The Most Memorable Sightseeing Tours in Ottawa to Experience the Best It Has to Offer

The Most Memorable Sightseeing Tours in Ottawa to Experience the Best It Has to Offer

With how many incredible landmarks and attractions Ottawa offers, it’s no wonder why both locals and tourists love to explore it. You’ve got scenic locations like the ByWard Market, the Peace Tower, the various museums, and so on. 

I know that it can get a bit overwhelming to choose which option is most suitable for sightseeing in the capital, so let me help you out. I’ve listed a few great options that you can take to wander around Ottawa and experience the best that it has to offer.

So, let’s have a closer look, shall we?

Hop-on hop-off Bus Tour

Hop-on hop-off Bus Tour

Where to book: https://www.grayline.com/tours/ottawa-24-hour-hop-on-hop-off-tour/

Duration: 8-hour guided tour with Hop-On, Hop-Off services

Route: Entire city with routes that lead to 75 of Ottawa’s signature landmarks and attractions 

Availability: All-year-round

Price: 

  • Adult: $29.47
  • Child: $19.84
  • Senior: $27.25

The Hop-on Hop-off bus tour is, without a doubt, one of the most fantastic ways to explore our beautiful city.

First and foremost, the convenience factor is unbeatable. Ottawa is a city brimming with history, culture, and attractions, and the Hop-on Hop-off bus provides a hassle-free way to see it all. 

The buses follow well-planned routes that hit all the major landmarks, so you don’t have to worry about navigation around unfamiliar streets or finding parking.

Now, let’s talk flexibility. This tour allows you to set your own pace. 

Hop-on hop-off Bus Tour

If you’re like me and tend to get captivated by the stunning architecture of Parliament Hill, you can stay as long as you like. 

But if you’re in a hurry or eager to explore more, simply hop back on the next bus. It’s your day, your way.

The live commentary from knowledgeable guides is a highlight of the experience. They share fascinating stories and historical tidbits about Ottawa, making each stop come alive with its own unique narrative. 

Hop-on hop-off Bus Tour

It’s like having a personal historian at your side, giving you insights that you won’t find in any guidebook.

Another thing I love is the variety of ticket options available. You’ll have ample time to explore Ottawa’s must-see attractions regardless if you opt for a one-day or a multi-day pass. 

Plus, some tours even include admission to popular museums and attractions, saving you money and time on separate ticket purchases.

Let’s not forget the comfort factor. Ottawa experiences all four seasons, and our winters can be quite chilly. 

The Hop-on Hop-off buses are climate-controlled, so you can comfortably explore the city no matter the weather. It’s a great way to appreciate Ottawa’s beauty year-round.

Parliament Hill Tour

Parliament Hill Tour

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

Where to book: https://rts.parl.ca/

Operating hours: 24/7

Duration: 30 minutes to 1 hour

Route: Senate Chamber, House of Commons, 

Availability: All year round (except East Block), late June to early September (East Block)

Price: 

  • Free! 

Exploring Ottawa through a Parliament Hill tour is a fantastic way to get to know our city better, especially its history. 

It goes without saying that this significant landmark is the heart and soul of Ottawa. It’s where our nation’s most important decisions are made, and it’s steeped in history. 

A guided tour here offers an unparalleled opportunity to dive deep into Canada’s political past and present. You get to walk in the footsteps of our leaders, and let me tell you, there’s a unique sense of pride that comes with standing on this hallowed ground.

Parliament Hill Tour

What sets this tour apart is the insider access it provides. Having lived here for all of my life, I’ve had the chance to explore the majestic Centre Block building and its iconic Peace Tower

The intricate architecture, stunning stained glass, and grandeur of the Senate and House of Commons chambers are truly awe-inspiring. 

Parliament Hill Tour

When you hear about significant events that have taken place within these walls, it’s impossible not to feel a connection to our nation’s history.

Then you have the knowledgeable guides on these tours, who are treasure troves of information.

They’ll regale you with stories about the building’s design, its role in Canada’s history, and even some fascinating tidbits about the political happenings that have occurred here. 

It’s like getting an insider’s perspective on our country’s governance.

It does not matter if you’re a history buff or just curious about Canadian politics, this tour caters to everyone. I’ve taken friends and family on this tour, and every time, they walk away with a newfound appreciation for our city and country. 

It’s a shared experience that brings people closer to Ottawa’s rich heritage.

The grounds around Parliament Hill are another reason to choose this tour. The manicured lawns, scenic views of the Ottawa River, and the historic statues make for a picturesque setting. 

It’s the perfect place for a leisurely stroll, and it’s not uncommon to see locals and tourists alike enjoying a picnic or taking in the beauty of the changing seasons.

Canadian War Museum Tour

Canadian War Museum Tour

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

Where to book: https://www.warmuseum.ca/visit/admission-fees/#tabs

Operating hours of area: 

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

Duration: 1-2 hours

Availability: All year round

Price: 

  • Adult: $20
  • Senior: $18
  • Student: $15
  • Child (2-12): $13
  • Family (6 persons, maximum of 2 adults): $50
  • Members: Free
  • Guided tour: $5

The Canadian War Museum is a living testament to Canada’s rich military history. It houses an extensive collection of artifacts, stories, and interactive exhibits that span from our early colonial conflicts to the modern era. 

I’ve visited this esteemed facility multiple times in the past, and every visit has left me with a deeper appreciation for the sacrifices made by our servicemen and women.

What sets this tour apart is the depth of insight you gain from the expert guides. They’re not just guides; they’re storytellers who bring history to life. 

Canadian War Museum Tour

These people have knowledge that almost seems boundless with how much passion and clarity they talk about the World Wars and Canada’s peacekeeping efforts. The guides are even up to date with the latest missions that the military has undertaken.  

They’ll share personal anecdotes and lesser-known stories that make the exhibits even more meaningful.

Canadian War Museum Tour

As you explore more of the museum, you realize how it connects us to our national identity. It’s not just about battles and strategies; it’s about the people who lived through these moments.

You’ll find that it’s a place where Canadians from all walks of life are honored, and their stories are preserved for future generations.

The museum’s architecture itself is a sight to behold. The stunning building overlooking the Ottawa River is a work of art, and it’s designed to evoke the feeling of a military bunker. 

The juxtaposition of the modern design with the historical artifacts inside is truly something to experience.

Not only that, the museum often hosts special exhibitions that delve into specific aspects of Canada’s military history. These temporary displays add an extra layer of depth to your visit. 

You might stumble upon an exhibition that resonates with your own family’s history or a particular interest of yours.

Rideau Canal Cruise

Rideau Canal Cruise

Location: Ottawa, ON, Canada

Where to book: https://www.ottawaboatcruise.com/tour/ekeau-canal-cruise

Operating hours of boat tours: 

Mid-May to mid-June (Exact dates are subject to change)

  • Monday-Thursday: 10:00 AM–4:00 PM
  • Friday-Sunday, holidays: 9:00 AM–7:00 PM

Mid-June to early September (Exact dates are subject to change)

  • Monday-Thursday: 9:00 AM–6:00 PM
  • Friday-Sunday, holidays: 9:00 PM–7:00 PM

Early September-Early October (Exact dates are subject to change)

  • Monday-Friday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
  • Saturday to Sunday & Thanksgiving: 9:00 AM–5:00 PM

Duration: Approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes

Availability: May through October

Price: 

  • Adults-Premium Boarding: $44.50
  • Adults- General Boarding: $39.50
  • Children- General Boarding (Ages 3-11): $27.50
  • Children- Premium Boarding (Ages 3-11): $32.50
  • Infants- General and Premium Boarding (Ages 0-2): Free

Embarking on a Rideau Canal Cruise is undoubtedly one of the most delightful ways to explore Ottawa.

This world-famous body of water is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and as such has become a key part of the capital’s identity. It’s more than just a waterway; it’s a living piece of history. 

Rideau Canal Cruise

My friends and I have spent quite a lot of time strolling along its banks and watching boats gracefully navigate its waters. But nothing compares to taking a cruise and experiencing an entirely new perspective.

One of the key attractions of this tour is the opportunity to sail through the heart of downtown Ottawa. I’ve marveled at the cityscape countless times, but there’s something amazing about seeing it from the water. 

You’ll glide past iconic landmarks like Parliament Hill, the National Arts Centre, and the Château Laurier. The view is simply breathtaking, and it’s a fantastic way to appreciate the architectural beauty of our city.

Rideau Canal Cruise

The Rideau Canal is also a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. As you cruise along, you’ll be surrounded by lush greenery, charming neighborhoods, and quaint bridges. 

It’s a tranquil oasis right in the heart of Ottawa, and it’s the perfect opportunity to unwind and soak in the natural beauty of the city. Personally, I find it incredibly relaxing to listen to the gentle lapping of water against the boat while taking in the sights.

Now, here’s where personalization comes into play. The cruise options vary, so you can choose the experience that suits you best. 

Having the option to opt for a daytime tour to enjoy the scenery or an evening trip with dinner under the stars makes sure everyone’s tastes are catered to. 

I’ve celebrated special occasions on these cruises, and it always feels like a unique and memorable experience.

Of course, we can’t forget about the knowledgeable guides on board. They all share fascinating insights about the history and significance of the Rideau Canal. 

I’ve had the opportunity to learn much about the canal’s role in shaping Ottawa and Canada as a whole. It’s like a history lesson that’s both educational and entertaining.

From my own experiences down the river, I can assure you that this tour is a splendid choice for visitors and residents alike. 

Canadian Museum of Nature Tour

Canadian Museum of Nature Tour

Location: 

Where to book: https://my.nature.ca/events?when=today-and-tomorrow

Operating hours of area:

  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday-Sunday: 9:30 AM–4:00 PM
  • Tuesday: Closed
  • Thursday: 9:30 AM–8 PM

Duration: 3-5 hours

Availability: All year round

Price: 

  • General admission: Free
  • Special exhibits: 
  • Adult: $27.50
  • Senior (65+): $22.50
  • Tiny tot (0–2): Free
  • Child (3–12): $20.50
  • Student (13–17): $22.50
  • Student (18+): $22.50

The Canadian Museum of Nature is an amazingly beautiful building. It is a famous landmark in the city thanks to its gorgeous Victorian-era stone facade and glass lantern tower. 

I’ve always loved how breathtaking it is, and going inside is like being transported to a world of wonder.

The museum’s wide range of displays shows how rich Canada’s natural history is. There is something here for everyone, from the amazing dinosaur gallery to the fun Arctic and Ocean Discovery zones. 

I spent hours looking at the dioramas of Canadian environments the few times I went there. I felt like I had traveled across the country without leaving Ottawa.

Canadian Museum of Nature Tour

Kids and adults who are naturally curious are sure to enjoy the hands-on displays and interesting multimedia presentations that are offered. They make learning about science and nature more fun by bringing them to life. 

There’s a lot to learn there, and every time you go, you can learn something new.

To top it all off, the passionate and experienced staff and guides make your museum experience even more exciting. Thanks to their expertise in storytelling, they can turn any display into a captivating story. 

Canadian Museum of Nature Tour

They will talk about cool facts regarding the animals that used to live in our country and the geological features that make up our landscapes. You can also expect to learn more about ongoing efforts to protect our natural gems.

But what really sets this facility apart is its dedication to protecting wildlife and the environment. The Canadian Museum of Nature is a leader in promoting sustainability and protecting our fragile ecosystems.

Not only is it a place to enjoy wildlife, but it also urges people to protect it for future generations. This is a trip through Canada’s natural past, a celebration of its wide range of species, and a call to protect our world. 

For anyone who wants to connect more deeply with the beauty and wonder of nature, the Canadian Museum of Nature is definitely a must-see. 

ByWard Market Guided Tour

ByWard Market Guided Tour

Where to book (Guided tour): https://my.nature.ca/events?when=today-and-tomorrow

Operating hours of area:

  • Monday-Sunday: 9:00 AM–5:00 PM (stores)
  • Varies for restaurants

Duration: 2.5 hours

Availability: All year round

Price (Guided tour): 

  • General bookings: $79 per person
  • Additional beverage package: $25
  • Private bookings:
  • $199 for 2 people,
  • $264 for 3 people,
  • Groups of 4 to 7 people: $85 per person
  • Groups of 8+: $79
  • Additional beverage package: $25

Of Ottawa’s many places you need to see, the ByWard Market is definitely one you do not want to miss out on.

This place is the heart and soul of Ottawa’s vibrant culture and history. Dating back to 1826, it’s one of Canada’s oldest and largest public markets. 

As a local, I’ve seen it evolve over the years into a bustling hub of activity. You also have the option of going on a guided tour that has specific stops, or you can explore it on yout own pace. 

ByWard Market Guided Tour

One of the key attractions here is the incredible array of fresh produce, artisanal goods, and gourmet treats. Strolling through the market’s open-air stalls is like a sensory journey. 

The sights and smells of fresh flowers, local cheeses, maple syrup, and international cuisines are simply irresistible. Personally, I can’t resist indulging in some BeaverTails (an Ottawan favorite) or grabbing a coffee from one of the charming cafes.

As you continue exploring the ByWard Market, you realize that it is more than just a place to shop. It’s a microcosm of Ottawa’s diverse and dynamic community. 

ByWard Market Guided Tour

You’ll encounter street performers, artists, and musicians, all contributing to the lively atmosphere. It’s the perfect place to people-watch, strike up a conversation with a local artist, or simply soak in the city’s unique energy.

Now, let’s talk about history. Personally speaking, I’ve always been fascinated by the historical buildings that dot the market area. 

From the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica to the heritage homes turned boutiques, each structure tells a story. It’s like taking a step back in time while surrounded by modern amenities.

Speaking of amenities, the ByWard Market is also a culinary hotspot. 

The restaurants and pubs here offer a wide range of dining experiences, from traditional Canadian fare to international cuisine. It’s the ideal place to savor local flavors or embark on a culinary adventure.

Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica Tour

Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica Tour

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

Where to book: N/A

Operating hours of area:

  • Monday-Sunday: 9:00 AM–6:00 PM

Duration: 10-30 minutes

Availability: All year round

Price:

  • Free

Another beautiful landmark of Ottawa, the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica is a magnificent architectural masterpiece. 

Although the building is primarily used by the citizens to worship the lord, it’s also quite famous for its breathtaking sights. The structure is a testament to the skill and dedication of the craftsmen who built it. 

Having visited this place a few times in the past, I’ve been able to marvel at its neo-Gothic splendor, and it never fails to take my breath away.

Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica Tour

One of the key attractions here is the stunning interior. The intricate stained glass windows, ornate woodwork, and exquisite sculptures create an atmosphere of serenity and awe. 

Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica Tour

When you step inside, it really feels like you’ve entered a different world, a sanctuary of peace right in the heart of the city. Of the few times I’ve been here, I spent moments of quiet reflection and appreciated the tranquility it offers.

Not only that, but the cathedral stands as a symbol of Ottawa’s heritage. It has witnessed pivotal moments in Canada’s history, including royal visits and state funerals. 

Learning about its role in shaping our city and country adds a profound layer of meaning to your visit.

But what truly makes this tour special is the guided experience. Knowledgeable guides provide insights into the cathedral’s history, architecture, and the stories behind its remarkable stained glass windows. 

Their passion for the building’s heritage is infectious, and it adds depth to your appreciation of this sacred space.

Let’s not forget the other great activities held here. The Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica often hosts musical events and concerts. 

Being able to hear the acoustics in these performances is simply divine, and gives you an opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of music while surrounded by such beauty.

Ottawa Ghost Tours

Ottawa Ghost Tours

Location (office): 46 1/2 Sparks St., Ottawa, ON K1P 5A8, Canada

Where to book: https://hauntedwalk.com/ottawa-tours/

Duration: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Availability: All year round

Price:

  • Adult: $30
  • Youth (Up to Age 14): 27.50

Ottawa’s Ghost Tours offer a unique and thrilling perspective on the city’s past. Beneath the picturesque facade of our historic landmarks and charming streets lies a history steeped in mystery, folklore, and tales of the supernatural.

I’ve heard hearsay of these supernatural occurrences before, and I’ve always been intrigued to learn about them. If you have the courage, these tours bring those eerie stories to life.

One of the key attractions of this tour is the immersive storytelling. Knowledgeable guides, with their flair for the dramatic and deep knowledge of local legends, transport you to another era. 

They share chilling tales of haunted buildings, eerie occurrences, and the restless spirits said to roam Ottawa’s historic sites. It’s like stepping into a ghostly time machine.

Ottawa has a long and fascinating past, filled with scandal, tragedy, and mysterious events. When you hear these tales, it makes you feel connected to the city in a way that’s both eerie and enchanting. 

Ottawa Ghost Tours

I’ve been to these tours before with some friends and relatives, and every time, it sparks lively discussions about Ottawa’s enigmatic past.

But what truly makes this tour special is the atmosphere. When you walk through dimly lit streets, you will be able to experience an eerie ambiance like never before. 

Ottawa Ghost Tours

The city’s historic buildings serve as your backdrop, and you’ll find yourself looking at familiar places in a whole new light. It really gets your imagination wild, wondering if there’s a ghostly presence just around the corner.

To add to that, the Ottawa Ghost Tours offer a variety of themed experiences. Whether you prefer a classic tour, a haunted pub crawl, or a lantern-lit cemetery exploration, there’s an option to suit your taste. 

Personally, I’ve enjoyed the versatility of these tours, each offering a different perspective on Ottawa’s spectral side.

In short, an Ottawa Ghost Tour is a spine-tingling and entertaining way to discover the city’s hidden history. It’s a journey into the unknown, a blend of fact and folklore, and a chance to explore the capital after dark like never before.