Discover the best time to visit Ottawa and the must-do activities for your itinerary. From skating on the Rideau Canal to exploring the National Gallery of Canada, our guide covers the top attractions and experiences in Ottawa.

Ottawa, the capital of Canada, is a vibrant city with a rich history and culture. From its many museums and galleries to its colorful festivals and events, there is always something to see and do in this dynamic city. But when is the best time to visit Ottawa, and what are the must-do activities for visitors? Read on to find out.

Best Time to Visit Ottawa

The best time to visit Ottawa depends largely on your interests and what you want to see and do in the city. That being said, there are a few general guidelines to keep in mind. If you’re interested in outdoor activities, such as hiking or biking, the summer months (June-August) are the best time to visit, as the weather is warm and sunny. Additionally, many of the city’s festivals and events take place during the summer, including the Ottawa International Jazz Festival and the Ottawa Fringe Festival.

If you’re interested in winter sports, such as skiing or ice skating, the winter months (December-February) are the best time to visit, as the city is transformed into a winter wonderland. The Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, becomes the world’s largest skating rink, and the city’s many ski resorts are open for business.

Fall (September-November) and spring (March-May) are also great times to visit Ottawa, as the city is less crowded than in the summer and winter months, and the weather is still mild enough for outdoor activities. Additionally, the fall foliage in Ottawa is particularly stunning, with vibrant colors ranging from deep red to bright yellow.

Must-Do Activities in Ottawa

No matter when you visit Ottawa, there are a few must-do activities that should be on every visitor’s itinerary. Here are some of the top things to see and do in Ottawa:

  1. Visit Parliament Hill: Parliament Hill is the heart of Ottawa’s political scene, and a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Canadian history and government. Visitors can take guided tours of the buildings and learn about Canada’s parliamentary system.
  2. Explore the National Gallery of Canada: The National Gallery of Canada is one of the country’s premier art institutions, and is home to a wide range of Canadian and international works of art. Visitors can explore the galleries and attend special exhibitions and events throughout the year.
  3. Skate on the Rideau Canal: During the winter months, the Rideau Canal becomes the world’s largest skating rink, stretching over 7 kilometers. Visitors can rent skates and enjoy the stunning views of the city from the ice.
  4. Attend a festival: Ottawa is known for its many festivals and events, which take place throughout the year. Some of the most popular include the Ottawa International Jazz Festival, the Canadian Tulip Festival, and Winterlude.
  5. Visit the Canadian Museum of History: The Canadian Museum of History is one of the country’s top museums, and is home to a wide range of exhibits and artifacts that showcase Canada’s rich history and culture. Visitors can explore the galleries and attend special events and exhibitions.
  6. Take a bike ride: Ottawa is home to a wide network of bike trails, making it easy to explore the city on two wheels. Visitors can rent bikes and explore the city’s many parks and green spaces, including the Rideau Canal and Gatineau Park.
  7. Visit the ByWard Market: The ByWard Market is a bustling neighborhood in the heart of the city that is home to a wide range of shops, restaurants, and bars. Visitors can explore the markets and pick up local specialties and souvenirs.


Ottawa is a year-round destination with something to offer for everyone. Whether you’re interested in exploring the city’s rich history, experiencing its vibrant cultural scene, or enjoying its beautiful natural surroundings, there’s no shortage of things to see and do. From skating on the Rideau Canal in the winter to attending the many festivals and events that take place throughout the year, there’s always something exciting happening in Ottawa. So, plan your visit accordingly and be sure to include these must-do activities in your itinerary to make the most of your time in Canada’s capital city.