps away is The Royal Canadian Mint. Downtown Ottawa accesses Gatineau, Aylmer and Chelsea (Québec) via several bridges.
Many of Ottawa’s downtown residents live in condos and apartments. 700 Sussex is one luxurious condo and benefits from Parliament Hill views from some units. Situated kitty corner from Rideau Centre, the building has great walkscore and restaurants and stores next to the lobby. Milestones and Metropolitan Brasserie Restaurant are both on the street level of this condo and Play Food & Wine is across the street. 90 George Street is another condo that offers great views of Ottawa and has some very luxurious units. Located on York Street, the condo is in a walkable location and Salon Fiorella is just downstairs. The Cathedral Hill condo is located on the corner of Bronson Avenue and Sparks Street and offers unobstructed views of the Ottawa River and Gatineau Hills over LeBreton Flats. There are condos and townhomes in this building, as well as amenities such as a dog washing station. The Gardens condos on Bronson also appeal for their unobstructed views. Behind City Hall is found The Merit, an art deco- inspired building with dramatic views and traditional elements.
Centretown is located just south of downtown, though many consider it part of downtown Ottawa. This community is more residential and lower density than the central downtown core. There are many restaurants, shops and other amenities in this part of town, particularly along Elgin Street, Bank Street and Somerset Street West, which runs into Chinatown. The Canadian Museum of Nature is also found in Centretown, as are many office buildings. Along Elgin Street, bustling restaurants include Pure Kitchen. Bank Street’s many restaurants include Fauna and The Whalesbone Bank Street for seafood.
With plenty in the way of entertainment and history, Ottawa’s downtown is popular for its access to greenspaces and amenities.