Things to do in Ottawa Canada

Top 40 Things To Do In Ottawa Canada In 2023 – A Comprehensive List of Activities and Attractions

Last Updated: July 4, 2023By

Ottawa is Canada’s captivating capital. With just a few hours’ drive from the US border, cultural curiosities abound here — from exquisite Victorian edifices to extraordinary museums, and breathtaking vistas to vivid neighborhoods teeming with life.

Whether your interests lie in history, music, or simply strolling around and absorbing the vibrancy of it all, there are countless exciting things to do in Ottawa for every member of your tourist entourage or family.

So if you’re planning a trip to Ottawa, Canada in 2023 and wondering what fun awaits, wonder no more! A city revered for its melange of free activities, iconic landmarks, and music-laden festivals, this city has something great worth seeing.

We have compiled this list of fun activities as a guide to help you through the top 40 things to do in Canada’s capital city.

Don’t miss out; let’s dive into your ultimate Ottawa adventure!

Key Takeaways

  • Parliament Hill: Explore the heart of Canadian governance and heritage with guided or self-guided tours, witnessing stunning Gothic-style buildings and the location of Canada’s first government.
  • National Gallery of Canada: Immerse yourself in diverse artworks from all over the world, including ancient Indigenous artifacts and religious pieces that tell the fascinating story of art within Canada.
  • Canadian Museum of History: Discover North American humanities’ history through an impressive collection that surpasses 4 million items, making it one of Canada’s most visited museums.
  • Major’s Hill Park Festivals: Experience a vibrant atmosphere with festivals like the Canadian Tulip Festival, Winterlude, Jazz Fest, International Buskerfest, Capital Ukrainian Festival, Ottawa Ribfest, Ottawa Craft Beer Festival, and more.
  • Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica: Visit this must-see landmark known for its magnificent architecture and historical significance as a Catholic church on Sussex Drive in downtown Ottawa.
  • Peace Tower: Marvel at this iconic symbol of peace within the Parliament building while enjoying breathtaking aerial views from the observation deck.
  • ByTown Museum: Step into Ottawa’s past housed in its oldest stone building to explore how the construction of the Rideau Canal shaped the region’s growth.
  • Rideau Hall Tour: Discover the history, artistry, and architectural beauty at Rideau Hall – the official residence for governors-general – showcasing exhibits on World War I contributions amidst beautiful gardens.

Sightseeing and Landmarks

Explore Parliament Hill on a guided tour and witness the stunning Gothic-style buildings that are at the heart of Canada’s political landscape.

1. Explore Parliament Hill on Tour

Parliament Hill, Ottawa

Parliament Hill, Ottawa

Unleashing the heart of Canadian governance and heritage, a tour around Parliament Hill is simply unmissable, among our top list of things to do in Ottawa.

  1. Prepare yourself to be awestruck by this dominant site in downtown Ottawa, the focal point for Canada’s national celebrations.
  2. Have a choice of embarking on guided or self-guided tours that will enable you to discover the grandeur of Parliament Hill’s grounds and monuments.
  3. Don’t miss out on visiting the complex that houses Canada’s parliament, House of Commons, and Senate.
  4. Revisit history as you tread on this National Historic Site, the location of Canada’s first government.
  5. Take city bike tours that offer an absolutely unique perspective of the Parliament Hill complex.
  6. Grab your chance to see democracy in action by watching live debates and proceedings in the Senate.
  7. Marvel at how Parliament Hill resembles British monuments making it a must-see attraction when in Ottawa.
  8. Embrace the serenity of its location – situated on Crown land on the southern banks of the Ottawa River.
  9. Understand how this site holds historical and political significance for Canada through various tour options available.
  10. Often known colloquially as “The Hill”, it offers an insightful glimpse into the history and politics of Canada.
  11. Get aware that ticket prices may vary depending on which tour option you choose.

2. National Gallery of Canada

National Art Gallery Ottawa, Canada

National Art Gallery, Ottawa, Canada

An artistic gem of Canada’s capital city is the National Gallery of Canada. Being one of the country’s premier cultural institutions, it holds over 30,000 diverse artworks including paintings, sculptures, and multimedia installations from all across the globe.

Here at this iconic attraction in downtown Ottawa, you will get engrossed by ancient Indigenous artifacts and religious pieces nestled in the Indigenous and Canadian Galleries that paint a fascinating story of art that evolved within Canada over centuries.

The gallery offers an enriching tour experience for visitors where they can engage with captivating exhibits while learning about their cultural significance. Beyond just impressive exhibitions and displays like modern art or indigenous cultural art, this place serves as a central hub for artists, scholars, and enthusiasts promoting dialogue around Canada’s rich artistic landscape.

Whether you’re searching to explore traditional French or Dutch museums inside The National Gallery or yearn to embrace contemporary world-class collections – your trip to Ottawa wouldn’t be complete without visiting this must-see attraction!

3. Visit the Canadian Museum of History

Canadian Museum of History, Ottawa

Canadian Museum of History building, Ottawa

Just a stone’s throw from downtown Ottawa and Parliament Hill, nestled in Canada’s National Capital Region, you’ll find the architectural gem known as the Canadian Museum of History. Masterfully designed by revered Canadian architect Douglas Cardinal, this museum is one of Canada’s most celebrated cultural institutions.

With an impressive collection that surpasses 4 million items, it offers a deep dive into North American humanities’ history. This destination boasts immense popularity among locals and tourists alike – making it the most visited museum in all of Canada! From priceless archaeological material to intriguing cultural artifacts, there’s something fascinating at every corner to spark your interest in our shared past.

As part of your exploration around Ottawa, be sure to pencil in a visit to Gatineau for this engaging experience – you won’t regret it! After your enlightening tour through centuries, consider following up with some other attractions nearby like Fairmont Château Laurier to fill out your day with even more fun experiences.

4. Enjoy Festivals at Major’s Hill Park.

Major's Hill Park, Ottawa

Major’s Hill Park, Ottawa, in the Fall

Major’s Hill Park offers a vibrant and lively atmosphere with its annual festivals and events. Here are some of the festivals you can enjoy at Major’s Hill Park:

  1. Canadian Tulip Festival: Experience the largest tulip festival in the world, where thousands of colorful tulips bloom and create a stunning display. This family-friendly festival also features live music, art exhibits, food vendors, and various activities.
  2. Canada Day Celebrations: Join in the festivities on Canada’s national day and celebrate in style at Major’s Hill Park. Enjoy live performances by local artists, indulge in delicious Canadian cuisine from food trucks, and be captivated by spectacular fireworks lighting up the Ottawa skyline.
  3. Winterlude: Embrace the winter season during Winterlude, an exciting festival held annually in Ottawa. Major’s Hill Park is transformed into a winter wonderland with ice sculptures, ice skating rinks, snow slides, and a host of outdoor activities for all ages to enjoy.
  4. JazzFest: Immerse yourself in the swinging tunes of jazz music at Major’s Hill Park during the Ottawa Jazz Festival (JazzFest). With talented musicians from around the world performing on multiple stages, this festival is a treat for music enthusiasts.
  5. International Buskerfest: Prepare to be entertained by street performers showcasing their incredible talents during Buskerfest. From acrobats and magicians to dancers and musicians, you’ll witness incredible acts that will leave you in awe.
  6. Capital Ukrainian Festival: Delve into Ukrainian culture at Major’s Hill Park during the Capital Ukrainian Festival. Enjoy traditional dances, music performances, authentic cuisine, crafts, and much more as you immerse yourself in this vibrant cultural celebration.
  7. Ottawa Ribfest: Satisfy your cravings for mouthwatering barbecue ribs at Major’s Hill Park during Ribfest. Indulge in delicious ribs cooked by renowned rib vendors while enjoying live entertainment and a lively atmosphere.
  8. Ottawa Craft Beer Festival: Cheers to great beer at Major’s Hill Park during the Ottawa Craft Beer Festival. Sample a wide variety of craft beers from local breweries, enjoy food pairings, and immerse yourself in the vibrant beer culture of Ottawa.
  9. Summer Festivals: Major’s Hill Park also hosts various summer festivals that showcase local artists, artisans, and performers. From music festivals and cultural celebrations to arts and crafts exhibitions, there’s always something exciting happening at the park.
  10. Special Events: Throughout the year, Major’s Hill Park hosts special events such as outdoor movie screenings, art fairs, and charity fundraisers. Keep an eye out for these unique experiences that add to the park’s lively ambiance.

5. Visit Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica

Out of the things to do in Ottawa, the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica is a must-visit landmark in the city. This Catholic church, located on Sussex Drive, captivates visitors with its magnificent architecture, including two impressive towers and beautiful pillars inside.

Built between 1839 and 1885, it holds both historical significance and extraordinary beauty. Consecrated since its construction, this basilica offers not only a place for worship but also hosts local community events.

Just a short walk from Parliament Hill, this easily accessible site is well worth exploring during your visit to Ottawa.

6. See the Peace Tower

Marvel at the majestic Peace Tower, an iconic landmark nestled within the Parliament building in Ottawa. Standing tall as a symbol of peace and remembrance, this tower pays tribute to the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives for Canada.

Take a trip to the top of this towering structure and be rewarded with breathtaking aerial views that stretch across the cityscape. Admire its grandeur as you take in 360-degree panoramas, capturing unforgettable memories from the observation deck.

Don’t miss out on exploring this significant historical site that holds great significance for both Ottawa’s skyline and Canada’s military history.

7. Bytown Museum

The Bytown Museum is a must-visit attraction in Ottawa, located in the city’s oldest stone building. This historical gem offers visitors an intriguing glimpse into Ottawa’s past and cultural heritage.

It showcases the construction of the iconic Rideau Canal, which played a crucial role in shaping the region. For just $2, you can explore this museum that provides value for money and a fascinating insight into Ottawa’s growth and development over the years.

The Bytown Museum is conveniently situated downtown, making it easily accessible for both tourists and locals alike. It is often included in lists of the best museums to visit in Ottawa, highlighting its reputation as one of the city’s top attractions associated with other landmarks like the Canadian Museum of History and Canadian War Museum.

8. Tour the Historic Rideau Hall

Rideau Hall, located in Ottawa, Canada, is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts, art lovers, and architecture admirers. Here’s why you should tour this historic site:

  1. Explore the Staterooms: Rideau Hall serves as the official home of the Canadian monarch and during guided tours, visitors have the opportunity to explore the State rooms. These are where the governor general carries out official duties, welcomes dignitaries, and honors Canadians.
  2. Learn about World War I: Rideau Hall offers a captivating glimpse into Canada’s contributions to World War I through its excellent exhibits. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of Canada’s role in this historic event.
  3. Marvel at modern architecture: Located in a strikingly modern building, Rideau Hall showcases the rich history and heritage of Ottawa. The blend of modern architecture with traditional elements makes it a unique and visually appealing attraction.
  4. Discover iconic landmarks nearby: While touring Rideau Hall, you can expect to witness some of Ottawa’s most iconic landmarks and attractions. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit nearby places like the National Gallery of Canada, Parliament Hill, and the Canadian War Museum.
  5. Enjoy beautiful gardens: Rideau Hall is surrounded by beautiful gardens that provide a tranquil environment for visitors to enjoy and explore. Take a leisurely stroll amidst stunning flora and fauna or simply relax in this serene setting.
  6. Convenient parking facilities: Those planning a visit to Rideau Hall can easily find nearby parking facilities. This ensures a hassle-free experience so you can focus on immersing yourself in Ottawa’s rich history.
  7. Flexible opening hours: The opening hours of Rideau Hall allow for flexible scheduling, accommodating visitors throughout the day. Plan your visit at your convenience to make the most of your time exploring this historic site.
  8. Exclusive tours with insights from the Governor General: For those seeking an even more immersive experience, exclusive tours are offered by the Governor General of Canada. These tours provide deeper insights into the history and significance of Rideau Hall.

9. Witness Changing of the Guard.

Every morning from late June, visitors to Ottawa can witness the iconic Changing of the Guard ceremony on Parliament Hill. This longstanding tradition dates back to 1959 and is a must-see for both locals and tourists alike.

The ceremony takes place on the East Lawn of Parliament Hill, where members of the Ceremonial Guard march in unison, dressed in their signature red serge uniforms. They perform precision drills with rifles while a military band plays stirring music.

It’s an impressive display that showcases Canada’s rich cultural heritage and military history. So, if you’re looking for a unique and memorable experience during your visit to Ottawa in 2023, be sure to catch the Changing of the Guard ceremony – it’s one attraction you don’t want to miss!

Outdoor Activities and Nature

For outdoor enthusiasts and lovers, these are the top 10 outdoor activities you will need to indulge in on the list of things to do in Ottawa Canada.

  • Do yoga at Parliament Hill
  • Explore the beauty of Gatineau Park through picnics or bike rides.
  • Take a leisurely walk or bike along the scenic Rideau Canal.
  • Immerse yourself in the tranquility of Mer Bleue Bog.
  • Relax and enjoy nature at Hog’s Back Park.
  • Experience the stunning Dominion Arboretum through a peaceful walk.
  • Jog, picnic, or simply unwind in Confederation Park.
  • Have an adventurous day at Calypso Theme Waterpark for some splashing fun.
  • Play and relax on the sandy shores of Mooney’s Bay Park and Beach.
  • Get a unique insight into Canadian history by touring the Royal Canadian Mint Facility.
  • Cruise along the historic Rideau Canal to discover Ottawa’s charm from a different perspective.

10. Picnic or Bike in Gatineau Park

Gatineau Park offers the perfect opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts to indulge in some leisurely picnicking or biking amidst stunning natural surroundings. Here’s why it should be on your must-do list:

  • Enjoy a peaceful picnic in the heart of nature, surrounded by towering old trees and beautiful flora.
  • Pack a delicious lunch and find a cozy spot by one of the park’s serene lakes or on a scenic lookout point.
  • The park provides designated picnic areas with tables and benches, making it convenient for visitors to relax and savor their meals.
  • Embark on an exhilarating bike ride through the park’s well-maintained trails, suitable for all skill levels.
  • Explore the expansive 140 square miles of Gatineau Park on two wheels, taking in breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape along the way.
  • Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or just looking for a fun family outing, there are various bike rental shops in the area that offer quality bikes for all ages and sizes.
  • Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture memorable moments and striking scenery during your picnic or bike adventure in Gatineau Park.

11. Walk Or Bike Along Rideau Canal

The Rideau Canal in Ottawa offers a picturesque setting for a leisurely walk or bike ride.

  • The canal stretches 202 kilometers, connecting Ottawa to Kingston.
  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the oldest continuously operated canals in North America.
  • Walking or biking along the canal provides stunning views of Ottawa’s top attractions, including Château Laurier and the Canadian Museum of Nature.
  • The pathway alongside the canal is well-maintained and offers a smooth and scenic route for walkers and cyclists.
  • There are several access points along the canal, making it easy to start your walk or bike ride from different areas of the city.
  • During the winter, when the canal freezes over, it becomes the world’s largest naturally frozen skating rink, offering a unique and enjoyable experience for visitors and locals alike.
  • Whether you choose to stroll leisurely or cycle at a faster pace, walking or biking along the Rideau Canal is a great way to soak up Ottawa’s natural beauty while getting some exercise.
  • Along the way, you’ll pass by parks, gardens, and historic landmarks that add charm to your journey.
  • Bike rentals are available throughout the city, allowing tourists to explore this iconic waterway at their own pace.
  • Don’t forget to bring your camera as there will be plenty of photo opportunities with breathtaking scenery.

12. Mer Bleue Bog

Mer Bleue Bog is a fascinating natural area located in Gloucester, Ontario, just outside of Ottawa. As the largest bog in Canada’s Capital Region and the second-largest in southern Ontario, it holds a special place for nature enthusiasts.

This protected conservation area boasts a unique ecosystem with rare plants and birds, making it a haven for wildlife observation. The highlight of Mer Bleue Bog is its picturesque boardwalk loop, which offers an easy 20-minute walk suitable for all visitors.

Here, you can immerse yourself in the beauty of this domed bog while observing the diverse range of flora and fauna. It’s worth noting that Mer Bleue Bog is not only one of the most studied bogs in the region but also home to a rare turtle species found exclusively in this area.

13. Relax At Hog’s Back Park

  • Hog’s Back Park is a serene and picturesque urban nature park located just a few kilometers south of downtown Ottawa.
  • This 51.4-acre park offers a tranquil oasis in the heart of the city, providing a peaceful escape from the urban hustle and bustle.
  • Visitors can relax and unwind in this beautiful park, surrounded by lush greenery and scenic landscapes.
  • Take a leisurely stroll along the park’s winding trails, immersing yourself in nature’s beauty and tranquility.
  • Find your perfect spot and enjoy a picnic with family or friends while taking in the scenic views of the park.
  • Sit by Hog’s Back Falls, one of the park’s highlights, and let the soothing sound of cascading water wash away your stress.
  • If you’re looking for some adventure, rent a bike and explore the park on two wheels, enjoying the fresh air and stunning vistas along the way.
  • Nature enthusiasts will appreciate the diverse range of flora found within Hog’s Back Park, providing ample opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife spotting.
  • Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture these moments of natural beauty to cherish long after your visit.

14. Walk Through Dominion Arboretum

The Dominion Arboretum is a must-visit destination for nature lovers in Ottawa. Here’s why you should take a leisurely stroll through this beautiful green space:

  1. Established in 1889, the Dominion Arboretum is Canada’s oldest arboretum.
  2. Covering an area of 40 hectares (99 acres), it offers ample space to explore and unwind.
  3. With approximately 10,000 different species of plants, it’s a botanical paradise waiting to be discovered.
  4. Located at the Central Experimental Farm of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, it provides a peaceful escape from the city hustle.
  5. Whether you’re a botany enthusiast or simply enjoy being surrounded by nature, the arboretum offers a unique experience.
  6. Open from dawn to dusk, you can visit at your own pace and take your time to appreciate the beauty around you.
  7. Walking through the Dominion Arboretum allows you to immerse yourself in diverse flora and fauna.
  8. As you stroll along its pathways, you’ll come across stunning ornamental gardens that showcase the natural beauty of Ottawa.
  9. The arboretum’s serene atmosphere makes it an ideal spot for relaxation and reflection.
  10. Best of all, entry to the Dominion Arboretum is free, so there’s no reason not to pay a visit.

15. Jog or Picnic in Confederation Park.

Confederation Park in Ottawa offers the perfect setting for a leisurely jog or a relaxing picnic. Here are some reasons why you should include it in your itinerary:

  • The park is known as “Ottawa’s Playground” and provides ample space for outdoor activities.
  • Enjoy a refreshing jog along the park’s well-maintained pathways, surrounded by lush greenery and stunning views of Ottawa’s iconic attractions.
  • The park features beautiful lawns and picnic areas where you can spread out a blanket and enjoy a delicious meal with friends or family.
  • Take advantage of the numerous tables available in the picnic area, making it convenient for gatherings and picnics.
  • As you jog or picnic in Confederation Park, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of nearby attractions like the Canadian Museum of Nature, Château Laurier, Dow’s Lake, and the National Arts Centre.
  • The park provides a peaceful and serene environment, allowing you to escape the hustle and bustle of city life while still being centrally located in Ottawa.
  • With its close proximity to Parliament Hill and the National Gallery of Canada, Confederation Park serves as an ideal starting point for exploring the city’s top landmarks.
  • So whether you’re looking to break a sweat or simply enjoy a leisurely picnic, don’t miss out on the opportunity to visit Confederation Park in Ottawa.

16. Splash at the Calypso Theme Waterpark

Get ready to make a splash at the Calypso Theme Waterpark, the largest of its kind in Canada. With over 35 thrilling water slides and more than 100 water games, this 40-hectare facility in Ontario is a must-visit destination for families and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

The park features state-of-the-art water rides and attractions that will leave you breathless with excitement. Dive into the largest wave pool in Canada, equivalent to the size of three NHL rinks, or float along one of their two themed rivers for some additional fun.

Surrounded by picturesque hiking trails and lakes, Calypso Waterpark offers an unforgettable experience filled with outdoor adventure and excitement for visitors of all ages. Make sure to add it to your list of top things to do in Ottawa, Canada in 2023 – you won’t want to miss out on this unique aquatic adventure!

17. Play at Mooney’s Bay Park and Beach

Mooney’s Bay Park and Beach in Ottawa is an absolute must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. With its long beach, great playground, and natural shade under trees, this park offers the perfect setting for a fun-filled day. Here are some reasons why you should play at Mooney’s Bay Park and Beach:

  1. Swim: Take a dip in the refreshing waters of Mooney’s Bay Beach. The park boasts a beautiful sandy beach that’s perfect for swimming and sunbathing.
  2. Picnic: Pack a delicious lunch and enjoy a picnic on the spacious green lawns overlooking the beach. You can relax, dine al fresco, and soak in the stunning views.
  3. Playgrounds: Mooney’s Bay Park features fantastic playgrounds where kids can climb, slide, swing, and let their imaginations run wild. It’s an ideal spot for families with children.
  4. Fishing: If you’re into fishing, Mooney’s Bay has got you covered. Cast your line into the Ottawa River and try your luck catching some fish.
  5. Canteen Facilities: Hungry or thirsty during your visit? No worries! The park offers convenient canteen facilities where you can grab snacks, refreshments, or even ice cream treats.
  6. Lifeguards on Duty: Rest assured knowing that lifeguards are on duty at Mooney’s Bay Beach to ensure everyone’s safety while enjoying water activities.
  7. Natural Beauty: Surrounding the beach area are picturesque trees that provide natural shade—a perfect escape from the summer heat.
  8. Dog-Friendly Space: If you have furry friends with you, they’ll be happy to know that Mooney’s Bay Park has designated areas where dogs can roam freely off-leash.
  9. Outdoor Fitness: Stay active by taking advantage of the park’s walking paths or jogging trails along with breathtaking views of the Ottawa River.
  10. Events and Festivals: Throughout the year, Mooney’s Bay Park hosts various events and festivals, including beach volleyball tournaments, music concerts, and community gatherings. Make sure to check out their schedule for upcoming happenings.

18. Tour Royal Canadian Mint Facility

  • The Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa offers a fascinating and affordable tour that allows visitors to learn about the process of coin-making.
  • The Mint is located near the ByWard Market, making it conveniently accessible to tourists.
  • Visitors to the Mint can also shop for unique gifts and collectibles within the historic building.
  • The Mint has a rich history and played a significant role in manufacturing coins for Canada until 1969.
  • The facility offers interactive and guided tours, providing an informative experience for the whole family.
  • The Mint features historic and informative displays that showcase the evolution of coin-making in Canada.
  • The tour also offers behind-the-scenes insights into the manufacturing process of coins.
  • The Royal Canadian Mint is a popular attraction in Ottawa and is included in various travel itineraries.
  • The Mint has received positive reviews from visitors, with a rating of 48 out of 50 based on 48 reviews.

19. Cruise the Rideau Canal

  • Experience a unique perspective of Ottawa’s top attractions while cruising along the historic Rideau Canal.
  • Admire the stunning beauty of Canada’s natural landscape as you sail through North America’s oldest continuously operating canal.
  • Enjoy a comfortable and scenic boat trip that takes you past iconic landmarks such as the Canadian Museum of Nature, Château Laurier, Dow’s Lake, and the National Arts Centre.
  • Immerse yourself in Ottawa’s rich history as you navigate this UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Take in sweeping views of the city from the waterway, providing a different vantage point to appreciate Ottawa’s beauty.
  • Drive your own boat and explore the historic waterway at your own pace or join a guided tour to learn more about its significance and fascinating stories.
  • Capture Instagram – worthy moments as you cruise along this picturesque canal, which offers photo opportunities at every turn.
  • Ideal for families, the Rideau Canal provides opportunities for outdoor adventures and exploration, making it an exciting activity for kids.
  • Whether you’re enjoying a leisurely ride or embarking on a thrilling adventure, cruising the Rideau Canal is a must-do experience in Ottawa.

20. Explore Rideau Hall’s Grounds

Rideau Hall’s grounds offer a stunning backdrop for exploration and outdoor activities. Here are some highlights to check out during your visit:

  1. Take a leisurely stroll through the impeccably manicured gardens, featuring vibrant flowers and lush greenery.
  2. Marvel at the historic Rideau Hall itself, which has served as the official residence of the Canadian monarch since 1867.
  3. Admire the picturesque views of three rivers – Ottawa, Rideau, and Gatineau – converging near Rideau Hall.
  4. Discover the Governor General’s private residence, an architectural masterpiece steeped in history.
  5. Keep an eye out for various sculptures and monuments scattered throughout the grounds, each with its own unique story to tell.
  6. Pack a picnic and relax on one of the many expansive lawns available for public use.
  7. Capture Instagram-worthy photos against the backdrop of Rideau Hall’s grand façade or picture-perfect gardens.
  8. Explore winding pathways that lead you deeper into nature, offering a serene escape from city life.
  9. Join a guided tour to learn about Rideau Hall’s rich heritage and its role within Canada’s political landscape.

21. Enjoy a Boat Ride on the Ottawa River

  • Hop aboard a boat and experience the beauty of Ottawa from the enchanting Ottawa River.
  • Take in breathtaking views of the city’s skyline as you cruise along the peaceful waters.
  • Marvel at iconic landmarks such as Parliament Hill and the stunning architecture of downtown Ottawa.
  • Immerse yourself in nature as you glide past lush riverbanks and picturesque landscapes.
  • Learn about the rich history and culture of the region with informative commentary provided on board.
  • Capture memorable photos of your journey, capturing the essence of Canada’s capital city.
  • Choose from a variety of boat tour options, including sightseeing cruises or themed experiences.
  • Relax and unwind on deck, enjoying a leisurely outing with friends or family.
  • Get closer to local wildlife, spotting birds, turtles, and other creatures that call the river home.
  • Experience the magic of Ottawa at night with evening boat rides, where city lights twinkle on the water’s surface.

22. Ice Skate on Rideau Canal Skateway (in Winter)

  • Glide along the frozen Rideau Canal Skateway, the world’s largest skating rink.
  • Experience a unique and exhilarating winter activity in Ottawa, Canada.
  • Enjoy the stunning views of the canal as you skate on a solid ice surface.
  • Take part in a beloved Canadian tradition and embrace the winter season.
  • Feel the excitement and joy as you join locals and tourists on the Skateway.
  • Marvel at the UNESCO World Heritage Site transformed into a skating paradise.
  • Appreciate the significance of this iconic symbol of Canadian identity and winter culture.
  • Create lasting memories as you glide through the heart of Ottawa on skates.
  • Relish in the sense of achievement as you conquer this bucket list item.
  • Witness firsthand how climate change affects winter activities, as seen in the closure of Skateway in 2023.
  • Embrace the disappointment with resilience and find alternative ways to enjoy Ottawa’s outdoor activities and nature.

Cultural and Educational Experiences

Explore the exhibits and learn about Canadian aviation history at the Canada Aviation Museum.

23. Learn at Canada Aviation Museum

The Canada Aviation and Space Museum is a must-visit destination in Ottawa, offering a unique learning experience for aviation enthusiasts. Here are some key highlights:

  • Discover the fascinating history of aviation in Canada through its extensive collection of aircraft and artifacts.
  • Explore the museum’s diverse exhibits, which cover topics such as military aviation, space exploration, and civilian aircraft.
  • Get up close to iconic aircraft like the Avro Arrow, Canadarm, and Snowbirds aerobatic team.
  • Learn about the pioneers who shaped Canadian aviation through interactive displays and multimedia presentations.
  • Immerse yourself in the world of flight simulators and experience what it’s like to be a pilot.
  • Engage with knowledgeable staff who are passionate about sharing their expertise and answering your questions.
  • Take part in educational programs and workshops designed for all ages, including hands-on activities and demonstrations.
  • Attend special events hosted by the museum throughout the year, such as air shows and guest lectures.

24. Discover Exhibits at the Canadian War Museum

The Canadian War Museum offers a captivating exploration of Canada’s military history through its diverse range of exhibits and displays. Immerse yourself in the following exhibits:

  1. Canadian Experience Galleries: Journey through Canada’s military history from early conflicts to present-day operations. Discover artifacts, multimedia presentations, and personal stories that bring the past to life.
  2. Memorial Hall: Pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. This solemn space is dedicated to honoring Canadian soldiers and civilians who lost their lives in service.
  3. Regeneration Hall: Step into a replica trench from World War I and learn about the experiences of soldiers on the front lines. Interactive displays provide a glimpse into the harsh realities of war.
  4. Royal Canadian Legion Hall of Honour: Delve into the stories of notable Canadians who contributed significantly to military history. Explore displays highlighting their achievements and recognition.
  5. War Games Exhibition: Engage your strategic mind at this interactive exhibition that explores centuries of military tactics and gamesmanship. Test your skills in virtual simulations and learn about influential leaders throughout history.
  6. Special Temporary Exhibitions: Take advantage of rotating exhibitions that delve into specific aspects of Canada’s military heritage. From wartime photography to unique artifacts, these displays offer fresh perspectives on different periods or themes.
  7. Archives and Library: Expand your knowledge with access to extensive archival materials, including photographs, letters, diaries, and official documents related to Canada’s involvement in conflicts around the world.
  8. Educational Programs: Participate in guided tours, lectures, workshops, and hands-on activities designed for all ages and interests. Gain deeper insights into Canada’s military past through engaging educational experiences.
  9. Architecture Tour: Appreciate the stunning design elements of the museum building itself on a guided architectural tour. Learn about how its architecture echoes themes of remembrance and resilience.

25. Discover the Bank of Canada Museum

The Bank of Canada Museum, located in downtown Ottawa, offers a unique and educational experience for both locals and tourists. Here are some reasons why you should discover this fascinating attraction:

  • Explore hands-on exhibits that delve into the world of banknotes and coins.
  • Learn about the design process and see how currency is created from start to finish.
  • Engage with interactive displays that explore the psychology of economic expectations.
  • Dive into the history of banknote design and discover the stories behind different currencies.
  • Immerse yourself in the cultural significance of banknotes and coins as reflections of a nation’s history and identity.
  • The museum has recently undergone renovations to provide an even better experience for visitors.
  • Experience a fun and unique way to learn about the financial aspects of Canada.
  • The Bank of Canada Museum has been a prominent attraction in Ottawa since the 1950s, adding to the city’s rich cultural offerings.
  • It is one of the top 40 things to do in Ottawa, making it a must-visit destination during your trip.

26. Explore Exhibits at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

The Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa is a must-visit for nature enthusiasts and those interested in natural history. Here are some of the highlights you can expect to explore at the museum:

  • Discover the wonders of the natural world with seven permanent galleries showcasing fossils, mammals, minerals, birds, plate tectonics, Arctic discovery, and more.
  • Immerse yourself in interactive exhibits that bring scientific research and cultural stories to life through videos and stunning images.
  • Marvel at the world-class galleries featuring displays of dinosaurs, birds, live bugs, and other fascinating creatures.
  • Learn about the evolution and adaptations of wolves in the museum’s captivating wolf exhibition.
  • Gain insights into Canada’s rich biodiversity and ecological significance through immersive experiences.
  • Admire the historic building housing the museum, located just minutes away from downtown Ottawa.
  • Stay up to date with special exhibitions like “Under the Canopy: Animals of the Rainforest,” which offer unique perspectives on various natural habitats.

27. Visit the Canadian Museum of Agriculture and Food.

The Canadian Museum of Agriculture and Food, located in Ottawa, is a must-visit attraction in 2023. Here’s why:

  • Explore Canada’s agricultural heritage through the museum’s programs and exhibitions.
  • Learn about the benefits of agricultural science and food literacy.
  • Immerse yourself in farm life at the working farm situated in the heart of Ottawa.
  • Experience tours, live demonstrations, and specially arranged activities for visitors.
  • Discover Canada’s proud agricultural history at the only agricultural museum in the capital city.
  1. The Canadian Museum of Agriculture and Food is one of seven national museums in Ottawa.
  2. It offers a unique cultural and educational experience for both locals and tourists.
  3. The museum showcases the importance of agriculture to Canada’s identity and economy.
  4. Visitors can explore over 130,000 square feet of space dedicated to showcasing Canada’s rich farming heritage.

28. Discover Science at the Canadian Science and Technology Museum

The Canadian Science and Technology Museum offers a fascinating exploration of science and technology in Canada. Here are some highlights of what you can discover at the museum:

  1. Immerse yourself in 11 interactive exhibitions that showcase the history and impact of science and technology in Canada.
  2. Engage with hands-on displays that allow you to experiment and explore scientific phenomena.
  3. Learn about various scientific disciplines, from biology to physics, and how they have shaped the nation’s development.
  4. Discover how innovation and creativity have driven technological advancements throughout Canada’s history.
  5. Explore exhibits that highlight notable inventions and achievements by Canadian scientists and engineers.
  6. Gain insight into the role science and technology play in addressing current global challenges, such as climate change and healthcare.
  7. Experience virtual reality simulations that transport you to different scientific environments, such as outer space or deep sea ecosystems.
  8. Participate in educational programs and workshops that cater to all ages, making learning about science engaging for everyone.
  9. Keep up-to-date with the latest research through the museum’s commitment to providing access to cutting-edge discoveries in science and technology.
  10. Enjoy a fun-filled day of discovery, learning, and exploration at one of Ottawa’s top attractions.

29. Discover Diefenbunker: Cold War Museum of Canada

The Diefenbunker: Cold War Museum of Canada is not only a historical landmark but also a must-visit museum for anyone interested in the Cold War era and its impact on Canada. Here are some key facts about this fascinating museum:

  • The Diefenbunker was built between 1959 and 1961 as an underground bunker to house the Canadian government in case of a nuclear war.
  • It covers an area of 100,000 square feet and is located approximately 75 feet underground, ensuring its purpose of protecting Canada’s leaders during times of crisis.
  • Today, the Diefenbunker is a museum and a national historic site, offering visitors a chilling glimpse into Canada’s past.
  • It retains most of its original form and features as a nuclear fallout shelter for the Canadian government and military VIPs.
  • The museum offers various exhibitions, programs, and events that provide a unique and educational experience for visitors.
  • One popular attraction at the Diefenbunker is its escape-room adventures, where visitors can participate in immersive experiences related to Cold War history.
  • As one of the most compelling historic sites in Canada, the Diefenbunker provides a fascinating insight into the country’s Cold War history.

30. Attend Shows at National Arts Centre

The National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Canada offers a vibrant lineup of shows and performances for visitors to enjoy. As part of their 2023-2024 season, the NAC has curated an exciting program that showcases the diversity of Canadian arts. Here are some highlights:

  1. “Life Reflected”: Immerse yourself in this interactive show that tells powerful stories through music and multimedia.
  2. Collaborations with Canadian visionaries: The NAC Orchestra joins forces with talented Canadian artists to share their unique stories through the power of music.
  3. Diverse performances: From musicals to dance shows, the NAC’s schedule features a wide range of productions catering to different tastes and interests.
  4. Cultural immersion: The halls and architecture of the NAC create a vibrant atmosphere that celebrates Canadian arts and culture.
  5. Learning opportunities: The NAC’s Arts Alive program offers educational experiences for teachers and students, allowing them to explore theater, dance, and music.
  6. Accessibility: Located in Ottawa, the NAC is easily accessible for visitors looking to experience the rich cultural scene in Canada’s capital city.

Entertainment and Events

Enjoy Ottawa festivals like JazzFest and Winterlude. Experience the vibrant energy and diverse performances that these festivals bring to the city.

31. Enjoy Ottawa Festivals (e.g., JazzFest, Winterlude)

Ottawa is known for its vibrant festival scene, offering a variety of exciting events throughout the year. Here are some must-attend festivals in Ottawa that you won’t want to miss:

  1. Winterlude: This three-week-long winter celebration is one of the biggest and most popular events in Canada. Enjoy activities like live ice-carving, outdoor ice skating on the Rideau Canal, and impressive snow sculptures.
  2. JazzFest: For music lovers, Ottawa JazzFest is a must-see event. Showcasing top talent in the jazz genre, this festival attracts musicians from around the world for unforgettable performances.
  3. Canadian Tulip Festival: Experience the beauty of spring at the Canadian Tulip Festival. The city comes alive with millions of colorful tulips, live music performances, and cultural events honoring Ottawa’s historic connection with the Netherlands.
  4. Ottawa Farmers’ Market: If you’re a foodie or enjoy shopping for fresh local produce, don’t miss the Ottawa Farmers’ Market. Browse through an array of vendors offering delicious treats, artisanal products, and handcrafted goods.
  5. Canada Day Celebrations: Join in on Canada’s biggest birthday party on July 1st! The city comes alive with fireworks, parades, concerts, and other festivities to celebrate Canada’s rich history and culture.
  6. Fringe Festival: Get ready for a week full of creativity at the Ottawa Fringe Festival. This indie theater festival showcases unique performances from local and national artists, ranging from comedy to drama to experimental works.
  7. Glowfair Festival: Immerse yourself in a vibrant display of lights, art installations, live music, and street performers at Glowfair Festival. This illuminated street party takes place in downtown Ottawa and offers a truly magical experience.
  8. Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival: Cheer on teams as they paddle their way to victory at North America’s largest dragon boat festival. Enjoy live entertainment, food vendors, and cultural performances along the shores of Mooney’s Bay.
  9. Ottawa International Animation Festival: Film enthusiasts will find delight in the Ottawa International Animation Festival. Explore a diverse selection of animated films from around the world and attend workshops and panel discussions with industry professionals.
  10. RBC Bluesfest: Rock out at one of North America’s largest outdoor music festivals, RBC Bluesfest. With multiple stages hosting some of the biggest names in the music industry, this event promises non-stop entertainment for all music lovers.

32. See What’s On Ottawa Farmers’ Market

The Ottawa Farmer’s Market is a vibrant destination that offers much more than just fresh produce. Here’s what you can expect to find at this bustling market:

  • A wide variety of locally grown fruits and vegetables, ensuring the freshest and tastiest options for your meals.
  • Artisanal products such as homemade jams, sauces, and baked goods that are made with love and craftsmanship.
  • Delicious food options from food trucks and stalls, offering mouthwatering dishes that showcase the best of Ottawa’s culinary scene.
  • Live entertainment, including live music performances and cultural shows, adding a lively and festive atmosphere to your market experience.
  • Special events throughout the year, such as cooking demonstrations, workshops, and themed celebrations that provide unique experiences for visitors of all ages.
  • Handmade crafts and artisan products, giving you the opportunity to discover one-of-a-kind treasures made by local artisans.

33. Love a Challenge at Scavenger Hunt

Embark on a thrilling adventure in Ottawa with the city’s exciting scavenger hunt! Perfect for those who love a challenge, this interactive activity allows you to explore Ottawa’s top attractions and discover hidden gems while putting your problem-solving skills to the test.

Whether you’re a local or a visitor, the scavenger hunt offers an engaging and entertaining way to experience all that Ottawa has to offer in 2023. Uncover fascinating facts about the city’s history, culture, and landmarks as you solve clues and complete tasks along the way.

With its mix of excitement and exploration, the scavenger hunt is sure to create lasting memories of your time in Canada’s capital city.

34. Be Enchanted at Haunted Walking Tour

Experience the spine-tingling thrill of Ottawa’s haunted walking tour in 2023. As one of the top 40 things to do in Canada’s capital, this enchanting adventure takes you on a journey through Downtown Ottawa, where you’ll uncover the city’s dark and ghostly history.

Guided by knowledgeable storytellers and illuminated by lanterns, you’ll visit some of Ottawa’s most haunted spots and hear chilling tales that will send shivers down your spine. This unique and immersive experience offers a combination of history, entertainment, and ghostly encounters, making it a must-try for those seeking an unusual and memorable activity during their visit to Ottawa.

So grab your brave spirit and prepare to be enchanted by the supernatural side of Canada’s capital city.

35. See How You’d Perform at Jigsaw Escape Rooms

Looking for a thrilling and engaging group activity in Ottawa? Look no further than Jigsaw Escape Rooms! Located in the vibrant ByWard Market, these escape rooms offer a unique and immersive experience that will put your problem-solving skills to the test.

With a series of fun and challenging puzzles to solve, you and your team will need to work together to escape within the time limit. Whether you’re a local or a tourist visiting Ottawa, Jigsaw Escape Rooms is highly recommended for an entertaining and memorable adventure.

Book your escape room experience in advance to secure your preferred time slot!

36. Rink of Dreams (Skating)

The Rink of Dreams in Ottawa is a must-visit attraction for anyone looking for a fun and unique skating experience. Located outside City Hall, this popular spot offers free ice skating on a refrigerated surface from 9:00 am to 11:00 pm every day.

Whether you’re visiting with family or friends, the Rink of Dreams provides a magical setting for skaters of all ages. Plus, it’s conveniently situated near other popular attractions like the National Gallery of Canada and Parliament Hill, making it easy to combine your visit with other activities in Ottawa.

So lace up your skates and enjoy some unforgettable moments on the ice at the Rink of Dreams.

37. Attend Games at TD Place Stadium.

Immerse yourself in the heart-pounding action and electric atmosphere by attending games at TD Place Stadium. Located in the vibrant Lansdowne neighborhood of Ottawa, this urban sports and entertainment destination offers an unforgettable experience for both locals and tourists.

With a seating capacity of 24,000, you’ll be able to cheer on your favorite teams during football and soccer matches, including prestigious events like the Grey Cup and FIFA matches. But it doesn’t stop there – TD Place Stadium also hosts concerts, shows, and other special events throughout the year, making it a dynamic hub for entertainment in Canada’s capital city.

Soak up the energetic ambiance as you become part of Ottawa’s lively sports and entertainment scene at TD Place Stadium.

38. Enjoy the Canadian Tulip Festival In Spring

The Canadian Tulip Festival is an iconic event in Ottawa, showcasing the city’s love for flowers and rich cultural heritage. Here are some reasons why you should enjoy the festival in spring:

  1. Immerse yourself in the beauty of over 300,000 tulips displayed at Commissioners Park.
  2. Experience the breathtaking sight of blooming tulips, creating stunning displays of blossoming beauty.
  3. Discover the largest tulip festival in the world, attracting visitors from around the globe.
  4. Celebrate Canada’s tulip legacy and learn about the historical significance behind this vibrant flower.
  5. Indulge in various springtime activities, such as shopping at the Tulip Markets and exploring local vendors.
  6. Enjoy a range of events and entertainment, including the Tulip Boutique and Movies in the Park.
  7. Witness a mesmerizing Sound and Lights Show that adds a magical touch to the festival atmosphere.
  8. Welcome spring with open arms and embrace the joyous spirit of nature’s renewal.
  9. Immerse yourself in a festive atmosphere filled with vibrant colors and cheerful celebrations.
  10. Create lasting memories as you stroll amidst fields of tulips, capturing Instagram – worthy moments.

39. Dining and Shopping

Indulge in an unforgettable culinary experience at the iconic ByWard Market, where you can savor delectable dishes, stroll through charming shops, and immerse yourself in a lively atmosphere.

Shop, Stroll, or Dine at the ByWard Market

The ByWard Market in Ottawa, Canada offers a vibrant atmosphere for visitors to shop, stroll, and dine. Here are some highlights of what you can experience at this bustling market:

  1. Explore over 600 unique businesses offering shopping, dining, museums, arts, and entertainment.
  2. Browse through various shops along Sussex Drive for high-end shopping experiences.
  3. Indulge your taste buds with diverse cuisines at a wide range of restaurants and food stalls.
  4. Immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting one-of-a-kind jewelry and clothing design shops.
  5. Experience the lively vibe of the market, especially on weekends when various events and activities take place.

Things to Do In Ottawa Canada – Final Thoughts

That is a long list but I hope you appreciate that Ottawa offers an incredible array of things to do, activities, and attractions that cater to all interests and preferences. From exploring the city’s iconic landmarks like Parliament Hill and the National Gallery of Canada to immersing oneself in nature along the Rideau Canal or Gatineau Park, there is something for everyone in this vibrant capital city.

Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or an outdoor enthusiast, Ottawa has it all – making it a must-visit destination in 2023.


1. What are some must-see attractions in Ottawa, Canada in 2023?

Some of the top attractions to visit in Ottawa, Canada in 2023 include Parliament Hill, the Rideau Canal, ByWard Market, and the National Gallery of Canada.

2. Are there any outdoor activities available in Ottawa?

Absolutely! Ottawa offers a range of outdoor activities such as cycling along the scenic pathways, kayaking on the Rideau Canal, exploring Gatineau Park’s hiking trails, and even skating on the frozen canal during winter months.

3. Can you recommend any historical sites to visit in Ottawa?

Certainly! History enthusiasts will enjoy visiting places like the Canadian Museum of History for an immersive journey through Canada’s past or exploring historic landmarks like Laurier House National Historic Site and Dominion Arboretum.

4. What are some family-friendly attractions in Ottawa?

Ottawa has plenty of family-friendly options to keep everyone entertained. Popular choices include visiting museums like the Canadian Children’s Museum or having fun at interactive exhibits found at Science and Technology Museum. Outdoor spaces like Mooney’s Bay Beach also offer a great place for families to relax and play by the water.

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