Canadian Parliament offers free group tours throughout the day, depending on whether Parliament is in session or if there’s construction.
The Ottawa area also has several museums including the Museum of History and the War Museum. The museums and the National Gallery all offer some free time each week, so plan ahead if you're going to visit.
Take a stroll through Byward market, where over 600 businesses sell anything from trinkets to local farmers’ produce.
The Notre Dame Basilica in Lower Town neighborhood will certainly catch your eye – regardless of how religious you are, the impressive designs are certainly something to gawk at.
If you’ve chosen to visit in winter, head to Rideau Canal where you can skate across the frozen water. This 125mi (200km) waterway was constructed back in the early 1800s and is a UNESCO World Heritage site – not to mention one of the most memorable features in Ottawa.
Ottawa also has some pretty cool street art, especially in the Glebe and Vanier neighborhoods. Be on the lookout for bright murals up side-streets and outside local shops.
The thing that locals love about Ottawa is that it’s surrounded by nature. You’ll even see yoga classes happening in front of Parliament during the summer – feel free to join in!
Take a stroll through Majors Hill Park, Confederation Park, the grounds of Rideau Hall, and find a great photo spot at Nepean Point.
Wander the paths that wind alongside the Rideau Canal or the Ottawa River – which is part of the Trans-Canada Trail. Or, for an easy day-trip, head to the Gatineau Hills for hiking or skiing.
Ottawa isn’t known for its party scene, but there are a few fun places to grab a drink with new friends. If you love beer, head to CRAFT or the Bier Markt. If you want to dance, check out The Great Canadian Cabin or The Heart and Crown.
The Byward Market area is your best bet
When the night is over, join the locals and head to Zaks Diner for your post-party food fix.
Ottawa celebrates all four seasons, and there’s always something going on.
During the winter you can expect tons of Christmas lights and a
Spring is the tulip festival; with hundreds of multi-colored tulips (an annual gift from the Netherlands) popping up across the city.
With summer comes Canada Day (July 1st), and several music festivals including Bluesfest.
Finally, fall is celebrated in with several community fairs, a Food and Wine Festival, and of course Canadian Thanksgiving, and Halloween.
When it comes to local favorites, you need to try these: a freshly made sandwich from La Bottega, gelato from Stella Luna, and a beavertail from the stall in the market – yes, they are touristy, but locals love them too.
Ottawa also has Ribfest (June) and PoutineFest (April) – absolute musts if you’re around.
Most of Ottawa’s attractions are really close together, which means you can walk from place to place. That being said, if you want to explore some of the more outlying neighborhoods such as Chinatown, Little Italy, and Westboro, you will have to use OC Transpo – the city’s bus service.
Whatever the season, it’s always a good time to visit Ottawa.
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