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Capital City Adventure: Exploring Ottawa’s Top 15 Landmarks

Capital City Adventure Exploring Ottawa’s Top 15 Landmarks

Ottawa—a city that perfectly combines art, playfulness and history thanks to the many landmarks that it houses. If you’ve always wanted to know what Ottawa is famous for, you won’t have to look further than here.

Believe it or not, Ottawa is often dubbed the most boring city in Canada, especially when compared to Toronto and Vancouver, but that notion ends here. To help you create a meaningful trip, below are some of the capital’s top landmarks that are worth visiting!

Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica


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

Contact details: +1 613-241-7496

Operating hours:

  • Weekdays: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
  • Weekends: 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM

If you’re one to marvel at magnificent architecture, then look no further than the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica. It’s the oldest church in Ottawa and it’s also one of the most prominent structures you’ll find in the capital thanks to its towering nature.

As you pass through Sussex Drive, you’ll get to admire this massive structure in all gothic and neo-classical glory. This theme continues indoors, as seen from its massive pointed arches, gigantic columns and beautiful stained glass.

Its significance in the country also made it a National Historic Site of Canada, so if you’re looking for art and history rolled into one, this should be on your itinerary.

Pro tip:
If the massive interior of this church is proving to be overwhelming, you can opt for one of the guided tours offered inside.

Rideau Canal


Address: Ottawa, ON, Canada

Contact details: [email protected]

Rideau Canal is arguably one of Ottawa’s most recognisable landmarks, and it’s not hard to see why. For starters, it’s one of the liveliest spots in the capital thanks to its stunning views, outdoor activity opportunities and a wide variety of restaurants and cafes.

Some of the activities you can partake in here include paddling, cycling, jogging and fishing! If you’re looking for something more magical, however, we recommend visiting during winter when the river freezes over and transforms into a public ice rink—pretty cool, right?

The place itself is worth visiting because of its cultural and historical significance as well. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the few remaining and best examples of a slackwater canal in North America.

Pro tip:
If you want to admire Rideau Canal from a different perspective, you can opt for a boat tour that lets you experience a scenic cruise along the river. You can check out their official website to see the different tours that are being offered at the historical site.

Parliament Hill

– Media credit: jordaninglisphoto


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

Contact details: +1 613-992-4793

Operating hours:

  • Monday to Thursday: 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM
  • Friday: 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM
  • Weekends: Closed

Parliament Hill isn’t a specific structure per se but instead a group of buildings that in essence, showcases the centre of Canada’s democracy. These buildings have been around since the late 1800s and they feature Gothic revival architecture—a true sight to behold.

Aside from its chosen architectural style, this place is considered the centre of Canada’s democracy because it’s home to the country’s federal government. Beyond that, it can also be considered the heart of the country, as it’s a place of meeting and unity.

The aforementioned buildings that are included on this hill are the Senate of Canada, the House of Commons, the East Block and the Parliament. Each of these buildings features amazing attention to detail in their exterior and interior, making them all the more worth it to explore!

Pro tip:
You can opt to join one of the tours offered on Visit Parliament Hill’s official website to explore every nook and cranny of these buildings. Additionally, you can also find a useful map here to get your bearings and create a self-guided tour for yourself and your loved ones.

Canadian War Museum


Address: 1 Vimy Pl, Ottawa, ON K1A 0M8, Canada

Contact details: +1 800-555-5621

Operating hours:

  • Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday: 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
  • Thursday: 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM
  • Monday: Closed

You can never go wrong with spending a day inside the Canadian War Museum, especially if you’re looking to learn something new about the country. This museum is filled to the brim with awe-inspiring exhibits that tell Canada’s military history.

Aside from being an educational centre, this museum also serves as a place of remembrance! It perfectly showcases this by displaying historical photographs, artefacts, paintings and various other exhibitions. 

The museum boasts a total area of 40,860 square metres, which may seem tedious to explore at first. However, with the thoughtful layout of the building and the countless things to admire, you won’t feel tired at all!

Pro tip:
Make sure to check out their Exhibitions page before visiting to stay in the loop of their updated schedule throughout the year! Furthermore, this is also where you’ll find the museum’s online exhibitions.

Royal Canadian Mint

– Media credit: zaike_ki_reet


Address: 320 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1A 0G8, Canada

Contact details: +1 613-993-0949

Operating hours:

  • Tuesday to Sunday: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
  • Monday: Closed

Whether you’re an avid coin collector or not, the Royal Canadian Mint should be on your radar if you’re looking for the most prominent landmarks in Ottawa. It was originally built back in 1908 and today, it still stands as the home and producer of collector coins, gold and silver bullion.

You’ll be in awe of the hundreds of antique and rare coins on display here. You can either go where your feet take you or join a 45-minute tour to see everything that the mint houses including the record-breaking Million Dollar Coin!

Furthermore, you’ll get an exclusive peak behind the scenes on how coins are made, which is far more interesting than it sounds on paper. This is thanks to the unique bird’s eye perspective that the mint provides its visitors to observe its production floor.

Pro tip:
Before leaving, make sure to stop by the gift shop inside the mint where you can get your hands on different kinds of coins. You can also start an investment here by buying one of their silver, gold and platinum bullions!

Peace Tower

– Media credit: briseno.vega

Address: Ottawa, ON K1A 0A9, Canada

The Peace Tower is located on Parliament Hill but it deserves a spot of its own because of its prominence in the city. It’s the closest thing that Ottawa has to Big Ben, as it’s also a clock tower that’s hundreds of feet tall—but that’s about where the similarities end.

This specific tower is made up of silver and copper and you can even see numerous carvings around it such as gargoyles, friezes and what have you. However, it’s worth noting that this isn’t the same tower that was around during the mid-1960s as that was burned down back in 1916.

The tower that Ottawans know and love today was built in 1920, and it’s far taller and now features a Victorian High Gothic style.

Pro tip:
While you’re here, make sure to stop by the nearby Victoria Tower Bell Monument if you want to see a preserved remnant of the structure that was replaced by the Peace Tower.

The National War Memorial

– Media credit: mauritian_feed

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

Contact details: +1 866-522-2122

Operating hours: Open 24 hours

You can easily distinguish Canada’s National War Memorial with its large arch, which is mostly made out of granite. It’s also known as “The Response” and it serves as a way to recognise the brave soldiers who fought in several wars, including The Great War.

Aside from the magnificent arch, this memorial features a bunch of sculptures. The first one depicts a couple of angel-like figures that sit atop the arch while the second one is a group of Canadian soldiers.

The latest addition to this memorial is the Tomb of the Unkown Soldier. This tomb was added back in 2000 and is said to house the remains of an unknown Canadian soldier who was originally found in a war cemetery in France.

Pro tip:
Make sure to make the most out of your trip when visiting this memorial! Stop by the nearby Rideau Canal and the National Arts Centre to see more of Canada’s beautiful landmarks and artworks.

Rideau Hall



Address: 1 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A1, Canada

Contact details: +1 613-991-4422

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Saturday: 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM
  • Sunday: 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM 

The Rideau Hall has been serving as the official home of the Governor General of Canada since 1867. Aside from being a simple place of residency, however, it’s also an iconic landmark that Ottawans love to visit all year long because of its marvellous architecture.

This beautiful home sits in the heart of a 79-acre land that seems like a different world, even though it’s just a few minutes from downtown Ottawa. This is because the estate is surrounded by beautiful lush trees that are a far cry from the towering buildings found in the city’s skyline.

Another reason why it’s a local favourite is that it allows visitors to go on guided tours in and outside the Hall, providing a peek into the life of the Governor General. You can even visit the grounds and take countless Instagrammable photos!

Pro tip:
If you want to experience a more magical time in Rideau Hall, we recommend visiting it during wintertime. During this chilly season, the estate will open a public ice rink that’s free to access for all visitors!

Lord Elgin Hotel


Address: 100 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K1P 5K8, Canada

Contact details: +1-888-936-1615

Operating hours: Open 24 hours

One of the most elegant landmarks in Ottawa takes the form of Lord Elgin Hotel. This old-timey building may seem like an old Victorian castle on the outside, but the inside is as modern as it gets!

From its amenities down to its rooms, everything inside this hotel screams elegance! You’ll get this sense of lavishness as soon as you see its premium fireplace located in the hotel’s lobby.

The rooms themselves are spacious and come with all the amenities required for a comfortable night’s stay. Furthermore, these rooms also provide their guests with the most amazing views of Ottawa!

Pro tip:
Be sure to book your stay via their website! They sometimes offer discounted rates on their rooms that won’t usually show up on other booking sites and apps!

Laurier House National Historic Site

– Media credit: cmeyton

Address: 335 Laurier Ave E, Ottawa, ON K1N 6R4, Canada

Contact details: +1 613-992-8142

At first glance, the Laurier House seems like an ordinary beautiful home in Ottawa, but it’s actually more than that! It’s home to two of the longest-running Prime Ministers of Canada, namely: Sir Wilfrid Laurier and William Lyon Mackenzie King.

This building stands out because of its bright green awnings, which perfectly contrast with its brick walls. It’s a beautiful building that’s worth capturing, whether it be for a background for your portrait or as the main subject.

If you want to admire it from the inside, you can also join one of their guided tours! These amazing tours will let you peek into the lives of the two Prime Ministers and the legacy that will forever be remembered by Ottawans.

Pro tip:
If you’re looking for more beautiful views of nature while you’re here, make sure to stop by Sir Wilfrid Laurier Park located just across the street from the iconic landmark. 

ByWard Market


Address: 55 ByWard Market Square; Ottawa, Ontario; K1N 9C3

Contact details: [email protected]

Aside from being one of the liveliest hubs in Ottawa, ByWard Market is also one of the most recognisable landmarks in the capital—a lot of locals will back us up with this one. Whether you’re looking to go shopping or not, you’re bound to find something interesting here.

It doesn’t only cater to shopaholics but to foodies as well thanks to its wide selection of restaurants that offer different cuisines. These establishments are perfect for sitting down and replenishing your energy after walking for several straight hours.

If you’re looking to add more things to do during your visit, you can also stop by one of the many art galleries scattered across this bustling hub. One perfect example of this is the National Gallery of Canada, which is located adjacent to the Byward Market District.

Pro tip:
The best time to visit is around late afternoon, as this is when some famous restaurants and bars start to open their doors. If you want to get first dibs, however, we recommend stopping by the market district early in the morning.

National Gallery of Canada


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

Contact details: +1 613-990-1985

Operating hours:

  • Tuesday, Thursday, Friday to Sunday: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM
  • Monday: Closed

Sometimes, the best landmarks in Ottawa are more impressive when you admire them from the inside—case in point, the National Gallery of Canada. This spectacular gallery houses over 40,000 artworks, ranging from paintings to photographs, artefacts, sculptures and more. 

These masterpieces came from the minds of over 6,000+ artists and they’re spread across different displays. For instance, there’s one specific area that displays an impressive array of indigenous artefacts while there’s also another section that’s dedicated to religious pieces.

However, don’t let this lead you into thinking that the exterior should be looked over! In fact, this landmark is instantly recognisable thanks to the beautiful and iconic glass tower that sits atop the gallery itself.

Pro tip:
Don’t miss out on taking a photo with the unique and mesmerising spider sculpture found just outside the gallery! This one-of-a-kind art piece was created by Louise Bourgeois, and it’s a must for visitors to pose underneath or beside it, especially for first-timers.

Supreme Court of Canada


Address: 301 Wellington St, Ottawa, ON K1A 0J1, Canada

Contact details: +1 613-995-4330

Operating hours: 

  • Weekdays: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
  • Weekends: Closed

The Supreme Court of Canada is located near Parliament Hill so it would be wise to include it in your guided tour. One thing that you’ll instantly notice about it is its bold colours and geometric shapes, which are design elements that are straight from the Art Deco architectural style.

The design isn’t the only thing that makes it look fancy, however, as the building is also made out of luxurious materials like granite and bronze.

You’ll also find numerous sculptures plastered on the exterior of this landmark such as the words Latin words, “veritas” and “lustitia”, which means truth and justice respectively. They’re not just design elements too, as they perfectly portray the core values of the court system.

Pro tip:
Consider stopping by the Bank of Canada Museum across the street while you’re here to see two amazing landmarks in one trip! 

Bank of Canada Museum


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

Contact details: +1 613-782-8914

Operating hours:

  • Thursday to Monday: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
  • Friday to Sunday: Closed

The Bank of Canada Museum is the perfect example of a revamp done right. It was originally the head office of the Bank of Canada when it was built back in 1937 before it underwent major renovations in the late 1970s, transforming it into the striking building we know today.

On paper, a trip to the Bank of Canada Museum doesn’t seem fun at all. However, you’ll be surprised to know that this historical landmark offers one of the most fun ways to learn about economics in the country!

This is thanks to the museum’s use of high-tech interactive exhibits and informative videos that keep the experience fresh and exciting for visitors from around the world. Furthermore, guests can also partake in activities, one of which is designing their own currency—how cool is that?

Pro tip:
If you want to gain additional insights about the exhibits on display inside the museum, try joining one of the museum’s guided tours. These tours are available in both English and French, and they’ll help you experience a more educational visit to the museum.