39 Best Places And Things To Do in Ottawa, Canada

Ottawa, the capital city of Canada, is a vibrant and culturally rich destination with a wide range of attractions and activities to offer. Whether you’re interested in history, arts, nature, or cuisine, Ottawa has something for everyone. Here are some of the best places and things to do in Ottawa:

1. Parliament Hill

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A visit to Ottawa wouldn’t be complete without seeing Parliament Hill, the heart of Canada’s political scene. Explore the iconic Parliament Buildings, take a guided tour, and witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony during the summer months.

2. National Gallery of Canada

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Art enthusiasts will love the National Gallery, which houses an impressive collection of Canadian and international art, including works by the Group of Seven and indigenous artists.

3. ByWard Market

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This lively neighborhood is a must-visit for foodies and shoppers alike. The market offers a delightful array of fresh produce, artisanal products, and unique boutiques. In the evening, ByWard Market transforms into a bustling hub of restaurants, pubs, and entertainment venues.

4. Canadian Museum of History

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Just across the river in Gatineau, Quebec, this museum presents the fascinating history of Canada through captivating exhibits and artifacts.

5. Rideau Canal

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In both summer and winter, the historic Rideau Canal offers scenic beauty and recreational opportunities. In warmer months, you can take a leisurely boat ride or stroll along the pathways. In winter, the canal turns into the world’s largest ice-skating rink, providing a magical experience for visitors.

6. Canadian Museum of Nature

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This museum is a treat for those curious about the natural world, featuring extensive collections of fossils, minerals, and wildlife exhibits.

7. Gatineau Park

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A short drive from downtown Ottawa, Gatineau Park offers picturesque hiking trails, scenic lookouts, and beautiful lakes. It’s an excellent spot for outdoor enthusiasts to escape the city and immerse themselves in nature.

8. National Arts Centre (NAC)

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Catch a live performance at the NAC, showcasing a diverse range of concerts, ballets, theater productions, and other cultural events.

9. Diefenbunker

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Canada’s Cold War Museum, located in a former nuclear fallout shelter, provides a unique glimpse into the country’s history during tense times.

10. Canadian Museum of Aviation and Space

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For aviation enthusiasts, this museum is a treasure trove of historical aircraft and exhibits related to space exploration.

11. Ottawa River Cruise

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Take a boat tour along the Ottawa River to enjoy scenic views of the city’s skyline and landmarks.

12. Major’s Hill Park

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This picturesque park offers a tranquil escape right in the heart of the city, providing a lovely spot for picnics and relaxation.

13. Winterlude Festival

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If you happen to visit in winter, don’t miss the Winterlude Festival, celebrating the season with ice sculptures, snow activities, and other winter-themed festivities.

14. Explore the Glebe

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A trendy neighborhood filled with boutiques, restaurants, and cafes, the Glebe is a great place to experience Ottawa’s local culture.

15. Canadian War Museum

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Discover Canada’s military history through extensive exhibits and interactive displays at this renowned museum.

16. Sparks Street

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Take a stroll down Sparks Street, one of the oldest pedestrian streets in Canada, lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants. It’s a great place for a leisurely walk, shopping for souvenirs, or grabbing a bite to eat.

17. Royal Canadian Mint

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Visit the Royal Canadian Mint to learn about the production of coins and see fascinating displays of rare and historic coins. You can even purchase unique collectible coins as souvenirs.

18. Canadian Aviation and Space Museum

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Another must-visit for aviation enthusiasts, this museum showcases an impressive collection of vintage and modern aircraft, offering interactive exhibits and flight simulators for an immersive experience.

19. National War Memorial

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Pay your respects at the National War Memorial, an important monument commemorating the sacrifices of Canadian soldiers who fought in various conflicts.

20. Ottawa City Hall

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Admire the striking architecture of Ottawa City Hall and its surrounding Confederation Park. During special events and festivals, this area often hosts concerts, art installations, and cultural celebrations.

21. Cultural Festivals

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Throughout the year, Ottawa hosts a variety of cultural festivals celebrating music, art, food, and more. The festivals provide a glimpse into the diverse cultures that make up Canada’s capital.

22. Shaw Centre

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Attend events, conferences, and exhibitions at the Shaw Centre, a prominent convention center in downtown Ottawa.

23. Haunted Walk of Ottawa

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If you enjoy spooky stories and ghost tales, join a guided haunted walk to explore the darker side of Ottawa’s history and hear eerie tales from the past.

24. Nepean Point

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Hike up to Nepean Point for stunning panoramic views of the Parliament Buildings, the Ottawa River, and the surrounding landscape. It’s an ideal spot to capture beautiful photographs of the city.

25. Canadian Tulip Festival

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In spring, Ottawa comes alive with colorful tulip displays during the Canadian Tulip Festival. Celebrating the longstanding friendship between Canada and the Netherlands, this festival is a delightful burst of flowers and cultural events.

26. Ottawa Little Italy

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Discover Ottawa’s vibrant Italian community in Little Italy. This neighborhood offers a range of Italian restaurants, cafes, and gelato shops, making it a perfect place for a delicious meal or treat.

27. Local Breweries and Distilleries

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Ottawa boasts a growing craft beer and distillery scene. Consider taking a brewery or distillery tour to sample some of the finest local beverages.

28. Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival

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If you’re visiting in early September, don’t miss the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival, where colorful balloons fill the sky, accompanied by live music, entertainment, and various activities.

29. Canadian Museum of Agriculture and Food

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Located in the nearby Experimental Farm, this museum offers insight into Canada’s agricultural heritage and innovations in the food industry.

30. LGBTQ+ Friendly Events

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Ottawa hosts various LGBTQ+ events and festivals, such as Capital Pride, providing an inclusive and vibrant celebration of diversity and acceptance.

31. Ottawa Art Gallery

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Delve deeper into Ottawa’s art scene at the Ottawa Art Gallery, which showcases contemporary and local artworks, including pieces from Indigenous and Canadian artists.

32. Shawarma

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Ottawa has a significant Middle Eastern community, and one of the city’s most beloved culinary delights is shawarma. Don’t miss the opportunity to try this flavorful dish served in various restaurants throughout the city.

33. Cumberland Heritage Village Museum

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Step back in time at the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum, an open-air museum that recreates rural life in the 1920s and 1930s. Explore historic buildings, interact with costumed interpreters, and experience the past firsthand.

34. Rockcliffe Park

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Explore the upscale neighborhood of Rockcliffe Park, known for its elegant houses, lush green spaces, and the historic Rideau Hall, the official residence of the Governor General of Canada.

35. Casino du Lac-Leamy

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For those who enjoy games of chance and entertainment, head across the river to Gatineau, Quebec, and visit Casino du Lac-Leamy for an evening of fun.

36. Nordik Spa-Nature

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Treat yourself to a day of relaxation and rejuvenation at Nordik Spa-Nature, located in Chelsea, Quebec, just a short drive from Ottawa. This world-class spa offers a range of thermal baths, saunas, and wellness treatments set amid beautiful natural surroundings.

37. Ottawa Jazz Festival

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Music lovers will appreciate the annual Ottawa Jazz Festival, where jazz, blues, and world music artists perform captivating concerts in various venues across the city.

38. Canadian Science and Technology Museum

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Discover the wonders of science and technology at this interactive museum, which features engaging exhibits and hands-on activities for visitors of all ages.

39. Ottawa Redblacks and Ottawa Senators

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If you’re a sports enthusiast, consider catching a Canadian Football League (CFL) game with the Ottawa Redblacks or a National Hockey League (NHL) game with the Ottawa Senators, depending on the season.