Travel Tips

12 places to visit in Ottawa

It is not today that I have been receiving questions and comments requesting information about what to visit in Ottawa, usually for 1 or 2 days of visit to the city. A lot of people end up fitting a short tour to Ottawa between the visit of Montreal and Toronto and I must say that usually no one regrets.

I start by saying that the best time to visit Ottawa is from May to September. During this period the days are longer, temperatures are mild to high and you can enjoy both inside and outside.

If you're one of those who don't want to catch heat since it's coming to the polar Canada kkkk, I recommend coming in March (chance of quite cold yet, sure snow on the ground and great chances of snowstorm) or November (tolerable cold, chance of snow , but not sure), when there is still availability to leave on foot (but with restrictions) and the days are not yet so short.

You see last November, when we had more than 24hours of continuous snow, feeling -11ºC because of a danado ventinho that beats outside. Even for me who's used to winter here, it's not a good day for tourists from there to here, especially if they are things that include outdoor walks (I went to the supermarket and just put things in the car, I was already covered with snow).

My opinion is that tourism is a very personal thing. Each person has a style, things they prefer to see, points that are more important, pace of travel and travel preferences, locomotion etc. In this post I'm making a summary of some of the most popular points of interest in Ottawa, to serve as a base for those who are montanto the script of the Canadian capital.


Below is my list of suggestions for visiting ottawa. I would point out that, in my mere opinion, the most visited and/or well-known sights are Parliament, the Rideau Canal, the Byward Market and the Canadian Museum of History, for various reasons, but especially because they are all at a relatively short distance from each other, which makes it much easier. And on their way, you'll end up passing through several other sights or relevant, as downtown Ottawa is relatively small. Come on, let's go, let's


Supreme Court of Canada (Photo: Pgiam/Getty Images)

The building of the Canadian supreme court is quite imposing is, conveniently. on the same street as Parliament, there is an easily caminable distance between the two. There are guided tours by law students every day, with more options of schedules from May to August. See more details here.


Parliament of Canada

The center of power, where the Canadian prime minister works and many of the country's big decisions are made. The Parliament of Canada is not only a beautiful building, it is also full of history and grandeur. Unlike the American neighbours, the government headquarters is not protected by railings and you can still take a tour inside the building for free (day tickets are distributed in the visitor center (across the street from Parliament – 90 Wellington St). The Peace Tower, or peace tower, presents visitors with a beautiful view of downtown Ottawa.
There are two visit options:
1.Central block: includes library, tower, senate and house of commons. Visiting hours here.

2. East block: only available from July to early September and includes areas vital to government in the 19th century. The room of then Prime Minister John A. Macdonald and other important figures of the time. Visiting hours here.


View of Chateau Laurier from the Ottawa River

Ottawa's most imposing hotel and probably the best known too, due to its prime location. It is next to the rideau canal (Locks) floodgates and a few metres from the Parliament buildings. It was opened in 1912 and has a lot of history to tell.


Rideau Canal in summer
Rideau Canal in winter

There is no way to come to Ottawa and not visit the Rideau Canal. One of the most versatile tourist attractions I know. Beautiful and quiet channel for crossing small boats, kayaks or only contemplation even in summer and the largest skating rink in the world in winter. Unmissable in any season.
The Rideau Canal is also part of Ottawa's winter festival, the Winterlude (here and here)
See more blog posts about the channel here.

For more information visit the Rideau Canal website.


ByWard Market – Ottawa

Also one of Ottawa's key spots, the ByWard market brings together commerce, great restaurants, pubs and a charming atmosphere in the city centre.
I still remember going almost every weekend there, in the early years living here and the vibe is very unique and interesting.
See some tours of ours there 12345


Statue at Nepean Point

Nepean Point isn't always on Ottawa's tourist lists by itself, but it ends up being visited kind of unintentionally due to its proximity to downtown and the many "walkable" sights in downtown Ottawa. It is next to the Natinal Gallery of Canada and has beautiful views of Parliament, Gatineau and the Ottawa River. It's worth the little climb. See the visuals there here in this post.


National Gallery of Canada in downtown Ottawa
If I tell you that I've never been in the lobby of the National Gallery of Canada, many will call me crazy. But it's just that we've never had the opportunity and availability to visit, especially with the kids. It's always good to leave something new to visit in the future.
One of the other attractions is in front of the museum, the famous spider sculpture (Mamam, by the artist Louise Bourgeois). See post here.


National Gallery of Canada and Notre-Dame Cathedral

The cathedral in downtown Ottawa has an interesting exterior and the interior is super beautiful. The architecture reflects Gothic and neo-Gothic aspects both outside and inside. It's worth a little visit, even if it's quick. In this post here, there is a picture of the interior.
And see visiting hours and masses here.


Alexandra Bridge – by the Ontario side

The most charming bridge connecting the province of Ontario to Québec, namely Ottawa to Gatineau. By these days the bridge was under renovation and closed towards Gatineau/Ottawa, but on foot it remains open. leaving the interesting crossing (in the hot months) and giving access to the Canadian Museum of History, right next door, in Gatineau (obviously not the only means of access to the museum, but a good option for those who like to walk and walk through the capital).


Canadian Museum of History

Formerly called the Museum of Civilizations or Museum of Civilization, the now Canadian Museum of History is Canada's most visited museum. It has fixed and itinerant exhibitions and should reopen on July 1, a whole wing that has been closed in recent years.
What's more, there's the Children's Museum inside the museum, which can be visited with the museum's entrance. Girls love it and it's a great activity if visiting Ottawa with kids. See our visit there.


Rideau Hall, Pennsylvania
Rideau Hall has been the official residence of the governor general since 1867. You can take a free tour there almost all year round (check schedules here). I recommend going in the hot months since the garden is very beautiful to see too and will not be available in winter obviously.
See more about our visit there here.


The new and the old at the Canadian Museum of History
The Museum of Nature in Ottawa is a fantastic tour, especially if you have kids in the group. It has several interactive areas and the whole museum is not very extensive, which allows you to visit everything, including strategic stops. There's still the fact that the whole museum building is beautiful, a mix of new and old, right near downtown Ottawa.
On Thursdays, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., the museum has free admission to stay-at-home displays, but you can check more times and prices here.
See one of our visitors here.