Ottawa: Canada’s Capital – the Top 10 Places of Interest
When you think of Canada, you’re probably imagining vast and beautiful landscapes, right? But the country is also a great destination when it comes to city trips. Especially Canada’s capital Ottawa has a lot to offer. We’re here to give you a small insight into this wonderful city and to introduce you to our 10 favorite sights there. Are you ready? Let’s go!
Ottawa in a Nutshell
Ottawa is located in the southeast of Ontario on the eponymous Ottawa River. With a population of about 934,000 people, it’s the sixth-largest city in Canada. Upon arrival, you will quickly realize that Ottawa is a bilingual city, and people here speak English as well as French. Due to the capital’s large immigrant community, you will also encounter many other languages here. Ottawa is a very wealthy city, with a major focus on high-tech industries. Its per capita income is also the highest in the area.
As Canada is a very large country, its climate varies a lot from region to region. The summer months from June to October are generally the most popular ones with visitors, because of their mild temperatures. You should be careful when visiting Canada in the winter, as it can get incredibly cold.
In order to cover the longer distances within the city safely and comfortably, we recommend using the OC Transpo. This public transit agency is responsible for a lot of Ottawa’s bus lines as well as the O-Train. Using public transport is the easiest way to get around Ottawa, as the system is both very cheap and easy to navigate.
If you need a break from all the sightseeing, just pick one of Ottawa’s many great restaurants and relax. The big question is, of course, what are the capital’s culinary specialties? Well, Canada has many dishes, but nothing beats the classic pancake with maple syrup. It’s no surprise, really! The maple leaf is part of the Canadian flag, after all.
The country is also known for its many traditional cheeses. You can make your way through the different varieties in almost any restaurant. We can’t decide which one is our favorite, but we can guarantee that any cheese here will always be fresh and local.
There’s always something going on in a city like Ottawa. The Canada Dance Festival in June is a particularly exciting event. If you love dancing, this is the place to be. You can watch great performances of all kinds of contemporary dancing and even get on the dance floor yourself. You’ll always have a great time here!
Some of the city’s most impressive events take place in winter, such as the Winterlude, which looks like it’s straight out of a fairy tale. It has attracted thousands of visitors to the city since 1979. During this festival, you can go ice skating, admire the beautiful snow sculptures, and listen to the many band concerts. It’s always an unforgettable experience!
The Top 10 Places of Interest in Ottawa
Now that we’ve covered some basic facts about Ottawa, let’s talk about the city’s most exciting sights.
Even on its own, the hill is already quite majestic, but the Parliament building on top is even more impressive! In 1859, the existing structure on the hill was turned into a functioning parliament. Today, the building covers an area of around 88,480 m2 (or more than 21 acres), so there are plenty of rooms for you to explore. While you’re here, pay attention to the many statues and monuments of famous Canadians that you can find all over the place.
The parliament’s interior is just as impressive as its façade. The parliamentary library, which is at the back of the hill, is not only one of the oldest but also one of the most beautiful of its kind. Up to 600,000 files and other types of media are stored here. Unfortunately, it is not always open to visitors, so we recommend checking the times in advance and booking a guided tour.
The Rideau Falls are two 11-meter-high waterfalls and the place where the Rideau River flows into the Ottawa River. Take a walk through the adjoining park and just relax. The Rideau Falls aren’t one of Ottawa’s most famous attractions, so you’ll have plenty of peace and quiet here.
National Gallery of Ottawa
This art museum is one of the best in all of Canada! It was founded in 1880 and houses paintings and drawings as well as photographs and sculptures. There are about 96,000 works of art for you to admire here! You won’t only find pieces by Canadian artists, either, but also many by American and European ones – including a large collection of Andy Warhol’s work!
Canadian Museum of Nature
The Museum of Nature should also be at the top of your bucket list. It was built from 1905 to 1925 in the neo-Gothic style. The first collections were established as early as 1856, and the museum is still very interesting to this very day, with over 10 million exhibits on display. From dinosaur fossils to mineral and rock collections – in this museum, you’ll find everything your heart desires. The Canadian Museum of Nature is a real highlight of Canada’s capital.
This lake, which forms part of the Rideau Canal, is surrounded by a park that is absolutely beautiful all year round. In winter, for instance, you can go ice skating on the small river. In May, on the other hand, you can admire more 30,000 tulips in the park.
If you want to eat something, you can also visit one of the three nearby restaurants and enjoy a wonderful view from there. Why not rent a small boat afterwards and explore the park from the water?
If you’re near the National Gallery of Canada, then you should definitely stop by Nepean Point as well. It’s a very picturesque hill, offering an impressive view over the whole of the capital. It’s also home to a statue of the French explorer Samuel de Champlain.
The National War Memorial
The National War Memorial is located on the Confederation Square. It commemorates 116,000 fallen soldiers and people in service who lost their lives in wars and battles. It was designed in 1925 and was implemented very quickly – merely a year later. Over the years, more statues and monuments were added. This memorial is a very important landmark reflecting and commemorating Canadian history.
This beautiful park is located along the Ottawa River. Here, you’ll find breathtakingly beautiful grounds with well-kept meadows and trees as well as a colorful array of flowers. Other highlights include large, intricate sculptures made up of a variety of plants. While walking around, you will see them scattered throughout the park, so keep your eyes peeled for them!
The Mer Bleue Bog near Ottawa
Especially in autumn, the Mer Bleue Bog walkway displays the most beautiful colors. It is located in the 33.43 km² (or around 8,260 acres) large nature reserve and offers you the opportunity to observe Canada’s flora and fauna. If you’re quiet enough, you can see beavers, turtles, and rare birds here, some of which – if you’re especially lucky – might even eat out of your hand.
Do you want to spend a day in Ottawa like a real Canadian? Then take a stroll through ByWard Market. This farmers’ market has been around since 1826, making it not only one of the largest markets in Canada, but also one of the oldest. Unfortunately, it has suffered some setbacks over the years, among them four major fires. Nevertheless, it is still a great place and very popular with travelers and locals alike.
In total, there are more than 150 stalls selling everything your heart desires. We have already mentioned that Canada is famous for its many types of cheese. ByWard Market is the place to buy and taste the best cheeses in the whole city. But you can also get other fresh and local products here, such as fish, bread, and maple syrup. You should definitely stop by and browse through the various delicacies.
In conclusion, Ottawa is not only the capital of Canada, but it’s also home to a wide range of fantastic parks, museums, and markets. You can have a great time here, even in the cold winter months. Take the opportunity to stroll through the beautifully lit Christmas markets, or go ice skating and become a figure skating expert.
If you visit Canada during the warmer months, be sure to stroll through the many breathtakingly beautiful parks and marvel at the unique flora and fauna there. In order to help protect the environment, make sure to use Ottawa’s great public transport system. In short, Ottawa is a fantastic city trip destination, and there’s nothing stopping you from having an unforgettable time here. What are you waiting for?