Rideau Canal
Rideau Canal
1 of 2
Ottawa Tourism/Flickr

Key Info

Rideau Canal

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Recreation, Sightseeing, Free Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.8scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

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.

Recent visitors who signed up for a canal cruise said it was a relaxing trip that offered spectacular views of the city. Others who chose to walk or bike along the paved paths encircling the canal said they appreciated that there were several informative placards detailing the canal's history stationed at several points along the pathway. If you can, try to schedule your visit for sunset (a recommendation from reviewers).

The Rideau Canal is free to enjoy. If you're visiting in the winter and have your own equipment, you don't have to pay to skate either. You can also rent equipment from one of the several rest areas located along the length of the skating area (skates cost CA$18, or $14, for two hours). For more information, check out the Rideau Canal Waterway and the Rideau Canal Skateway websites.

See all Hotels in Ottawa »

More Best Things To Do in Ottawa

ByWard Market
Canadian War Museum
Type
Time to Spend
1 of 10
#2 ByWard Market

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 for fresh produce or a cheap meal on-the-go; during the summer, outdoor stalls sell local favorites like poutine (french fries topped with cheese curds and gravy) and BeaverTails (fried dough covered in everything from chocolate to cheese). Surrounding the main market building home to the Moulin de Provence Bakery, a favorite snack stop of President Obama are numerous boutiques, restaurants and nightlife spots. Don't worry if you're visiting in the winter those same yummy stalls stay open, but they just move indoors.  

Read more
Radius Images/Getty Images
See full list of Best Things To Do in Ottawa »

Explore More of Ottawa

Recommended

The 20 Best Michigan State Parks

Two peninsulas, four Great Lakes and innumerable natural highlights elevate Michigan's state parks.

Zach WatsonApril 18, 2019

50 Awesome Vacation Ideas for Every Type of Traveler

Consider these vacation ideas for your next getaway.

Holly JohnsonApril 11, 2019

The 13 Best National Parks in California

You won't regret adding one of these national parks to your California itinerary.

Rachel CenterApril 10, 2019

10 Beautiful Places to Visit in the South of France

Plan a getaway to these special destinations to soak up culture, cuisine and quaint atmospheres.

Gwen PratesiApril 8, 2019

Best Carry-on Luggage of 2019

U.S. News rated the best carry-on luggage, considering recommendations from experts and consumers.

Lyn MettlerApril 3, 2019

The 11 Best Utah National Parks and Monuments to Visit

From birding to bouldering to boating, Utah's national parks have it all.

Zach WatsonApril 2, 2019

The 30 Best Zoos in the U.S.

Get an up-close look at wild creatures in natural settings at America's top animal parks.

Kyle McCarthyMarch 28, 2019

15 Scenic Train Rides to Add to Your Bucket List

Climb aboard these locomotives for jaw-dropping views.

Christine SmithMarch 26, 2019

13 Top Places to Visit in Tuscany, Italy

Ditch the crowded streets of Rome or Milan and head to Italy's picturesque countryside.

Lyn MettlerMarch 25, 2019

10 Excellent Educational Vacations for Families

Make sure your next getaway is both enjoyable and informative.

Holly JohnsonMarch 14, 2019