1. Parliament Hill
The seat of Canada’s federal government and the setting for national celebrations the year round, Parliament Hill is the most visited Ottawa attraction. Each morning during summer months, the front lawn of Parliament Hill is the setting of the daily Changing of the Guard ceremony; each evening the public is invited to gather again to witness the awe-inspiring Sound and Light show – spectacular lighting effects and stunning giant images projected on the Parliament Buildings set to words and music. Both events are free. Truly a must-see!
2. National Cultural Attractions
Ottawa cultural attractions, museums and galleries invite visitors to experience the best of Canada all in one place. Whether it’s the stunning National Gallery of Canada, with world-class art on display, or the dramatic Canadian War Museum, these are the experiences that bring Canadian culture to life for any visitor.
3. ByWard Market
A historic farmers’ market and shopping district by day, a favourite gathering place of restaurants and clubs by night – the ByWard Market, just east of Parliament Hill, is one Ottawa neighbourhood you won’t want to miss.
4. UNESCO Rideau Canal
A historic waterway filled with boaters spring through fall and the world’s largest naturally frozen skating rink in winter – the Rideau Canal winds through the heart of Ottawa before connecting with the Ottawa River through dramatic stepped locks right next to Parliament Hill.
5. The Outdoors – Adventure
Ottawa is a natural for sports fans and outdoor recreation enthusiasts. Try whitewater rafting and kayaking on the Ottawa River, some of the continent’s finest. Then top it off with some bungee jumping. Ottawa is also a cycling enthusiast’s dream destination, with over 180 kilometres of recreational pathways linking natural areas, parks, gardens and national sites.
Ottawa is a city of celebrations, offering visitors a year-round calendar of parties, festivals and special events. On July 1st, the city celebrates the biggest party in the country, Canada Day. Visitors will also experience a host of music celebrations, including the Ottawa Jazz Festival, Ottawa Chamberfest, and RBC Bluesfest, which welcome some of the world’s biggest acts to our city. In winter, Canada celebrates Winterlude, and takes to the ice on the world’s largest skating rink, the Rideau Canal Skateway.
7. Culinary scene
The culinary scene in Ottawa has come alive in recent years, with a thriving community of Ottawa chefs and Ottawa restaurants making names for themselves both at home and abroad. Ottawa restaurants are wonderfully diverse. In the mood for French, Italian, Chinese or seafood? Choose from scores of each. Craving something a little more unique and exotic? You’ll find it. As one of Ontario’s designated culinary tourism destinations, the city, its restaurants and its local food producers are all working together to bring locally-grown and prepared foods to tables across the region through an initiative called Savour Ottawa.
8. Performing Arts
The Capital’s premier performing arts venue, the National Arts Centre, presents a full lineup of music, dance and theatre, plus popular touring acts and shows. Ottawa also has a thriving local theatre scene, including the Great Canadian Theatre Company, Ottawa Little Theatre, and The Gladstone.
9. City tours
Ottawa is filled with Capital sights and attractions – and just about as many ways to explore and see them. Experience a tour on both land and water with the Lady Dive Amphibus, or take in a walking tour across Ottawa’s picturesque ByWard Market courtyards.
Unique Ottawa neighbourhoods offer distinctive shopping, dining and nightlife experiences across the Capital. From Little Italy’s charming bars and restaurants, to the glorious archway over Chinatown, there is plenty to experience in Ottawa’s varied neighbourhoods.