Weather in Ottawa: Climate, Seasons, and Average Monthly Temperature

Ottawa-rideau

Getty Images/ChristopheLedent

Ottawa, Canada’s capital, is a year-round destination with four very distinct seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall. Each of these seasons offers visitors something different to experience. Having a better idea about what to expect in terms of weather can make it much easier to plan your trip, especially since Ottawa can get very cold and snowy come wintertime. Despite the colder weather during this time, outdoor-loving locals know that it’s still possible to enjoy everything the city has to offer, as long as you’re dressed properly. 

Spring and summer are optimal times to visit Ottawa, with summer being the busiest tourist season. But there are things to see and do all across the city no matter when you choose to visit. If you’re wondering about what to expect when you go, read on for everything you need to know about the climate, weather, and seasons in Ottawa.

Fast Climate Facts

  • Hottest Month: July, 80 F
  • Coldest Month: January, 23 F
  • Wettest Month: June, 3.6 inches

Winter in Ottawa

Don’t be intimidated by Ottawa’s cold winters. While they may deter some (this is when tourism is at its lowest), there is still plenty on offer for anyone willing to bundle up to experience it. You can expect a considerable amount of snow to go along with the colder temperatures and less sunshine than you’d get in spring and summer. But winter visitors won’t want to miss the chance to ice skate on the world’s largest skating rink. Between January and early March (give or take), the Rideau Canal transforms into an epic ice rink, complete with heated change rooms and food and drink kiosks. 

What to pack: Packing the right items will have the power to make or break your winter visit to Ottawa. You will want to dress in layers, including a base layer, mid-layer, and outer layer, to stay warm against the chill. If you plan on spending a lot of time enjoying the outdoors in Ottawa in winter, consider a base layer of merino wool, which pulls moisture from sweating away from the skin. Your outer layer should also be wind-resistant, and you should pack sturdy boots with good treads, gloves, hat, and scarf or neck warmer. 

Average Temperatures by Month

  • December: 28 F
  • January: 23 F
  • February: 25 F

Spring in Ottawa

The weather begins to slowly warm up in mid-to-late spring in Ottawa, and while there may be some snow and lingering slush, temperatures are on the rise. Spring makes for a nice time to visit as the city is still free of summer tourists. Keep in mind that you are still likely to experience winter-like weather in March and even early April, so be prepared and pack accordingly. You may also want to note that Ottawa becomes home to the world’s largest tulip festival for two weeks in May. 

What to Pack: Since it can still be quite cold in early spring, you will again want to pack in layers. Consider a waterproof layer as well as an umbrella as you may experience some rainfall. Layers will also help you calibrate your outfit for the weather, should it be colder in the morning than in the afternoon. 

Average Temperatures by Month

  • March: 34 F
  • April: 48 F
  • May: 60 F 

Summer in Ottawa

Summer is considered the peak tourist season in Ottawa thanks to long, sunny days and generally pleasant, warm weather. Summer is a lovely time to experience the Rideau Canal by walking, cycling, or even via canoe or kayak. The UNESCO-listed canal winds its way through the downtown area and is a must-see in the city. Summers in Ottawa are also ideal for exploring Ottawa’s charming neighborhoods on foot to get a good sense of everything the city offers (from markets and museums to cute cafes and pretty parks).

What to Pack: Shorts and T-shirts or sundresses and other summer items are all good to have on hand, along with comfortable walking shoes/sandals. Since June can be rainy, an umbrella and/or waterproof layer can be useful. Evenings can cool down, so it’s also a good idea to pack a light jacket and/or sweater.

Average Temperatures by Month

  • June: 73 F
  • July: 80 F
  • August: 79 F

Fall in Ottawa

Autumn can be a great time to visit Ottawa for a few reasons. The peak of summer tourism is winding down so crowds will have minimized, and the weather remains pleasant (if not crisp, especially by October). But if you enjoy fall foliage, a fall visit to Ottawa means the chance to see the city’s leafy canopy change colour to vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows. Fall is also a good time for hiking and exploring ByWard Market and its many eateries, cafes, gift shops, and market stalls overflowing with local produce.

What to Pack: Since the temperature will begin to drop off come October, you will need a light to moderate jacket, a sweater, good walking shoes, and if you’re visiting in the later part of fall, gloves, a hat, and a scarf can come in handy.

Average Temperatures by Month

  • September: 70 F
  • October: 56 F
  • November: 43 F

Average Monthly Temperature, Rainfall, and Daylight Hours

Month Avg. Temp. Rainfall Daylight Hours
January 23 F 1 in. 9 hours
February 25 F .7 in. 10 hours
March 34 F 1.2 in. 12 hours
April 48 F 2.4 in. 14 hours
May 60 F 3.1 in. 15 hours
June 73 F 3.7 in. 16 hours
July 80 F 3.6. in. 15 hours
August 79 F 3.4 in. 14 hours
September 70 F 3.5 in. 13 hours
October 56 F 3.2 in. 11 hours
November 43 F 2.5 in. 10 hours
December 28 F 1.3 in. 9 hours
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