Here are the top 20 things to do in Ottawa
Ottawa is the capital and one of the largest cities of Canada. It quickly became the political, technological and educational center of the nation. There are numerous universities, post-secondary, research, and cultural institutions, so it is the most-educated city of Canada and has a low unemployment rate. A great number of tourists flock here every year to see the many wonderful attractions, and if you would like to do the same, then we advise you to see this list of the top 20 things to do in Ottawa.
- Rideau Canal
Rideau Canal is a more than 200 km long waterway, connecting Ottawa and other cities. It was originally used for transporting supply, but now it’s mainly used just for pleasure boating. Tourists and citizens both like to take a boat along the canal and just relax. Others may want to rent a bike or just stroll along the pavement that goes with the canal. During the winter, the canal is often used as an ice rink.
2. ByWard Market
Found in the heart of Ottawa, the ByWard Market is the oldest and most beloved market of the city. Since it’s one of the largest public markets of the city, it is very popular among tourists. Food stalls, souvenir shops and other vendors fill the place. Eating here is highly recommended, since many of the local specialties can be tried out for quite a cheap price. It’s a must-visit on the list of things to do in Ottawa if you want to try out the local foods.
3. Confederation Square
Confederation Square is one of the most important ceremonial squares of Ottawa. It’s a triangular area, with Canada’s National War Memorial at its centre and the Valiants Memorial at its periphery. Many important buildings surround the place, making it excellent as a tourist destination. The National War Memorial started out as a memorial for World War I, but it later became a memorial for every war that Canada participated in since then.
4. Government Conference Centre
The Government Conference Centre is a beautifully designed building located near the Confederation Square. It’s main purpose is of course giving a place for many important conferences, like the G20, a gathering of 20 finance ministers from around the world. The Senate of Canda currently resides here due to the repairs of the Centre Block.
5. National Arts Centre
Located near the Confederation Square, the National Arts Centre is one of the main venues for performing arts in Ottawa. It holds events for classical music, English theatre, French theatre, dance, variety, and other community programs. The place has been visited by Queen Elizabeth II when she unveiled a statue in front of the building.
6. Parliament Hill
The Parliament Hill of Ottawa is the central hub of the Parliament of Canada and its gothic revival-styled buildings have architectural elements of national symbolic importance. The hill was originally a site for a military base, but after Queen Victoria chose Bytown (the original name of Ottawa) as the capital of the Province of Canada, the area was slowly converted in to a place of politics. About 3 million people visit the site each year.
7. East and West Blocks
The East and West Blocks of Parliament Hill are the less known buildings of the trio, though they are just as significant. They both house the offices for parliamentarians. They were designed in a High Victorian Gothic style, so that alone makes them worth a visit. The walls display a multitude of stone carvings, including gargoyles, grotesques, and friezes, keeping with the style of the rest of the parliamentary complex.
8. Centre Block
The Centre Block of the Parliament hill is the main building of the Parliament of Canda. It contains the House of Commons and Senate chambers, as well as the offices of a number of members of parliament, senators, and senior administration for both legislative houses. Ceremonial spaces like the Hall of Honour, the Memorial Chamber, and Confederation Hall are also located here. The building is beautiful both outside and inside, so it is definitely worth a visit. Just like the rest of the buildings, the Centre Block was designed in a High Victorian Gothic style.
9. Peace Tower
If you are not interested in politics or where they reside, at least see the Peace Tower in front of the Centre Block. This bell and clock tower, als known as the Tower of Victory and Peace, was originally a different tower, but it was destroyed in a fire along with much of the Centre Block, so it had to be rebuilt in the way it looks today. The Peace Tower also houses a Memorial Chamber dedicated to the wars that Canada participated in. The tower has become a cultural icon of Canada.
10. Library of Parliament
The last of the notable buildings of Parliament Hill is the Library of Parliament. It is a chapter house connected to the Centre Block by a corridor, and can be found behind that building. It was designed in the same style as the others, but what is worth mentioning is the inside, as that part is equally (if not even more) beautiful. At the centre of the hall is a marble statue of Queen Victoria, with many busts of other prominent figures and coats of arms all around the hall. The library contains around 600 thousand items, covering hundreds of years of history and politics.
11. Canadian War Museum
The Canadian War Museum is dedicated to the war history of Canada, and the operations and wars they participated in. The collection consists of about 3 million artifacts, including artillery, uniforms, medals, documents, sound and visual recordings and rare vehicles.
12. National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is large art gallery, and one of the most prominent in Canada. This beautiful glass building houses countless paintings, sculptures, and other works of art, so it should be visited by anyone interested in art. Notable pieces include works from people like Van Gogh, Monet and Picasso, among many others.
Even if you are not interested in art, you should at least see this scultpure in front of the National Gallery of Canada. The Maman (french for “Mother”) is a huge spider with a sack of full of marble eggs. It was created by Louise Bourgeois, and has been installed in several locations throughout the world, with Ottawa being one of them. The only ones we not recommend this to, is people with arachnophobia.
14. Gatineau Park
While not directly in Ottawa, the main entrance of this large national park is just a few kilometres from the city. It’s excellent place for those who want to take a break from the busy streets of the city. The park offers activities including swimming, hiking, biking, camping, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or just taking a picnic. You can even climb up a lookout to get a great view of the entirety of the park. It’s a must-visit among the things to do in Ottawa if you like nature even just a little.
15. Canadian Museum of Nature
The Canadian Museum of Nature offers a eight large permanent exhibitions centered around different parts of nature. The about 14.6 million specimens, include Botany, Mineralogy, Palaeontology and Zoology. It’s great for both adults and kids for education or just checking out the fossils and other displays.
16. Canada Aviation and Space Museum
Just like its name suggests, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum is dedicated to the aviation history of Canda. It houses more than a hundred civilian and military aircrafts, all of them on display for visitors, and a corridor telling the history of aviation in Canda, from the very beginning to the present day.
17. Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica
The Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica is recommended for both religious and non-religious people, as it is quite a distinct basilica with its shining silvery tin towers. The beautiful blue ceilings inside the building also make it even better.
18. Canadian Museum of History
The Canadian Museum of History attracts more than a million visitors each year with its large collection of artifacts, objects and galleries related to the 20 thousand year old history of Canada. A vast collection of totem poles, the Canadian Children’s Museumand an IMAX theatre make it even more worth visiting.
19. Bytown Museum
The Bytown Museum provides a nice view into the history of Ottawa, originally known as Bytown. It’s a small museum, but if you want to know just a bit more about the history of the city, how it came to be and how it changed to the way it is now, then it is definitely worth seeing.
20. Central Experimental Farm
The Central Experimental Farm is an agricultural facility, working farm, and research centre. The farm itself and its story are both interesting, but if you want to see more, than be sure to check out the other great features here, like the Dominion Observatory, the Canada Agriculture Museum, the Dominion Arboretum and the Ornamental Gardens.