As a multicultural city with beautiful nature, vibrant art scene, educated population, and preserved heritage, the capital of Canada is an excellent place to call home. Furthermore, there are plenty of things to do in Ottawa, Ontario, regardless of your age and personal preferences. It has something for everyone, whether you want to move to Canada permanently or just travel. The only question is where to go first when you start exploring the capital.
The relocation alone can be somewhat overwhelming. When you’re relocating to such a fantastic place with so much to offer, you might become even more confused. You have quite a few questions, like What is Ottawa famous for? What should I do in Ottawa? What can you do in Ottawa for free? It is much easier when you have someone to guide you and at least give you the idea of what your chosen place feels like and how you can explore it. Luckily, we’ve created a list of top ten things to do, starting with one of the best-known museums.
#1 Visit the Canadian Museum of History
When you’re moving to across the northern US border, naturally, you’d like to learn more about the history of this beautiful country. When you wish to find out more about it, here’s where you should go: straight to the Canadian Museum of History located directly across the Ottawa River. According to US News, there are more than 1.2 million visitors per year. Whether you go there for the exhibits and artifacts or to admire its unique architecture, you can be sure you’ll enjoy your time here.
Take Your Kids to the Canadian Children’s Museum
Those of you moving with kids will be happy to hear that there is also the Children’s Museum. There is a variety of fun exhibits and attractions for your little ones to enjoy. It is also the right place to take your children to broaden their cultural experiences and learn something new through fun activities. The Children’s Museum is also available for birthdays, offering a wide range of theme-parties.
#2 Head to Rideau Canal – Exploring It Is One of the Best Things to Do in Ottawa
Rideau Canal is one of the most exciting historical attractions in the capital, so it should be at the top of your list when you start exploring the area. Originally constructed as a route between Montreal, Québec, and Kingston, Ontario, in the 19th century, the Canal is now considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is the right place to go for a walk and enjoy the sunset, or for running and cycling. If you feel like doing something touristy, you can go on a cruise. It usually lasts about an hour and a half, and it costs about $8. Otherwise, you can enjoy the Rideau Canal for free.
Go Skating at the Rideau Canal During Winter
If you’re planning to move during winter, cold weather won’t stop you from enjoying it: the Rideau Canal is transformed into the world’s largest skating rink. To imagine just how big a rank we’re talking about, it’s enough to say that it covers an area equivalent to 90 Olympic-sized hockey rinks. And don’t worry if you forgot to bring your skates. You can rent the necessary equipment for about $14 for two hours.
#3 Go to a Festival to Get the Best of Culture
Whatever time of the year you find yourself here, you can count on a variety of festivals to have some fun. Some of the most popular include the Canadian Tulip Festival in May, Canada Day and Bluesfest in July, and Winterlude from January through February. Be sure to learn more about other Ottawa festivals before you relocate or travel here, to plan accordingly.
Save the Date for Winterlude
Winterlude is the largest winter festival run by the Department of Canadian Heritage. In addition to public skating, the festival also features an international ice sculpting competition and various other fun activities. You can take your family to the Snowflake Kingdom to play in the snow, take snowboarding and skiing lessons, or marvel at ice sculptures. Don’t miss this chance to enjoy Canada’s artistic and cultural, as well as culinary diversity.
#4 Don’t Miss to Visit One of the Most Iconic Sites – Parliament Hill
Located in the very heart of the capital, Parliament Hill is the home of the Parliament of Canada and one of the most visited places in the capital. Primarily known as a major tourist attraction, Parliament Hill is also popular among the locals. Did you know that you can join a free yoga session on the Parliament Hill lawn? If you’re not up for it, just walking around and enjoying the view of the Ottawa River will be a lovely experience, too.
Go on a Tour Around the Parliament
When you find yourself here, it would be a shame not to book a tour around the Parliament buildings. Tours usually last between 30 and 60 minutes. These tours are free, but keep in mind that you should reserve your spot at 9 am no matter what time of the day you’re planning to go on the tour. Among the areas open for visits, the Centre Block is probably the most notable one.
#5 Enjoy Art at the National Gallery of Canada
Speaking of iconic places, we can’t help but mention Canada’s national art museum. Taking up as much as 46,620 square meters, 12,400 of which is used for exhibits, the National Gallery is considered one of the largest art museums in North America. This is the perfect place for all art aficionados with a wide range of art pieces by Michelangelo, da Vinci, Picasso, down to contemporary artworks.
Take a Break in One of Cozy Dining Places
When you get tired and need a break from sightseeing, you don’t have to leave the building for a refreshment. There are excellent restaurants, cafeterias, bars, and other spots where you can go for a drink or snack. And if you feel like shopping, head to the Gallery’s Boutique, where you can find a variety of stuff, from books to decorative accessories. Once you’re done here, your next stop should be Byward Market.
#6 Try Delicious Specialties at ByWard Market
While you’re in the center, visiting one of the oldest and largest markets in the entire country is a must. When it’s warm outside, there are many open-air stalls to check out. But even when these are not there, the main building is open all year long, so you won’t miss much. From Canadian cheese to maple chocolate, there are all kinds of specialties to taste here.
Enjoy Colorful Street Art and Shop for Crafts
When you’re done with food, don’t leave the market just yet. This is one of the top places to chat with the locals, walk around and enjoy colorful street art, or stop by small, but cozy craft shops. With over 600 businesses around, there’s no doubt you’ll find something, no matter your preferences. There’s a reason why about 50,000 people visit ByWard Market every weekend during summer.
#7 Learn More About the City’s Spooky Past
If you really want to get to know the place that you’re going to call home, you should know about its dark side, too. To put it more clearly, you should dig a little deeper into the history to find about its spooky past, including haunting stories about famous spots. Moving during the holidays? Make this walk even more mysterious and plan it on Halloween.
Go on a Guided Walking Tour
To make your adventure memorable, it might be a good idea to go on a guided Haunted Walk of Ottawa. Let experienced guides show you around and bring you closer to the dark history of the capital. Some of the locations you’ll get to stop by during this tour include Laurier House, Carleton County Jail, and many others. Depending on the time of the year, you might find different offers, so be sure to check in advance and book what you like best.
#8 Wander Around Fairmont Château Laurier
You don’t have to be the guest in one of the world-class hotels to get to admire its marvelous architecture. Fairmont Château Laurier is open for visitors, too. This charming castle was built back in 1912, so it’s more than one of the most prestigious hotels here. It is a building with a rich history to tell.
Relax in a Pleasant Ambiance of the Fairmont Chateau Laurier Restaurant
Even if you’re not staying at one of the most luxurious hotels, it doesn’t mean that you don’t get to enjoy an afternoon sipping wine in one of the finest restaurants. Wilfrid’s Restaurant offers a selection of wines to go with various culinary delicacies you can taste here.
#9 Explore Diverse Westboro Village
You’ve figured out how to immigrate to Canada and looked through the best places to live in the country, and you’ve picked the capital. But what now? You need to choose the right place in the city to make your new home. If you’re still having second thoughts, know that Westboro Village is worth considering. Even if you don’t move here, being one of the most diverse and unique neighborhoods, it’s still worth visiting. Take a walk down tree-lined streets and enjoy your free time outdoors, from Westboro Beach to scenic Gatineau Hills.
Take Yoga Classes or Relax at a Wellness Center
To recharge your batteries and enjoy the open space to the fullest, you can take yoga classes. There are also massage shops and wellness centers to help you leave all the troubles behind and relax. Or you’d like to enjoy the beautiful views while sipping freshly brewed cappuccino in a cozy café? Whatever you feel like doing, you’ll find plenty of ways to relax in Westboro Village.
#10 Spend a Lovely Day in Nature
Speaking of relaxing and recharging your batteries, we should also mention that the capital is an excellent choice for nature lovers. So, let’s see where you can go to spend some quality time outside.
Enjoying Ottawa’s Magnificent Parks Deserves Its Place Among the Ten Best Things to Do in Ottawa
Parks and green spaces are one of the things that make the capital as wonderful as it is. Here are some of the many picturesque parks where you can enjoy your free time:
- Walter Baker Park
- Andrew Haydon Park
- Stuemer Park
- Britannia Park
- Brewer Park
Head to the Beach
In addition to the somewhat high cost of living in Canada, people first think of winter and cold weather when someone mentions this country. However, don’t forget that you can also enjoy beautiful beaches in the capital when the summer comes. They are usually open from May to September.
Get Ready for the Adventure
As you can see, a lot is waiting for you in the capital, which means you have plenty of reasons to be thrilled about your travel. It might take you some time to get used to the new people and an unfamiliar place, but all those fun attractions will make the transition smoother. And after all, you can always keep in touch with your friends even after you relocate.
It’s time to start thinking about what to pack for relocating to Canada and get down to the actual packing to get ready for the journey. If you find that too troublesome, there are always international movers who can offer packing services and save you the trouble. Ask for help, and let yourself enjoy your adventure from the very start.