Oh Ottawa! Or why we love Canada’s capital
No matter the season, Canada’s Capital is a treasure trove of impressive sights and stimulating activities, combining world-renown historic places, outdoor adventure and everything in between.
However, Autumn is a special time to visit the Ottawa area, as vibrant fall colors provide stunning backdrops to national sites, historic waterways and eclectic neighborhoods. And each year, fall celebrations and activities attract thousands of people to nearby Gatineau Park – a bucolic conservation area just a 15-minute drive from Parliament Hill.
Top things to do while in Ottawa
No matter the season, Canada’s Capital is a treasure trove of impressive sights and stimulating activities. From world-renown historic places to outdoor adventure and everything in between, here are the top ten things you don’t want to miss when you visit Ottawa:
1. Parliament Hill
The seat of Canada’s federal government and the setting for national celebrations the year round, Parliament Hill is the most visited Ottawa attraction. Each morning during summer months, the front lawn of Parliament Hill is the setting of the daily Changing of the Guard ceremony; each evening the public is invited to gather again to witness the awe-inspiring Sound and Light show – spectacular lighting effects and stunning giant images projected on the Parliament Buildings set to words and music. Both events are free. Truly a must-see!
2. National Cultural Attractions
Ottawa cultural attractions, museums and galleries invite visitors to experience the best of Canada all in one place. Whether it’s the stunning National Gallery of Canada, with world-class art on display, or the dramatic Canadian War Museum, these are the experiences that bring Canadian culture to life for any visitor. And why not take advantage of the National Museums Passport and save when you visit three of the seven national museums in three days!
4. UNESCO Rideau Canal
A historic waterway filled with boaters spring through fall and the world’s largest naturally frozen skating rink in winter – the Rideau Canal winds through the heart of Ottawa before connecting with the Ottawa River through dramatic stepped locks right next to Parliament Hill.
5. The Outdoors – Adventure
Try whitewater rafting and kayaking on the Ottawa River, some of the continent’s finest, then top it off with some bungee jumping. The Ottawa region is also a cycling enthusiast’s dream destination, with around 800 kilometres (497 miles) of recreational pathways linking natural areas, parks, gardens and national sites.
6. Culinary scene
The culinary scene in Ottawa is in full bloom, with a thriving community of Ottawa chefs and diverse restaurants making names for themselves both at home and abroad. To experience multiple venues in one outing, book a dining tour of one of Ottawa’s great neighbourhoods – Ottawa Tasting Tours and Experience Food make all the arrangements for you. Or take a guided gourmet food tour to explore food shops, farmers’ markets and restaurants. The tasty options are endless!
7. Performing Arts
The Capital’s premier performing arts venue, the National Arts Centre, presents a full lineup of music, dance and theatre, plus popular touring acts and shows. Ottawa also has a thriving local theatre scene, including the Great Canadian Theatre Company, Ottawa Little Theatre, The Gladstone and La Nouvelle Scène.
Unique Ottawa neighbourhoods offer distinctive shopping, dining and nightlife experiences across the Capital. From the must-see ByWard Market area, to the Glebe’s community feel, to the trendy Wellington West, there’s lots of local flavour to soak up in Ottawa’s varied districts.