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Things to do in Ottawa

Top recommendations from locals

From sightseeing to hidden gems, find out what makes the city unique with the help of the locals who know it best.
Capitol Building
“Parliament Hill is one of Canada’s most iconic sites and a must-see when visiting Canada’s capital. The historic, neo-Gothic Parliament Buildings stand tall on a hill overlooking the majestic Ottawa River in downtown Ottawa. And although the buildings are home to the country’s federal government (Prime Minister Justin Trudeau works there), visitors are welcome on-site for free tours and programming all year-long. Whether you visit Parliament Hill for a selfie, for a tour, or to experience one of the many free events, you’ll never run out of things to discover!”
  • 294 locals recommend
Shopping Centre
“Near the parliament, you are walk-in distance to the Rideau center-our famous shopping mall. ”
  • 195 locals recommend
History Museum
“A great trip for the whole family with many various exhibits. Learn all about Canada, Indigenous, and check out the neat architecture. The views are also stunning.”
  • 182 locals recommend
Gift Shop
“Art museum with many Canadian works (3 mins walking distance to our building)”
  • 191 locals recommend
Market
“Locavores, fashionistas and merrymakers love the pedestrian-friendly and historic ByWard Market neighbourhood. The area is bursting with so many unique boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants and bars that you’ll need to make return trips to Ottawa’s oldest, most-concentrated neighbourhood! History The ByWard Market itself – now one of the oldest farmers’ markets in Canada – was established in 1826 by Lieutenant-Colonel John By, Builder of the Rideau Canal. The area was created as a commercial sector to support the builders of the Rideau Canal. Soon, stores, taverns, hotels, residential and industrial buildings sprang up, and Rideau Canal labourers of mostly French-Canadian and Irish origin settled in. As the area evolved, so did the architectural styles. Many of the original buildings still house a melting pot of businesses and cultures – all of which contribute to the area’s eclectic charm. Farmers’ market The ByWard Market Square is home to indoor food vendors and unique shops, as well as a year-round outdoor market brimming with artists’ handcrafted goods, seasonal fresh farmers’ produce and flowers. Once inside the central part of the building, look up to see the large papier mâché sculpture hanging from the ceiling. Created in 1978, the impressive piece called McClintock’s Dream depicts colourful market vendors from times past in an enormous cloud. Dining Whatever culinary experience you’re craving, you’ll find it in the ByWard Market area. Gourmet dining at Sur Lie Fine Food and Wine or Restaurant e18hteen; high end dining in a casual atmosphere at Play Food & Wine; affordable international eats in the ByWard Market Square; 24-hour diner fare at Zak’s diner. And no one can resist a sweet or savoury BeaverTail pastry at its original location. If you’d prefer to try multiple restaurants in one go, book a dining tour with Experience Food or Ottawa Tasting Tours and let them take care of the planning. Or for a broader look at the ByWard Market food scene (including samples), join a C’est Bon Cooking Food Tour, which visits foodie stops like Mantovani 1946. These tour companies also offer tours in other neighbourhoods. Nightlife In the evening, the neighbourhood’s many pubs, bars and clubs fill up with revellers, and in the warm months, the many outdoor patios provide the perfect setting to people watch or to be seen. Live music and DJs keep you dancing into the night at favourite local haunts like the Rainbow Bistro or Mercury Lounge. Tap your toes to the sound of Jazz while sipping wine at Vineyards Wine Bar Bistro. Enjoy Irish pub hospitality at venues like the Heart & Crown or brewpubs like Lowertown Brewery. Or for a truly local experience, visit the Château Lafayette. Known locally as The Laff, this classy tavern meets dive bar is the city’s oldest bar! Shopping Independently-run boutiques, shops and galleries are around every corner in the ByWard Market area. Stroll along high-end Sussex Drive and browse international brands at Schad or Trustfund; unique creations at Kaliyana and Farah Studio; works of art at the Gordon Harrison Canadian Landscape Gallery; and home designs at The Modern Shop and Zone. At the North end of Dalhousie Street, known as NorthDal, Workshop Studio & Boutique exclusively carries Canadian brands including their quirky creations; Sukhoo Sukhoo makes haute couture designs, and Chapeaux de Madeleine creates beautiful hats. And don’t miss tucked away jewels like Milk Shop on William Street, Roadtrip in the Clarendon Courtyard and Librairie du Soleil on York Street.”
  • 220 locals recommend
Museum
“The awe-inspiring spaces at the Canadian Museum of Nature bring to life Canada’s nature – from dinosaurs to aquatic wonders – all majestically presented in the castle-like Victoria Memorial Building. Beautiful, world-class galleries along with fun and interactive features ensure that visitors of all ages are entertained. The building itself has a fascinating past. It is the birthplace of all of Canada’s national museums and once served as the emergency headquarters for the Canadian government after a fire destroyed the Parliament Buildings in 1916. Former Canadian Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier lay in state in the Museum in 1919.”
  • 147 locals recommend
History Museum
“The Canadian War Museum is more than a museum that is internationally renowned for its symbolic architecture; it is known for inspiring and touching stories. Canada's rich military history is showcased through artifacts, personal stories, artwork, photos and interactive presentations. Tour the extensive permanent exhibitions and expand your knowledge of the conflicts that shaped Canada, Canadians and the world. Rest and reflect in Memorial Hall. Discover the Museum's fascinating architectural theme. And chat with a veteran to let history come alive.”
  • 102 locals recommend
Park
“Outaouais is one gigantic playground! Discover our outdoor activities. 33,000 square kilometres of unspoiled natural beauty and lots of fresh air. Visit us! Breathe in, breathe out. Lots of fresh air. Nature awaits.”
  • 129 locals recommend
Natural Feature
“www.ottawatourism.ca/ottawa-insider/rideau-canal-skateway/ Can't miss the opportunity to skate on the iconic Rideau Canal!”
  • 130 locals recommend
Spa
“You can spend the whole day here at North America’s largest outdoor spa. It has many saunas, hot tubs, steam room, infinity pool, massages and floating salt pool. There are 2 restaurants that you can eat at and a beer & bbq bar in the Summer.”
  • 140 locals recommend
Concert Hall
“Go check out a concert, ballet or play at our newly renovated National Arts Centre.”
  • 70 locals recommend
Travel Agency
“Either go for a skate on the Rideau Canal, or a hike/ski in the Gatineau Park. However you do it, try to get outside and enjoy the various outdoor activities Ottawa has to offer. *If you need equipment, check out Kunstadt Sports on 680 Bank Street!”
  • 65 locals recommend
Casino
“This casino brings acts or shows that bring a good crowd as well of course as gambling.”
  • 58 locals recommend
Shopping Centre
“Bayshore shopping center is one of the largest ottawa West malls, featuring multiple brands and shops for shopping tourists transiting and visiting the great ottawa area.”
  • 37 locals recommend
Shopping Centre
“Lots of stores including some higher-end designers. Great place to get some shopping done if you're coming to Ottawa from a smaller town or from abroad. ”
  • 26 locals recommend
Outlet Mall
“Newly built outdoor mall with all major stores. Find all the best deals at this gorgeous outlet mall. ”
  • 36 locals recommend

Top restaurants

Taco Place
“Fast, tasty tacos that are incredible, plus the best guacamole I’ve ever had. There are two locations - one on Elgin St and one in the Byward Market.”
  • 86 locals recommend
Pub
“Pub food with an incredible list of beer & ciders in their "Beer Bible"; Restaurant in Little Italy”
  • 46 locals recommend
Bar
“Great microbrewery in town walking distance. Excellente microbrasserie à distance de marche”
  • 48 locals recommend
Gastropub
“This is a high end restaurant, one of our favorites in the city. The food is amazing, worth every penny. Reservations are usually required as they're a busy spot.”
  • 44 locals recommend
Southern / Soul Food Restaurant
“Nice place, mostly enjoyed by locals. Not a touristic spot. Good for Drinks/Diner/Brunch”
  • 50 locals recommend
Pub
“Great place after enjoying the Gatineau Park. Lot's of different beers and great food. Warm ambiance.”
  • 45 locals recommend
Burger Joint
“Best little pub in the downtown Ottawa Byward Market. Not easy to find but once you have experienced the amazing french Canadian burgers and fries, you will want to come back again...tomorrow! Amazing menu, friendly staff, great value for the plentiful portions you will get. Please note...this is a small pub for locals, so you must go early especially on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday evenings.”
  • 56 locals recommend
Breakfast Spot
“Great hipster joint serving breakfast and lunch! Popular with the locals and worth checking out.”
  • 38 locals recommend

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