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Things to Do in Ottawa, Canada

by Jack Smith
things to do in ottawa

If you are looking for things to do in Ottawa then this post is for you. Ottawa is often cited as the second coldest capital in the world (Mongolia’s Ulaan Baatar claims the top spot), so if you can brave sub-zero temperatures, you really should be visiting in winter.

From January to early March the Rideau Canal opens as the world’s largest ice rink (about 8 km long) and joining the locals for some skating is an absolute must. Warm up afterward with hot chocolate and beaver tail. Extremely sweet flour snacks made in the capital.

What do you like best about your city?

I love the small-town/big-city feel of Ottawa. There’s always a lot going on there, but you never have to go far to get from one attraction to another. I’m never amazed at how beautiful the horizon is. Or how few people outside the city know about it. I love Parliament House as seen from the opposite river bank, or from one of the bridges that cross the Ottawa River.

Best Walk

Ottawa is a joy to visit with its flat and compact city center. To get a real feel for the city, start at Parliament House and head west along Wellington Street. Cross the Portage Bridge, stop for pictures of the unspoiled skyline, then head east along Rue Laurier.

Allow a few hours to visit the spectacular Museum of Civilization before heading back to downtown Ottawa over the Alexandra Bridge, passing the National Gallery and Notre Dame Cathedral on your way to the city’s shopping district.

Best Restaurant

Byward Market is full of places to eat, although many of them are chain restaurants that serve similar and nostalgic fare. To try something special, try Bekta outside the city center on Nepean Street.

They serve excellent Canadian cuisine, including Seared Quebec Duck and Alberta Tenderloin. The main dishes cost around $30. Adjacent to Byward Market is Sweetgrass Aboriginal Bistro, a pricey but worth-visiting place with a menu heavy on game meat.

Best Music/Festival

Ottawa hosts some festivals close to the hearts of Canada. Winterlude takes place in February and celebrates what the city does best. Withstanding arctic temperatures and tons of snow.

Skate on the canal, watch artists carve masterpieces from a block of ice, and then warm up with a live concert and a much-needed cup of hot chocolate. The second major festival is Canada Day on July 1, when revelers take to the streets around Parliament Hill for beer and fireworks.

Best Nightlife

I love the laid-back fun to be had around Byward Market, especially in the summer months when an outdoor terrace opens each time. Honest Lawyer is a local favorite and has plenty for ADD types, including air hockey, basketball hoops, and punch bag games.

For a cheap night out head to Minglewoods for its well-priced pitchers and dinner deals. It’s a nice pub and the prices are right, but the techno music can get a bit irritating from 11 pm onwards.

Best Day Trips Out of Town

Just a few kilometers from central Ottawa is Gatineau Park, a vast expanse of hills and forests. In the summer the park attracts hikers and campers as well as history buffs who are keen to visit the one-time home of former PM William McKenzie King. In winter the hills become ski slopes and the hiking trails turn into 200 km of cross-country skiing trails.

Must Read:- Plan For An Outstation Trip

Something about Ottawa that many tourists might not know

Quebec is just a 15-minute walk away. You wouldn’t expect a kilometer to make much difference between Ottawa and its French-speaking neighbor across the river, but as you venture up on your own? The absence of English- and European-inspired bistros leads the city lining Gatineau’s main street, the Promenade du Portage.

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