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Best Things To Do in Ottawa

Ottawa was designed with tourists in mind: There's plenty to see and do, and everything is just a short walk away. First off, there are two attractions that you really can't avoid: touring Parliament Hill and strolling along the Rideau Canal (both of which you can experience for free). If you like museums, then you should next check out the first-rate exhibits housed in world-class establishments like the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Museum of History. If that Canadian change is burning a hole in your pocket, check out the city's lively and ever-popular ByWard Market.

How we rank Things to Do
  • #1
    Things to do in Ottawa
    View all Photos
    #1 in Ottawa
    Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Snaking its way through the center of Ottawa, the Rideau Canal is one of the city's most historic attractions. This 125-mile waterway was originally constructed between 1826 and 1832 to create a secure supply and communications route betweenMontreal, Québec, and Kingston, Ontario–roughly 120 miles southwest of the capital. It's also

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  • #2
    ByWard Market
    View all Photos
    #2 in Ottawa
    Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Sitting in the heart of downtown Ottawa, the beloved ByWard Market is one of the country's oldest and largest public markets. Throughout the year, you'll find local vendors selling everything from souvenir trinkets to maple sugar candy to handmade cold-weather necessities like hats and mittens. This is the ideal place

    ...Read More »
  • #3
    Canadian War Museum
    View all Photos
    #3 in Ottawa
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Perched on the steep slopes framing the Ottawa River, the Canadian War Museum pays homage to Canada's long and violent military history, including its involvement in the French and Indian War and both World Wars I and II. Designed by Raymond Moriyama, one of the thousands of Japanese-Canadians imprisoned during

    ...Read More »
  • #4
    Parliament Hill
    View all Photos
    #4 in Ottawa
    Sightseeing, Tours, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Tours, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Acting as the anchor of downtown Ottawa, these three neo-Gothic structures are hard to miss. Like its mother country–England–Canada is governed by a parliamentary democracy, and it is here on the Hill that decisions are made on how to run the country. But just like the city itself, the Parliament

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  • #5
    National Gallery of Canada
    View all Photos
    #5 in Ottawa
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    FacingParliament Hillin downtown Ottawa, the National Gallery of Canada is a must for all art aficionados. This magnificent glass structure–easily recognized by the gargantuan spider sculpture at its entrance–houses works from heavyweights like da Vinci, Michelangelo and Picasso, along withindigenous and contemporary pieces. You'll also find some works by famous

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  • #6
    Gatineau Park
    View all Photos
    #6 in Ottawa
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    When you need a break from the city, head to Gatineau Park. Located just 15 minutes from downtown Ottawa, this nearly 90,000-acre park offers a variety of year-round activities, including swimming, hiking, biking, camping, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, in addition to heritage sites and nature interpretation. Among the standout attractions

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  • #7
    Canadian Museum of Nature
    View all Photos
    #7 in Ottawa
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Housing more than 10 million specimens, the Canadian Museum of Nature showcases 4 billion years of Earth history. Recent visitors agreed this is a must-see, especially if you're traveling with children, thanks to all of the museum's hands-on exhibits. Here, you'll learn more about prehistoric fossils, insects, wildlife and more.

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  • #8
    Canada Aviation and Space Museum
    View all Photos
    #8 in Ottawa
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Canada Aviation and Space Museum is home to the country's most comprehensive collection of vintage aircraft, which includes more than 130 artifacts and aircraft from both military and civil service. The main exhibit hall–known as the "Walkway of Time"–follows Canadian aviation developments from the start of the 20th century

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  • #9
    Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica
    View all Photos
    #9 in Ottawa
    Churches/Religious Sites, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Churches/Religious Sites, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    Even if you're not an avid churchgoer, the silvery spires of Ottawa's Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica are sure to catch your eye. Sitting across the street from theNational Gallery of Canada, this impressive church is the oldest in the city as well as a Canadian national historic site and the seat

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  • #10
    Bytown Museum
    View all Photos
    #10 in Ottawa
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    When it comes to brushing up on Ottawa's history, there's no better place than the Bytown Museum. Housed in what was once the commissariat for food and materials during the construction of theRideau Canal, Ottawa's oldest stone building now pays tribute to the city's canal builder, Lieutenant-Colonel John By. Exhibits

    ...Read More »
  • #11
    Canadian Museum of History
    View all Photos
    #11 in Ottawa
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Spread across four floors and nearly 300,000 square feet, the Canadian Museum of History (formerly the Canadian Museum of Civilization) is a behemoth. Welcoming more than 1.2 million people annually, it's also one of the country's most-visited museums. And it's easy to see why: Not only does the museum house

    ...Read More »

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