No matter what season you choose to visit, Canada’s capital city is a massive treasure trove of amazing sights and thrilling activities. Whether you’re interested in visiting world-renowned historic sites, taking part in adrenalin-rushing outdoor adventures, or everything in between, Ottawa has it all to offer. We’ve put together a list of the ten top things you need to make sure that you don’t miss out on when visiting Ottawa.
#1. National Cultural Attractions:
The cultural attractions, galleries and museums in Ottawa are second to none. They invite visitors to experience the best of Canada all in one place. Make sure that you visit to explore the rich history, whether you’re going to the National Gallery of Canada to view the world-class art of display, or the dramatic and enlightening Canadian War Museum, these are must-have experiences that bring the culture of Canada to life for visitors. If you’re planning to visit a lot of the national cultural attractions, it’s definitely worth taking advantage of the National Museum’s passport, which allows you to visit any three of the seven museums on offer over a three-day period. Can’t wait? Check out flights to Ottawa from your area at flyporter.com.
Ottawa is known for being a city of celebrations, with a year-round array of parties, festivals and other special events on offer for both locals and visitors. If you’re visiting in May, be sure to spend some time at the Canadian Tulip Festival, where you can enjoy the stunning views of over a thousand tulips and special programming throughout the city. For those planning to visit further into the summer, don’t forget to get involved with Canada Day, which takes place on 1st July and is the biggest party in the city. Music lovers have a wide range of celebrations to get involved in, including the Ottawa Chamberfest, Ottawa Jazz Festival, and RBC Bluesfest, which are some of the most popular and welcome massive acts from around the world. If you want to visit in the winter, get involved with the Winterlude celebrations, taking to the ice on the Rideau Canal Skateway which is the largest skating rink in the world.
#3. City Tours:
Ottawa is filled with a host of attractions and sights, with a large amount of different ways to choose from when it comes to seeing and enjoying them. City tours are available in abundance, so it’s definitely worth signing up for one during your visit. For those who prefer to relax, a bus tour is the best option, allowing you to see the sights from a comfortable ride. Or, why not consider a walking tour, allowing you to get up close and personal with some of Ottawa’s biggest attractions? Lady Dive Amphibus provides exciting tours of the city on both land and water, meaning that you get to see all the best signs from every angle.
#4. Performing Arts:
Visitors who love the performing arts will certainly enjoy a visit to Ottawa. The city’s premier performing arts venue, the National Arts Centre, offers a massive lineup of performances to enjoy including dance, music and theatre, plus a range of popular shows and touring acts. In the city, you’ll also find a thriving local theatre scene, including the Ottawa Little Theatre, the Great Canadian Theatre Company, La Nouvelle Scene, and The Gladstone.
#5. Food and Drinks:
Foodies will be in their element in Ottawa, with a thriving culinary community on offer. With local Ottawa chefs and a wide range of diverse restaurants making a name for themselves both in the city and abroad, it’s safe to say that the culinary scene in this city is in full bloom. You can experience a wide range of different venues in one day by booking onto a dining tour of one of the most popular neighbourhoods in Ottawa for food and drink. Experience Food and Ottawa Tasting Tours are just two of the popular culinary tour providers in the city, and they’ll make all the arrangements on your behalf. Gourmet food tours of restaurants, food shops, and farmer’s markets are also available – perfect for anybody who wants to sample local culinary talent and home-grown delights.
A shopping district and historic farmer’s market by day, ByWard Market is a must-visit for anybody planning a trip to Ottawa. By night, it’s a favourite gathering place for both locals and visitors alike, turning into a bustling array of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. Located just east of Parliament Hill, this is one part of Ottawa that you seriously don’t want to miss, no matter what time of day or night you visit. If you can, visit during both the daytime and the evening to make the most of both sides.
Parliament Hill is one of the most-visited attractions in Ottawa, as the seat of Canada’s federal government and the setting for most national celebrations all year round. During the summer months, get to Parliament Hill in the morning to see the daily Changing of the Guard ceremony, and go back during the evening to witness the stunning and unforgettable Sound and Light Show, which offers spectacular lighting effects couples with amazing giant images projected onto the Parliament Buildings set to music. Both are absolutely free of charge!
#8. UNESCO Rideau Canal:
Whether you’re an avid boater, love skating or simply enjoy nature, the UNESCO Rideau Canal is a must-visit. Throughout the warmer months, its historic waterway is filled with boaters, and in the winter, it transforms into the largest ice-skating rink in the world. Winding through the heart of Ottawa, this iconic canal finally connects to the Ottawa River via dramatic stepped locks right by Parliament Hill.
#9. Outdoor Adventures:
If you’re into the big outdoors, then Ottawa is the perfect destination for you to visit. Try kayaking or white-water rafting along the Ottawa River, or go for an unforgettable bungee jumping experience. The Ottawa region is also one of the biggest destinations for cyclists around the world, offering over six hundred kilometres of recreational pathways and cycle paths that link a range of natural areas, gardens, parks and national sites. Whether you’re into hair-raising outdoor sports or simply enjoy walking in nature, there’ll be something for you.
For those who love to shop until they drop, Ottawa is a dream destination. Unique neighbourhoods around the city offer a wide range of shopping experiences whether you’re into buying from big-name high street brands or want to bring unique, locally-made souvenirs back home. From the must-visit ByWard Market to the modern and trendy Wellington West, there’s something to suit everybody’s shopping preferences.
Last but not least, creatives and art lovers will be in their element in Ottawa, with plenty of different styles of Canadian Art to take in. At the National Gallery of Canada, you’ll find the country’s main showcase of visual arts all based inside a spectacular architectural landmark. It’s one of Canada’s oldest cultural attractions, displaying over forty thousand works of art ranging from the 14th to the 21st centuries.
Is Ottawa on your travel bucket list? Which activities and sights are you looking forward to the most? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.