Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, is a great place to learn and explore the country’s vast history. There’s also plenty of year-round activities to get involved in, from biking and hiking to tasting traditional maple syrup. Here are just some of the fantastic things you can do in each season!
Winter brings with it a whole host of activities for the entire family. Winterlude is a spectacular event held each year in February, complete with an International Ice Carving competition and Snowflake Kingdom, a collection of huge snow slides and interactive activities for children of all ages.
Another spectacular winter activity in Ottawa is ice skating; head to the Rideau Canal Skateway (the largest naturally frozen skating rink in the world!) from December to February to skate the extensive 4.8 mile route. Best of all – it’s free! With change huts, skate rental shack and snack stations along the way, it promises to be a great day out for all involved.
For cross-country skiing enthusiasts, there’s trails right in the heart of the city and groomed tracks for snowshoeing, walking and fat biking along the Ottawa River. For beginners and families, there’s also 150km of trails in the Greenbelt area which encircles Ottawa.
Spring is a very special season in Canada – maple syrup season! Ottawa is close by to fantastic maple syrup producers in Ontario and Québec, so be sure to taste this Canadian speciality.
Maple trees are a national treasure, but you can branch out and discover thousands of species of trees from around the world at The Arboretum — one of the first places in the city to be awash with spring colours. Wander amongst its perfumed pink-and-white crabapple tree blossoms to the ridge in the centre of the park for a great view of the Rideau Canal and the city.
Spring is also the time for the Canadian Tulip Festival, where the city blooms with thousands of beautifully coloured tulips. The celebration goes back to the Second World War, when Princess Juliana of the Netherlands thanked Ottawa for providing her refuge by sending 100,000 tulip bulbs! Why not rent a bike and make your way along the Rideau Canal? There’s live music, fireworks and activities to enjoy too.
Ottawa is a hot spot for visitors in the summer. The city keeps its cool thanks to water sports on three rivers, plus the national treasure that is the Rideau Canal, Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take a boat ride along the canal, taking in Ottawa’s landmarks along the way as you bask in the sunshine.
No trip to Ottawa is complete without a visit to Parliament Hill. In the morning, see the Changing of the Guard, with its own regimental band and pipers, it’s quite the scene! For the full capital experience, go back to the Hill in the evening to check out the Northern Lights Sound & Light Show, a spectacular nightly display that turns Centre Block into a giant immersive movie screen.
Summer in Ottawa means a whole host of festivals, from music to arts, drama and poetry. The ‘TD Ottawa Jazzfestival’ in Confederation Park kicks off the summer music festival season, whilst ‘Music and Beyond’ melds classical music with visual arts, comedy, circus, dance and much more.
Ottawa’s vibrant outdoor scene and beautiful fall foliage makes it the perfect place for an Autumn adventure. For an entirely different perspective of the city, why not take part in a ziplining activity that takes you through the colourful treetops of Gatineau Park?
If thrill-seeking isn’t your thing, then Gatineau Park is perfect for a stroll, where you’ll be immersed in a plethora of autumnal hues. There’s 165km of breath-taking trails for walkers and hikers of all abilities – it really is a must see!
Ottawa also has over 497 miles of stunning recreational cycling paths. The Ottawa River family-friendly bike trail is a fantastic day out, and makes its way past iconic sites like Parliament Hill, the Canadian War Museum and much more.
If this blog has inspired you to visit Ottawa, check out our Ottawa holidays or call 0161 888 5632 to start planning your dream trip.