As the capital of Canada, Ottawa is a city full of history, culture, and natural beauty. There’s something for everyone in this charming city, from world-class museums to scenic parks and gardens.
In this article, I’ll share my top recommendations for things to do in Ottawa.
Explore the Canadian Museum of History
The Canadian Museum of History is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in Canadian history and culture. The museum’s exhibits cover everything from the country’s indigenous peoples to its modern-day cultural diversity.
Visitors can explore the museum’s many galleries, watch live performances, and learn about Canada’s rich history through interactive exhibits and displays.
Visit the Parliament Buildings
No trip to Ottawa would be complete without a visit to the iconic Parliament Buildings. This historic complex is home to the Canadian government and is a prime example of Gothic Revival architecture.
Visitors can take guided tours of the buildings, watch debates in the House of Commons, and explore the beautiful grounds and gardens.
Stroll Through the ByWard Market
The ByWard Market is a bustling neighborhood in downtown Ottawa that’s filled with shops, restaurants, and outdoor cafes. Visitors can stroll through the colorful streets, sample delicious local cuisine, and pick up souvenirs and handmade crafts from local vendors.
Relax in Gatineau Park
Just a short drive from Ottawa, Gatineau Park is a beautiful natural oasis that’s perfect for hiking, picnicking, and relaxing. The park’s scenic trails wind through lush forests and past picturesque lakes, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
You can also take part in a variety of outdoor activities, including cycling, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.
Learn About Art and Culture at the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is home to one of the world’s most impressive collections of Canadian and Indigenous art. The gallery’s exhibits cover a wide range of artistic styles and time periods, from ancient sculptures to contemporary paintings and installations.
Visitors can take guided tours of the gallery, attend special events and exhibitions, and even take art classes and workshops.
Take a Ride on the Rideau Canal
The Rideau Canal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular attraction for visitors to Ottawa. Built in the early 19th century, the canal stretches over 202 kilometers and connects Ottawa to Lake Ontario.
One thing to do is to take a leisurely boat ride along the canal, or rent a bike and cycle along its scenic pathways.
Here are some tips for visitors coming to Ottawa
- Dress for the weather: Ottawa can get quite cold in the winter, so make sure to pack warm clothing if you’re visiting between December and March. In the summer, the weather can be hot and humid, so bring comfortable clothing and sunscreen.
- Use public transportation: Ottawa has a great public transportation system, including buses and trains. Consider purchasing a multi-day pass to save money on transportation costs.
- Book your accommodations in advance: Ottawa is a popular tourist destination, so it’s a good idea to book your accommodations well in advance to ensure availability and get the best prices.
- Visit during the off-season: If you’re looking to save money or avoid crowds, consider visiting Ottawa during the off-season (late fall or early spring).
- Be mindful of the language: While English is the primary language spoken in Ottawa, many residents also speak French. If you’re not fluent in French, it’s always polite to greet someone in English first and then ask if they speak French.
- Try some local cuisine: Ottawa has a thriving food scene, with plenty of restaurants offering local specialties like poutine (fries topped with gravy and cheese curds), BeaverTails (a type of fried dough pastry), and maple syrup treats. Don’t be afraid to try something new!
- Be respectful of Indigenous culture: Ottawa is located on traditional Algonquin territory, and there are many Indigenous communities in the surrounding area. Take the time to learn about Indigenous history and culture, and be respectful of Indigenous peoples and their traditions.
By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to a memorable and enjoyable trip to Ottawa!
Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or natural beauty, Ottawa has something to offer.
From exploring the Canadian Museum of History to strolling through the ByWard Market and relaxing in Gatineau Park, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in this vibrant and charming city.
So if you’re planning a trip to Ottawa, be sure to add these top attractions to your itinerary and get ready for an unforgettable adventure.
Note that Ottawa is also presented in my text about capital cities that are in fact two cities in one.