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30 Best Places to See in Ottawa

Ottawa is a city steeped in history. Despite this, it is not a very popular city among travelers, since Vancouver, Quebec or Montreal overshadow it. Even so, the city fascinated me. It is full of museums, its parliament is impressive and it has many historical buildings that contrast perfectly with the modern city.


In this post I talk about the 30 best places to see in Ottawa.


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30 BEST PLACES TO SEE IN OTTAWA


1. Visit the Ottawa Parliament


The Ottawa Parliament is one of the most impressive buildings to see in the city. It opens its doors at 8:30 a.m. and if you intend to visit it, I recommend that you get up early, since visiting it first thing in the morning is the best option. To visit it you must sign up for a free guided tour that lasts 50 minutes. There are visits every 15 minutes.

Tickets are distributed at the tourist office in front of the main entrance to the Parliament.



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2. Observe the changing of the guard in front of Parliament


The changing of the guard at Parliament is an essential thing to do in Ottawa, it is quite a spectacle. It takes place every day at 10:00 a.m. and for more than half an hour more than 50 soldiers with their music band perform a colorful parade. I recommend that after taking the first guided tour of the Parliament, you head towards the door to take a seat in the front row.


3. Ottawa's first women


On the outskirts of Parliament there is a sculpture dedicated to 5 women who fought for the right to participate in Parliament and be elected.


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4. Le moulin de Provence


This beautiful cafe is the perfect place to stop after so many visits. You have delicious freshly made donuts, all kinds of cakes and an extensive menu of coffees and teas. It is famous because Barack Obama had breakfast here.


5. Go up to the viewpoint of the Tower of Peace


This tower is almost 100 meters high and from above you will have spectacular views of the city. Admission is free and you can go up after taking the guided tour of the Parliament or go directly to the door of the tower and request access.


6. See the Fairmont Chateau Laurier


This amazing castle-like building is a luxury Ottawa hotel. In it, relevant politicians and important national and international personalities have stayed. For this reason, it is known by the nickname of "the third chamber of Parliament". If you are interested in staying at this beautiful hotel you can check availability for the Fairmont Chateau Laurier here.


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8. Take a walk along the Rideau Canal, a very quiet place to see in Ottawa


One of the areas where you can walk and disconnect in Ottawa is the Rideau Canal. It is perfect for a bike tour and a picnic.



9. Take a river cruise


Taking a river boat ride is a great activity to do before dark after spending the whole day exploring the city. Watching the sunset from the boat, bathing the city in colours, is one of the best things to do in Ottawa. From the boat you can see the historical buildings of the city, the surroundings of the shore full of vegetation...



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10. The War Memorial


The capitals are home to embassies, government buildings and also memorials.

It is dedicated to all those people who lost their lives defending their country in the different conflicts in which Canada has been involved. A good place to reflect on the cruelty of wars.


11. Attend the changing of the guard in front of the War Monument


Ottawa is one of the few cities where we can attend two changes of the guard. The most important is the one in Parliament, but at the War Memorial, in front of the Fairmont Chateau Laurier Hotel, there is another equally ceremonious one. Every hour the soldiers guarding the tomb change to the unknown soldier. The monument is dedicated to the fallen in the First World War, and around it are also busts of other national heroes.


12. Major's Hill Park


In front of the War Monument there is a small park with well-kept gardens and various sculptures to see.


13. The National Gallery of Canada


In Ottawa there are many museums. The National Gallery of Canada is an essential place to see in Ottawa. In it, you will find a collection of classical and modern artists such as Rubens, Greco, Klimt, Picasso, Chagall... It also houses an interesting collection of indigenous art.


14. The spider "mama"


Outside the National Gallery of Canada there is a Chandelier called “Mama”, the work of Louise Bourgeoise, like the one in Bilbao or Tokyo.


15. Notre Dame Cathedral


This cathedral dates back to 1885 and is one of the most beautiful buildings to see in Ottawa. It is a neo-Gothic and neoclassical style cathedral, with a fairly modern interior. Or at least striking. Once you enter the cathedral, look up, the vaulted ceiling is a very intense blue that attracts a lot of attention.



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16. The Byward Market


This market is quite touristy, although it is a perfect place if you want to buy souvenirs or have a quick bite to eat. In the market there are all kinds of little shops with gifts, clothes, local products and fast food stalls.


17. Nepean Point, the best place to have incredible views of Ottawa


To contemplate Ottawa from a distance, the best place is Nepean Point. From there you can take a lot of photos of the Parliament, the river and the surroundings. It is the perfect place to enjoy the sunrise. You can get there by walking or renting a bike.


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18. The plant sculptures of the Jacques Cartier Park


This park organized the Mosaicanada exhibition in 2017, with various plant sculptures, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the country. Due to the success of the exhibition, in 2018 a space with the sculptures was inaugurated. Although it is no longer free, it is worth paying the entrance fee.


19. The War Museum


One of the oldest museums in Ottawa and with the largest number of exhibits is the War Museum. In it, you will find a detailed account of the different war conflicts in which Canada has been involved. It also usually hosts temporary exhibitions on the same theme.



20. Street art in Ottawa


Ottawa is a city of contrasts, you can find historical buildings next to a skyscraper and a graffiti. In general, a good university and young atmosphere abounds throughout the city. The streets of Ottawa are full of street art. One way to learn more about street art is to take the guided game tour of the City of Street Art Exhibition.


21. Excursion to the 1000 islands of Gananoque


One of the best things to do in Ontario near the city of Ottawa is to visit the 1000 islands of Gananoque. In this national park you can take a beautiful boat trip between bucolic islands full of stories of smugglers and pirates.



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22. The oldest pub in Ottawa


The Ottawa Chateau Lafayette is the oldest pub in Ottawa, dating back to 1849. A good place to rest and have a drink. During the week, when there are ice hockey games, the pub is full of fans enjoying the game over a few beers. During the weekend, there are concerts and live music, usually by local artists.


23. The Gatineau Park


If you want to do outdoor activities, the Parc de la Gatineau is the perfect place. It is located about 8 km from downtown Ottawa. It has 361 km2 and in it you will find a long network of paths for walking and cycling. There are also some lakes for canoeing. If you're traveling in the fall, the park is tinged with warm colors and a blanket of leaves on the ground. Is beautiful.


24. The supreme court of Canada


Another of the essential buildings to see in Ottawa is the Supreme Court. It is located near the Parliament. The Supreme Court is the most important court of justice in the country.


25. The Rideau Falls


These incredible waterfalls are located in Ottawa, in the middle of the city. There are two 11-meter waterfalls and they are located right where the Ottawa River flows into. The Falls are bisected by Green Island, with Ottawa's Old City Hall just to the south of the city.


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26. The Canadian Museum of Nature


If you still have time and you like natural history, one of the best museums to visit in Ottawa is the Canadian Museum of Nature. Above all, if you travel with children, it is a great activity to do.



27. Parliament Light Show


The so-called Northern lights show is another of the free activities that you can do in Ottawa. Sit in the gardens in front of the Parliament and enjoy. Every day they put on an impressive light and sound show in which they tell the story of Canada and Ottawa. The audio is in English and French, but even if you don't understand it very well, you will be blown away by the visual effects. It is usually at 9:30 p.m., although depending on the time of year the schedule may vary. You can check it at the tourist office.


28. Rideau Hall


Rideau Hall is the official residence of the Canadian monarch and the Governor General of Canada. The building was built in Victorian architecture in the year 1838.

The building is beautiful and the gardens are very well kept. Some days they carry out guided tours of some areas of the residence.


29. Dominion Arboretum


The Dominion Arboretum is a grove with an experimental farm in the middle of Ottawa. It is an immense 26-hectare park with trails for walking or cycling, a lake where you can go kayaking or boating. The park has many fruit trees and in spring they are filled with pink, white and yellow flowers.




30. South March Highlands Conservation Forest


South March Highlands Conservation Forest is a forest reserve on the outskirts of Ottawa. It is an area of ​​leafy forests, lakes, many trails to walk or go with a mountain bike. There are also areas where camping and picnics are allowed.


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