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Top 5 Things To Do in Ottawa

The capital city of Canada has an abundance of sights to see and activities to enjoy – whether you’re travelling solo or with your family. Discover the best things to do in Ottawa!

5 Top Things to Do in Ottawa

  • Parliament Hill
  • National Museums
  • Rideau Canal
  • ByWard Market
  • Get Outside and Play

1. Parliament Hill

You can’t travel to the capital city of Canada without stopping by Parliament Hill, the home of Canada’s National Government. Visitors can participate in a free daily tour of the centre and east blocks of the building, and can even sit in the Senate and the House of Commons if they are in session. You might even spot Canada’s Prime Minister!

The front lawn of the Parliament building hosts festivals, and special events like Canada Day celebrations. In fact, every day from June to August at 10 a.m. there is a Changing the Guard ceremony. Watch as the Ceremonial Guardsmen march with their own regimental band and pipers.

From July to September, you can catch the nightly sound and light show that is projected onto the Parliament building. 

People watching the Canadian mounties by Parliament Hill: Top Things to do in Ottawa
What To Do in Ottawa: Watch the Changing the Guard Ceremony on Parliament Hill

2. National Museums

The Canadian Museum of History (formerly the Canadian Museum of Civilization) is the most visited museum in the country and focuses on the 20,000 years of human history. At the Canadian Museum of History, you can see the largest collection of indoor totem poles and even walk through a life-sized recreation of what Canadian settlements used to look like.

The Canadian War Museum details Canada’s military history from the World Wars to its current involvement in NATO with artifacts, photos, and personal stories.

You’ll also want to stop by the National Gallery of Canada which is home to the World’s largest Canadian art collection.

Totem poles inside the Canadian Museum of History
What To Do in Ottawa: Explore the Many National Museums

3. Rideau Canal

The Rideau Canal is one of the most popular spots in Ottawa all year round. It is even a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

Cutting right through downtown Ottawa, you can bike or walk the trails that line the canal. Alternatively, you can take a cruise, canoe, or kayak if you prefer to be right on the water. In the winter, the Rideau Canal becomes a giant skating rink and you can enjoy one of Canada’s longest natural skating rink!

Skating in the winter along the Rideau Canal. Top things to do in Ottawa by Skyscanner
What To Do in Ottawa: Skate On or Walk Along the Rideau Canal 
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4. ByWard Market

It will be easy to figure out what to eat in Ottawa. The local culinary scene has exploded with local chefs and restaurants gaining international praise. Of particular note is the Savour Ottawa program where members must use locally produced foods in their dishes.

If you’re not sure where to start, head over to the ByWard Market where farmers, merchants, and artists have been selling their goods for almost 200 years.

Many of the trendiest cafés, pubs, restaurants, and shops are located in ByWard Market so there are plenty of choices in this area.

ByWard market at night
What To Do in Ottawa: Eat, Shop and Drink in ByWard Market

5. Get Outside and Play

Ottawa has plenty of outdoor activities available! If you’re looking for an adventure, you can try whitewater rafting or kayaking on the Ottawa River.

If you want something to do in Ottawa that is a bit more intense, then there is even bungee jumping! Cyclists will be happy to know that there are over 600 kilometres of bicycle pathways in Ottawa that link to several parks and national sites.

If you just want to be outside without the exercise, then you can enjoy one of Ottawa’s many festivals, including the Ottawa Jazz Festival and Winterlude.

Cyclists in Ottawa, Canada
What To Do in Ottawa: Bike Along 600 Kilometres of Pathways

Ready to explore Ottawa?

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