Established as Canada’s capital in 1857, Ottawa has evolved into one of the country’s most vibrant and exciting cities. With a walkable downtown, great public transport and an abundance of parks, restaurants, museums, galleries and more, Ottawa is worth visiting year-round.

In the winter, Ottawa’s famous Rideau Canal is transformed into the world’s largest skating rink. Also on the must-see list is a tour of Parliament Hill, the centre of Canadian democracy. Free tours of the various buildings at the site are available year-round.

Map of Ottawa

Where is Ottawa?

Ottawa is located in Southeastern Ontario directly across from Gatineau, Quebec. The city is roughly a 4.5 hour drive from Toronto, two hours from Montreal and under an hour from the Ogdensburg-Prescott U.S. border crossing.

Travel to Ottawa by air at the Ottawa International Airport or train with VIA Rail. Local transit provided by OC Transpo, a light rail system that serves the inner city and surrounding suburbs.

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Things to do in Ottawa

Enjoy a festival

Ottawa hosts festivals all year round. From Winterlude to the Canadian Tulip FestivalOttawa Dragon Boat Festival or Bluesfest, there’s always something going on.

Visit a museum

From the Canada Science and Technology Museum to the Canadian War Museum and Ottawa Art Gallery, the city has museum and gallery options that everyone will enjoy.

Visit Parliament Hill

Wondering what to do in Ottawa for free? Explore Parliament Hill. Guided tours of the House of CommonsSenate BuildingEast Block and Parliament Building are available all year.

Explore the ByWard Market

Ottawa’s historic ByWard Market is a feast for the eyes and taste buds. Discover a variety of restaurants, artisanal crafts, fresh seasonal local produce and more.

Skate an iconic canal

Bring your own skates or rent a pair and glide along the Rideau Canal Skateway, a 7.8 kilometre UNESCO World Heritage site that winds its way through the city. When open, access is free.

Waterfalls close to the city

Located in nearby Orleans, the trails around Princess Louise Waterfalls offer excellent hiking, roughly 25 minutes by car from downtown Ottawa. Free parking is available nearby.

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Points of interest

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Last updated: June 27, 2024

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