Top 10 Ottawa Destinations for Your Next Holiday
If you want to plan a trip to Ottawa, it pays to know which places to visit. Make the most of your trip and miss none of the iconic attractions.
Ottawa is Canada’s fourth-largest city. Formerly founded as Bytown in the 1820s, Ottawa is now the political center of Canada. But it’s also a cultural capital of sorts thanks to its many museums and historic buildings.
What’s great is that it’s also one of the largest bilingual cities in Canada. So, it’s much easier to get around Ottawa with just English as opposed to other cities in the east.
Check out some of these amazing destinations before you finalize your trip so you won’t miss anything.
1. Notre Dame Basilica
The Notre Dame Basilica is one of the top Ottawa attractions. The church, built in the 1840s, draws masses of tourists all year round. It’s a great example of Gothic revival architecture and speaks volumes about Canadian religious art.
The inside of the church features intricate designs, beautifully-carved mahogany, and sparkling silver pieces. It’s also famous for the abundant prophet statues and beautiful icons. Gorgeous inside and out, it’s one of the most visited churches in all of North America.
2. The Canadian Museum of Nature
The nature museum features world-class galleries and many interactive exhibits. In particular, it has an extensive fossil collection of dinosaurs and iconic local mammals. You can also immerse yourself in 3D movies and other educational exhibitions when you’re done touring.
It’s a great spot to visit with kids. The awe-inspiring specimens on display can be jaw-dropping and the museum is also very near to another tourist hotspot…
3. Parliament Hill
The new Parliament building of Canada is in Parliament Hill, a stone’s throw away from the aforementioned nature museum. Its construction took decades and finally wrapped up in 1927. It’s an iconic Canadian site with impressive Gothic-style architecture.
You’ll find the Peace Tower towering over the building. The observation deck is at the top of the tower and offers an unrestricted 360-degree view of the city.
Visiting Parliament Hill is no doubt among the best things to do in Ottawa for free.
4. The Canadian War Museum
The Canadian military has been more involved in wars than most people credit it for. The Canadian War Museum in Ottawa houses an impressive collection of memorabilia as if to prove this.
The museum houses over 3 million historical artifacts. Among them, you can find a variety of collections from both World Wars. Some of the interactive presentations should appeal even to knowledgeable history buffs. And, if you want to see something rare, how about an iconic armor-plated limo? It’s one that belonged to Adolf Hitler.
The tours usually last until 5 pm, so there’s plenty of time to visit the museum.
5. Rideau Canal
Did you know that you can check out a UNESCO World Heritage site while in Ottawa? Rideau Canal is one of the top Ottawa attractions. It connects the city to Kingston at a length of over 124 miles and dates back to the early 19th century.
That’s already impressive on its own, but you may agree that it’s even more so in the winter. It’s because once the water freezes, you can use the canal as a skating rink. Talk about a one-of-a-kind experience! It’s among the most unusual things to do in Ottawa and North America.
6. The Cold War Museum
If you think that the Canadian War Museum is the only military-themed place you can visit, think again. The Cold War Museum should also make it to your Ottawa itinerary. The collections are awe-inspiring but it’s the building and location that enhance the experience.
This museum is inside a large underground shelter. Built in the 60s, it’s radiation-proof and shock-resistant and located just minutes outside of the city.
7. Royal Canadian Mint
The Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa was the first mint to produce circulating Canadian currency outside of the UK. The Ottawa facility no longer does that now, though it’s still operational.
You can see medals and commemorative coins on display if you take a tour of the facility. During the week, you can even observe the talented craftspeople work on these. That said, keep in mind that the tours are reserved for small groups. So it’s best to save a spot in advance.
8. Dows Lake Pavilion
The Dows Lake Pavilion is another place on the list of top Ottawa attractions deserving of a stop. The place is gorgeous and ideal for sightseeing and relaxing.
You can find many restaurants, paddle boat and kayak rentals, and an outdoor patio. During the winter, you can rent sleds or skates and go have fun on the frozen water. You may also want to plan your trip around the Winterlude festival. Or the Tulip festival for those visiting in the spring.
9. Ottawa Little Theater
The theater is a popular attraction to both locals and tourists. It often hosts musicals and plays and there are many variety acts you can catch in the comfortable auditorium.
Although it looks small from the outside, the place can accommodate a considerable crowd. It’s often one of the best ways to end a night out in the city.
10. National Gallery of Canada
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Ottawa also hosts the National Gallery of Canada. The city truly has many impressive cultural buildings. And this one also happens to look like an architectural masterpiece of glass.
The building fits perfectly in the city’s landscape. And it contains a rich collection of aboriginal and religious works of art.
Check Out Canada’s Political and Cultural Center
One doesn’t go to Ottawa without recognizing its cultural value. Between its many museums and the national art gallery, the place can satisfy your cultural curiosities. It’s also a city that provides lots of entertainment if you prefer outdoor adventures, especially in the winter.
If you plan to land in Ottawa for your next vacation, you’re in luck. It’s hard to run out of things to do there, whether you’re traveling alone or with your family. There are many certifiably cool places to visit and different ways to explore the town at your own pace.
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