Canadian War Museum

#3 in Best Things To Do in Ottawa
Canadian War Museum picture
Marie-Louise Deruaz/Courtesy Canadian War Museum

Key Info

1 Vimy Place


Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend


  • 4.0Value
  • 4.5Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

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 World War II, this stoic museum houses remnants from Canada's numerous military endeavors, many of which resulted in tragedy. Among the museum's more than 3 million artifacts, it houses artillery, uniforms, medals, documents, sound and visual recordings and rare vehicles. It also showcases temporary interactive exhibitions, such as a recent display that told the story of WWI air combat though a graphic novel presentation.

Recent visitors gushed about the museum, recommending that future travelers reserve at least half a day (or more, if you're a history buff) to tour the moving exhibits. Beyond the artifacts and informative displays, the museum won favor with reviewers for its thoughtful layout and design. Others added that kids were as captivated by the museum as adults.

The Canadian War Museum is located west of Parliament Hill at the intersection of the Ottawa River Parkway and Route 77. The museum is accessible by car, foot, bike or public transit (OC Transpo route Nos. 8, 86, 87, 95, 96 or 97 all service the museum). It is open every day from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with extended evening hours on Thursdays. Admission costs CA$15 (about $12) for adults and CA$9 (around $7) for children ages 3 to 12. If you time your visit for Thursday evening (between 4 and 8 p.m.), you'll enjoy free museum admission. You'll also find a cafe and museum shop on-site. For more information, check out the museum's website.

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More Best Things To Do in Ottawa

Rideau Canal1 of 10
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Time to Spend
#1 Rideau Canal

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 between Montreal, Québec, and Kingston, Ontario roughly 120 miles southwest of the capital. It's also a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the city's most beloved features.

During the summer, you'll find the Rideau Canal filled with boats (both private and commercial) and the paved pathways surrounding it crowded with walkers, runners and bicyclists. If you'd like to tour the canal by boat, consider signing up for a trip with Rideau Canal Cruises. Cruises, which take visitors from Chateau Laurier to Dow's Lake (round trip), typically last 90 minutes and take visitors past nearly 30 sights along the canal. You can also borrow a bike from RentABike for CA$10 (around $8) an hour. As the temperatures begin to drop, the canal transforms into the world's largest skating rink, spanning 4.8 miles and featuring a surface area equivalent to 90 Olympic-sized hockey rinks. It's also lined with stands selling hot chocolate and soup, as well as heated huts in case you need a break from the cold.

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