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Ottawa. Canada’s humble capital city. Quietly nestled between Montreal and Toronto, it is a serene city that is perfect to explore by foot.

Well, for the most part. While I have visited Ottawa a few times as a child, and once on my own recently, I have admittedly never walked Ottawa in the summer heat. I have, however, walked the city in the winter, and I absolutely loved it.

But, you may be wondering where to go (other than the parliament buildings, of course). Or what route to take. Well, to help you out, I have compiled an ultimate walking guide of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Enjoy!

Parliament Hill

Let’s start our walking guide at Ottawa’s biggest attraction: Parliament Hill. A charming area sprinkled with Canada’s parliament buildings, it is a great spot to admire some European-influenced architecture.

Low angle photo of the parliament buildings on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada

I utterly adored wandering around the buildings on Parliament Hill, and exploring the area on my own. Some highlights include finding statues commemorating the Women’s Suffrage in Canada, and stumbling upon a great view of the Ottawa River.

Bridge over frozen river in Ottawa, Canada

However, if you also wish to explore the interior of the Parliament buildings, there are scheduled guided tours. But, you will most likely need to reserve your tickets in advance.

Address: Wellington St, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A9


Additional Destination: Jacques-Cartier Park

As an additional, optional destination on this walking guide, consider visiting Jacques-Cartier Park. Not only is it a lovely park by the river, but it is also in a different province; so, you can claim to have walked from Ontario to Quebec.

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However, a drawback is that the walk from Parliament Hill to Jacques-Cartier park does take around 23 minutes.

But, if you have the time, I absolutely recommend visiting Jacques-Cartier Park. It offers some beautiful gardens, and a stunning view of Ottawa’s skyline. Further, it hosts Winterlude every February, and festivities on Canada Day.

Address: 285 Laurier St, Gatineau, Quebec, J8X 3W9

Time to Get Here: Around 23 minutes from Parliament Hill.


The Ultimate Montreal Walking Tour

Thinking of taking a day trip from Ottawa to Montreal, and wondering what to do? If so, click here for my self-guided Montreal walking tour!

Additional Destination: The Canadian Museum of History

If you’ve decided to stop by Jacques-Cartier Park, I further recommend visiting the Canadian Museum of History. Visiting this museum is an awesome experience; it allows you to learn more about the history and culture of the First Nations people of Canada.

Address: 100 Laurier St, Gatineau, Quebec, K1A 0M8

Time to Get Here: Around 8 minutes from Jacques-Cartier Park.

Cost: $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, $16 for students, and $12 for children aged 3-12.


National Gallery of Canada

For all the art-lovers out there, I recommend visiting Canada’s national art gallery, i.e. the National Gallery of Canada. Featuring First Nation, Canadian, European, American, and Asian artists, it offers a great variety in beautiful art.

Address: 380 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1N 9N4

Time to Get Here: Around 11 minutes from Parliament Hill.

Cost: $16 for adults, $14 for seniors, $8 for students and those aged 24 and under, and free for children aged 11 and under.

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Picture of hand holding red maple leaf
Immersing yourself in Canada

Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica

For more awe-inspiring architecture, I recommend visiting the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica. A National Historic Site of Canada, it is a Roman Catholic church built in 1841. While it may not be as grand as the cathedrals in Europe, it is definitely still worth the visit.

Address: 385 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1N 1J9

Time to Get Here: Around 2 minutes from the National Gallery of Canada.


ByWard Market

Neighboring the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica is the ByWard Market. Founded in 1826 (which, in Canadian terms, is ancient), it is one of Canada’s oldest and largest public markets.

This market is a great place to explore. Filled with boutiques, cafés, galleries, restaurants, and pubs, you can spend hours shopping, eating, and rambling around. I personally recommend eating a beaver tail for dessert!

But, note that most of the stores open at 9 am, and close at 5 pm.


Ottawa Art Gallery

If you’re traveling on a budget, or utterly love art, I recommend checking out the Ottawa Art Gallery. There is no admission fee, unlike the National Gallery of Canada, and is the home of some incredible art.

Address: 50 Mackenzie King Bridge, Ottawa, ON K1N 0C5

Time to Get Here: Around 14 minutes from the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica.

Cost: Free


Additional Destination for the Winter: Rideau Canal Skateway

Pair of white ice skates on the ground

As lame as this might be, I’ve dreamed of skating on a river my entire life. There seems to be something so old-school about it, so fun, so Canadian 5-dollar bill. Unfortunately, growing up in Vancouver, I typically only had a couple weeks of snow a year.

Sadly, the last time I was in Ottawa, the ice was deemed unsafe to skate on. So, if that’s the case when you’re there, or if it’s the middle of summer, I would still recommend walking along the canal. It is a very scenic, peaceful, and calming walk.

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Further, if you’re hoping to skate on the Rideau Canal, I would recommend checking out the website linked below for the ice conditions.

Cost: Free, but this is not including the price of skate rentals. You can rent your skates at Capital Skates along the canal, but, it can get quite pricey:

  • For skates, it costs $22 for 2 hours, and $10 for each additional hour. However, you also need to make a $50 deposit.
  • For a sleigh, it costs $32 for 2 hours, with $16 for each additional hour. However, you also need to make a $50 deposit.


Explore on your Own

Finally, while I’ve provided some of the foundations for a walking route around Ottawa, I further recommend going off on your own. Get lost, find some hidden alleyways and treasures; it’s one of my favorite parts of traveling.

Stairs in secluded area near Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Canada
An isolated path to the Ottawa River I found while wandering around

In Conclusion,

Ottawa is a quiet, serene city (typical of a capital) that is perfect to explore by foot. With stunning architecture, enchanting river-side views, cute boutiques, and beautiful art galleries, it is the perfect addition to your Canadian adventure!

Thanks for reading the article! If you have any questions, feel free to comment down below, and if you want to see more travel and hike-related content, make sure to check out my other articles.


Ultimate Walking Guide of Ottawa, Canada

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Enjoyed this walking guide? Want to read more? Click here to read my walking guide of Segovia, Spain.

Or if you want to learn more about the epic walks around another Canadian city, Vancouver, click here!

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