Here is a precious list of fun things you must do when visiting Ottawa, as revealed by the locals!
Once a modest small town, Ottawa was controversial when Queen Victoria chose it as Canada’s capital in 1857. Since then, it has become the country’s fourth-largest city.
Parliament Hill sits atop a rocky outcrop, its splendid complex of Gothic Revival buildings home to the Parliament of Canada. This is the main attraction of the city for most visitors.
Constructed between 1859 and 1927, Parliament House exhibits some astonishing architecture, with the striking Peace Tower rising high above its Center Building. Besides soaking up the spectacular views of the capital from its observatory, you can also take tours of the House of Commons and its grounds dotted with statues and memorials. Many people also enjoy watching the Changing of the Guard ceremony every day in the summer.
The Rideau Canal cuts through the city center, connecting Ottawa with Lake Ontario about 200 kilometers away. One of the capital’s standout attractions, it’s surrounded by beautiful paths to walk, run, or cycle through, along with scenic excursions in the summer and ice skating in the winter particularly popular.
You can sail as much as you like, watching the parks, lakes and picturesque towns. The canal was built between 1826 and 1832 to ensure supply routes and communications in the event of war with the United States.
National Gallery of Canada
Boasting one of the largest art museums in North America, located on the banks of the Ottawa River, you can overlook Parliament Hill. It is so enchanting that it is designed to look like a church of glass.
Inside, the architectural wonder is equally impressive as its galleries are filled with excellent photographs, paintings, and sculptures by Canadian and international artists. Besides famous names like da Vinci, Michelangelo and Picasso, you can also find exquisite works of art by the indigenous people of Canada. One of its most well-known works is the striking Maman spider sculpture located right before its entrance.
Basilica of Notre Dame
Notre Dame was built in 1841 and boasted two towering twin spires that can be seen from both downtown and Parliament Hill, not far away.
The church looks somewhat dated from the outside but inside, it is a feast for the eyes with its intricate carvings and magnificent stained glass windows wherever you look.
Now preserved as a National Historic Landmark, the church’s exquisite interior is home to hundreds of sculptures of religious figures, with the carvings in its choir, particularly striking statue. In addition, it has a giant pipe organ on display while twinkling stars dot its colorful ceiling. During the summer, visitors can take tours of the church and learn about its beauty and exciting past.
Completed in 1831, the series of small locks are genuinely an astonishing feat of engineering as they link the Rideau Canal with the Ottawa River 24 meters below. Although located in the center of town, Ottawa Locks is in a quiet place amidst tree-lined parks, hills and historic buildings. So many people enjoy walking here and taking pictures of the boats going up and down the lock system.
Canadian Tulip Festival
Ottawa’s Spring Festival marks the end of winter when tulips – donated by Queen Juliana of the Netherlands in honor of the city’s hospitality during World War II – bloom across the city. The canal banks and Commission Park in particular, are the scene of festivals in general.
Major’s Hill Park, southwest of the basilica, is ablaze with thousands of tulips. In total, several million tulips bloom in the city, with tulip attractions spanning the “Tulip Road”. Fireworks and shows are also frequent attractions.