Ottawa is a beautiful city of lights and history that has so many things worth exploring. Despite having grown up here, I never grow tired of seeing these attractions whenever I roam the streets of Ottawa.
To accommodate these landmarks and other attractions, there are plenty of tour companies that cover a specific niche and area for exploring the city.
I’ve experienced tours that took me down the Ottawa River and some that had me listen in on the very knowledgeable and enthusiastic locals that have volunteered as tour guides. There are times when I’ve even gone on scavenger hunts with friends!
Now, I’ll be talking about some of the best walking tours you can find in Ottawa, so you can experience everything that makes the city great! I’m positive that there’s a tour that will suit your tastes perfectly.
The 10 Best Walking Tours in Ottawa
I’ve listed some of the highest-rated walking tours in Ottawa that you can experience. You can check the table below for a quick overview.
|Ottawa Self-Guided Audio Tour
|$5-$20 based on the length of the trip
|Haunted Walks of Ottawa
|Ottawa Free Tours
$2 (Children under 12)
$18 (Family Fee; includes 2 adults plus children under 18)
Free admission for children under 2
|Ottawa Tasting Tours
|$65 + tax - ByWard Bites Lunch Tour
$65 + tax - Byward Craft beer and lunch Tour, additional $20 for craft beer package
$128 + tax - Contemporary Food and Wine Tour
|Ottawa Street Art Outdoor Escape Game
|Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Ottawa by Wacky Walks
|Ottawa Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour
|Ottawa Boat Cruise - Rideau Canal
|$30-$74 (depending on package)
|Ottawa City Tour by Land and Water
Ottawa Self-Guided Audio Tour
Fee: $5-$20 based on the length of the trip (Ottawa Self-Guided Audio Tours)
- Parliament Hill
- National War Memorial
- Canadian War Museum
- National Gallery of Canada
Want to tour Ottawa on your own terms? I recommend that you try out a self-guided tour so you can experience the city’s history, culture, and landmarks whenever you desire.
You’ve got two options for doing the self-guided tour: through the Ottawa Self-Guided Audio Tour or by downloading an app called “GPSmyCity.”
Both of them are good in their own rights, but I personally prefer GPSmyCity because it’s free and is usable without an internet connection. It also lets you create a custom walk to visit your desired locations.
But if you want to experience a self-guided tour with audio, the Ottawa Self-Guided tour will always be a great option.
For the audio tour, you can purchase an audio guide for $5-$20 depending on the length of the tour. With the guide, you can visit popular Ottawa landmarks such as Parliament Hill, the Rideau Canal, the National Gallery of Canada, and ByWard Market.
As you explore the city, you can learn interesting bits of history about each landmark you come across. I consider this to be one of the more entertaining ways to learn more about Ottawa.
For the “GPSmyCity” tour app, you can download it on your phone through iTunes for Apple devices or the Google Play Store for Android ones.
If you have a different path that you want to follow, you can also create a custom walk based on your preferences.
Haunted Walks of Ottawa
- Bytown Museum
- Fairmont Château Laurier hotel
- Carleton County Jail
- Friday’s Roast Beef House
If you’re the kind of person who likes the thrill of fright, this is the perfect tour for you. I’m personally not a fan of the supernatural, but I can’t deny that Haunted Walks of Ottawa is one of the most popular tours offered by Ottawa Walking Tours.
To give you a quick background on the company, it specializes in spooky tours that explore Ottawa’s haunted history. The tours take visitors to some of the city’s most haunted locations, including cemeteries, jails, and historic buildings.
You will experience some of the city’s most haunted spots while the tour guide shares some spine-tingling stories of ghostly encounters and paranormal activity.
Once you book a tour, you will begin outside the Ottawa Jail Hostel, a former maximum-security prison that is said to be haunted by the spirits of former inmates.
Visitors are taken on a guided tour of the prison, which includes a visit to the gallows, where several prisoners were hanged.
The tour also includes a visit to the Bytown Museum, a historic building that is said to be haunted by the ghost of a former caretaker.
Visitors will hear the story of the caretaker’s tragic death and learn about the strange occurrences that have been reported in the museum.
Another stop on the tour is the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, a grand hotel that has been the site of many reported ghost sightings over the years.
There have been stories of unexplained noises, apparitions, and other eerie occurrences that have been reported in the hotel, and you get to hear the stories in full detail.
Throughout the tour, you will also learn about Ottawa’s rich history and folklore, including tales of murder, mystery, and intrigue.
The tour is led by experienced guides who are knowledgeable about the city’s history and culture, as well as its ghostly inhabitants.
In short, the Original Haunted Walk of Ottawa is a thrilling and entertaining way to explore the darker side of the city’s history and folklore. It’s a must-see attraction for anyone who is interested in the paranormal or enjoys a good ghost story.
Ottawa Free Tours
- Parliament Hill
- Office of the Prime Minister Building
- Sparks Street
- Rideau Canal National Historic Site
Ottawa Free Tours is the perfect option if you want to save money when touring Ottawa. The tours are led by local guides who are passionate about sharing their knowledge of the city’s history, culture, and landmarks with visitors.
The tours provide a great introduction to the city and offer an excellent opportunity to learn about Ottawa’s rich history and culture from a knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide. The tour also lets you get plenty of exercise and fresh air!
In terms of variety, you can choose from plenty of options. These include a general city tour, a street art tour, and a pub crawl tour.
The general city tour covers some of the city’s most popular attractions, including Parliament Hill, the National War Memorial, and the ByWard Market.
The street art tour focuses on the city’s vibrant street art scene and takes visitors to some of the most impressive murals and graffiti in the city.
The pub crawl tour takes visitors to some of the best bars and breweries in the city and offers the opportunity to try some of Ottawa’s finest craft beers.
All tours are free, but I highly encourage you to give a good tip to your guide at the end of the tour as a way of showing appreciation for their time and expertise.
The tours are generally two to three hours long and are conducted in small groups, which allows for a more personalized experience. It is suitable for all ages and fitness levels and provides an excellent opportunity to meet other travelers.
In addition to the regular tours, Ottawa Free Tours also offers private bookings for groups and can customize the trip to meet specific interests and requirements.
The company’s website provides detailed information about the tours, including the meeting points, tour routes, and tour times.
- $8 (Adults)
- $5 (Seniors/Students)
- $2 (Children under 12)
- $18 (Family Fee; includes 2 adults plus children under 18)
- Free admission for children under 2
- Sourcing the Canal: Gary Blundell & Victoria Ward
- John Bridge, for Rundell, Bridge & Rundell, Drummond Cup, 1830-1831, Bytown Museum, C291 a,b.
- S.J. Jarvis, Group Portrait of Staff at Jarvis Studio, c.1892, Bytown Museum, P830
The Bytown Museum is a small museum located in downtown Ottawa that tells the story of the city’s early history, from its founding as Bytown in 1826 to its evolution into Canada’s capital.
The museum offers guided tours for visitors to learn more about the history of Ottawa and its development. If exploring the Bytown Museum is part of your plans for exploring Ottawa, this is your best chance to do so.
The tours at the Bytown Museum cover a variety of topics related to Ottawa’s history, including the construction of the Rideau Canal, the development of the lumber industry, and the city’s role in the War of 1812.
The tours are led by knowledgeable guides who provide insights into the exhibits and artifacts on display, as well as the broader historical context.
Some of the tours offered by the museum include:
- Bytown Museum General Tour – This tour provides an overview of the museum’s exhibits and highlights the key events and figures that shaped Ottawa’s history.
- Canal Tales – This tour focuses on the history of the Rideau Canal, including its construction and its role in the development of Ottawa.
- Lumbering in the Ottawa Valley – This tour explores the history of the lumber industry in the Ottawa Valley, including its impact on the city’s growth and development.
- War of 1812 – This tour examines Ottawa’s role in the War of 1812, including the Battle of Châteauguay and the Battle of Crysler’s Farm.
The museum also offers virtual tours and online exhibits for those who are unable to visit in person. For more information on tours at the Bytown Museum, including schedules and pricing, you can visit its website or contact the museum directly.
Ottawa Tasting Tours
- $65 + tax – ByWard Bites Lunch Tour
- $65 + tax – Byward Craft beer and lunch Tour, additional $20 for craft beer package
- $128 + tax – Contemporary Food and Wine Tour
For foodies, Ottawa Tasting Tours is going to be your preferred way of touring Ottawa. You get to explore the city while having a taste of some of the best food it has to offer.
The tours are led by knowledgeable and passionate guides who take visitors on a walking tour of different neighborhoods in the city.
During the tour, you get to taste a variety of dishes and drinks, learn about the history and culture of the area, and meet local chefs and artisans.
Ottawa Tasting Tours offers several different tour options, including the ByWard Market Food and Wine Tour, the Glebe Food and Drink Tour, and the Westboro Food and Drink Tour.
Each one focuses on a specific neighborhood or food theme and offers a unique culinary experience.
The ByWard Market Food and Wine Tour, for example, takes visitors on a journey through Ottawa’s oldest and most iconic market. You get to sample a variety of foods, including artisanal cheeses, fresh seafood, and locally sourced meats.
The best part about all this is that you get to eat delicious dishes while learning about the history and culture of the market.
The Glebe Food and Drink Tour, on the other hand, explores one of Ottawa’s trendiest neighborhoods, known for its vibrant food scene.
The tour includes stops at local cafes, bakeries, and restaurants, where guests can sample everything from craft beers to gourmet chocolates.
If you are a certified foodie, you don’t want to miss out on this tour!
Ottawa Street Art Outdoor Escape Game
- Laurier Avenue
- Downtown Rideau B.I.A.
- The Living Room
- 253 Echo Dr
If you’re looking for a unique and exciting way of exploring Ottawa, the Ottawa Street Art Outdoor Escape Game is something I highly recommend you try out. It’s overall a great experience, especially with friends and family.
This tour features an event that combines urban exploration, puzzle-solving, and art appreciation.
The game is designed to take players on a thrilling adventure through the streets of Ottawa, where they will discover and interact with some of the city’s most stunning and thought-provoking street art pieces.
The game starts with a brief introduction to the rules and objectives, after which players are given a map and a set of clues to guide them on their quest.
The clues are designed to challenge players’ problem-solving skills and creativity and are strategically placed throughout the city to lead players to different street art locations.
As you and the other players progress through the game, you will encounter a variety of street art pieces, ranging from murals and graffiti to installations and sculptures. Each piece has been carefully selected for its beauty, significance, or cultural relevance.
While playing the game, you will be encouraged to take the time to appreciate and contemplate each piece as you solve the clues. Personally speaking, I think it’s a clever way of getting tourists more engaged with the installations.
A single game session typically takes between 2-3 hours to complete, depending on the pace of the players and the difficulty of the clues. Players can play individually or in teams, making it a great activity for families, friends, or coworkers.
In summary, I think that the Ottawa Street Art Outdoor Escape Game is an immersive and entertaining way to explore Ottawa’s vibrant street art scene while engaging in a fun and challenging activity.
It is suitable for all ages and skill levels and offers a unique and memorable experience that is sure to leave a lasting impression on you, your friends, and your family.
Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Ottawa by Wacky Walks
The Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Ottawa by Wacky Walks is a fun and interactive way to explore the city. The scavenger hunt is designed to take participants on a journey through the city’s history, landmarks, and hidden gems.
You can enjoy this activity with your family, friends, or coworkers looking for a team-building experience.
You start out the activity by downloading an app that provides you with a list of clues and challenges. The app is user-friendly and easy to navigate, making it accessible to people of all ages.
The clues and challenges are designed to take participants to different locations throughout the city, such as famous landmarks, museums, and historical sites.
The scavenger hunt adventure is self-guided, which means that participants can start and stop at any time, making it perfect for those who want to explore the city at their own pace.
The app also provides hints and tips to help participants solve the clues and challenges, giving people who are unfamiliar with the city an easier time navigating around the area.
Participants can expect to walk around the city, taking in the sights and sounds of Ottawa, and completing challenges along the way. The challenges range from taking photos and videos to solving puzzles and answering trivia questions.
The scavenger hunt adventure is also a great team-building activity, as it requires participants to work together to solve the clues and challenges.
It promotes communication, problem-solving, and collaboration, making it an ideal activity with your friends and family.
Ottawa Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour
- Canadian War Museum
- History Museum
- Rideau Hall-Governor General Residence
- RCMP Stables
The Ottawa Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour is a popular way to explore the Canadian capital.
It allows you to see all the major attractions and landmarks of the city while giving you the flexibility to hop on and off the bus at any of the designated stops along the route.
The tour typically begins at the Ottawa Locks of the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Ottawa’s most iconic landmarks.
From there, the bus travels along a scenic route through the city, stopping at various points of interest such as Parliament Hill, the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of History, and the ByWard Market.
The buses are equipped with a multilingual audio guide that provides commentary in several languages. These include English, French, Spanish, German, Mandarin, and Japanese.
It provides information on the history and significance of each attraction and landmark along the route, giving you interesting tidbits about Ottawa’s landmarks as you explore the city.
One of the key advantages of the Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour is its flexibility. You can hop off the bus at any of the stops along the route and explore the attractions at your own pace.
When you are ready to continue, simply hop back on the next available bus and continue the tour.
A ticket is valid for one day, allowing you to take the tour as many times as you like within a 24-hour period. This makes it an ideal option for those who want to explore Ottawa at their own pace and have the flexibility to customize their itinerary.
Ottawa Boat Cruise
Fee: $30-$74 (depending on package)
- National Gallery of Canada
- Château Laurier Hotel
- Jacques Cartier Park
- Rideau Canal
If you want to experience Ottawa by boat, Ottawa Boat Cruise Tours is the company for you.
Ottawa is situated at the confluence of the Rideau Canal, Rideau River, and Ottawa River. Each of these bodies of water features routes that offer you a scenic view of the city.
The city boasts stunning waterfronts and iconic landmarks such as the Parliament Buildings, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Château Laurier Hotel, among others.
Boat cruise tours in Ottawa provide a unique way to experience the city’s natural beauty, historical landmarks, and cultural attractions.
There are several different types of boat tours available, including sightseeing tours, dinner cruises, sunset cruises, and private charters.
Sightseeing boat tours offer a comprehensive tour of the city’s waterways, highlighting notable landmarks and points of interest along the way.
Some of the popular sights that visitors can expect to see on these tours include the Parliament Buildings, Rideau Falls, and the Canadian Museum of History.
Dinner cruises offer a romantic and luxurious way to experience the city’s waterfront. Visitors can enjoy a delicious meal while taking in the stunning views of the city at night.
Some dinner cruises also offer live entertainment, such as music or dancing, to enhance the experience.
Sunset cruises are an excellent option for those looking to capture the breathtaking beauty of the city’s skyline during the golden hour.
These tours typically take place in the evening, providing an opportunity to enjoy a spectacular sunset while cruising down the Ottawa River.
Private charters offer visitors the opportunity to customize their boat tour experience. It can accommodate groups of various sizes, and visitors can tailor the tour to their specific interests and preferences.
Ottawa City Tour by Land and Water
- Parliament Hill
- National Gallery of Canada
- Canadian Museum of History
- Supreme Court of Canada
Looking for a unique way to explore Ottawa that lets you experience both land and water? Book some tickets for the Ottawa City Tour by Land and Water.
The tour takes you on a journey through Ottawa’s most iconic landmarks and attractions, both on land and on water. It provides a comprehensive and immersive experience of the city as you’ve never seen it before.
The tour begins on land, where you will board a comfortable and modern coach bus that will take you to some of the most famous landmarks in the city.
The tour guide will provide you with interesting commentary and historical facts about each site as you pass by.
You will get to see Parliament Hill, the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of History, the Supreme Court of Canada, and many other fascinating sites.
After the land portion of the tour, you will head to the Ottawa River for the water portion. You will board an amphibious vehicle, also known as an “Amphibus,” which is specially designed to travel on both land and water.
As you float along the river, you will get a unique perspective of the city’s landmarks, such as the Canadian Museum of Nature and Rideau Falls.
During the water portion of the tour, you will also learn about the city’s history, culture, and attractions. You will see the city’s impressive architecture from a new angle, and the knowledgeable guide will tell you all about the landmarks you see from the water.
The Ottawa City Tour by Land and Water is an excellent way to see the best of Ottawa in a short amount of time. It’s a perfect activity for visitors who want to experience the city’s beauty and learn about its rich history.
The tour is suitable for all ages, and the guides are experienced, knowledgeable, and passionate about the city they call home.