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Things to do in

Ottawa

Our most recommended things to do in Ottawa

Ottawa: Sightseeing River Cruise

1. Ottawa: Sightseeing River Cruise

Discover the natural beauty of the region that captured the imagination of the first European explorer Samuel de Champlain. Climb aboard the 'Paula D' for a 1.5-hour sightseeing cruise on the Ottawa River. This must-do experience offers an entertaining glimpse of the region's rich history and leaves you with plenty of time to enjoy the rest of your stay. For your convenience, there are two departure docks, one located in Gatineau and another in Ottawa. Once boarded, sit back and relax as you cruise down the river. Enjoy spectacular views of the city and learn about the river's past life as a watery highway for transporting resources with your guide's engaging and informative commentary in both English and French. During your cruise, you'll have the opportunity to see the Parliament Buildings, the Rideau Canal Locks, and the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau from the river. You'll also be able to spot some sights that are only visible from the water or from Gatineau. While you're taking in the sights, savor a nice cold beverage (at your own expense) on the large open-air upper deck. Alternatively, escape the elements and visit the closed-in lower deck to take advantage of the on-board canteen with a bar.

Ottawa: Hop-On Hop-Off Guided City Tour Day Ticket

2. Ottawa: Hop-On Hop-Off Guided City Tour Day Ticket

All aboard for this popular hop-on hop-off city bus tour of Ottawa that’s filled with fun, facts, and history! Stay on the bus for the complete 1.5-hour round-trip tour or hop off and back on throughout the validity of your ticket. Explore Ottawa's main sights like the Canadian Parliament buildings, Byward Market, and more en route. See the sights of Ottawa from a classic open-top, double-decker bus. Sit on the lower deck and enjoy the inside comfort or ride on the top deck and enjoy the fantastic views as your knowledgeable, bilingual guide points out landmarks and shares the city's history with you. Hop off at sites you want to explore and hop back on to resume your city tour. Do this at your own pace, and visit as many of Ottawa’s top sites as you like. See museums, parks, galleries, the Byward Market, the Canadian Parliament buildings, and lots more. Explore, dine, and shop throughout the capital city!

Ottawa: 1-Hour Bilingual Guided Tour by Amphibious Bus

3. Ottawa: 1-Hour Bilingual Guided Tour by Amphibious Bus

Climb aboard a unique vehicle that can travel on land and water and discover the historical attractions of Ottawa and the Ottawa River from different perspectives. Spend 40 minutes on land and 20 minutes on the water. Admire landmark monuments and attractions such as Lake Dow, Landsdowne Park and Byward Market. Get a magnificent view of the city as you cruise along the river aboard the amphibious vehicle. See all the important sights of Ottawa and the city of Gatineau, located just across the water. Avail of an activity that is both fun and educational for the entire family, and ideal for those who are short of time but want to see it all.

Ottawa: Rideau Canal Cruise

4. Ottawa: Rideau Canal Cruise

Discover the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Rideau Canal aboard a brand-new electric vessel. Admire top attractions like the Canadian Museum of Nature, Château Laurier, Dow’s Lake, and the National Arts Centre from this iconic waterway. The cruise departs from the heart of downtown Ottawa. Step aboard North America’s largest 100% electric passenger vessel, the only one of its kind. Your experienced and friendly crew will answer your questions and ensure your safety. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the view as your live guide shares entertaining insights into the region, its history, and rich cultural heritage. Discover the Rideau Canal from the Chateau Laurier to Dow's Lake. Learn about 30 different sites that have marked the history of Ottawa including the Trans-Canada Highway, Canadian Museum of Nature, Canal Ritz, Lansdowne Park, Bank Street Bridge, Dow’s Lake, Commissioners Park, Dominion Arboretum, and many more.

Ottawa: Haunted Night Walking Tour

5. Ottawa: Haunted Night Walking Tour

Experience Ottawa like never before on a 75-minute Original Haunted Walk. Spend an evening with fascinating tour guides who are chosen from the best local storytellers and have a passion for sharing the unexpected side of Canada's capital city.  On the Original Haunted Walk, your expert cloaked guide will reveal to you their favorite ghost stories from the Downtown Ottawa area and lead you by lantern light to some of the city's most well-known haunted spots. Visit locations such as the Fairmont Château Laurier, Grant House, and Ottawa’s haunted high school. A favorite stop is the haunted Bytown Museum where many of the guides have had their own experiences to share. You’ll never look at the city and these buildings the same again.  After being led through the streets of Downtown Ottawa, your guide can walk you back to the start location or leave you to enjoy a (sleepless) night in the city.

Ottawa: Scenic Helicopter Flight

6. Ottawa: Scenic Helicopter Flight

Soar over Ottawa city, the capital of Canada, snap breathtaking photos, and enjoy the view on this picturesque helicopter flight. Gaze out of the panoramic and curved windows and spot the serene Meech Lake and the Champlain. Start at the Rockcliffe airport at the Canadian Space and Aviation Museum. Have a quick safety briefing before boarding your helicopter. See Parliament Hill, the home of the Parliament of Canada, and Rideau Hall, the official residence of the Canadian monarch from above. Take-off in a Robinson R44 aircraft and fly at a cruising speed of 180 km/h. Choose between a 10-minute flight covering 30 KM, a 20-minute flight covering 60 KM, or a 30-minute flight covering 90 KM.

Ottawa: Ottawa River Tour by Hawaiian Palapa Hut

7. Ottawa: Ottawa River Tour by Hawaiian Palapa Hut

Take a relaxing tour up and down the Ottawa River on a Hawaiian-style palapa hut in a boat trip like no other. Just head to one of the embarkment sites, climb aboard and get the party started. The activity provider's captains are all small vessel certified and licensed. Enjoy fancy drinks and snacks as the tiki bar takes you along the river, offering stunning views of the shoreline. Whether it’s just hanging out with friends for a fun time, spending some relaxing time with your family, taking a romantic cruise, or a group excursion, this tour is one of the most unique ways to get out on the water. Cruise the time away sipping drinks, and listening to or singing karaoke to your favorite tropical tunes.

Ottawa: River Zipline Adventure

8. Ottawa: River Zipline Adventure

Try out a completely unique activity that demands to be tried at least once. Try the world's only interprovincial zip-line flying across the mighty Ottawa River, separating Canada's capital, Ottawa, from the city of Gatineau. Arrive at the Welcome Desk on the Gatineau side to register and sign the liability waiver. Collect your equipment and head to the launch tower in Ottawa, an 8-minute walk from the Welcome Desk, across the Chaudière Bridge. Climb the steps to the tower and get ready to cross from one province to the other. Soar from Ontario to Quebec in less than a minute at an average speed of 40 km an hour, 120 feet above the water. Enjoy a breathtaking view of the National Capital Region with historic landmarks such as the Parliament of Canada, the historic district of Old Hull, and the Chaudière Falls, classified as a natural monument and national heritage site. Capture the whole experience and keep it as a souvenir for you and your loved ones with the Kool Replay video capture system. Quickly upload the full video of your zip line ride for your social media and watch your friends go wild.

Ottawa: Canadian War Museum Admission

9. Ottawa: Canadian War Museum Admission

The Canadian War Museum is Canada’s national museum of military history. Designed by Japanese–Canadian architect Raymond Moriyama, the Museum’s structure and surrounding grounds reflect the concept of regeneration. From windows spelling out “Lest We Forget / N’oublions jamais” in Morse code, to uneven floors and rough concrete walls, the building acknowledges the price of conflict, while also showing hope for a more peaceful future. The Museum brings Canada’s military history to life for visitors of all ages through thousands of personal stories, objects, works of art, photographs, interactive presentations, and immersive environments. In addition to a series of galleries exploring Canadian military history from early wars in Canada to contemporary conflicts, the Museum features an impressive collection of large artillery and military vehicles in the LeBreton Gallery, as well as thought-provoking temporary exhibitions on everything from the First and Second World Wars to art produced by women in conflict zones. Memorial Hall and several additional spaces in the Museum encourage quiet reflection on the cost of war. To stand in the presence of the headstone of Canada’s Unknown Soldier in Memorial Hall is a powerful and moving experience, as is experiencing the Moriyama Regeneration Hall and visiting the Royal Canadian Legion Hall of Honour. The Canadian War Museum’s collections are among the finest military holdings in the world, comprising rare vehicles, artillery, uniforms, medals, small arms, and rare books and archives, as well as the outstanding Beaverbrook Collection of War Art. In addition to showcasing exhibitions from around the world, the Museum hosts vehicle demonstrations, scholarly lectures, engaging family programming, and a wide range of special events.

Ottawa: Afternoon Sunset Night Yacht Tour + Free 1st Drink

10. Ottawa: Afternoon Sunset Night Yacht Tour + Free 1st Drink

Cruise along the Ottawa River for a mellow tour aboard a classic yacht. Meet some new people or opt for an intimate experience by booking all 12 spaces. Relax in the breezy open-air deck to see landmarks such as the Chateau Laurier, the Rideau Canal Locks, the Parliament Buildings, and Rideau Falls. Meet the captain and first mate of the modest Everly or the more spacious Dolce Far Niente and get a quick safety briefing before setting sail. You can also grab dry bags for your electronics. These yachts are proudly maintained by a Canadian-owned tour company that’s accredited by Transport Canada. Kick back and take in the sights and sounds of Ottawa’s busy riverside at your ideal time of day with options in the afternoon, at sunset, or by night. Enjoy alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages served on board with one drink included or bring your own drinks which staff will be happy to serve to you. Alcoholic drinks: • Cantina Trevigiana Prosecco • Barefoot Pinot Grigio • Grand Sud Chardonnay • Bombay Tonic • Jose Margarita • Sainte- Marie Mojito • Smirnoff Ice Cans • Smirnoff Vodka Soda Raspberry • Johnny Whiskey Old Fashioned • Fling Vodka Soda Cucumber Mint Non-alcoholic options: • Clever Pink G and Tonic Premium Mocktail (0% alc) • Clever G and Tonic Premium Mocktail (0% alc) • Clever Mojito Premium Mocktail (0% alc) • Grüvi Dry Secco • Grüvi Golden Lager • Grüvi Juicy IPA • Töst Sparkling Rosé Whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic, the first drink is included. Additional alcoholic drinks are available for $8. Additional non-alcohol drinks are available for $5. Pop and juices are sold for $2 each. Unlimited bottled water is available for free.

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What people are saying about Ottawa

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 1,506 reviews

We actually live here in Ottawa and we looking for something to do. A bus that goes in the water sounded like fun and it was so much fun and educational. I didn't realize that so many embassy's were here in Ottawa, and actually leaned so much more about this city. It's a great tour for tourists and people who live here with an hour to spare. You won't regret it.

This was one of the most amazing river cruise I ever had. It was just a wonderful experience on the Paula D cruise. The guide on the cruise was well knowledge of the history and relevance of the various points of interest. I would do this again. Hopefully next year I will be back.

Aside from leaving 10 minutes late, we enjoyed the cruise. The tour guide was hilarious and so entertaining.

Going on the palapa tour was very interesting. We met some very nice people. The ride on the boat was fun.

Interesting trip on the canal with a very entertaining commentry.