Did you know that you can easily walk or bike between world-class attractions, culinary hotspots and green outdoor spaces in Canada’s capital? And taking a tour can help you discover local favourites that you might not otherwise encounter! Join us on a journey through some of Ottawa’s best walking and cycling tours:
Ottawa Walking Tours
Join Ottawa Walking Tours (OWT) for multilingual, two-hour walking tours of Ottawa that explore fascinating history, cool architecture and beautiful art. OWT’s most popular tour is the Historical Highlights Walking Tour which stops at sites like Parliament Hill, the National War Memorial, the Rideau Canal – Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site – and Major’s Hill Park, among others. All OWT tours depart from the Terry Fox statue, located on Wellington Street just across from Parliament Hill.
The Haunted Walk of Ottawa
For a unique spin on Ottawa’s past, join the cloaked guides of The Haunted Walk of Ottawa for spooky strolls through downtown. The Original Haunted Walk tour shares ghost stories about the Bytown Museum, the iconic Fairmont Château Laurier and even a haunted high school. Or take the Ghosts and the Gallows tour of the Old Carleton County Jail to see death row and learn what a prisoner’s daily life was like. The building, which is said to be one of the most haunted in North America, is now the HI-Ottawa Jail Hostel! Tours are available in English and French and depart from the Haunted Walk Ticket Office at the corner of Sparks Street and Elgin Street.
These guided tours provide a glimpse of Ottawa’s art, culture, history and landscape from an Indigenous perspective. Running in the spring, summer and fall, the tours are given by Jaime Koebel, an Apeetagosan/Nehiyaw (Métis/Cree) woman living in Ottawa. Four different walking tours are available including the Introductory Tour, the Parliament Hill Tour, the Indigenous Women Tour and the Very Scary Tour.
Ottawa Free Tours
Looking for a budget-friendly (free) guided tour? From spring through fall, Ottawa Free Tours offers their Capital City Tour a few times a week. Tours start at the National War Memorial and cover Ottawa’s rowdy past Prime Ministers, the construction of the Rideau Canal, the ByWard Market neighbourhood and more. The knowledgeable guides accept donations.
This local company invites you to “geek out” on one of their off-the-beaten-path tours. Ottawa (de)tours explores unique themes like feminism, food, science and architecture within the context of Canada’s capital. You can also request a personalized tour based on your specific interests. Tour departure locations vary.
Escape Bicycle Tours & Rentals
More than 800 kilometres (497 miles) of multi-use pathways criss-cross the Ottawa-Gatineau region – a cyclist’s dream! Rent a bike from Escape Bicycle Tours & Rentals or join one of their guided tours to ride by some of the city’s most scenic spaces and grand attractions. Choose from leisurely rides, challenging routes, themed tours and customized experiences. They provide a bicycle, helmet, water bottle and an expert guide. Tours depart from their kiosk on Sparks Street.
Local company RentABike has been operating for over 25 years. Whether you’re looking for a short, easy outing or you’re a serious cyclist, you’ll find your ride amongst their selection of more than 200 bikes, including comfort, road, off-road and even tandem bicycles. Rent one by the day, the weekend or even the whole week! RentABike is located across the street from the Fairmont Château Laurier under the Plaza Bridge, at the Rideau Canal level.
For even more biking options, check out our Cycling in Ottawa page.
For a special micro-tourism experience that includes transportation, gear, and a gourmet lunch, hire a local bilingual guide from Tours Expédition. The company specializes in all-inclusive, personalized outdoor tours of the Ottawa-Gatineau region for small groups of one to four people. Operating year-round, they can take you hiking, cycling, canoeing or cross-country skiing in areas like Gatineau Park, the Rideau Canal, the Ottawa River and rural areas.
C’est Bon Cooking
If your idea of a fun tour includes food, you’re in luck! Local company C’est Bon Cooking offers guided gourmet tours of popular neighbourhoods like the ByWard Market, the Glebe and Wellington West. Enjoy food samples as you stroll between food shops, farmers’ markets and restaurants and meet the people behind Ottawa’s tasty culinary scene!
Love cycling AND eating? Join the Bike & Bites Tour offered by partners C’est Bon Cooking and Escape Bicycle Tours & Rentals. Follow your cycling guide to some of the city’s main attractions, and enjoy tastings at eateries in the Glebe neighbourhood, including the Ottawa Farmers Market at Lansdowne Park.
It can be daunting to choose amongst the many tasty restaurants and foodie neighbourhoods in the Ottawa area (we’ve gathered a few great suggestions here). Instead, why not let the local experts from Ottawa Tasting Tours and Experience Food plan a progressive dining tour for you? Follow your guide and enjoy one course at each of several restaurants (wine/beer pairings are optional or included). All restaurants are within easy walking distance of each other. Private and group tours are available.
If you prefer to explore Canada’s capital on your own when you visit, check out our Top 10 Things to do in Ottawa!