See and Do in Ottawa
- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Ottawa Guide (PDF)
As Canada's capital, Ottawa is a city rich in culture and history. In addition to its historic monuments, galleries and museums, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great Canadian outdoors. From ice-skating on the world's largest ice rink to cycling through one of Ottawa's green parks, there is something to keep residents busy through the seasons.
Popular attractions in Ottawa
Here is a list of some of the main attractions in Ottawa:
Canadian War Museum
This museum boasts a vast collection of artefacts, moving personal stories, works of art and poignant photography documenting Canadian military history. The Canadian War Museum is a spectacular setting for monthly exhibitions, public programmes and other cultural events.
Hog’s Back Falls
Officially known as the Prince of Wales Falls, these beautiful waterfalls are located where the Rideau Canal and Rideau River part ways. The falls are surrounded by a serene green park where visitors can relax and enjoy the tranquillity.
This tall tower is located within the Canadian Parliament complex and contains an observation deck which offers stunning views of the capital. The admission fee for entering parliament includes a tour of the building.
National Gallery of Canada
This Canadian institution dates back to 1880 and the visual arts museum holds an excellent collection of European and Canadian paintings, prints, sculptures and photography.
The Dominion Arboretum (Experimental Farm)
Ottawa’s experimental farm is a must-see for any nature-loving expat. It provides an oasis of peace away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s a great place to relax during any season.
This Gothic-style cathedral can be recognised by its ornate twin spires. The Notre-Dame Basilica is centrally located close to Parliament Hill and ByWard Market, and it's well worth stopping by to admire the beautiful architecture.
Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo
A well-arranged collection of reptiles and a great hands-on experience for children. Live shows provide some very interesting information for both adults and the kids.
Rideau Hall has been the home of every Governor General since 1867. This elegant 19th-century mansion is open to the public for tours. It is a great opportunity to appreciate the architecture and the manicured gardens.
Gatineau Park, in the centre of Ottawa, is one of the city’s most cherished natural wonders. The park has hundreds of kilometres of well-maintained scenic trails and more than 50 species of trees, birds and mammals.
Rideau Canal Skateway
One of the major highlights of winter in Ottawa is that the city becomes home to the world’s largest ice-skating rink, the Rideau Canal Skateway. Here, visitors have the opportunity to skate through the heart of central Ottawa on the famous Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.