Things to Do in Ottawa

Top Things to Do in Ottawa - Ottawa Must-See Attractions

Things to Do in Ottawa


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Top Attractions in Ottawa

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What travelers are saying

  • retireeVancouver
    Vancouver, Canada1,829 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    We spent a morning doing a 40 minute small group pre-booked tour of the House of Commons in the West Block and a 30 minute tour of the Senate building. At each tour, there is a 20 minute waiting period in which ticket holders go through an airline security type check. Tickets are free but only available online. I recommend booking far in advance of one's visit to Ottawa.

    The Visitor Center is located outside in a separate building - signs on Parliament Hill show the way - between the West Building and the center block which is surrounded with construction fences. Ticket holders wait outside the Visitor Center to be let into that building for a check- in like going through an airport security system. After, while waiting inside for the tour to be called, visitors can browse the various selections of tourist items in the boutique shop - pens, pencils, pins, maple syrup, puzzles, cups, etc. Tour guides could be university students doing a summer job. In each tour, visitors are shown the hall where debates occur and another room where Committees meet. Photos are OK and questions are welcomed.

    After the tours, we walked around the Parliament buildings to view the many statues of past Prime Ministers. Lester Pearson was the last one to have his statue placed on the Hill. Each state identifies the person and his contribution to Canadian history. This Hill walk is on a paved path behind the parliament buildings with wonderful changing views across the Ottawa River to Gatineau and its Canadian History Museum, the Ottawa River bridges and Falls, and the National Art Gallery with Bytown and the US Embassy. Out front of the Parliament Buildings along Wellington Street is the ever burning Central Flame with emblems of each Canadian province around it. While the Central building is undergoing a reno, the construction fence offers photos of the interiors of Parliament with diagrams showing the make-up of Canadian federal government.
    Written May 21, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • retireeVancouver
    Vancouver, Canada1,829 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    In early May, online tickets are not needed. We easily bought our tickets at the museum. We stayed all day - 6-7 hours. Cafe serves lunch foods from the grill (like perogies $12), soup ($7-8), cold sandwiches $10), salads ($10), and drinks. We sat inside at a table with a view of the Ottawa River, but tables outside too. Visitors can walk along the river over a bridge for a closer view of the Ottawa Falls. The roof display doesn't open until July. Lockers are available for $1, nonrefundable, or leave jackets in the room on hangers without security.

    The museum was a short walk from our hotel ( Hilton Garden Inn downtown) and we passed by another attraction, the Holocaust Memorial, on our way there. The Pimisi tram stop is also nearby as is a stop for bus #85.

    The displays about war in Canada progress from early times to present day, all organized chronologically into 4 galleries and all on one floor. The brochure suggests about 45 minutes in each gallery and the war machinery area downstairs. Labelling is bilingual with English first and French second since the museum is located in Ontario not Quebec. Sounds of war drift the air throughout the galleries and each is on the dim side due to a lack of windows and dependance on spotlights. Displays in each gallery were varied from uniforms, rifles, bow and arrows, paintings, maps, photographs and so on - never a dull moment with this variety - and each well explained.

    For 20th C wars, the focus is on Canadian participation so it was a surprise to see Hitler's black convertible on display. Downstairs, tanks (Russian,German, British, American - lots of them), motorcycles, missile shooters, jeeps, trucks - an array of 20th C war machinery - were on display inside in a weather protected heated area and accessible by elevator or stairs.

    I enjoyed the first gallery the most with its focus on the early war years in Canada with the French against the indigenous population and visa versa and also as their ally against the 13 colonies and their indigenous allies. The painting showing the murder of the French Missionary Brebeuf by the Huron natives was chilling to view especially as one could see the captors' knives being heated in the glowing fire before being stabbed into the priest's flesh.
    Written May 19, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Jud1952
    Nottingham, UK52 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    We were in Ottawa during the Tulip Festival so took the bus down to Commissioners Park and walked back into the city along the canal. Lovely walk but if it’s a hot day take plenty of water
    Written May 21, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • retireeVancouver
    Vancouver, Canada1,829 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    We spent 4 pleasant hours in this spacious modern art gallery looking at Canadian art as well as specimans of European art from several art periods. In early May, we easily bought tickets at the door. Cloak room has an attendent with no charge. We used their excellent map of the gallery, provided with the ticket, to guide us through the many spacious rooms on 2 levels.

    The first level had a very good collection of the Group of 7's landscape paintings of northern Ontario on the walls as well as quite a few of Emily Carr's from the Pacific Northwest. I also enjoyed seeing works by early Canadian painters like Paul Kane, Krieghoff. I would have thought there would have been more paintings than just one by the Nova Scotian artist, Alex Colville, on display. There were many more paintings by other Canadian artists as well as works by Indigenous artists on Level 1.
    Level 2 had the European and Contemporary paintings. I enjoyed seeing a representative painting from famous Renaissance and Impressionist artists. Some of the rooms also had sculptures. Benches were available in the middle of some of the rooms.

    Both levels had the same floor space with views into a small courtyard planted with ferns and another featuring a water fountain. It was strange to hear church choral music in these courtyards, but upon investigating the source of the music I came upon a make-up interior of a cathedral with 45 audiospeakers where visitors could hear the special parts of the music being played.

    The gift shop was excellent to browse through with many lovely things on display including art books, pottery, and fabric pieces.

    The cafe, overlooking the Champlain statue pointing towards the Ottawa River, offers grilled foods like grilled cheese sandwiches, burgers as well as cold sandwiches and salads ($10), soup, drinks and sweets. Another spacious sunny area on Level 1 - the Great Hall - offers seating for large groups who may have brought their lunches with them. Near the gift shop is a coffee shop with sweets and wraps. Outside is the Tavern, a most pleasant area offering pizza.

    The art gallery is close to other attractions in Ottawa. On our way to the art Gallery, we particularly enjoyed our stroll through Major Hill Park with its beautiful tulip beds in bloom in early May and, later, a stroll around Parliament Hill looking at the PM statues, followed by a cruise boat ride on the Rideau canal.
    Written May 21, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • runningwild32
    united kingdom310 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    There was so much information about the Cold War and Canada's part in it which resulted in a longer visit than expected. The whole site is very well laid out and goes deep into the ground. If you are interested in history, the Diefenbunker is worth a visit.
    Written May 23, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Hayley C
    London, Canada12 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    So much to see, be sure you have enough time. Staff were very knowledgeable and friendly. Even though there was some work being done inside, it did not affect our visit at all. Great spot to
    Spend an afternoon.
    Written April 27, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • DL
    Deerfield Beach, FL47 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Loved this Cathedral. Wonderful interior with beautiful stained glass windows. I would love going to Mass every Sunday here.
    Written May 3, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Helen E
    London, UK66 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Fabulous museum that reviews Canada’s military and civil aviation history. Genuine Lancaster bomber. Also lots of of WW1 aircraft - very educational. Tons of interactive opportunities for kids— climb into the cockpit of a Soviet-era Mig, or a Tutor jet. For toddlers, lots of freedom and fun ride-on bikes. Small cafe. Clean bathrooms. Only downside: you have to pay for parking on top of your admission fee!
    Written March 11, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • DL
    Deerfield Beach, FL47 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Amazing! And that is even with us only being able to go to the boutique/gift shop. Our short time in Ottawa and our schedule didn't allow us for a tour. There were so many incredible commemorative and collectible coins to see there. The designs are so awesome. Shout out to Christopher for making our experience there so great. He gave us such special attention and explanations on the coin collections in the boutique. We are so grateful for that. Hope to one day make that tour. It's definitely a must when you visit Ottawa.
    Written May 3, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • PookyCake
    Victoria, Canada14,261 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Located in Confederation Square, and unveiled in 1939 by King George VI, this beautiful monument made of bronze and granite was originally built to honour all those soldiers who lost their lives during the so-called Great War (World War I); however, with the passage of time, Canada’s National War Memorial – also called “The Response” – has come to symbolize and honour ALL Canadians who’ve served in conflicts since 1939 and, indeed, those who will serve in times of war in the years to come. In this regard, the National War Memorial is “timeless.” This timelessness forms the essence of the annual Remembrance Day celebrations, which are held each year on November 11: The Royal Canadian Legion, RCMP, Governor General, Prime Minister, Service Women and Men, and the public come together to pay their respects to those who’ve fallen in past and current wars.

    As I mentioned in my earlier review of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, I’m usually not big on war memorials, but this one just gets to me. It is, ironically, a solemn spot in the middle of bustling Ottawa for remembrance and reflection; and this is all beautifully captured by the National War Memorial, inclusive of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

    When visiting Ottawa, make sure to patronize this site. It is at once beautiful, sad and powerful.
    Written November 20, 2023
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Dimitris L
    Sydney, Australia48,754 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    The Peace Tower is a bautifful building on Parliament Hill. It was originall built as a memorial to those who died in World War I. It is currently undergoing quite extensive renovations and is unfortunately closed to the public. However it's worth visiting and having a look from the outside, as it is an architectural marvel.
    Written October 15, 2023
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Dimitris L
    Sydney, Australia48,754 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    The eight Ottawa locks, which are the largest single set of locks on the entire Rideau system, connect the channel of the Rideau Canal to the Ottawa River.
    They are designed to raise and lower boats from one water level to another. They were built, along with a series of dams, to bypass rapids and waterfalls.
    It takes at least one and a half hours to go through the locks.
    On one side of the locks are Canada’s Parliament buildings and on the other is the architecturally magnificent building of the Chateau Laurier hotel. Not to be missed!
    Written October 14, 2023
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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