What to Do in Ottawa: A Guide to Exploring Canada’s Capital

Ottawa, the capital city of Canada, is a vibrant and culturally rich destination offering a wide array of activities and attractions. From historic landmarks and museums to outdoor adventures and culinary delights, there is something for everyone in this beautiful city. This guide provides an overview of the top things to do in Ottawa, ensuring you make the most of your visit.

Explore Historic Landmarks

Parliament Hill

Parliament Hill is the heart of Canada’s federal government and one of the most iconic landmarks in Ottawa. Visitors can take guided tours of the Parliament buildings, watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony in the summer, and enjoy the stunning views of the Ottawa River.

Rideau Canal

The Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a must-visit in Ottawa. In the winter, it transforms into the world’s largest skating rink, while in the summer, it is a beautiful waterway for boating and walking along its scenic paths.

ByWard Market

ByWard Market is one of Canada’s oldest and largest public markets. It’s a bustling area filled with shops, restaurants, and vendors selling everything from fresh produce to unique souvenirs. The market is a great place to experience Ottawa’s local culture and cuisine.

Visit Museums and Galleries

National Gallery of Canada

The National Gallery of Canada houses an impressive collection of Canadian, Indigenous, and international art. The gallery’s striking architecture and beautiful exhibits make it a must-visit for art enthusiasts.

Canadian Museum of History

Located across the river in Gatineau, the Canadian Museum of History offers fascinating exhibits on Canada’s history and culture. The museum’s iconic Grand Hall features the world’s largest indoor collection of totem poles.

Canadian War Museum

The Canadian War Museum provides a comprehensive look at Canada’s military history, with exhibits ranging from the early conflicts to contemporary peacekeeping missions. The museum’s interactive displays and artifacts make it an engaging experience for visitors of all ages.

Enjoy Outdoor Activities

Gatineau Park

Just a short drive from downtown Ottawa, Gatineau Park offers year-round outdoor activities. In the summer, visitors can hike, bike, and swim, while in the winter, the park is perfect for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Major’s Hill Park

Major’s Hill Park is a beautiful green space in the heart of Ottawa, offering stunning views of Parliament Hill and the Ottawa River. The park is a great spot for picnics, leisurely walks, and enjoying various festivals and events throughout the year.

Ottawa River Pathway

The Ottawa River Pathway is part of the Capital Pathway network, offering scenic routes for walking, running, and cycling. The pathway stretches along the Ottawa River, providing beautiful views and access to various parks and attractions.

Experience Ottawa’s Culinary Scene

Local Restaurants

Ottawa boasts a diverse culinary scene with a wide range of restaurants offering everything from gourmet dining to casual eats. Don’t miss trying local specialties like BeaverTails, a popular Canadian pastry, or dining in one of the city’s many ethnic restaurants.

Food Tours

Joining a food tour is a great way to explore Ottawa’s culinary offerings. These tours take you to some of the best eateries in the city, providing an opportunity to sample a variety of dishes while learning about the local food culture.

Attend Festivals and Events


Winterlude is Ottawa’s premier winter festival, celebrating the season with ice sculptures, skating on the Rideau Canal, and various outdoor activities. The festival attracts visitors from all over the world and is a highlight of the winter season in Ottawa.

Canada Day Celebrations

Ottawa is the place to be on Canada Day, with the city hosting the country’s biggest celebrations. Festivities include concerts, fireworks, and various events on Parliament Hill and across the city, making it an unforgettable experience.

Tulip Festival

The Canadian Tulip Festival, held each May, celebrates the arrival of spring with thousands of blooming tulips across the city. The festival includes cultural events, performances, and beautiful floral displays, making it a must-see for flower enthusiasts.


Ottawa offers a wealth of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re exploring historic landmarks, visiting world-class museums, enjoying the great outdoors, or indulging in the local culinary scene, Ottawa has something for everyone. Plan your visit to Canada’s capital and discover all that this vibrant city has to offer.