Here’s a list of the 15 best things to do in Ottawa (Canada), along with famous landmarks, museums, and other points of interest.
Ottawa is the capital of Canada and one of the largest cities in Canada with a total population of 1,068,821 people living within its urban area (Ottawa – Gatineau)
Notre Dame Basilica
Ottawa’s oldest and largest church is worthy of a visit from anyone traveling to Ottawa. The stunning interior boasts a vast array of Canadian religious art, while tours allow you to understand the extensive history of this Heritage Site.
It’s a beautiful church that was built in the 19th century. In 1990, the church was designated a National Historic Site of Canada. As the largest church in town, it serves as the main center of Christianity in Ottawa, with services held in both English and French.
Canadian War Museum
History buffs will love the Canadian War Museum, a display of Canada, and the world’s, past. The array of galleries and public spaces here presents visitors with an exciting depiction of the human conflict faced across the globe.
The museum itself is an award-winning and symbolic piece of architecture. Wander around the exhibitions, public programs and other events the museum hosts, and you’ll catch a glimpse of how war has changed the world throughout the centuries.
Take in the home of Canada’s federal government, one of the top attractions in all of Canada. The huge government buildings are a testament to Canadian architecture, while there are historical paintings, a beautiful glass-roofed courtyard and a varied political history to discover.
Take a free guided tour to explore all that Parliament Hill has to offer. Or perhaps you’d prefer to simply visit “the Hill” to take in one of the many free concerts, music performances and other events that take place over the year.
Skate along the Rideau Canal
Winter in Ottawa is special, not least because of the arrival of the Rideau Canal Skateway. The 7.8km long skating rink is the world’s largest and welcomes visitors every winter to skate in the heart of Ottawa’s downtown district.
The scenic skating rink extends to Dows Lake and offers spectacular views of the city and its surrounding historic buildings. Between skating, stop at rest areas to warm up beside toasty fires, sip on a hot drink or dine on tasty snacks.
Fairmont Château Laurier
Affectionately known as ”Ottawa’s Castle”, the Fairmont Château Laurier is one of the city’s best attractions and is steeped in history. The centrally-located hotel is just minutes from the rest of Ottawa’s charms, though it’s arguably an attraction unto itself.
Inside, wander around the beautifully decorated corridors, discovering the history of this incredible building as you go. The sophisticated décor is enhanced by pictures on the walls detailing all the celebrities who have visited the hotel previously, including everyone from the British royal family to The Beatles.
Carp Farmers’ Market
Just outside of Ottawa, in the rural community of Carp, is the Carp Farmers’ Market. The vast market opens every Saturday from May through to October, welcoming thousands of visitors who come to shop for produce from local vendors.
All products on offer here are grown, raised, produced, or manufactured by the vendors themselves, so you’re guaranteed high-quality and locally-sourced produce. Pick up everything from fresh vegetables to popcorn, and pottery to kombucha.
Rideau Hall is set within 79 acres of idyllic grounds just a few minutes from the hustle and bustle of downtown Ottawa. The urban oasis welcomes visitors to explore the residence and workplace of the governor-general.
Visit the State Rooms to see where official duties are fulfilled, Canadians honoured, and dignitaries welcomed. The national historic site also houses numerous impressive works of art from renowned Canadian artists, as well as a collection of Canadian furniture.
Ottawa Locks, a flight of eight locks, is a feat of Canadian engineering, established in the early 19th century. Look out over Plaza Bridge to see the locks, which connect the Rideau Canal to the Ottawa River, almost 80 feet below.
Ottawa Locks may have once been one of the city’s most dominant features, but now they’re dwarfed by the dominant landmarks of the Parliament Buildings and the Fairmont Chateau Laurier hotel.
Major’s Hill Park
Major’s Hill Park is Ottawa’s first park, built in 1826 when construction of the Rideau Canal began. The park offers an oasis of calm in the Capital and is in the perfect spot to stop and take in nature between visiting the ByWard market and other nearby attractions.
Enjoy stunning views of Ottawa Locks, the Parliament Buildings, and the Ottawa River while strolling through the park’s sprawling lawns, meandering pathways, and stately trees. Visit in spring to see tulips in full bloom.
Petrie Island is a perfect place for relaxing and rejuvenating. It’s a popular spot for fishing, boating, canoeing and kayaking. However, you’ll also find naturalists and hikers come here to see a variety of flora, fauna, and birdlife (there are more than 130 species in the area).
Bring a book and while the day away in a peaceful setting, stroll along with one of two beaches, or watch the sunset over the river.
Watch a live sports game
Ottawa is home to a multitude of sporting teams, so you’re sure to be able to catch a game in progress when you visit.
Whether you want to watch the Ottawa Senators play a game of ice hockey, see the Ottawa Champions baseball team in action, or catch the Ottawa Blackjacks shooting hoops, you’ll be able to do it in Ottawa. If football is more your thing, then be sure to head to an Ottawa Redblacks match to take in the buzzing atmosphere.
Experience winter like you never have before at Winterlude, an epic festival that takes place every February in Ottawa. For the first three weekends of the month, the city comes to life with a host of winter activities, offering fun for the entire family.
Check out fantastic ice sculptures, skate the Rideau Canal Skateway, play in a gigantic snow playground at the Snowflake Kingdom and take in the very best of Canada’s culture, art, and cuisine.
Westboro Village is one of Ottawa’s most unique and diverse neighborhoods. Here, you’ll find some of the most unique shops in all of Eastern Ontario, offering everything from local cuisine to home decor and everything in between.
As you stroll around this welcoming village, you’ll find one-of-a-kind boutiques, pretty tree-lined streets, outdoor spaces to immerse yourself in nature, and some of Ottawa’s trendiest dining spots.
Canada Air and Space Museum
Situated on a former military airbase, the Canada Air and Space Museum offers visitors the chance to discover Canada’s aviation history from 1909 to the present day.
This museum is located just 5 kilometers away from the Prime Minister’s official residence and showcases Canada’s contributions to aviation and aerospace technology.
The impressive collection is the most extensive of its kind in Canada and displays over 130 aircraft and artifacts from both civil and military service.
Whitewater Rafting in the Ottawa River
Looking for an adrenaline-pumping day out for the whole family? Look no further than an adventure raft trip on the Ottawa River. There are several options to choose from, whether that’s a gentle afternoon rafting trip or a two-day white water rafting extravaganza.
The Ottawa River offers the perfect mix of white water rapids and calm pools, meaning you can take in the magnificence of the river alongside your rafting trip. There’s also the opportunity to body surf, cliff jump, or go swimming for those brave enough!
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