Ottawa, the capital of Canada, is on the south bank of the Ottawa River. The Rideau River and the Rideau Canal cut the city in half. Most of the people who live there speak both English and French. It is also a city where people from all over the world live, and it does a good job of keeping Canada’s culture and history alive.
Like many other capital cities around the world, Ottawa has many national landmarks. There are also many other things to see and do in the city, so you could easily spend days there.
Let’s look at what’s best to do in Ottawa:
1. Skate on the largest outdoor rink in the world
During the winter, part of the Rideau Canal is turned into a huge rink for skating. The outdoor rink is nearly eight kilometers long, making it the longest in the world.
The rink is open 24 hours a day and is a great place to spend a romantic evening. During the day, it’s great for families, couples, and even people who are traveling alone.
Without a Beaver Tail, you can’t skate along the Rideau Canal. You can buy these deep-fried dough treats at kiosks along the ice rink and in the Byward Market area.
2. Visit Parliament
Parliament Hill is a beautiful example of the Gothic revival style. It is in the middle of the city center and looks out over the Ottawa River. The Parliament of Canada meets in this building, which is also very popular with tourists.
Parliament Hill is made up of three buildings and a very large formal garden. Many national celebrations, protests, and shows take place on the grounds of the complex.
There are tours in both English and French at different times throughout the day. They last between 30 and 60 minutes, but you have to be there at 9 a.m. to get a spot for the day.
3. Go to the store
ByWard Market is in the middle of the city center of Ottawa. It is one of the oldest markets in Canada. It has a main building that is surrounded by stalls that are open to the air.
The main buildings are open all year, and the stalls around them are open when it’s nice out. It is a colorful place where you can buy fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, and other groceries.
ByWard Market also has a lot of restaurants, fast food stands, and shops. It is a great place to walk around and talk to people who live there.
4. Learn about the history of Canada
Ottawa is the capital city, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that there are a lot of national museums there. You don’t have to know a lot about history to enjoy them.
There are many museums in Ottawa. Some of them are the Canadian Museum of History, the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of Nature, the Canada Agriculture Museum, and the Canadian War Museum.
There are also some specialty museums that might not be interesting to everyone, but are still worth seeing. Some of these are the Canada Science and Technology Museum, the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Portrait Gallery of Canada, and the Bank of Canada Currency Museum.
5. Find out about the bad parts of the city.
Not everything in Ottawa is bright and happy. On the Haunted Walk of Ottawa, you can learn about the city’s infamous past.
The tour focuses on Ottawa’s dark past. You will hear scary stories about some of the city’s most famous places, like the Bytown Museum, the Ottawa Jail Hostel, and the Fairmont Chateau Laurier. Tours are led by people in black cloaks with lanterns in their hands.
No matter what the weather is like, these ghost tours of the city happen all year long. Of course, Halloween is the best time to see this side of the city, but it’s fun any time you’re in Ottawa.
6. Take in the food scene
Ottawa is a mix of many different cultures, and this is reflected in its food. Here, you can eat food from all over the world, as well as some Canadian and city favorites.
As we’ve already said, BeaverTails are a must. You can top them with cinnamon sugar, chocolate hazelnut spread, peanut butter, or maple syrup, among other things. Poutine, a French-Canadian dish with chips, cheese curds, and gravy, is also a must.
Ottawa is also known for having great Chinese, Vietnamese, and Lebanese food. In restaurants all over the city, you can also get French, Italian, and Mediterranean food.
7. Take a look around an old chateau
Since the Fairmont Chateau Laurier is now a luxury hotel, you won’t be able to go everywhere. The castle is 660,000 square feet big. The French Gothic castle is at the corner of Rideau Street and Sussex Drive, with a view of the Rideau Canal.
When it opened in 1912, the hotel only had 350 rooms, and only half of them had their own bathroom. There are 429 guest rooms in the chateau right now.
The whole building is beautiful, with Roman columns, Tiffany stained-glass windows, and a copper roof. The floors in the lobby are made of Belgian marble, and the lounge is a beautiful atrium with glowing chandeliers that is a great place for afternoon tea.
8. Visit a park
Major’s Hill Park is just above the Rideau Canal, and Parliament Hill is just on the other side of the canal. It is one of the oldest green areas in the city, and it is open all year.
At the park, there are a lot of events, like Canada Day celebrations and the annual “B In The Park” event, which is all about pipe bands. It’s also a nice place to hang out for an afternoon.
There are also great views of Parliament Hill, Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, the American Embassy, and the Fairmont Chateau Laurier from Major’s Hill Park.
9. Go to the beach for the day
Yes, Ottawa does have a beach. It is on an island in the Ottawa River called Petrie Island.
The island has two beaches, both of which are in the northeast corner. From May 17 to September 1, they are open from noon to 7 p.m.
The city is in charge of the beaches, and there are lifeguards on duty 7 days a week. You can have a picnic there, go swimming, or just get away from the city center.
10. Go to a sporting event
There are several professional sports teams in Ottawa, but the Ottawa Senators are the most well-known. The Canadian Tire Centre is home to both this National Hockey League team’s games and the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame.
You can watch the Ottawa Redblacks, a Canadian Football League team, play at TD Place Stadium. The Ottawa Fury FC also plays their home games there.
Fans of baseball should go to Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Park to see the Ottawa Champions play. This team is in the Can-Am League, which stands for the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball.