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Top 10 Free Things to Do in Ottawa Today

Top 10 Free Things to Do in Ottawa Today

Who says you need a big budget to have an absolute blast in the nation’s capital? You know, you can enjoy the city to the fullest without needing to fork out a tonne of money.

So save your loonies and check out the best free things you can do today in Ottawa, whether you’re looking for an indoor or outdoor activity. Grab your bag and venture out into this gorgeous city! Read on!

Join a tour at Parliament Hill

– Media credit: ottawatourism


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

Contact Information: 

Operating Hours: Monday – Sunday: hours will vary depending on your preferred schedule

Book a Ticket

A visit to Ottawa isn’t complete without seeing the stunning Gothic revival architecture of Parliament Hill. It’s a historic place and is home to the federal government of Canada.

You can enjoy a self-guided tour of the Centre Block via The Immersive Experience, which is free of charge and will last 45 minutes. Here, you can enjoy a 360° multimedia show that will give you a glimpse of the history of Parliament Hill.

It’s the perfect way for every Canadian to see the Parliament because some may not have the opportunity to do so, given the decade-long rehabilitation. Plus, the tour is conveniently available in French and English languages.

Pro Tip:
Even though this is a free self-guided tour, you still need to book a ticket online, which you will present on-site. You can find tickets on the same day, but will most probably be full once the summer season starts.

Hike at Gatineau Park

– Media credit: parcgatineaupark


Address: 33 Chem. Scott, Chelsea, QC J9B 1R5, Canada

Contact Information:

  • 819-827-2020
  • 1-866-456-3016 (Toll-Free)

Operating Hours:


  • Monday – Sunday: 24 hours, except during severe weather conditions

Gatineau Visitor Centre

May 1 to October 31

  • Monday – Sunday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

November 1 to April 30

  • Monday – Friday: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm 
  • Saturday – Sunday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

December 25: Closed

With 316 sq km of area, Gatineau Park is surely one of the best places to visit for a much-needed quiet time. With several entry points, you can access the park easily, especially if you’re coming from downtown Ottawa.

The free thing you can do today is to trek any of the park’s 183 km of hiking trails. Summer trails are free to access, except in other seasons, including the quick and easy 0.5 km Dunlop loop trail and the challenging 3-hour, 11.9 km Lusk Cave Trail.

Starting points to most trails are pretty easy to go to, including parking lots and picnic areas. However, since some are located on the parkways, those access routes will have varying schedules depending on the seasons due to recreational activities.

Pro Tip:
Always check the parkway access schedules via the National Capital Commission website for the parkway schedules to ensure you can go there, especially in the winter. 

Also, remember that not all hiking trails are dog-friendly. Pink Lake, King Mountain, and Luskville Falls are the ones that don’t allow dogs.

Walk with Ottawa Free Tours

Media credit: ottawafreetours


Address: 150 Wellington St, Ottawa, ON K1P 5A4, Canada

Contact Information: [email protected]

Tour Schedule: Multiple days throughout the week: 11:00 am

Book Your Free Tour

A nice way to spend the day is by joining a walking tour, but this one’s free! Ottawa Free Tours starts at the National War Memorial and then will take you to Sparks Street, Parliament Hill, Château Laurier, and will end at Byward Market.

The best part about this is you get to learn the fascinating history of our nation’s capital and see the iconic landmarks. But that’s not all because the guide will share some insider tips about the hidden gems and local hotspots that only Ottawans know about.

This tour will only take two hours of your time. You don’t have to tip, but they’re always appreciated by the guides.

Pro Tip:
Since this is a walking tour, remember to bring water, especially if you’re going in the summer. Also, wear comfy shoes and apply sunblock before leaving the house to not get burnt!

Visit the Bank of Canada Museum

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Address: 30 Bank St, Ottawa, ON K1A 0G9, Canada

Contact Information: 

Operating Hours: 

Hours are until May 16, 2024 only; for updated hours, please refer to the Bank of Canada Museum website

  • Monday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Tuesday – Wednesday: Closed
  • Thursday – Sunday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Canada is home to thousands of museums, so it’s natural to visit one or two every time you’re here. The Bank of Canada Museum is one of those places to go, especially since admission is free!

Here, you will learn the fascinating history of Canadian money. Discover the evolution of Canadian dollars and see the currencies not in circulation anymore, including international ones.

Kids won’t be bored here, too, because there are plenty of interactive games, including making your very own avatar and banknote. Plus, you can take as many photographs as you want to remember the visit

Pro Tip:
There’s no parking area on-site but there’s street parking just a short walk away. If you want to use public transportation, hop on the STO busses #20 Freeman, #27 Hautes-Plaines, or #93 Masson-Angers. Get off at the corner of Bank Street and Queen Street.

Swim on Saturdays at Ottawa gyms

Media credit: ottawaswimclub


Address: Full list of participating facilities

Contact Information: 

City of Ottawa

  • 613-580-2400
  • 1-866-261-9799

Swim Free Hours: Saturday: hours depending on the facility

The City of Ottawa is encouraging children and youth aged 17 and under to be more active in 2024. For the whole year, there are free drop-in swimming activities in over a hundred recreational facilities.

Accompanying adults don’t need to pay for an entrance fee as well. Parents can bring their children and have a more active Saturday for the whole year.

Some facilities require registration, though, so be sure to do that in advance to secure a spot! Look for the nearest recreation facility near you for a more convenient commute.

Pro Tip:
Before registering, inquire if equipment is required for the drop-in swim. You may have to purchase swimming goggles and swim caps.

Learn fun science at the Canada Science and Technology Museum

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Address: Scientique, 1867 St. Laurent Blvd, Ottawa, ON K1G 5A3, Canada

Contact Information: 

Free Admission Hours: Monday – Sunday: 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Book Your Free Ticket

The fun and interactive Canada Science and Technology Museum is free for all for an hour every day, making it a quick stop in Ottawa. This will take you to the permanent exhibitions, as special ones and events aren’t included.

Don’t worry about the limitations because there are several exhibitions you can still go to. Plus, this is a nice way to spend the afternoon learning about science and checking out all the interactive sets at the museum, which will surely keep the kids busy.

Also, active Canadian military personnel, Canadian military veterans, and Indigenous peoples, as well as support leaders who are coming with a person with a disability, can visit the museum for free. Just remember to bring an ID in case they ask for it.

Pro Tip:
Tickets are required, even with the free admission. Don’t forget to pick 4:00 pm as the time when booking to get the free tickets—the price will show up as $0.00.

Dip your toes in the sand at Britannia Beach

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Address: Britannia Beach, Ottawa, ON, Canada

Contact Information: 613-820-1211

Operating Hours: Monday – Sunday: 5:00 am – 10:00 pm

Swimming is a free activity in Ottawa you can do today, tomorrow, or any other time you want. Brittania Beach is a very family-friendly place and a great spot for swimming because lifeguards are on duty in the summer to ensure everyone’s safety.

One of the most convenient aspects is there are picnic tables and barbecue pits for family gatherings. It’s the perfect way to spend your afternoon summer without breaking the bank!

There’s really no need to bring out your wallet because parking is also free. But if you have a furry companion, you can’t take them to the beach; instead, there’s a dog area along Salina Street just a short distance away.

Pro Tip:
To ensure a free day at the beach, bring packed meals and water. Since picnic areas are available, you can eat there and avoid paying at the restaurant.

Check out planes at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum

Media credit: avspacemuseum


Address: 11 Aviation Pkwy, Ottawa, ON K1K 2X5, Canada

Contact Information: 

Free Admission Hours:

  • Thursday – Monday: 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Book Your Free Ticket

Who doesn’t like seeing planes up close? Genuine Question. The Canada Aviation and Space Museum is a must-visit for families, whether you have young kids or not.

The main exhibition hall showcases several military and civil aircraft and artefacts, with some relating to the early aviation days and the First World War. It also has interactive activities, including flight simulators.

It’s also an educational journey, as you will discover fun facts about how an aircraft flies. Plus, there’s a Canada space program exhibition because why should we stop in the clouds? Go for the stars!

Pro Tip:
You must book your tickets online, even for free admission. Pick the 4:00 pm time to get the free tickets and checkout—don’t worry because the price will show up as $0.00.

Celebrate winter in February with Winterlude

Media credit: ottawatourism


Locations: Various places in Ottawa and Gatineau

2024 sites:

  • Jacques-Cartier Park
  • Sparks Street
  • ByWard Market
  • Rideau Canal Skateway
  • Other indoor and outdoor places in Ottawa and Gatineau

Contact Information: 

Activity Dates: Annually, the first three weekends of February

Winter is all about fun in the snow, and Winterlude is the annual event you can visit for free in the National Capital Region. It takes place in various places in Ottawa and Gatineau during the first three weekends of February.

To start, prepare to be wowed by the intricate ice sculptures at this festival. Another cool activity, pun intended, is making and decorating your own snowman at Bytown Museum—this is also free, by the way!

You can also watch and immerse yourself in Indigenous culture by watching their street performances. In addition, you can watch Indigenous films at the park to get a better understanding of their history.

This festival will take you all over Ottawa and Gatineau. To maximise your day, check the event locations and start with the nearest ones and gradually make your way to the farthest.

Pro Tip:
Not all activities are free, but the majority are. Check out their Calendar of Events to find out which are free—the ones marked with a “$” aren’t free, so plan accordingly!

Skate the frozen Rideau Canal

Media credit: rideaucanalskateway



Contact Information:

  • 613-239-5000
  • 1-800-465-1867 (Tollf-Free)

Operating Hours: January to early March, Monday – Sunday: 24 hours (weather dependent, subject to close depending on ice conditions)

Welcome the new year by gliding in the world’s largest skating rink! Starting in January up to late February or early March, the Rideau Canal freezes and is open for everyone to skate on.

Since this has a total length of 7.8 km, there are plenty of access points and universal access ramps. An easy starting point is in the downtown area at the National Arts Centre.

So, bring your gear and skate the canal any time of the day. Don’t be surprised to see locals skating to work instead of using public transit to avoid traffic.

Pro Tip:
Check the Rideau Canal socials for ice updates to know if the conditions are skate-friendly. Warm temperatures, rain, and snowfall can affect the ice, so always check the weather forecast.