Ottawa: proud and diverse capital

Ottawa: proud and diverse capital

Ottawa is the capital of Canada, a dynamic city of over a million people. Located on the Quebec border in east of southern Ontario, this is a place where you will hear both English and French spoken on the streets. Sitting on the Ottawa River, it has Parliament Hill at its center, with great Victorian architecture and museums such as the National Gallery of Canada, with well-known collections of native and other Canadian art. The Rideau Canal (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) park-lined is filled with summer boats and ice-skaters during winter time.

Quick facts

  • Name: Ottawa
  • Founded: 1826
  • Population: 1 million
  • Area: 2,790 km²
  • Known as: Capital of Canada, ‘Bytown’

Exploring the Heart of Ottawa

Ottawa is a celebration filled destination, starting with February’s Winterlude each year, continuing through May’s Canadian Tulip Festival, leading up to up to July 1 with the country’s largest Canada Day celebration, and going a full scale with summer festivals and music concerts.

Byward Market in the city center is known for its vibrant restaurant, bar and live music scenes. There are galleries, food specialists and quirky shops in the neighborhood of Wellington West. Gatineau Park is located north of downtown and offers hiking and cycling trails, cross-country ski areas and bird watching habitat.

Main attractions in Ottawa

There are many attractions in Ottawa, and listing them all will require five posts like this, so instead, we are listing top 20-25 of them.

Rideau Canal. A canal, also referred to as Rideau Waterway, is connecting Ottawa and Lake Ontario. During the summer offers boat rides and during the winter turns into skateway. It is more than 200 km long.

Ottawa 1 Day Tour

Parliament Hill. Referred locally simply as The Hill, this is place of Canada’s legislature in downtown Ottawa, Canada’s capital. Large, gothic revival complex surrounded by gardens, featuring various artworks and offering guided tours.

National Gallery of Canada. Hosted in a modern building made of glass and granite, this is main gallery for Canadian works of art with some international exhibits.

ByWard Market. Open air market area in central Ottawa, famous for farmer market stalls offering various food, such as cheese and chocolate with maple syrup. Canadian Museum of History. Located on the banks of the Ottawa River, offering stunning views of Parliament Hill, this museum is exhibiting artifacts of Canadian heritage. Featuring IMAX theater and children’s museum.

Canadian War Museum. Set in a modern facilities, this museum features Canadian military history and is used as a reference in the study and understanding of armed conflict

Ottawa Scavenger Hunt: Ottawa’s Iconic Sights

Canadian Museum of Nature / Musée canadien de la nature. Collections featuring natural world with fossils, insects and dioramas, set in a castle like building. Rideau Hall. Official home of the Governor General in beautifully decorated mansion with large garden. Offering guided tours and visits.

Canada Aviation and Space Museum. Located on a former military air base, this fairly large museum is featuring educational aeronautical exhibits, including military and civilian aircraft. Offering biplane rides.

Jacques-Cartier Park. Large, 23 hectare park on the banks of Ottawa River. Hosting many public events, such as Winterlude festival in February. Offering walking and recreational paths with nice views. Diefenbunker Museum. Located 30 km west of Ottawa, this massive underground bunker is featuring military artifacts, exhibits and it is hosting events. It was featured in 2002 movie “The Sum of All Fears” as one of the locations.

Bytown Museum. Located on the Rideau Canal, under Parliament Hill, this museum is featuring exhibits of Ottawa’s history. Set in an oldest stone structure in the city, it offers audio tour.

Ottawa Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour

Major’s Hill Park. One of the first city parks in Ottawa. Located above junction of Rideau Canal and Ottawa River. Popular with residents, this park is hosting many events, including Canada Day.

Canada Science and Technology Museum. Reopened in 2017 in a renovated, modern design building, this museum is exhibiting interactive science and technology exhibits dedicated to Canadian innovation development through ages. Downtown. A riverside center of old Ottawa, including Parliament Hill and surroundings of Rideau Canal, The National Arts Centre and Bytown Museum

National War Memorial. Massive granite arch with bronze statues honoring Canadian War veterans. Dow’s Lake. Small, manmade lake offering canoes, kayaks and paddleboats rentals during summer and spring tulip display. Ice skating during winter months. Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica. This 19th century place of worship is the largest and oldest standing church in the nation’s capital. Features colorful interior and skyline-dominating spires.

Canadian Tulip Festival-Ottawa May 13 -23rd '22 private day tour from Montreal

Calypso Theme Waterpark. Opened in 2010, this waterpark is located about 35 km east of Ottawa. Offering activities for all ages, including a giant wave pool, toddler area and fast waterslides.

Canadian Children’s Museum | Musée canadien des enfants. Part of the Canadian Museum of History, this interactive museum for kids offer many learning activities, costumes, artifacts, toys and games. Hog’s Back Falls. A series of artificial waterfalls on the place where Rideau River and Rideau Canal part, just south of Ottawa.

From other attractions we recommend: Mer Bleue Conservation Area, Rideau Falls, Meech Lake, Canada Agriculture and Food Museum and Library of Parliament.

Top things to do in Ottawa

Best of Ottawa Neighbourhoods & Nature Bike Tour

We have listed about 20-25 top attractions in Ottawa that would keep you busy for at least a week, but if you have more time and your budget permits it, we also recommend: Ultimate Tour of Ottawa, Double Decker hop on hop off bus, or excursions to Montreal or nearby Algonquin Provincial Park.

For more things to do in Ottawa, click here.

Festivals and events in Ottawa

Ottawa River Tour

Ottawa has very lively festival and events schedule throughout a year. Here are some of them.

Winterlude (February), Canadian Tulip Festival (May), Ottawa Marathon (May), Dragon Boat Festival (June), Ottawa Fringe Festival (June), Ottawa International Jazz Festival (June-July), La Fête du Canada Day (July), Music and Beyond (July), Capital Pride – Fierté dans la capitale (August), Ottawa International Animation Festival (September), Oktoberfest Ottawa (October).

Read more: Festivals and events in Ottawa

Interesting facts about Ottawa

Epic Ottawa Bar Crawl: By Let’s Roam

Here are some interesting facts about this amazing city:

  • Ottawa is the seventh coldest capital in the world.
  • Château Laurier Hotel is said to be haunted by the ghost of Charles Melville Hays, the president of the company that built the hotel.
  • Rideau Canal in downtown Ottawa, becomes the longest skating rink in the world (7.8 km), when it freezes in winter.

Read more: More interesting facts about Ottawa

Best time for flights to Ottawa

The peak season for flights to Ottawa is April, June and December. The low season for purchasing tickets is February, March and November.

Ottawa is served by these airports: Gatineau Airport (YND) and Ottawa/Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (YOW).  Direct flights to Ottawa are offered by 5 airlines.

Top hotel offers for Ottawa

These are top hotel offers for Ottawa. The list refreshes automatically when you visit this page to give you the best offers at the moment.

Safe travels!