Reasons Why Cruising around Ottawa Is a Must

6 Reasons Why Cruising around Ottawa Is a Must

Ottawa is strategically nestled along the banks of the majestic Ottawa River, which allows it to offer a unique blend of natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture. 

While exploring Ottawa by foot or car is a delightful experience, there’s a way to see this city that adds a touch of enchantment to your journey – cruising. 

Yes, going on a cruise around Ottawa isn’t just a boat ride, but it’s also an unforgettable adventure through a captivating tapestry of sights and stories. 

In this article, we’ll unveil the reasons why cruising around Ottawa is an absolute must for every traveler seeking to unlock the city’s hidden gems and discover its soul. 

From the iconic Rideau Canal to the stunning Parliament Hill, join us as we set sail on an exploration of Ottawa’s most enchanting waters!

1. See new scenic views of Parliament Hill.

See new scenic views of Parliament Hill

One of the undeniable highlights of cruising in Ottawa is the stunning view of Parliament Hill from the water. As you glide along the Ottawa River or the historic Rideau Canal, you’ll be treated to an unparalleled perspective of Canada’s iconic political center. 

The illuminated Parliament Buildings against the backdrop of the riverbanks make for a picture-perfect moment during evening cruises. While daytime cruises offer remarkable vistas of Parliament Hill, it’s during the evening that this view becomes truly enchanting. 

As the sun sets and the night descends, the Parliament Buildings are beautifully illuminated, casting a warm glow over the waters. This visual spectacle is often a highlight of evening cruises and provides an excellent backdrop for photographs.

The perspective from the water offers an unobstructed view of Parliament Hill, making it a prime spot for people looking to add more awesome photos to their social media. 

You’ll be able to capture the intricate details of the Gothic Revival architecture, the flag atop the Peace Tower, and the shimmering reflections on the water’s surface.

And on Canada Day, July 1st, Parliament Hill becomes the epicenter of the nation’s celebrations. 

When you cruise along the Ottawa River during this time, you’ll witness the grandeur of the Canada Day fireworks display, which lights up the night sky over Parliament Hill. It’s a truly unforgettable experience and a testament to the nation’s pride!

Beyond its historical and visual appeal, the view of Parliament Hill from the water gives you a sense of serenity. The gentle rocking of the boat, the tranquil flow of the river or canal, and the iconic silhouette create an atmosphere that invites relaxation.

The best part is that many cruise operators in Ottawa offer guided tours and dinner cruises that pass by Parliament Hill. These tours cater to various preferences, including daytime sightseeing, sunset excursions, and themed cruises. 

So, this accessibility ensures that visitors can choose the cruise experience that best suits their interests and schedules.

2. Explore the Rideau Canal.

Explore the Rideau Canal

Ottawa is home to the UNESCO-listed Rideau Canal, a 202km waterway that winds through the city. When you go cruising on the canal, it offers a unique vantage point to admire the historic locks, picturesque bridges, and charming water’s edge communities. 

Whether in summer when the canal is bustling with boaters or in winter when it transforms into the world’s longest skating rink, the Rideau Canal is a must-see.

As you cruise along the canal, you’ll pass beneath picturesque bridges that add to the charm of the journey. One of the most iconic is the Laurier Avenue Bridge, a stunning example of Beaux-Arts architecture. 

The views from under these bridges are a photographer’s delight and provide unique angles to capture the city’s beauty. 

The Rideau Canal also passes through several neighborhoods, each with its own character and charm. Glebe, Old Ottawa East, and Dow’s Lake are just a few examples of the waterside communities you can explore. 

These neighborhoods offer quaint cafes, parks, and cultural attractions, providing a delightful contrast to the urban landscape. 

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Rideau Canal is its ability to transform with the seasons. 

In summer, it’s a bustling waterway filled with pleasure boats, kayakers, and paddleboarders. The canal’s banks come alive with picnics and outdoor festivals. 

In winter, it undergoes a magical metamorphosis, becoming the world’s longest skating rink. Locals and visitors alike don their skates and glide along the frozen canal, creating a unique winter wonderland.

The Rideau Canal is designed to be accessible to everyone, so many cruise operators offer tours specifically tailored to different preferences. 

Whether you want a leisurely daytime cruise, a romantic evening dinner cruise, or even a themed cruise, there are several options available. Additionally, the pathways along the canal provide excellent opportunities for cycling and strolling.

3. Appreciate the Rideau Falls up close and personal.

Appreciate the Rideau Falls up close and personal

Few experiences in Ottawa offer the chance to witness the city’s natural beauty and historical significance as intimately as a cruise along the water. 

On a cruise, you’ll have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the mesmerizing Rideau Falls, where the Rideau River cascades into the Ottawa River. 

These falls aren’t only a breathtaking sight but also a piece of Ottawa’s history, as they played a vital role in the construction of the Rideau Canal. 

As you approach these falls on your cruise, you’ll be captivated by the sheer force and majesty of the cascading waters. The sight and sound of these rushing falls create a sensory experience that’s both invigorating and awe-inspiring.

One ideal photo opportunity you can’t miss is when you cruise to the base of the falls. With the falls as your backdrop, you can capture stunning images that encapsulate both the natural wonder and its historical significance. 

The play of light and water at different times of the day offers ever-changing photo opportunities.

4. Relax to the gentle rocking of the water.

Relax to the gentle rocking of the water

It’s no secret that cruising around Ottawa is a relaxing and leisurely experience. Whether you’re enjoying a narrated tour to learn about the city’s history or simply basking in the serenity of the water, it’s a chance to unwind and savor the moment. 

What’s more, many cruises also offer onboard dining, making it an excellent choice for a romantic dinner or a family outing. Whether you opt for a gourmet dinner cruise or a delightful lunch outing, you’ll be treated to a feast for the senses. 

Savory dishes prepared with local ingredients, complemented by a selection of beverages, create a memorable dining experience against Ottawa’s waterfront.

As your vessel glides along the serene waters of the Ottawa River or Rideau Canal, you’ll be serenaded by the sounds of waves and the rustling of tree-lined riverbanks. 

This communion with nature creates an ambiance that’s inherently calming and rejuvenating. It’s a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Many Ottawa cruises offer narrated tours, enriching your relaxation with valuable insights into the city’s history, culture, and landmarks. 

Knowledgeable guides share fascinating stories and historical anecdotes, adding an educational dimension to your leisurely cruise. You can choose to engage with the narrative or simply absorb the scenery in blissful silence.

And for couples seeking a romantic interlude, cruising offers an intimate setting for special occasions. Just imagine sipping wine on the open deck as the sun sets over Parliament Hill, casting a warm glow on the cityscape. 

Such moments become cherished memories, making cruises a popular choice for marriage proposals, anniversaries, and romantic getaways. 

Families, too, find cruising to be an enjoyable and leisurely activity because children can enjoy the experience of being on a boat. They get to spot wildlife along the shoreline and take in the city’s landmarks from a unique perspective. 

Family-friendly cruises often feature amenities like onboard entertainment, making them engaging for all generations.

Most importantly, cruising in Ottawa provides an opportunity to unplug from digital distractions and reconnect with the beauty of nature and the company of loved ones. 

It’s a chance to have meaningful conversations, create lasting memories, and savor the simple pleasure of being present in the moment.

5. Spot cultural landmarks from the water.

Spot cultural landmarks from the water

Ottawa’s waterways are dotted with cultural landmarks, museums, and attractions. Cruises often provide commentary on these points of interest, offering valuable insights into the city’s heritage and culture. 

From the comfort of your cruise vessel, you’ll have unobstructed views of some of the city’s most renowned landmarks, both historic and contemporary.

Aside from Parliament Hill and Rideau Falls, another cultural gem you can spot from the water is the National Gallery of Canada. This world-class institution houses an exceptional collection of Canadian and international art. 

As your cruise passes by, you’ll have a view of its striking glass façade, designed by architect Moshe Safdie, which reflects the shimmering waters of the Rideau Canal. 

Across the river in Gatineau lies the Canadian Museum of History, with its distinct architectural design. It resembles a grand curving ramp and is easily recognizable from the Ottawa River. 

This museum is not only an architectural wonder but also a treasure trove of Canadian history and Indigenous heritage.

Then there’s the Fairmont Château Laurier, a historic hotel that exudes old-world charm and graces the Ottawa skyline. From the water, you can appreciate its impressive architecture and its strategic location between Parliament Hill and the Rideau Canal.

The Alexandra Bridge, connecting Ottawa and Gatineau, showcases elegant steelwork and design. When you cruise beneath this bridge, you’ll be treated to a unique angle for admiring its intricate structure.

Further along the river, the Canadian War Museum and the Canada Aviation and Space Museum are two more cultural attractions you can spot. These institutions celebrate Canada’s military history and aviation achievements, respectively.

Ottawa’s waterways also pass by Indigenous cultural sites, highlighting the city’s commitment to acknowledging and preserving Indigenous heritage. 

Onboard commentary often includes insights into the Indigenous peoples of the region and their contributions to Canadian culture.

6. Admire the captivating sunset views.

Admire the captivating sunset views

Ottawa’s sunsets are nothing short of spectacular, and a sunset cruise is the perfect way to experience them. 

As the sun dips below the horizon, the city is bathed in warm hues, creating a magical atmosphere that’s perfect for couples or anyone seeking a memorable evening. 

One of the most striking scenes you’ll encounter is Parliament Hill against the backdrop of the setting sun. The illuminated Parliament Buildings, with their intricate architecture, come alive with a warm, inviting radiance. 

This iconic view is particularly mesmerizing during the “magic hour” just before sunset when the sky transitions through a palette of vibrant colors. 

Whether you’re sharing this experience with a loved one or simply seeking a moment of quiet reflection, a sunset cruise sets an ideal stage for romance and introspection. 

The gentle rocking of the boat, the soothing sounds of water, and the changing colors of the sky create an ambiance that’s both romantic and peaceful.

Pro Tip: 

Sunset cruises are also often in high demand, especially during the warm months when the days are longer. So, it’s advisable to book your cruise in advance to secure your spot and ensure you don’t miss the opportunity.