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10 Best Views of the Skyline in Ottawa, Canada

10 Best Views of the Skyline in Ottawa, Canada_1

Ottawa boasts breathtaking scenery combining urban life and nature. From Parliament Hill to high-rise buildings to the Ottawa River, there are plenty of beautiful things to see no matter where you go – but not all places offer incredible panoramic views. 

So, if you’re looking to explore the city and marvel at the horizon, we’ve got the best locations to see Ottawa’s impressive skyline. Time for an urban adventure and touch the sky!

Parliament Hill

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

Contact Information: 1-866-599-4999, 613-992-4793

Operating Hours: Year-round, Monday – Sunday: 24 hours on the grounds, some areas are closed due to construction

Admission: Free on the grounds

If you do a quick Google image search of the Ottawa skyline, the most common photo you’ll come across is a Gothic Revival building with sloping tops. This is actually Parliament Hill, where laws are made for the country.

The good thing is you can walk the grounds and see the structure up close. And if you walk the loop along the river, you can take the best pictures of The Hill, the river, and the buildings behind it.

But, for the best views of the city from the Ottawa River, you can join a boat river cruise!

Pro Tip:
If you want to go through the Parliament Hill Loop, we suggest biking so you get to travel faster. You’ll mostly see a lot of people here because this is a popular spot for running and walking.

Canadian Museum of History

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

Contact Information: 819-776-7000, 1-800-555-5621

Operating Hours:

  • Monday: Closed
  • Tuesday – Sunday: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm

Hours are subject to change. Open summers only.

Admission: Free, except for food at the cafe

You don’t have to stay in Ottawa to get the best views of the skyline. Why not visit the neighbouring Gatineau, Quebec, just a 13-minute drive from downtown?

Take in city views over good food and great conversations. You can visit the Panorama Patio at the Canadian Museum of History, aptly named because it offers incredible panoramic views of Parliament Hill and the Ottawa River. 

Keep your loonies in your wallet because you don’t have to pay for museum tickets to access the cafe. That’s right, it’s open to everyone: visitors and passersby.

Pro Tips:
If you’re eating at the cafe, remember to bring your debit or credit card or make sure you have your mobile banking apps at the ready as they only accept cashless payments. Also, note that the cafe closes on rainy days.

Rideau Canal

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Address: Rideau Canal, Locks 1 – 8, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A4, Canada

Contact Information: 613-283-7199, [email protected]

Operating Hours: Year-round, Monday – Sunday: 24 hours, except for the boat cruise

Admission: Free, except for boat cruise

The Rideau Canal will bring you on a tour of the most important landmarks in Ottawa, all with majestic views. You can go on a boat cruise and glide along an electric vessel while seeing the skyline of the city.

But during the summer, you can bike or walk along the pathway and breathe in the fresh air while checking the best spots to take photos of the skyline. You’ll most likely come across a lot of people because it’s a popular spot.

If you want to get the best views, go to Locks 1 to 8, which is where the canal connects to the Ottawa River, just beside Parliament Hill and Bytown Museum. The perfect viewing times are during the day, sunset, and in the fall season when the trees are orange.

Pro Tip:
To see the Rideau Canal Locks with the skyline, go to Plaza Bridge. You can stay on the sidewalk and take in the beautiful views of Ottawa.

Rideau Falls Park

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Address: 50 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1M 2K1, Canada

Contact Information: 613-239-5000, 1-800-465-1867 (NCC)

Operating Hours:

  • Monday – Friday: 9:00 am – 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
  • Saturday – Sunday: Closed

Admission: Free

If you want to escape the hubbubs of the city, head over to the 2.89-hectare Rideau Falls Park. Before getting to the spot to see Ottawa’s skyline, you’ll need to do a bit of a walk and pass by some landmarks.

Getting here means visiting several locations in one trip. One of these places worth checking out is Rideau Hall, which is also really close to the falls and the skyline.

Just walk two minutes from Rideau Hall, and you’ll reach Rideau Falls. The strong gushes of water, complete with views of the river and Ottawa’s financial district, are particularly charming during sunset, so time your trip well!

Pro Tip:
You don’t have to ride public transportation because there’s a free parking area available at the park if you have a car.

Alexandra Bridge

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Address: Alexandra Bridge, Ottawa, ON, Canada (Alexandra Bridge Lookout)

Contact Information: 613-239-5000, 1-800-465-1867 (NCC)

Operating Hours: Year-round, Monday – Sunday: 24 hours

Admission: Free

Alexandra Bridge is an iconic and historically significant part of Ottawa. If you look at the skyline and see a bridge across the river, then that’s the one!

Once you’re there, you can marvel at how it’s been standing tall since 1901. It also spans the Ottawa River and connects Ottawa to Gatineau, which is pretty impressive!

And whether you’re driving or walking, you’ll be glad to know that Alexandra Bridge isn’t just for motorists; it’s open for pedestrians as well.

For unobstructed panoramic views of the skyline, go to the lookout, which is at the start of the bridge from Ottawa—because once you cross, you’ll end up in Quebec. From there, you can breathe in the magnificent views of the Ottawa-Gatineau skyline.

Pro Tip:
Alexandra Bridge will undergo construction for rehabilitation and repairs, so check out the possible lane closures.

Major’s Hill Park

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Address: Mackenzie Ave, Ottawa, ON K1N 1G8, Canada

Contact Information: 613-239-5000, 1-800-465-1867 (NCC)

Operating Hours: Monday – Sunday: 24 hours

Admission: Free

At Major’s Hill Park, you’ll get some of the most magnificent views of Ottawa! Also, there are strategic positions all over the park where you can see the Ottawa River, Parliament Hill, Alexandra Bridge, Gatineau Hills, and the Rideau Canal Locks.

With its lush trees and flowers, this green space also offers a quick escape from urban life. The bonus? It’s so close to downtown, making it a popular spot for tourists and locals alike!

If you’re in the area during the winter, time your visit when the waters are frozen. You’ll see the Rideau Canal Skateway as it’s transformed into an ice skating rink—it’s a completely different and magical experience! 

Pro Tip:
Canada’s Day at Major’s Hill Park is an event you shouldn’t miss. The night sky will be illuminated with colourful and vibrant fireworks for a breathtaking addition to Ottawa’s skyline.

Rockcliffe Lookout

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Address: Rockcliffe Lookout, Ottawa, ON, Canada

Contact Information: 613-239-5000, 1-800-465-1867 (NCC)

Operating Hours: Year-round, Monday – Sunday: 24 hours

Facilities will have varying operating hours

Admission: Free

If you want to see Ottawa and Gatineau from one place, Rockcliffe Lookout is one of the best places to go to. It’s particularly magical right when the sun sets, which is also a popular time for visitors.

Unlike other lookouts for the Ottawa skyline, this one is covered. The pavilion is actually a popular wedding location because you won’t get baked in the sun but will have a beautiful and natural backdrop.

Getting here is easy because it’s close to the downtown core. Just take Wellington Street to Sussex Drive to Sir-George-Étienne-Cartier Parkway, or you can ride a bus to Maple Lane/Springfield.

Pro Tip:
Wake up early and head straight to Rockcliffe Lookout to catch the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival. The hot air balloons take off at 6:00 am at the end of August, and you can catch them in the sky as a nice addition to the skyline—no ticket required!

Eagle’s Nest Lookout

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Address: Greater Madawaska, ON K0J 1H0, Canada

Operating Hours: Year-round, Monday – Sunday: 24 hours

Admission: Free

If you’re tired of seeing the urban skyline of Ottawa, then drive an hour to Calabogie and have a whole new experience, away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

You’ll have to bring your hiking gear, as getting to Eagle’s Nest Lookout will take 1.5 km, around half an hour or more, depending on your speed. But once you get to the viewpoint, you can appreciate and marvel at the gorgeous nature over Ottawa Valley.

If you want to avoid crowds, go there early in the morning since people will start flocking throughout the day. Weekends are particularly busy, so go on a weekday if you can—unless you enjoy meeting fellow hikers.

Pro Tip:
Grab a map at Calabogie Peaks Resort before hitting the trails, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the area. There are many paths here because it’s a popular winter sports trail, and it’s easy to lose your way.

As for getting there, driving is the best way because there aren’t any public transportation rides near the starting point. The parking area can get busy in the middle of the day, so head on early to find a spot.

Kìwekì Point (Nepean Point)

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Address: National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON K1N 9N4, Canada

Contact Information: 613-239-5000, 1-800-465-1867 (NCC)

Operating Hours: Opens in summer 2024 after the rehabilitation work. Hours will vary.

Admission: Free

Kìwekì Point, previously called Nepean Point, is one of the best scenic spots in the urban core. It’s just an 8-minute drive from downtown Ottawa, making it a quick stop if you want to take a walk amongst river views.

Even though it’s a small hill between Alexandra Bridge and the National Gallery of Canada, it provides panoramic views of Parliament Hill and Ottawa River—a dream come true for your Instagram feed! 

You can visit just before the sun sets and capture the orange hues over The Hill. But the night sky is magical as well, just before it gets really dark. 

If you want the best views, go to the commemorative statue of Samuel de Champlain, and you can get the best photos of the skyline.

Pro Tip:
Kìwekì Point is undergoing rehabilitation work, so visit in the summer of 2024 when it finally opens. But don’t forget to check the latest updates in case of delays.

The Westin Ottawa

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Address: 11 Colonel By Dr, Ottawa, ON K1N 9H4, Canada

Contact Information: 613-560-7000

Admission: Access for hotel guests only

It’s not really the usual spot for scenic lookouts, but The Westin Ottawa is a 24-storey hotel that offers one of the best skylines of urban life in the city. If you’re feeling fancy and want to have a quick relaxation trip in the heart of Ottawa, then this is a must-try.

Ask for a room at the highest floor you can get and wake up to gorgeous views of the city. It’s the ultimate urban skyline because you can see the high-rise buildings, the Rideau Canal, Parliament Hill, and the Fairmont Château Laurier—all in one place!

If you’re having a party, the TwentyTwo on the 22nd floor has 270º panoramic views of the skyline, including the Gatineau Hills. Talk about fancy, eh?

Pro Tips:
If you plan on staying at The Westin Ottawa, why not bring your pups? Dogs of all sizes are welcome, and there’s a maximum of two pets allowed.

You don’t have to drive to get to the hotel. Because it’s in the heart of the city, there are plenty of nearby public transportation, like the Ottawa Train Station and the O-Train-Rideau Station.