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Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, occupies an enviable location high on the Ottawa River at the Ontario/Québec provincial border. This sedate and refined city is steeped in tradition, which manifests itself in the regal Parliament Buildings, the Governor-General’s residence and the numerous parks and gardens.

In winter, life in Ottawa revolves around being in the great outdoors, enjoying festivals, ice sculptures, heated alfresco bars and ice skating on the frozen canal. Rather than locking themselves away in the warm, Ottawa’s residents are undeterred by the cold temperatures and you'll often see people drinking hot chocolate on the street and socialising in trendy restaurants and coffee shops.

Despite dropping far below zero in the winter, Ottawa exudes warmth and is a welcoming city. You can expect quite a lot of snowfall, which creates opportunities for a variety of activities. We recommend ice skating on the Rideau Canal, which is Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site. The canal freezes over in the winter to become the world’s largest skating rink at 7.8 km (4.8 miles) long. If you're feeling active you could also go snowshoeing in Gatineau Park, or tobogganing at Green’s Creek or Mooney’s Bay.

For a more relaxing stay, visit the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian War Museum and the Canadian Museum of History, or enjoy a massage and thermal bath at the Nordik Spa-Nature.

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Audley Travel specialist Georgie

Start planning your tailor-made trip to Ottawa by contacting one of our Canada specialists

Suggested itineraries featuring Ottawa

This sample itinerary will give you an idea of what is possible when you travel in Ottawa, and showcases routes we know work particularly well. Treat this as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

Map of Ottawa

Places & hotels on the map

    Places near Ottawa

    Ideas for experiencing Ottawa

    Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Ottawa, and which use the best local guides.

    • Oscar Peterson Statue outside National Arts Centre

      Historical walking tour of Ottawa


      Embark on a walking tour with your knowledgeable, local guide, stopping at Parliament Hill, ByWard Market and plenty more of Ottawa’s most-loved historic spots.