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Exploring the ByWard Market neighbourhood

ByWard Market, George Street Plaza

Exploring the ByWard Market neighbourhood

Right in the heart of Ottawa is one of Canada's oldest and largest public markets: the ByWard MarketExternal Link Title. Just minutes from Parliament Hill, the market is a hub for foodies and shoppers, and the surrounding neighbourhood is alive with cultural experiences, nightlife and entertainment. It's a must-visit during your trip to Ottawa.

The "Ottawa" sign in Inspiration Village at the ByWard Market
The "Ottawa" sign in Inspiration Village at the ByWard Market - credit: Ottawa Tourism/Southavy Pathammavong

The History


ByWard Market has been a gathering place for nearly two centuries, connecting rural producers to urban customers since 1826. It was first established by Lieutenant-Colonel John By, an engineer who also built the famous Rideau Canal, and has been a centre of commerce ever since.


Throughout its history the ByWard Market Building has burned down four times; boutiques and restaurants have replaced many industries and services; the market has grown and changed and evolved. But through all of this time, it’s still on the same site where it was first built.

ByWard Market neighbourhood
ByWard Market neighborhood - credit: Ottawa Tourism

The Market


Local produce and meats, fresh cheese and baked goods, artisanal goods and crafts, these are the reasons you visit the market. Farmers and craft merchants come together to create a truly sensory experience, and you’ll see, listen, touch, taste, and smell your way through over 150 stands.


In the summer months, people browse bustling streets filled with open-air stalls for flowers or supplies for their next picnic. In the winter months, the market’s many restaurants and vendors take on a renewed popularity. In the ByWard Market Building, you can grab anything from bagels to Tandoori butter chicken to ‘bubble tea’ at a number of restaurants and cafes, or pick up clothing, jewellery, and souvenirs from local artisans.


Over 500 businesses call the market and the surrounding neighbourhood home. This includes 109 restaurants, 22 food retailers, 48 fashion boutiques, 12 house and home stores, a handful of bookstores, and so much more. There’s really something for everyone.

ByWard Market at night
ByWard Market at night - credit: Ottawa Tourism/James Peltzer

The Neighbourhood


Shopping and eating aren't the only reasons to visit the ByWard Market neighbourhood.


Spend your days visiting no less than 14 arts, culture, and education facilities. These include the National Gallery of CanadaExternal Link Title, home to nearly 40,000 works covering everything from Inuit sculpture to the creations of Pablo Picasso, and the Notre Dame Basilica, one of Ottawa's oldest and largest churches. Walk the streets and enjoy the buskers sharing their talents with passersby, or pop into a salon and rest those feet and treat yourself to a manicure and pedicure.


Then, when the sun sets, the area is home to some of the best nightlife in the city. Whether you lean more towards the pub or the club, there's live music and dancing for every taste. 

Want to explore everything the ByWard Market has to offer? Visit their website.