Everything You Should Know When Visiting Parliament Hill
Welcome to the heart of Canada, where history, politics, and architecture come together to create an unforgettable experience. We’re talking about none other than Parliament Hill, Ottawa’s most iconic landmark that offers a glimpse into this vibrant democracy.
As soon as you walk up the hill, you’ll immediately notice the stunning Gothic architecture of the buildings. Parliament Hill houses the Senate, House of Commons, and the iconic Peace Tower.
As you stroll along the sprawling grounds, you can’t help but feel a sense of pride and wonder at the impressive history and culture that surrounds you.
From the Changing of the Guard ceremony to the breathtaking views of the Ottawa River, it’s a place where you can truly immerse yourself in our proud Canadian heritage.
For Ottawans, in particular, it’s a place of significance held close to our hearts, where we come to learn and connect with our roots.
Contact 613 992-4793 or [email protected] for more information, or visit the official website to plan your visit.
What is Parliament Hill known for?
Parliament Hill is known as a tourist destination and is the headquarters of Canada’s federal government.
It’s also known for its iconic and historical buildings and architecture, such as the Peace Tower, Hall of Honour, and the Centre Block, and is the site of the annual Ottawa Tulip Festival.
Located along the Ottawa River, Parliament Hill is the site for various important events and ceremonies, such as the national Remembrance Day ceremony.
It’s also the site for the Changing of the Guard ceremony.
How to Visit Parliament Hill Ottawa
To enjoy your visit to Parliament Hill easily, take note of the following steps:
- Plan your trip beforehand. Decide the exact dates of your visit, especially if you’re coming from outside Ottawa.
- Book a tour. Guided tours are offered at Parliament Hill, and you can book your reservations through the official website or on-site at the Welcome Centre.
- Arrive early. Make sure to arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled tour to ensure you have enough time to find the starting point of your tour and pass the security checks.
How to Go to Parliament Hill
You can visit Parliament Hill by car, public transportation, taxi or rideshare apps, or by bike. It’s easily accessible by all these modes of transportation, so you won’t have any trouble getting here.
For more info on how you can get to Parliament Hill using these modes of transportation, you may refer to the table below:
|Mode of Transportation||Instructions|
|Car||Simply drive to Parliament Hill and park your vehicle at any of the nearby parking lots or streets that allow public parking.|
|Public Transportation||Take a bus or train to the Ottawa train station and then take the OC Transpo bus route number 7 or the STO bus route number 61. Get off at the Parliament Hill stop.|
|Taxi/Rideshare App||Even if you don’t have your own car, you can easily take a taxi or use a rideshare service to Parliament Hill.|
|Bike||Head to Parliament Hill via the bike lanes and park your bike along the available bike parking areas near the destination.|
Can you visit Parliament Hill without a tour?
You can visit Parliament Hill without a tour and are free to explore the grounds and buildings on your own. You’re welcome to admire the architecture and visit the Senate, House of Commons, Library of Parliament, etc.
However, access to the interiors of some buildings may be limited, and certain areas or rooms may be prohibited.
And because Parliament Hill is the seat of the federal government, be prepared to go through security screenings.
Is there an admission fee to enter Parliament Hill?
There is no admission fee to enter Parliament Hill, and guided tours are also free of charge. This makes a visit to Parliament Hill a very budget-friendly activity.
Is there free parking at Parliament Hill?
There is no free parking at Parliament Hill, but there are available parking garages and street parking available.
These parking spaces do have their corresponding parking fees.
Where to Park When Visiting Parliament Hill
When visiting Parliament Hill, you can park at the National Arts Centre or World Exchange Plaza or at designated parking streets.
You can check out the table below for a breakdown of each parking space’s costs:
|National Arts Centre||1 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K1P 5W1, Canada||Before 4 PM: $3 per half hour ($20 max)|
After 4 PM: $3 per half hour ($12 max)
24-hour period: $3 per half hour ($25 max)
Weekend rates: $3 per half hour ($12 max)
Monthly parking passes: $255
|World Exchange Plaza||45 R. O'Connor St, Ottawa, ON K1P 1A4, Canada||30mins.: $2.50|
Daytime (In after 6 AM out by 6 PM): $20
Overnight (In after 6 AM out by 6 PM): $5
Mon. - Fri. (6 PM - 6 AM)
Evening (In after 6 PM out by 12AM): $5
Overnight (In after 12AM out by 6 AM): $5
*FREE outside of these times
How long are Parliament Hill tours?
Parliament Hill tours can last from 30 to 40 minutes, depending on which buildings you’re touring.
Senate guided tours generally last 30mins, while the House of Commons guided tours last approximately 40mins.
When can I visit Parliament Hill?
You can visit Parliament Hill year-round, but hours of operation can vary during special events or depending on the season.
In winter, it’s open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. During the summer months, the opening hours are from 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM.
What to See in Parliament Hill
Some of the best must-see sights at Parliament Hill are the Centre Block, the Peace Tower, the Memorial Chamber, the National War Memorial, Changing of the Guard, and the gardens.
Centre Bloc is Parliament Hill’s most iconic building and the one that’s most commonly seen and remembered by the majority of people. It’s the heart of Canada’s Parliament and houses the Senate and House of Commons Chambers.
You can explore without a guided tour, but booking one of the free guided tours is very much encouraged, especially for first-time visitors. During the guided tour, you’ll learn about its history and architecture in better detail.
You can’t miss the Peace Tower because this towering structure has to be the most recognizable feature of Parliament Hill’s Centre Bloc.
From atop the observation deck, it offers stunning views of Ottawa and the Ottawa River.
The Memorial Chamber, located inside the Peace Tower, is dedicated to Canadians who’ve lost their lives in military conflicts.
It’s decorated with stunning stained glass windows and designed in a Gothic Revival style.
Changing of the Guard
During the summer months, the changing of the guard is held at Parliament Hill as a colorful display of Canada’s military heritage.
Since it’s not a year-round ceremony, don’t be afraid to take pictures of the Mounties, Canada’s national police force.
National War Memorial
Just like the Memorial Chamber, the National War Memorial serves to honor the fallen Canadian soldiers who’ve died in service to their country. It’s a solemn site for remembrance and self-reflection.
Gardens of Parliament Hill
While you’re at Parliament Hill, you can’t pass up exploring the beautiful gardens, which offer a peaceful escape. It’s a great place for picnics, photo sessions, or even just quiet relaxation.
What to Do in Parliament Hill
What’s great about Parliament Hill is that there’s a range of activities and attractions for everyone, such as:
- Guided tours. Guided tours are free, and you’ll learn something new about Parliament Hill, especially if you’re a first-time visitor.
- Exhibitions. It’s only natural that Parliament Hill houses many important historical artifacts, its exhibitions helping showcase Canadian history and heritage.
You can find exhibitions like the Memorial Chamber and the Hall of Honour here.
- Special events. Parliament Hill hosts a range of special events throughout the year, including concerts, ceremonies, and patriotic holidays, such as Canada Day.
- Scenery. Parliament Hill’s location gives it stunning panoramic views of Ottawa, waterfront views of the Ottawa River, and even farther if you stand on Peace Tower’s observation deck.
- Grounds exploration. There’s a lot of ground to cover in Parliament Hill, so to make the most out of your visit, make sure to explore as much as you can to be able to admire all the architecture and sculptures.
- Buildings. Aside from the grounds itself, take advantage of the important buildings, like the House of Commons, Senate, Library of Parliament, and the Peace Tower.
- Shows. The Changing of the Guard ceremony, which takes place during the summer months, is one of the important ceremonies that are done within Parliament Hill, making it something to look forward to during your summer visit.
Where to Eat Near/In Parliament Hill
The best places to eat near or in Parliament Hill are the Parliamentary Restaurant, 1 Elgin, the Whalesbone Oyster House, Supply & Demand, and Play Food & Wine.
You may refer to the table below for a quick overview of the restaurants we’ll cover:
|Parliamentary Dining Room||Go here for a fine-dining experience inside Centre Bloc.|
|1 Elgin||Go here for contemporary, seasonal Canadian dishes.|
|Whalesbone Oyster House||Go here for luxury seafood dishes and an oyster bar.|
|Supply and Demand||Go here for contemporary cuisine made from the freshest ingredients.|
|Play Food & Wine||Go here for a unique dining experience with appetizer-sized dishes.|
The Parliamentary Dining Room
ADDRESS: Wellington St, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A9, Canada
Located inside Parliament Hill at the Centre Bloc, the Parliamentary Dining Room is, as you can expect, a fine-dining establishment. This restaurant is known for its elegant atmosphere, great service, and decadent menu offerings.
ADDRESS: 1 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K1P 5W1, Canada
CONTACT: 613 594-5127
MUST-ORDER MENU ITEMS: Mushroom Toast, Gnocchi, Tofu Bowl, Creme Brulee, Rabbit Croquettes, Bison Meatballs, Field to Shield, Grass-Fed Strip Loin, Braised Short Ribs, Roasted Beetroot Salad, Warm Lentil, Mushroom & Tofu Bowl, Cranberry Apple Bread Pudding, Maple Ice Cream
1 Elgin is the National Art Centre’s very own restaurant, which offers a range of breakfast, lunch, and dinner options, as well as its own bakery. It offers five courses and even has special seating available for holidays.
If you have a special someone you’d like to take on a nice dinner date after exploring Parliament Hill, try bringing them to 1 Elgin instead for great food and scenic views.
Whalesbone Oyster House
ADDRESS: 231 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K2P 1L6, Canada
CONTACT: 613 505-4300
MUST-ORDER MENU ITEMS: Oysters, Caesar Salad, Deep Fried Ice Cream, Salmon, Trout, Angus Striploin, Foie Gras Torchon, Lobster Gratine, Chocolate Mousse, Clam Chowder, Truffle Fries, Poki Bowl, Lobster Risotto, Seafood Rolls, Dry Aged Steak, Calamari
Located near Parliament Hill, the Whalesbone Oyster House is a popular seafood restaurant that’s well-known for its oysters that come from different parts of the nation.
It offers a range of fresh seafood and other dishes, a great choice for seafood lovers.
Supply and Demand
ADDRESS: 1335 Wellington St. W, Ottawa, ON K1Y 3B7, Canada
CONTACT: 613 680-2949
MUST-ORDER MENU ITEMS: Squid Ink Rigatoni, Signature Caesar, Fennel Sausage Ragu, Tuna, Dinner Rolls, Kale Salad, Oysters, Albacore Tuna Crudo, Brussels Sprouts, Mafaldine with Mushrooms, Classic Beef Tartare, Tomato & Strawberries with Stracciatella & Basil, Spaghetti with Meatballs, Black Truffle and Ricotta Cappellacci, Strozzapreti Verde with Fennel Sausage Ragu, Steelhead Trout, Cream Cheese Gelato
Supply and Demand is a contemporary restaurant offering an extensive international cuisine menu, including Italian, Mexican, and Thai dishes. It prides itself on using high-quality raw ingredients and bringing out the full potential of each one.
It offers visitors a relaxed yet sophisticated experience as you sample its standout dishes, such as its hand-made pasta and locally-sourced meats and seafood.
Play Food & Wine
ADDRESS: 1 York St, Ottawa, ON K1N 5S7, Canada
CONTACT: 613 667-9207
MUST-ORDER MENU ITEMS: Ñoquis, Scallops, Pork Belly Salad, Hanger Steak, Parisian Gnocchi, Cheese Board, Fig Cocktail, Rainbow Trout, Patagonia Prawns, Grilled Sourdough
Play Food & Wine is a farm-to-table restaurant that focuses on using seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. Its innovative menu combines classic cooking techniques with contemporary flavors and presentations.
If you decide to visit, you shouldn’t miss out on its locally sourced steaks and seafood, and if you like drinks, it has an extensive wine list.
|Restaurant||Address||Must-Order Menu Items||Pricing|
|Parliamentary Dining Room||Wellington St, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A9, Canada||N/A||$$$|
|1 Elgin||1 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K1P 5W1, Canada||Mushroom Toast, Gnocchi, Tofu Bowl, Creme Brulee, Rabbit Croquettes, Bison Meatballs, Field to Shield, Grass-Fed Strip Loin, Braised Short Ribs, Roasted Beetroot Salad, Warm Lentil, Mushroom & Tofu Bowl, Cranberry Apple Bread Pudding, Maple Ice Cream||$$$|
|Whalesbone Oyster House||231 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K2P 1L6, Canada||Oysters, Caesar Salad, Deep Fried Ice Cream, Salmon, Trout, Angus Striploin, Foie Gras Torchon, Lobster Gratine, Chocolate Mousse, Clam Chowder, Truffle Fries, Poki Bowl, Lobster Risotto, Seafood Rolls, Dry Aged Steak, Calamari||$$$|
|Supply and Demand||1335 Wellington St. W, Ottawa, ON K1Y 3B7, Canada||Squid Ink Rigatoni, Signature Caesar, Fennel Sausage Ragu, Tuna, Dinner Rolls, Kale Salad, Oysters, Albacore Tuna Crudo, Brussels Sprouts, Mafaldine with Mushrooms, Classic Beef Tartare, Tomato & Strawberries with Stracciatella & Basil, Spaghetti with Meatballs, Black Truffle and Ricotta Cappellacci, Strozzapreti Verde with Fennel Sausage Ragu, Steelhead Trout, Cream Cheese Gelato||$$$|
|Play Food & Wine||1 York St, Ottawa, ON K1N 5S7, Canada||Ñoquis, Scallops, Pork Belly Salad, Hanger Steak, Parisian Gnocchi, Cheese Board, Fig Cocktail, Rainbow Trout, Patagonia Prawns, Grilled Sourdough||$$|
$ = Affordable/Budget-friendly
$$ = Mid-range/Slightly more expensive
$$$ = High-end/Expensive