National Gallery of Canada#5 in Best Things To Do in Ottawa
Facing Parliament Hill in 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 with indigenous and contemporary pieces. You'll also find some works by famous Canadian artists like Joseph Légaré and Antoine Plamondon, among many others. There are also a host of renowned temporary exhibits each year.
Recent visitors said they were as impressed with the building as they were the art, with many describing the facility as an "architectural wonder." Others were pleased without the variety of mediums on display, calling the gallery's permanent collection encyclopedic.
The National Gallery of Canada sits across from Gatineau at the Alexandra Bridge, within walking distance of ByWard Market and Parliament Hill. OC Transpo route Nos. 1 and 9 will also get you there. The art museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 or 6 p.m. every day in the summer and Tuesdays through Sundays in the winter (October to April). On Thursdays, the museum is open until 8 p.m., offering free entry after 5 p.m. Admission to the permanent collection costs CA$12 for adults (roughly $9). If you want to tour the visiting exhibit as well, a CA$16 (about $12) ticket allows access to the special exhibit as well as the entire permanent collection. You'll also find a cafe and boutique on-site. For more information, including times for docent-led tours, check out the National Gallery's website.
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#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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