By Azure Lee
Ottawa is undoubtedly one of the best cities in Canada to visit at any time of year if you're looking for a quick trip or fun-filled city vacation. With its wide avenues and ancient structures, Ottawa, which was established in 1850 and named the nation's capital by Queen Victoria in 1857, is especially enjoyable to stroll through.
The city core, which is centered around the opulent old government structures atop Parliament Hill, is an excellent spot to see some of Canada's most significant cultural landmarks. The National Gallery, the opera and concert venue National Arts Center, and other significant sites like the bustling Byward Market are among them.
In this article, we will explore the top 10 best places to visit in Ottawa, each offering a unique and enriching experience.
Ottawa is undoubtedly one of the best cities in Canada to visit at any time of year
Best Places To Visit In Ottawa
Ottawa is known as the city with the highest level of education in Canada and is a popular travel destination. Moreover, it is recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ottawa offers everything to entice the traveler in you, from breathtaking scenery to historic museums and ancient monuments. These best places to visit in Ottawa are ideal for learning about Canada's revolutionary history.
1. Parliament Hill
At the top of the list of the top places to see in Ottawa is the impressive Parliament Building, which serves as the home of the Canadian government. It is also a community and cultural center as well, and its events are held in an incredible setting.
One option is to practice yoga on Parliament Hill. Every Wednesday at noon during the summer, hundreds of individuals gather on the hill, adorned in yoga attire and armed with mats, to partake in yoga sessions with the iconic buildings as their backdrop. Additionally, you can enjoy the 30-minute Sound and Light show, which casts a stunning, captivating narrative onto the Parliament Buildings.
Then there are the more conventional events like going to the changing of the guard or to the House of Commons or the Senate of Canada, which are currently housed in the former train station in Ottawa, just a short distance from the Hill.
At the top of the list of the top places to see in Ottawa is the impressive Parliament Building
2. National Gallery of Canada
If you are considering best places to visit in Ottawa, we recommend that you include National Gallery of Canada in your list. The National Gallery of Canada is an internationally acclaimed masterpiece that showcases the largest collection of Canadian artifacts from the 18th century. Discover some of the greatest pieces created by renowned artists between the 15th and 17th centuries.
A thirty-foot monument of a spider appears to draw a lot of attention to the National Gallery of Canada, which is housed in a stunning glass building. If you can get over your fear of spiders, the gallery's interior is a visually arresting display of glass spires and pink granite that draws many visitors. The breathtaking Rideau Street Convent Chapel and two charming courtyards are located deep within the gallery's sacred space.
If you are considering best places to visit in Ottawa, we recommend that you include National Gallery of Canada in your list
3. ByWard Market
It consistently appears on every list of places to visit in Ottawa for free that you can find online, and it's completely justified. The Byward Market, established in 1826, stands as one of Canada's oldest public markets. What was once a modest marketplace has blossomed into a thriving epicenter for culinary delights, shopping, and entertainment.
In the neighboring neighborhood, there are over 600 enterprises, while the actual market is occupied by around 175 stalls. During your visit, you might chance upon an excellent brunch spot, a charming boutique brimming with gift ideas, or a local up-and-coming band drawing a crowd. Situated in proximity to Parliament Hill, the ByWard Market Neighborhood bustles with activity throughout the day and night. Make sure to pay a visit.
The Byward Market, established in 1826, stands as one of the oldest public markets in Canada
4. Canadian Museum of History
Located just a few minutes' walk from downtown Ottawa, the Canadian Museum is one of the best places to visit in Ottawa. The Canadian Museum of History is located in Gatineau, directly across the river from Ottawa, even though it isn't technically in Ottawa. Dating back to 1856, it is not only the oldest museum in the nation but also the most popular, with over 1.2 million people each year. Why then do so many people visit?
The museum houses an extensive collection of three million artifacts that chart Canada's and the world's history, spanning back 20,000 years. In the Grand Hall, you can explore the narrative, culture, and spiritual traditions of Canada's Pacific First Nations within a stunning environment that offers panoramic views of the Ottawa River and Parliament Hill. The journey continues in the First People's Hall, where you can delve deeper into Canada's Indigenous heritage. Don't forget to check out the rotating exhibitions currently on display, and be sure to visit the CIN?+ theater for an enriching cinematic experience.
The Canadian Museum is one of the best places to visit in Ottawa
5. Rideau Canal
No trip to Ottawa tourist attractions would be complete without visiting the Rideau Canal. At 4.8 miles long, the Rideau Canal is widely recognized as the largest naturally frozen skating rink in the world. However, the Canal is a year-round outdoor entertainment destination. Yes, you may enjoy skating across downtown Ottawa with two blades strapped to your feet on the endless rink that stands atop the canal waters in the winter.
Once the ice thaws and the pleasant t-shirt weather arrives, you have a host of other activities to choose from. You can opt for a voyageur canoe excursion along those very same waters or savor a leisurely boat cruise. Alternatively, you can explore the canal by strolling, jogging, or cycling along its picturesque banks. So, regardless of the time of your visit, be sure to include a visit to the Rideau Canal on your itinerary.
Rideau Canal ice skating rink in winter, Ottawa, Canada
6. Gatineau Park
Gatineau Park, spanning an expansive 365 square kilometers (139 square miles), is a conservation area teeming with scenic walking trails. One of its entrances is conveniently situated just 4 kilometers from downtown Ottawa. There are 165 km of hiking trails and 90 km of mountain bike routes in Gatineau.
During your visit, you also observe numerous road cyclists enjoying the park's surroundings. Furthermore, within the park, you can explore the 231-hectare estate of Canada's 10th Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie. Additionally, Gatineau Park provides opportunities for beach outings, canoeing, and camping, making it among the fun places to go in Ottawa for outdoor enthusiasts.
Gatineau Park is one of the fun places to go in Ottawa for outdoor enthusiasts
7. Canada Science and Technology Museum
The Canada Science and Technology Museum (Musée des sciences et de la technologie du Canada), which just underwent a multimillion-dollar refurbishment, impresses not only with its size but also with its ultramodern design.
This cutting-edge museum, often known as the "CSTM," celebrates Canada's significant discoveries in science and technology via interesting displays and hands-on learning.
Highlights include its extensive collection of relics, which includes everything from automobiles and trucks to airplanes and trains. A gigantic model of the ill-fated Titanic, antique snowmobiles, musical instruments, and Canadian-made home goods are among the highlights.
There is a café and a gift shop on-site.
8. Notre Dame Basilica
The Notre Dame Basilica, the largest and oldest existing church in Ottawa, is ornate with stained-glass windows with Biblical inscriptions and spectacular with arches and tiered galleries. This church, built in the 1840s, is a magnificent example of Canadian religious art and Gothic Revival architecture.
Prepare to be enchanted by the interior's soaring vaults and star-studded blue ceiling, as well as the two brilliant silver tin-topped steeples. The stunning altar will captivate you with its carefully crafted interiors, which feature carved mahogany by Philippe Parizeau.
Another well-known sight is Louis-Philippe Hébert's statues of prophets, apostles, and evangelists. If you are considering the top places to visit in Ottawa, we recommend that you include Notre Dame Basilica in your list.
9. Canadian Museum of Nature
The Canadian Museum of Nature (Musée Canadien de la Nature) takes visitors from the realm of dinosaurs to today's animal population, with heartbreaking temporary displays in between.
The genesis of Canada's national museums is the national natural sciences and history museum and its historic edifice (formerly the Victoria Memorial Museum). The construction of this castle-like structure was finished in 1910.
10. Dows Lake Pavilion
Dows Lake Pavilion is located near the city's arboretum and Experimental Farm, extending out into and overlooking the lake that bears its name.
This facility features a variety of eateries, including an outside terrace that is highly popular throughout the summer. The pavilion also has a view of the docks where you may hire paddleboats, canoes, kayaks, or bikes.
The lake is also a famous places for fishing. In the winter, skates and sleds may be rented, and the park holds activities during the Winterlude festival. During the Tulip Festival in the spring, it is decked with elaborate tulip displays.
Useful Tips When Visiting Ottawa Tourist Places
When visiting Ottawa tourist places, consider these helpful tips for a smooth and enjoyable experience. Plan your trip based on the season, as Ottawa offers diverse activities, from summer festivals to winter ice skating on the Rideau Canal.
Ottawa is a walkable city, so comfortable walking shoes are a must. Given the bilingual nature of the city, knowing some basic French phrases can be handy. Utilize the efficient public transportation system, carry Canadian currency, and inform your bank about your travel plans.
When planning your trip to Ottawa and other Canadian destinations, don't forget to apply for a Canada eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization) to ensure a smooth entry. You can conveniently apply for a Canada eTA through the official website: Canada Immigration Services. This electronic authorization simplifies the entry process for eligible travelers. Make sure to check your eligibility and complete the application online before your travel date. Safe travels and enjoy your visit to Ottawa!