Are you planning a trip to Ottawa and looking for free things to do in Ottawa? You’re in luck! Ottawa is a city that offers a wide range of free activities and attractions. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, there are plenty of options to explore without breaking the bank.
Ottawa has something for everyone, from visiting national museums and historic sites to enjoying outdoor activities and special events. Stroll along the Rideau Canal, explore the ByWard Market, or admire the architecture of Parliament Hill. Ottawa Tourism has a comprehensive list of free activities and events you can enjoy throughout the year.
By reading our article, you will learn about the best free things to do in Ottawa and how to make the most of your time there. So, let’s dive in and discover what Ottawa has to offer.
Is Ottawa Good for Tourists?
Yes, Ottawa is a great place for tourists. With various free things to do and see, Ottawa offers many opportunities for budget-friendly travel. There is something for everyone in Ottawa, from free museums and galleries to outdoor parks and festivals.
One of the best free activities in Ottawa is visiting the Canadian Museum of History. The museum offers free admission every Thursday evening from 5-8 pm, allowing visitors to explore the history of Canada at no cost. Another great option is the National Gallery of Canada, which offers free admission on Thursdays from 5-8 pm.
If you’re interested in outdoor activities, Ottawa also has plenty to offer. You can stroll along the Rideau Canal, the world’s largest skating rink, or visit one of the many parks in the city, such as Major’s Hill Park or Confederation Park. In the summer, you can enjoy free events like the Ottawa International Jazz Festival or the Canada Day celebrations.
20 Fantastic Free Things to Do in Ottawa
Here you can find a few Free Things to Do in Ottawa that most people looking for.
1. Visit Parliament Hill
Every trip to Ottawa is complete with a visit to Parliament Hill. Tour the Parliament of Canada buildings and witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony. Admission is free, and tours are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
2. Explore Byward Market
Byward Market is one of Canada’s oldest and largest farmers’ markets. The market in Ottawa offers free access to various local vendors selling fresh produce, artisanal crafts, and delicious food.
3. Enjoy Rideau Canal
Experience the beauty of the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Walk or bike along the canal to the Ottawa River or skate on the frozen canal during winter. Dow’s Lake is also worth a visit for its beautiful scenery.
4. Go Gatineau Park
Take a hike or bike ride through Gatineau Park, a natural oasis just minutes from downtown Ottawa. The park offers free access to over 165 kilometers of trails in Ottawa and stunning views of the Ottawa skyline.
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5. Tour National Gallery
Visit the National Gallery of Canada and discover a world-class collection of art. Admission is free on Thursdays from 5 pm to 8 pm, and the gallery offers free guided tours of its exhibitions.
6. Walk through Major’s Hill Park
Stroll through Major’s Hill Park, a beautiful green space in downtown Ottawa’s heart. The park offers stunning views of the Ottawa River and the Parliament buildings.
7. Experience Notre Dame Cathedral
Visit Notre Dame Cathedral, a historic church in Ottawa. The church offers free admission and is worth a visit for its stunning architecture and peaceful atmosphere.
8. Stroll along Sparks Street
Take a walk down Sparks Street, a pedestrian mall in downtown Ottawa. The street is lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes and is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.
9. Visit the Canadian Museum of History
Explore the Canadian Museum of History, one of the most interesting things to see in Ottawa. The museum is free on Thursdays from 5 pm to 8 pm and offers a fascinating look at Canadian history.
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10. Explore the Canadian War Museum
Know Canada’s military history at the Canadian War Museum. Admission is free on Thursdays from 5 pm to 8 pm, and the museum offers free guided tours of its exhibitions.
11. Tour the Royal Canadian Mint
Visit the Royal Canadian Mint and see where Canadian coins are made. The mint offers free guided tours of its facilities, and visitors can even hold a real gold bar.
12. Visit the Supreme Court of Canada
Explore the Supreme Court of Canada and learn about Canada’s legal system. The court offers free guided tours of its facilities, and visitors can even sit in on a live court session.
13. Explore Canada Aviation Museum
Discover the history of aviation at the Canada Aviation Museum. Admission is free on Canada Day (July 1st), and the museum offers free guided tours of its exhibits.
14. Walk through Rockcliffe Park
Take a walk through Rockcliffe Park, a beautiful neighborhood in Ottawa. The park offers stunning views of the Ottawa River and is home to some of the city’s most beautiful homes.
15. Visit Rideau Hall
Explore Rideau Hall, the official residence of the Governor General of Canada. The grounds are open to the public year-round and offer free guided tours of the gardens and historic buildings.
16. Explore Diefenbunker Museum
If you want to Know Canada’s Cold War history, visit the Diefenbunker Museum. The museum is free on Thursdays from 5 pm to 8 pm and offers a fascinating look at Canada’s role in the Cold War.
17. Visit the National Art Centre
Take in a free performance at the National Arts Centre. The center offers free concerts and performances annually, showcasing some of Canada’s best artists.
18. Tour the Canadian Museum of Nature
Explore the Canadian Museum of Nature, one of the most interesting museums in Ottawa. Admission is free on Thursdays from 5 pm to 8 pm, and the museum offers free guided tours of its exhibits.
19. Visit the Bank of Canada Museum
Know the history of money at the Bank of Canada Museum. The museum is free and offers a fascinating look at the role of money in Canadian history.
20. Explore Governor General’s Residence
Visit the Governor General’s Residence and see where Canada’s head of state lives. The residence offers free guided tours of its historic buildings and beautiful gardens.
With so many free things to do in Ottawa, you can experience the best of the city without breaking the bank.
Is Downtown Ottawa Walkable?
Yes, Downtown Ottawa is a highly walkable area, with most attractions and landmarks located within a short distance of each other. The city also has pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, including wide sidewalks and pedestrian crossings, making it easy and safe to explore on foot.
Is It Easy to Get Around Ottawa without a Car?
Yes, it is easy to get around Ottawa without a car. Ottawa is a walkable city with plenty of public transportation options that are both convenient and affordable. The town is also bicycle-friendly, with over 220 kilometers of bike paths and lanes.
The city’s public transportation system, OC Transpo, offers a variety of options, including buses, light rail transit (LRT), and Para Transpo, a specialized service for people with disabilities.
You can purchase a Presto card, a reusable smart card that you can load with funds and use to pay for your fares on buses, trains, and the O-Train. You can also use the OC Transpo app to plan your trip, track your bus or train, and purchase your fare.
If you prefer cycling, you can rent a bike from one of the many bike rental stations in the city. The VeloGO bike share program offers hourly and daily rates, and you can return the bike to any station when you’re done.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Free Things to Do in Ottawa
How many days in Ottawa is enough?
If you’re planning a trip to Ottawa and wondering how many days you should spend there, the answer depends on what you want to see and do. However, generally speaking, you can cover the main attractions of Ottawa in 2-3 days.
What are the best free activities to experience in Ottawa’s outdoors?
Ottawa is home to many beautiful parks, gardens, and natural areas that offer free admission year-round. Some of the best free outdoor activities include hiking, cycling, picnicking, and birdwatching at Gatineau Park. You can also explore the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and enjoy the scenic views along the Ottawa River.
Which Ottawa museums offer free admission, and on what days?
Many of Ottawa’s national museums offer free admission on certain days of the week. For example, the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum offer free access on Thursdays after 5 pm. The Canadian Museum of Nature offers free admission on the first Thursday of every month, while the National Gallery of Canada provides free access on Thursdays from 5 pm to 8 pm.
Can you list some hidden gems in Ottawa accessible at no cost?
Many hidden gems in Ottawa are accessible at no cost. One such place is the Dominion Arboretum, a beautiful botanical garden that features over 2,000 different species of trees and plants. Another hidden gem is the Nepean Point, which offers stunning views of the city and the Ottawa River. You can also visit the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill, which offers free guided tours and breathtaking city views.
What government buildings in Ottawa can be toured for free?
Many of Ottawa’s government buildings offer free tours to the public. You can tour the Parliament Buildings, home to the House of Commons and the Senate of Canada. You can also visit the Supreme Court of Canada, which offers free guided tours of its historic building.
Are there any free cultural events or festivals in Ottawa during the winter?
Yes, there are many free cultural events and festivals in Ottawa during the winter. One such event is Winterlude, a February winter festival featuring ice sculptures, snow slides, and other winter activities. You can also enjoy free concerts, performances, and exhibitions at the National Arts Centre, which hosts many yearly cultural events.
What are some free nighttime activities or sights in Ottawa?
Ottawa offers many free nighttime activities and sights that are perfect for exploring after dark. You can visit the Canadian Museum of Nature, which offers free admission on the first Thursday of every month and hosts special events and exhibitions throughout the year. You can also explore the city’s historic ByWard Market, which features many shops, restaurants, and bars open late into the night.
Congratulations! You now know about the top free things to do in Ottawa. Ottawa has something for everyone, from exploring museums, art galleries, and public parks to attending festivals and events. You can also take advantage of the free guided tours, workshops, and activities various organizations and institutions offer.
Remember, engaging in free activities saves you money and helps you learn more about the city’s culture, history, and people. You can also use the saved money to explore more of the city’s culinary delights or shop for souvenirs.
So, the next time you’re in Ottawa, include these free activities in your itinerary. Remember to share your experiences with us and encourage your friends and family to do the same. Happy exploring!