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Things to do in Ottawa

Things to do in  Ottawa

Welcome to Ottawa

The Canadian city of Ottawa sits on the southern shores of the Ottawa River, on the border between the provinces of Ontario and Québec. Located 123 miles (198 kilometers) to the west of Montreal, Ottawa is home to the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Rideau Canal, one of North America’s oldest canal systems. Diverse galleries and museums offer insight into Canada’s rich culture and colorful history, while the plentiful riverside parks and green spaces showcase the changing seasons to the full. Visitors keen to take in the city sights can enjoy walking and cycling tours to top attractions such as Byward Market (Ottawa's oldest public market), the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Canadian War Museum, Notre Dame Basilica, and Rideau Hall; or explore by hop-on hop-off buses and sightseeing cruises. Away from the hustle and bustle of city life, Ottawa is also a great base from which to explore the Canadian countryside. Nature lovers can delve into Algonquin Park to spot native bears, beavers, eagles, and moose in their natural habitat, while thrill-seekers take on the Ottawa River’s swirling class III and IV rapids on adrenaline-pumping white-water rafting adventures. For something a little more sedate, horse-riding treks take visitors deep into the beautiful Ottawa Valley, where life ticks by at an altogether more relaxing pace.

Top 10 attractions in Ottawa

#1
Rideau Canal

Rideau Canal

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Built between 1826 and 1832 to offer secure passage for British ships from Montreal, the Rideau Canal—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—is an engineering masterpiece. It extends for 126 miles (202 kilometers) between Ottawa and Kingston. Ottawa’s most visited stretch lures boaters, cyclists, and strollers in summer, and ice skaters in winter.More
#2
Ottawa Parliament Hill

Ottawa Parliament Hill

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A concentrated cluster of grand government buildings overlooking the Ottawa River, Parliament Hill is the centerpiece of Downtown Ottawa. At the heart of the complex is Centre Block, a neo-Gothic riot of greening copper turrets, stone-carved gargoyles, and pointed arches built around a soaring central campanile (bell tower) known as the Peace Tower. Parliament Hill is not just a pretty sight; it’s also home to Canada’s most important democratic institutions, including the Library of Parliament and the chambers of the House of Commons and the Senate.More
#3
Canadian War Museum

Canadian War Museum

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The Canadian War Museum is an architecturally unique building showcasing the history of Canada’s past conflicts. Honoring those who have served the country and putting focus on the topics of regeneration and building a better future, this Ottawa museum is home to themed exhibits, historical artifacts, and military tools, weapons, and vehicles.More
#4
Ottawa Locks

Ottawa Locks

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The eight Ottawa Locks regulate the flow of the city’s signature Rideau Canal as it flows south from the Ottawa River. The hand-cranked locks provide a gradient of 24 meters (79 feet) on the canal, which runs for more than 124 miles (200 kilometers) from Ottawa to Kingston, a stunning example of 19th-century ingenuity and engineering.More
#5
ByWard Market

ByWard Market

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Ottawa’s historic food-focused ByWard Market houses hundreds of vendors hawking farm-raised meat, fresh produce, and arts and crafts. Hungry visitors and locals alike flock to this social and shopping hub, where takeout vendors sell ready-to-eat goodies and sit-down eateries offer prime seats for patrons to take in all the market action.More
#6
National Gallery of Canada (Musée des Beaux-Arts du Canada)

National Gallery of Canada (Musée des Beaux-Arts du Canada)

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Designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie, Ottawa’s glass-and-granite National Gallery of Canada (Musée des Beaux-Arts du Canada) showcases an exquisite art collection. As well as an extensive display of European and Canadian art including an assortment of indigenous artworks, the museum also houses the reconstructed 19th-century Rideau Street Convent Chapel.More
#7
Royal Canadian Mint

Royal Canadian Mint

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Housed in a castle-like structure, Canada’s original mint no longer produces currency for circulation—that now happens at Winnipeg’s Royal Canadian Mint. However the Ottawa facility is still functioning, churning out special-edition collector coins and precious metal bullion. Tours of the facility reveal the processes of coin-making.More
#8
Canadian Museum of Nature

Canadian Museum of Nature

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Explore the Great White North’s many wonders at the Canadian Museum of Nature. Set in a historic castle in Ottawa, this five-story museum focuses on the country’s natural history with a fossil gallery, a water gallery (where you can see a blue whale skeleton), mineral displays, and an array of other exhibits.More
#9
Canadian Museum of History

Canadian Museum of History

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Previously known as the Canadian Museum of Civilization, this cutting-edge museum—just five minutes from downtown Ottawa—underwent a name change and a significant overhaul between 2013 and 2017. The museum’s high-tech exhibitions now tell the history of Canada and its peoples, from the earliest human inhabitants to the present day.More
#10
Rideau Hall

Rideau Hall

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In addition to being the governor general of Canada’s official residence and the meeting place for foreign dignitaries visiting Ottawa, Rideau Hall is a serene green space beloved by locals and travelers alike. The manicured grounds contain a vast lawn, rose garden, private greenhouse, and more than 10,000 trees—some planted by famous visitors.More

Recent reviews from experiences in Ottawa

star-5
Best day!!
Guy_D, Aug 2020
Best of Ottawa Neighbourhoods & Nature Bike Tour
Great way to see parts of Ottawa and fun was had by all!
star-5
Amazing tour of Ottawa/Quebec
Kelsey_B, Aug 2020
Self-Guided Biking in Ottawa-Gatineau
Got engaged, got to see some of ottawas attractions
star-5
Great 👍 great experience
Adounis_Hamade, Jul 2020
Rideau Canal Cruise
The trip itself was over than what I expected to see I advise every tourist to Ottawa to enjoy a new experience with fun and relaxation
star-5
Great Experience
sheenamair453, Oct 2019
Rideau Canal Cruise
Such a beautiful place to visit.
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Amazing!
reens2018, Aug 2019
Ottawa River Tour
I highly recommend this relaxing tour for an opportunity to see Ottawa's tourist spots in an hour or so!
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Best way to see the city
Deb R, Jul 2018
Ottawa Highlights 3.5 Hour Bike Tour
What a beautiful city Ottawa is & this is the best way to see it.
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The Bike Tour was nothing short of...
Nicholas K, May 2017
Ottawa Spring Tulip Festival Bike Tour
It's the perfect way to see Ottawa, and I'd recommend everyone visiting the city for the first time do it.
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We had an awesome bike tour with our...
Diane P, May 2017
Ottawa Spring Tulip Festival Bike Tour
We cycled alongside The Rideau canal and stopped to see many historical buildings and beautiful parks, the tulips were so worth seeing.
star-5
Excellent way to see Ottawa...
Sue V, Jul 2016
Ottawa Highlights 3.5 Hour Bike Tour
Excellent way to see Ottawa!
star-5
Great experience on the canal
Farah_E, Aug 2020
Ottawa River Tour
My boyfriend has never visited Ottawa so it was a great way to see the city.
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Ottawa afternoon
bgr0en, Jul 2019
Ultimate Ottawa Tour
He also helped us decide what to do with the rest of our time in Ottawa - great tour!

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