If you come to Ottawa, make sure to bring your cycling game! Canada’s capital is a cycling enthusiast’s dream destination with more than 600 kilometres (373 miles) of beautiful recreational pathways that link natural areas, parks, gardens and national historic sites. Here are some of the ways you can take advantage of Ottawa’s active cycling culture:
Bike rentals and tours
If you weren’t able to travel to Ottawa with your bicycle, there’s no need to worry! Locally-owned companies RentABike and Escape Bicycle Tours and Rentals are conveniently located a few steps from most downtown hotels. Choose from a large selection of new bikes for all ages and skill levels – including tandem and electric bikes, as well as trailers – that come with a helmet and bike lock. Rent for an hour, a day or over a week to fully take advantage of Ottawa’s extensive pathway network!
If you’d prefer to follow a knowledgeable guide around town, you can join RentABike or Escape on one of their popular bike tours. Choose whether you want the route to highlight main attractions and scenery, or culinary, tulip or indigenous points of interest. Private tours and packages are also available. The options are endless!
You can also use VeloGO, the Ottawa region’s bike sharing program. Download the app to find the many bright green bike racks conveniently located throughout the city and to reserve one of the cruiser bikes. Bike sharing is an easy way to get around if you’ll be parking the bike between short transfers!
Ottawa’s vast Capital Pathway Network has options for all cycling skill levels and ages including families, beginners and experts. It’s easy to be an environmentally-friendly tourist in Ottawa – just travel between attractions by bike and soak up the scenery along the way!
To ride by numerous iconic sites, follow the Sightseeing Cycling Route which takes you on a relatively flat and leisurely ride of approximately 7.5 km (4.6 miles) in and around downtown Ottawa. You’ll see the Rideau Canal (Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site), the Bytown Museum, Parliament Hill, the Canadian War Museum, the Canadian Museum of History, the National Gallery of Canada and more.
Another option is to head west on the Ottawa River pathway which stretches for more than 31 kilometres (19.3 miles) along the water, past attractions such as the Ottawa Locks, Parliament Hill and the Canadian War Museum. Keep going and you’ll be rewarded by balanced rock sculptures as well as sandy beaches and parks beyond.
If you head south on the Rideau Canal pathway instead, you’ll have the option to stop in the lively Glebe neighbourhood and the Lansdowne area, followed by picturesque residential properties and gardens near Dows Lake and Little Italy.
Continue exploring the paths just beyond downtown to reach other treasures like the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, Hog’s Back Falls, breweries and quaint communities.
During the summer months (from late May to early September), take advantage of NOKIA Sunday Bikedays, which see more than 50 kilometres (31 miles) of parkways in Ottawa and the surrounding Gatineau, Québec region closed to motorists from 9:00 a.m. to about 1:00 p.m. and reserved for cyclists, in-line skaters, runners and walkers. Enjoy a worry-free ride, as you won’t need to keep an eye out for traffic!
Gatineau Park, located about a 10-minute drive or 15-minute bike ride from downtown Ottawa, is a mountain biker’s paradise! From May to November, visitors can take advantage of about 90 kilometres (56 miles) of shared hiking trails that make their way over hilly, rugged terrain. Gatineau Park’s trails are not recommended for the beginner mountain biker.
For those looking for more of an adrenaline rush, Camp Fortune—a downhill ski centre in Gatineau Park—opens its slopes to experienced mountain bikers for the summer. The centre is also home to a cross-country and downhill mountain biking race series! For more information, see our Mounting Biking page.
For even more self-powered ways to get around Ottawa, check out some our suggestions for Interesting Walking and Cycling Tours!