Rideau Canal picture1 of 2
Rideau Canal2 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 Market1 of 10
Canadian War Museum2 of 10
Type
Time to Spend
#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.  

Most recent visitors agreed that you have to stop by this market during your stay and advised setting aside several hours to explore the vendors and surrounding businesses (reviewers were especially fond of the pubs).

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

Explore More of Ottawa

If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

Recommended

30 Top Florida Weekend Getaways

Spend sun-filled days exploring Florida's beautiful beaches, cities, parks and small towns.

Gwen PratesiDecember 9, 2019

The Best Travel Backpacks for 2020

U.S. News rated the best travel backpacks using recommendations from experts and consumers.

Lyn MettlerNovember 25, 2019

30 Top Wellness Retreats

Rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit at one of these relaxation-focused properties.

Kyle McCarthyNovember 21, 2019

30 Fun All-Inclusive Family Vacations

Book one of these all-inclusive trips that cover food, accommodations and activities galore.

Holly JohnsonNovember 14, 2019

5 Ways Cruise Lines Are Becoming More Environmentally Friendly

Industry considers impact as it looks to the future.

Gwen PratesiNovember 12, 2019

11 Unique and Quirky Cruise Destinations

Venture off the beaten path for an authentic cruising experience.

Christine SmithNovember 12, 2019

The 2020 Best Cruise Lines for Families

Gather up the gang and head out to sea with one of these six kid-friendly cruise lines.

Nicola WoodNovember 12, 2019

The Top Pyramids in Mexico to Visit

Add these ancient marvels to your Mexico vacation itinerary.

Lyn MettlerOctober 28, 2019

30 Top Babymoon Destinations, Trips and Ideas

From romantic beach getaways to big city adventures to glamping in the forest, these locales will inspire your babymoon planning.

Gwen PratesiOctober 15, 2019

15 Tips for Traveling While Pregnant

These tips will help pregnant women travel the world in comfort and style.

Holly JohnsonOctober 10, 2019