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Dissected by the Rideau River, Ottawa is one of the top cities in Canada. Being the capital of Ontario, this city is full of cultures and vibrant experiences. Explore right from the world’s largest escape room to the fun rooftop to a basement arcade. Like many cities around the globe, Ottawa is home to many national attractions. Besides being a capital city, experience the small town feels in Ottawa decked with a bureaucratic façade.

Being home to myriad festivals, restaurants, green spaces, hotels, and indie shops, Ottawa offers plenty of top-notch cultural attractions and distinct museums as well. Admire thousands of glooming bulbs during the spring’s Tulip Festival and also enjoy skating along the Rideau Canal in the wintertime. Also, you can find ample things to do in Ottawa.

10 Best Things To Do In Ottawa

What things to do in Ottawa are there? Does this question rise your mind? Then do visit all the places sorted down, for a fulfilling vacation. If you are preparing a list of things to do in Ottawa, then do add this place.

1. Ice-Skating

ice skating rinks available for beginners here

Ottawa is marked as an epic location for fun winter activities like ice skating. One of the outstanding things to do in Ottawa for families, couples, or even solo travelers is ice skating. During the winter season, a portion of the Rideau Canal is converted into a gigantic skating rink. Spanning over 8 kilometers, the outdoor rink becomes the largest in the world.

An ideal spot to spend a romantic evening, the skating rink is open all day round in the winter season. The Beaver Tail is definitely not to be missed. Deep-fried sweets sold at kiosks and Byward Market area is definitely not to be missed.

Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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2. Sound & Light Show

Light Show in Ottawa

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Set in the center of the city, the splendid Gothic revival Parliament Hill houses the Parliament of Canada and also is a key tourist attraction. A wide formal garden and three buildings constitute Parliament Hill. Grounds (of the complex ) are a spot for demonstrations, national celebrations, and shows. Your trip to Ottawa is not complete unless you visit Parliament Hill.

Anyone and everyone is invited to witness the overwhelming Sound and Light show with spectacular lighting effects. The amazing giant images displayed on the Parliament Buildings set to words and music makes it one of the fun things to do in Ottawa.

Location: 111 Wellington St, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6, Canada
Timings: 9-9:15 PM, Thurs closed

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3. Shopping

Shopping Streets in ottawa

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Shopping around is one of the fabulous things to do in Ottawa as there are ample places to lay your eyes on. Deemed to be the oldest markets in Canada, ByWard Market is located in the city center of Ottawa. Surrounded by open-air stalls, ByWard Market consists of the main building that is open all around the year. From restaurants, ample boutiques to fast-food kiosks, you can find almost everything. Also, it is a great place to roam all around and have good conversations with the localities.

Besides shopping, there is also entertainment and nightlife is truly priceless. The robust brick building is the ideal place to halt when hunger strikes. Get a sample of food from international restaurants including Southern BBQ, Mexican, Indian, Japanese, and Italian. Dessert and a couple of drinks are also a must to try.

Best shopping locations: ByWard Market, St. Laurent Shopping Centre, Rideau Centre

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4. Museum Hopping

Museums in Ottawa

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Ottawa is home to many national museums like the Canadian Museum of Nature, the Canadian Museum of History, the Canada Agriculture Museum, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Canadian War Museum. Apart from the above-mentioned museums, there are few more spectacular museums that are quite appealing.

To name a few, Canada Science & Technology Museum, Bank of Canada Currency Museum, Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, and the Portrait Gallery of Canada. Also, the Canadian Museum of History is a contemporary and must-see museum across the Hull & Québec river.

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5. Ghost Hunting

Place of Ghost

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Ottawa is not always filled with colorfulness and smiles, but the city also houses many haunting sites. Take a spooky walk through Downtown Ottawa and experience the thrill. Listen to haunting stories of the Ottawa Jail Hostel, Bytown Museum, and the Fairmont Chateau Laurier that are Ottawa’s dark past.

To explore the other side of Ottawa, the tours are instructed by guides dressed in black holding a lantern. Of course, Halloween is the best time to discover the darkest part of the city and regardless of the weather, haunted tours take place all around the year. One of the best things to do in Ottawa is to experience the thrill of ghost hunting.

Haunted spots: Moore House, Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital, Buck Hill

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6. Beach Outing

Beach Side View in Ottawa

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When in Ottawa, you don’t have to miss out on beach fun because there are a number of beaches in Ottawa. You can have a great time when you spend some valuable time with your friends or family here. One can play volleyball, enjoy eating ice cream, and also get completely wet. Sitting on the northeast corner, there are two lovely beaches on the island. Lifeguards are on service all around the week. It is a perfect place to swim, picnic or a great escape from the city center.

Best beaches: Westboro Beach, Brittania Beach, Mooney’s Bay Park & Beach

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7. Attend Winterlude Festival

Celebrate Winterlude Festival in Ottwa

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One of the largest festivals of winter i.e. Winterlude is celebrated over three weekends each February. International ice sculpting competition, public skating, and several other activities are carried out during the festival.

Another good festival is the Canadian Tulip Festival and definitely, Canada Day should not be missed(July 1st). Drawing a maximum number of tourists is the Bluesfest that is a massive summer festival.

When: 31st Jan – 18th Feb

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8. Ottawa Nightlife


Ottawa has a brimming nightlife, along with pubs, bars, nightclubs, and lounges. Dance to the melody of Jazz or the sounds of DJ. ByWard Market is home to many bars and pubs as well. Similarly goes for the Centretown area. If you are wondering about things to do in Ottawa at night, then there are ample clubs you can visit. Live music is offered at many venues and chic & trendy is your thing, then there are ample stylish lounges and nightclubs around.

Best spots: The Lookout Bar, Bar Laurel, Copper Spirits & Sights

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9. Hang Out With Royalty

Royal Buildings

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The residence of the Canadian monarch, Rideau Hall is an amazing 175 room mansion spanning over 88 acres of massive land. Canada’s similar to Buckingham Palace, this is a National Historic Site of Canada since1867. Furnished with both historic and contemporary items, this magnificent building is open to the public for tours all around the year.

Location: 1 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A1, Canada
Timings: 10 AM – 4:30 PM

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10. Relish The Culinary Scene

Dish in Ottawa

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Scrumptious dishes can be enjoyed from all across the world since Ottawa is a melting pot of cultures. Superb Lebanese food, Vietnamese food and Chinese food are the specialty of this area. Italian cuisine, Mediterranean fare and French cuisine are offered by restaurants all across the city. You must definitely give a try to Poutine that is a French Canadian dish of cheese curds, chips and gravy. If you want to get your hands on the best street food in Canada, Ottawa is the place to be.

Best restaurants: Supply & Demand, Atelier, Town, Fairouz

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Experience true fun and zeal right here in Ottawa by indulging in the above-mentioned activities. Ottawa is a culturally and historically rich place which is why you will find plenty of things to do in Ottawa. Make your vacation in Canada awesome by putting Ottawa on your itinerary and have the best time of your life.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Things To Do In Ottawa

Is it safe to visit Ottawa amidst the ongoing pandemic?

Yes, it is perfectly safe to visit these places as the place has a relatively low number of cases. But don’t take our word for it: check up on the latest travel advisory, Covid-19 measures, and the number of cases before your departure. It is safer to undertake solo travel or with a small group of people to somewhere that is not overly crowded at the moment.

Is there any entry fee at museums in Ottawa?

Ottawa offers free admission to all the museums. Bytown Museum, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Museum of Nature, and the Canadian War Museum are some of the attractions that you may visit.

What is Ottawa known for?

Ottawa is the capital city of Canada and is known for the Canadian Tulip Festival which is held every May. It is also one of the well-known business centers in Canada.

What should I see in Ottawa?

Parliament Hill, National Gallery of Canada, ByWard Market, Rideau Canal, Rideau Canal Skateway and Winterlude are a few attractions you can visit in Ottawa.

What can you do in Ottawa for free?

There are lots of free things to do in Ottawa like visiting the Parliament buildings, spend a day at Lansdowne Park, take a drive to Gatineau Park and enjoy the RCMP sunset.

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