During my trip to Ottawa I spent the majority of my time exploring the city by foot and taking in all the buildings and monuments. I discovered so many things that I could do for free which fit into my budget really well. This is a great city for someone strapped for cash, as most of the main attractions are free to visit. Here are some of the awesome ways to spend your time in Ottawa and not your money!
1. Photograph Parliament Hill
Visiting Parliament Hill is most likely the top priority of any tourist visiting Canada’s capital city. It’s buildings are extremely photogenic and there are a number of great monuments surrounding the grounds to take a look at (my favourite is the statues of the Famous Five). In the summer time it would be a great place to have a picnic or people watch.
2. Visit a Museum!
Many of the museums in Ottawa offer free admission on Thursdays after 5:00 pm. I loved the War Museum!!
– Bytown Museum
– Canadian Museum of Civilization
– The Museum of Natural History
– The War Museum
3. Be Your Own Tour Guide.
Download the Capital Tours app for free onto your smart phone and enjoy a history lesson as you walk through the Downtown core. The app is split into two categories: Parliament Hill and Confederation Boulevard. You can choose a 30, 60 or 90 min walking tour. The app will lead you to a point of interest and then you can read about each person, memorial or building. It’s a neat way to explore the city at your own pace and learn about each of the statues and monuments around town. Plus you can pick and choose different sites you want to see and skip the ones you aren’t interested in. I loved using this app while I was in Ottawa.
4. Skate on the Rideau Canal (winter)
Each year the Rideau Canal freezes and you can skate your way through downtown Ottawa. Along the skateway are places to rent skates, buy hot chocolate and BeaverTails.
5. Walk to Quebec.
Take a stroll across the Alexandra Bridge into the province of Quebec. The bridge takes about 15 mins to walk and you get wonderful views of parliament as you cross. When you get to the other side you can head to the Museum of Civilization. On your way down to the bridge make sure to stop and grab a picture with the giant spider Maman.
6. Explore the Byward Market
The Byward Market is a cool area of town where you can get cheap treats like BeaverTails, Obama Cookies and Poutines for under $5. It also houses a farmers market and a number of cool stalls, shops and boutiques to window shop in. You can listen to live music as sometimes there are entertainers on the street playing music for tips. I visited in the winter but I am sure in the summer time it would be even more fun with the great selection of lively pubs and restaurants.
7. Tour the Center Block
Tours are run throughout the day which explain how Canada’s government works. A guide will take you to the House of Commons, the Senate and the Parliament Library (which is beautiful!). The tour is about 45 mins. and it is very informative. If you are not interested in the tour, you can still visit Memorial Hall and take an elevator to the top of the Peace Tower for an amazing view of Ottawa and Quebec. The tour is free but tickets are on a first come, first serve basis, make sure you get there early enough to grab one.