Why Book on TripAdvisor? Trusted Reviews and Ratings Know you're booking the best thanks to our helpful global traveler community. Free hour Cancellation Plans changed? No problem. Change or cancel up to 24 hours before your experience. Low-price Guarantee Enjoy the best experiences at the best price, every time. Top Attractions in Ottawa. Sort by:. Traveler Favorites. Parliament Hill and Buildings. See 16 Experiences. Canadian War Museum. See 5 Experiences. Rideau Canal. See 13 Experiences.
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Things to Do in Ottawa, Canada - Ottawa Attractions
See 2 Experiences. National Gallery of Canada. See 6 Experiences. Canada Aviation and Space Museum. Peace Tower. Royal Canadian Mint. See 1 Experience. Small Pony Barrel Works. Notre Dame Basilica. Bank of Canada Museum. Hog's Back Falls. Major's Hill Park. See 3 Experiences. Covered Bridge Brewing Company. National War Memorial. Ottawa Locks. Rideau Hall. See 4 Experiences.
Carp Farmers' Market. Canada Science and Technology Museum. Walter Baker Park. Stray Dog Brewing Company. Kanata Leisure Centre and Wave Pool. Canadian Tulip Festival. Alexandra Bridge. Blessed St. Table of Contents. This comprehensive Ottawa travel guide will give you ideas for what sites to visit, what adventures to be had and where to stay and eat.
Ottawa is quickly becoming one of Canada's coolest cities and here's why. Taxis - We found taxis to be double the price in Ottawa and don't recommend taking them. Car Rental - For certain places in this list of things to do, a car rental is highly recommended. You only need to rent a car for a day or two of your trip to see everything on this list and then you can walk and uber it anywhere.
Bike Rentals - Ottawa is a very bike friendly city with plenty of cycling trails and dedicated lanes.
There are several rental companies in the city where you can rent a bike for an hour to a week. The waterfront in Gatineau is worth exploring. It's one of the hottest sports on the water right now. Everyone wants to stand up paddleboard. Imagine paddleboarding the Gatineau River looking up at the stunning parliament buildings of Ottawa.
It is one of the most unique and fun things to do in Ottawa and that's why we put it right at the top. You'll come away with a tour that takes you from the yacht club to the Rideau Canal Locks, Parliament Buildings, Supreme Court of Canada and out to the centre of the river for a panoramic view of Ottawa and Gatineau. No experience is required, once you get your balance, you'll be guided along the river to explore the sites. It was one of the highlights of several trips to Ottawa.
Dave and I have done other biplane flights, but what we loved about this one is how we had the chance to do it together. We boarded a Waco UPF-7 open-cockpit biplane circa and sat side by side during the minute flight showcasing the Gatineau Hills and Downtown Ottawa, including a pass over the Parliament Buildings. Our pilot even did a few maneuvers over Gatineau before turning back towards the airstrip. It was a hoot! I know this article is supposed to be about Things to do in Ottawa, but Ottawa and Gatineau go hand in hand.
Gatineau is a city in Quebec, located just across the river from Ottawa, Ontario. There are bridges, aqua taxis and ferries connecting the two cities and they complement each other beautifully. Gatineau houses amazing hiking trails, nightlife, and museums. But it's the outdoors we love best. When you are in Ottawa, you must go out to Gatineau Park. One entrance is just a mere 4 km from Downtown Ottawa. Gatineau has km of hiking trails and 90 km for mountain biking. We saw a lot of road cyclists when visiting the park as well.
There are beaches, canoeing and camping. This minute hike is an easy trail to find and is a picturesque walk through the forest and along lakes. It ends at the laboratory and summer residence of inventor Thomas Wilson who invented the industrial chemical calcium carbide. Afraid that people would steal his other ideas, he built an estate and damn in the middle of the forest where he could work in private. The house and damn still stand and are in a beautiful setting and is one of the best Instagram spots in the Ottawa Region.
The Ottawa River is considered to have some of the best whitewater rafting on earth. It attracts professional rafters and kayakers to run its class 5 rapids. Located just one hour outside downtown Ottawa, there are three rafting companies that will take people on the rafting excursions of your choice. If you are a family, there are even smaller rapid trips to suit everyone. We went with OWL Rafting and stayed over at their all-inclusive resort where we enjoyed two days of rafting.
Day one was on the large group raft where we all worked together as our guide used two giant paddles to navigate the giant rapids known as The Staircase.
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For first time rafters, the large raft is the way to go as you feel secure being on the bigger boat and being able to hold on while your guide does a lot of the work. Day two we boarded the sportraft where only 4 people helped the guide navigate the big water on a small raft. It was exhilarating and fun and if you have the time, we highly suggest two days on the river because by day two you are ready for more!
It's cliche and everyone says to see the Parliament buildings, but Canada really does have beautiful government buildings. You could simply walk around the grounds of the Parliament and take in the views of the river below, but a tour is highly recommended. You will have to go through a security screening- Just like at the airport. Only one small bag is allowed. No video is allowed and you can bring a bottle of water. Tours vary depending on what activity is taking place in Parliament but that day we saw the House of Commons where Question Period takes place and a few of the great halls.
It was very cool to see the paintings of past Prime Ministers and our first female house of Parliament. If you want to be in the audience for Question Period, you can reserve tickets. Here is where all the Canadian Government magic happens, and you just may witness a very polite argument from opposing parties. Canada has its own changing of the guard just like England.
You can catch two different ones in the city. Changing of the Guard happens daily at the WW1 Memorial. It's small but interesting with a piper and two guards changing their duties at the Tomb of the Unkown Soldier. The large spectacle of parliament is a must where a lavish ceremony takes places each day at am from June to August on the East Lawn of Parliament Hill.
With a full marching band and dozens of members of the Canadian Armed Forces dressed in full red and black military garb. It is a tradition that is not to be missed! During the Canada Day Celebrations that we were in Ottawa, classes were halted, but when we go back, we'll be sure to join in!
Five must-see sites in Ottawa - Ottawa Tourism
Ottawa isn't just our nation's capital, it's also the museum capital of Canada. Speaking of the Aviation Museum, this is an excellent museum for aviation and history buffs. There is a huge display of vintage planes and artifacts dating back to You can even take part in flight simulations or book helicopter tours and your own biplane flight like we did above.
The National Gallery of Canada is a striking structure housing an extensive collection of Canadian art. From here, you'll find gorgeous views of the Ottawa Skyline and the Alexandra Bridge lit up at night. It's free and located on the main floor of the Fairmont Chateau Laurier. Enter the grand hall of the famous Chateau Laurier walk past the boutiques and into a hall filled with photos documenting the history of the property and the city.
It even has a Titanic connection. Charles Melville Hays was in charge of the railway expansion in Canada and had a hand in hiring the designers for the hotel. Excited to get back for the opening of the Chateau Laurier he boarded the Titanic where he met his fate on that dreaded night and never saw his dream come to fruition. There are many more museums in Ottawa that warrant their own blog post. Check out Ottawa Tourism for the complete list. Rideau Hall is a national historic site that is home to one of the most important figures in the Canadian Government.
The Governor-General. Group and private tours are offered daily to explore the quarters of our Governor General. Our current Governor General, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette currently resides there and visitors have a chance to tour a portion of her residence and the official halls used for ceremonies and meetings.
The tour takes you through the facade that has welcomed dignitaries for decades, a room filled with those who have been awarded the order of Canada and other rooms that have been used for televised addresses to the people and the impressive tent room and ball rooms. There is no comparison to staying anywhere but the Fairmont Chateau Laurier. It's welcomed royalty, celebrities and world leaders to its historic chambers. Located directly on the Rideau Canal, it has the best views in the city and is centrally located to nearly every major site.
The ByWard Market is a 5-minute walk one way and the Parliament buildings are a 5-minute walk the other. It is in the middle of a renovation so rooms will be updated soon, but they are in good shape for a historic Fairmont resort and staying here will make you feel like a king or queen0. Check out their website for availability and rates.
When visiting Ottawa, take some time to get out of town and spend a day at the quiet retreat of the Nordik Spa-Nature. With an infinity pool and floating salt pool with the same sodium density of the Dead Sea, Nordik Spa will melt away the stress and aches from travel. It's equivalent to several hours of sleep! Give at least a half day of your time for the spa. I would recommend an entire day here as there are. Nordik Spa-Nature is planning a hotel on premises in the future and I would highly recommend a night there after your day at the spa.
Sunset from the Andaz Hotel is one of the things you must see in Ottawa. People are always looking for the best views when visiting a city and the Andaz Hotel in the ByWard Market has one of the best sunset views in Ottawa. Try one of their signature cocktails and enjoy the view over the ByWard Market from their floor to ceiling windows indoors or from the outdoor patio. You can order finger foods and start your night off right in the heart of Ottawa's entrainment district.