Must-See Sights in Ottawa

Must-See Sights in Ottawa

Ottawa is Canada’s capital city, a cultural melting pot of contrasts, of green open spaces and canals, esteemed museums and art galleries, bitterly cold winters and hot humid summers. Whether you want to cycle around the scenic parks or marvel at the Gothic splendour of the Parliament buildings, there’s something for everyone in this jam-packed city. With flights available from London Heathrow to Ottawa from Air Canada and British Airways, and reliable travel insurance available online with Go Travel and the AA, booking your holiday is easy, planning what to do is the difficult part! With so many attractions to choose from, the city can be overwhelming for first time visitors, so here is a guide to the best Ottawa has to offer.

Parliament Hill
In the middle of downtown, perched over the Ottawa river, this gothic building is the seat of the Canadian government, housing the Senate, Library of Parliament and the House of Commons. There are daily free tours around the inside of the building- but same-day tickets are available from 9am on a first come, first served basis, so get there early to guarantee a place! If the tours are fully booked, pick up a free guide and console yourself with a walk around the Parliament grounds. The back of the building boats breathtaking views of the Rideau Canal locks, and over the river to the French-speaking city of Hull in Quebec.

The National Gallery of Canada
This visual arts museum is internationally renowned and its impressive architecture, with a ‘Great Hall’, spacious galleries, and interior gardens and courtyards has won awards. Everything from Inuit art to Canadian sculpture is on display here, with fascinating regular exhibitions. With panoramic views of the Ottawa River, Parliament Buildings and the historic ByWard Market, it’s well worth lunching in one of the gallery cafes and soaking up the scenery.

Rideau Canal
Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Sight, the Rideau Canal runs from the St Lawrence River at Kingston to Ottawa, and empties out into a network of locks. If you have the chance, a boat trip through the various locks is a unique way of getting around and seeing the city.

Museum of Civilisation

This fascinating museum details the history of Canada’s people, and is a monument to the various cultures that make the city so unique; from the Aboriginal inhabitants, to Viking Settlers, and the wave of British and French Invaders in the 1500s. Kids will love the special hands on children’s exhibits, as well as the displays of Totem Poles, recreation of a Prairie Town and exhibit on Canada Post. You can buy a joint ticket with the Canadian War Museum, with interesting exhibits on Canada’s conflict with the French and the British, and participation in major wars.

The Great Outdoors
You can’t visit such a green city without at least strolling around the extensive grounds of Gatineau Park, just across the river from Ottawa. Run, walk or rent a bike in summer and take to over 170km of public paved trails that lead through the city past the most famous landmarks across the river to the park. In winter, head to the Rideau Canal for the largest outdoor skating rink in the world. Vendors sell “beaver tail”, a Canadian donut cake, right on the ice!

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