Things To See and Do in Ottawa

Ottawa panorama

Canada’s capital city is beautiful and dynamic, which makes it very interesting to explore. It’s also one of the most multicultural cities in the country. If you like discovering magnificent architecture, world-class museums, and strolling through quiet parks, you’ll love this place. This charming city is located along the Ontario side of the Ottawa River, right across from Quebec. Its downtown is lively and inviting, and it’s great for walking or riding a bike. Here’s our list of the most interesting things to see and do in Ottawa.

Explore the Rideau Canal

While walking through the center of Ottawa, you can’t miss the Rideau Canal. It’s one of the city’s most popular attractions and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

During the summer, Rideau Canal is filled with boats. The pathways surrounding it are crowded with walkers, cyclists, and runners. You can tour the canal by boat, and cruising is one of the best ways to experience it. There are more than 30 notable sights along the canal. For those who like to stay fit while traveling, there’s the option of canoeing and kayaking as well.

If you happen to visit Ottawa in the winter, you can still get out on the Canal. Your experience will be totally different but not less impressive, as this canal transforms into the world’s largest skating rink. In case you need a break from the cold, visit the nearby heated huts and stands selling hot chocolate and other beverages.

Visit Parliament Hill

The magnificent Parliament building is an architectural masterpiece, built in Gothic style. It’s located right in the heart of the city center, overlooking the Ottawa River. A gorgeous garden surrounds the structure and attracts many tourists.

The complex and its surroundings are the sites of various national celebrations and shows throughout the year. Guided tours are available in English and French, and they last from 30 to 60 minutes. The highlights of this place are:

  • The observation deck of the Peace Tower offering the best view of the city
  • Changing of the Guard ceremony which happens every summer day at 10 AM (June to August)
  • Northern Lights Sound and Light Show (during the summer months)
Canada's Parliament Buildings in Ottawa
Parliament hill is one of the most popular attractions in the city.

Head to the ByWard Market

The ByWard Market in Ottawa is one of the oldest and biggest markets in the country. It’s also conveniently located in the city center. There are main buildings surrounded by open-air stalls offering a wide choice of goods. This colorful, charming place is where you’ll find the most beautiful flowers, the best maple syrup, and delicious fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as other grocery items. There are plenty of restaurants, fast food kiosks, coffee shops, galleries, and boutiques in the ByWard neighborhood. All of this makes it a great place to discover more about the local culture, tradition, and culinary scene.

Learn about Canada by visiting museums and galleries

Ottawa is home to many national museums and galleries worth visiting, where you can experience the true spirit of Canada, such as:

  • Museum of History
  • War Museum
  • Museum of Nature
  • Science and Technology Museum
  • Agriculture Museum
  • Museum of Contemporary Photograph
  • The National Gallery of Canada
  • The Portrait Gallery of Canada

As you can see, there’s something for everyone’s age and interest, from those who like history, science, and technology to those who admire art in all its forms.

Ottawa architecture panorama
Ottawa has plenty of national museums and galleries worth visiting.

Book a biplane flightseeing tour 

Did you know that you could fly in a World War II Biplane? Yes, you can! It’s one of the best things to see and do in Ottawa. You can experience it if you visit the Canada Air and Space Museum in the summer months. During an approximately 25-minute flight, you’ll pass over the Ottawa river, the Gatineau Hills, the downtown, and the Parliament. It’s an incredible experience, and what’s most amazing is that you’ll sit in an outdoor cockpit in front of the pilot because he is in the back.

Relax in Gatineau Park

For a little break from the city and its highlights, head to Gatineau Park – a peaceful oasis and a national treasure. It offers a variety of activities for all seasons. You can enjoy comfortable Ottawa and go hiking, biking, camping, cross-country skiing, or swimming. There are also various heritage sites and beautiful nature everywhere around.

While here, don’t miss scenic Champlain Lookout for the best view from the Gatineau Hills over the Ottawa Valley. One more attraction that shouldn’t be overlooked in Gatineau Park is the Mackenzie King Estate. You can explore the paths surrounding it and peek into its restored cottages which feature various interactive exhibits.

Couple sitting on a bench during Fall in the park in Ottawa, Canada
When in search of relaxing things to see and do in Ottawa, head to one of many peaceful parks.

Watch a sports match

Ice hockey is Canada’s national winter sport, and lacrosse is its lesser known national summer sport. Ottawa has several professional sports teams, and if you’re passionate about sports, you should complete your visit by watching at least one match.

Canadian Tire Centre is a multi-purpose indoor arena that hosts various sports matches and a must-see for sports lovers. One more place worth visiting is the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame, located in the Heritage Building of Ottawa City Hall.

TD Place Stadium is the place where you can see Canadian football. Baseball fans can head to the Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Park to watch a match.

Moving to Ottawa can be an excellent choice

There are many reasons why one should decide to move to Ottawa, and there are many possibilities once you do it. Apart from unique things to see and do in Ottawa, keep in mind that you’ll be living in a city with great job opportunities, excellent healthcare, great schools, and various cultural activities year-round, as well as great entertainment for all generations.

If you decided to move to Canada’s capital, be sure to leave enough time for a stress-free preparation. To save time and make the process more effective, you should consider hiring a reliable moving company that has all you need for your Ottawa-based relocation. Then you can choose from a wide selection of moving services, such as packing services, storage solutions, and much more. When you finally settle in, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the city and discover many of its gems by yourself.

Final thoughts

Whether you’re planning to visit Ottawa only for a short time as a tourist or you plan to relocate to the city permanently, you’ll be delighted by its charm. The number of things to see and do in Ottawa is almost limitless, so there’s guaranteed fun for every season and each person. Good luck with exploring, and good luck to those who come to stay!

14 thoughts on “Things To See and Do in Ottawa

  1. Michelle (Boomer Eco Crusader) April 20, 2021 / 5:00 pm

    I love Ottawa. My daughter and I went there not long before the pandemic restrictions started. We took in a show at the National Arts Centre, and enjoyed some Beaver Tails at the Byward Market. I love to walk on Parliament Hill. In the summer, a boat cruise on the river gives a different perspective of the city.

    • markstraveljournal April 20, 2021 / 6:38 pm

      I’m with you, Ottawa is a great visit. And I’m looking forward to my next trip there. Thanks for the comments.

  2. bournemouthgirl April 22, 2021 / 2:49 pm

    It looks like there is a lot to see and do there. I have never been to Canada before so this post was really interesting. Thank you for sharing.

    • markstraveljournal April 22, 2021 / 3:15 pm

      Ottawa is a great small city. And in the Commonwealth of course. Thanks for the comments.

  3. Fadima Mooneira April 24, 2021 / 8:30 am

    Ottawa is so lovely. I haven’t visit there yet. I’ve only been to Vancouver. It was awesome. I miss Canada a lot and wish to travel there again in the future.

    • markstraveljournal April 24, 2021 / 8:33 am

      Canada is a great future destination for sure! Thanks for the comments.

  4. Simona ~ The Grumpy Olive April 24, 2021 / 9:39 am

    Ottawa looks like a great city from your words & pictures! I’ve never been to Canada yes, but can’t wait to start planning. Thank you so much for sharing Mark x

  5. Under Flowery Sky April 24, 2021 / 4:37 pm

    Wow Otawa looks awesome, love the Parliament building
    and Rideau canal. Seems like a very picturesque place..

  6. Lisa's Notebook April 25, 2021 / 9:54 am

    Canada has been on my bucket list for ages, primarily because you can go whale watching there. But this was a fascinating intro to Ottawa – Gatineau Park looks beautiful!

    • markstraveljournal April 25, 2021 / 9:59 am

      Canada is a great destination (of course I’m partial as a Canadian). I have gone whale watching in Nova Scotia. We didn’t even get out out of the harbour before seeing whales… thanks for the comments.

  7. pathwaytothesun May 2, 2021 / 4:04 pm

    I’ve still not had the pleasure of visiting Canada and you have made me want to go even more now! Great shots too.

  8. lynnmumbingmejia May 5, 2021 / 1:28 am

    Great post! I would love to visit Parliament in Ottawa! I’ve only gone to Parliament in Victoria but it was lovely. Hopefully, I can travel East soon! 🙂

    Lynn |

    • markstraveljournal May 5, 2021 / 7:31 am

      Seeing Parliament really stirs emotions as a Canadian. And Ottawa is a great destination too. Thanks for the comments.

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