What to Do in Ottawa
Collected by Allison Murray , AFAR Contributor
Canada’s capital is a gem of a city, with a fascinating history that informs its diverse and evolving present day. From its museums, to its distinct neighborhoods, to its emerging foodie culture, Ottawa is a cosmopolitan city on a human scale.
330 Kent St, Ottawa, ON K2P 2A6, Canada
Spins & Needles started as an art happening where you would get together with your friends, listen to good music, craft and drink beer. It's a great concept—pay a small cover fee, and you're supplied with all the materials for one or more projects...
375 Queen Elizabeth Dr, Ottawa, ON K1S 5M5, Canada
A quick Bixi bike ride from downtown (Ottawa's bike share program), 8 Locks Flat is a place where you can enjoy a beer while watching the world go by: pedestrians and cyclists on the bike path, kayaks and yachts in the canal, and motorcycles and...
5 Byward Market Square, Ottawa, ON K1N 9B8, Canada
Big piping-hot schnitzel loaded with sauerkraut on a soft bun accompanied by hearty perogies with sour cream, you'll definitely be fuelled up for the rest of your day! A tasty, affordable lunch option in the heart of the market.
137 Murray St, Ottawa, ON K1N 5M7, Canada
Don't let its unassuming entrance fool you, this local eatery is standing room only if you don't arrive early on most every night of the week. A popular spot due to its central location, it serves a tasty deluxe burger and fries along with its...
504a Kent St, Ottawa, ON K2P 2B9, Canada
The Whalesbone is one of Ottawa's best places to eat sustainably farmed oysters and fish, but the sit-down location can get a little pricey. Three blocks away is their wholesale location, which serves takeout treats like oyster po'boys with aioli,...
1 York St, Ottawa, ON K1N 6Z5, Canada
For a relaxing, leisurely evening in an upscale, yet laid-back atmosphere, check out Play near Byward Market-Parliament Hill. The menu is based on a host of small plates, not unlike tapas, and the wine list is extensive but not overwhelming.
1 Vimy Pl, Ottawa, ON K1A 0M8, Canada
The Canadian War Museum is among the most popular destinations for visitors, offering a look at Canada's military history on the front lines as well as at home. Often, the museum provides unique and unexpected insights, as with their summer 2013...
55 Byward Market Square, Ottawa, ON K1N 9C3, Canada
If you're in Ottawa for a while and craving some fresh fruits and vegetables as an alternative to restaurant fare (or if you want a private couple's evening alone in your room), you can find your ingredients at the stalls in the ByWard Market....
307 Dalhousie St, Ottawa, ON K1N 7E8, Canada
Cafe Ahora is one of Ottawa's institutions. Cacophonous, bright, and colourful, it's a great place to eat dinner before heading out with friends to one of the Market's many bars. Ahora features hearty, delicious, bountiful food with friendly...
2 Daly Ave #240, Ottawa, ON K1N 6E2, Canada
So many festivals take place in Ottawa that they merit their own network: The Ottawa Festival's Network. Bluesfest draws a lot of big names, Ottawa Writer's Fest introduces you to a range of intellectuals with interesting stories to tell, and the...
195 Bank St, Ottawa, ON K2P 1W7, Canada
Bread & Sons is by far my favourite takeout breakfast spot in Ottawa. Goat's cheese and rosemary borekas with fair trade coffee, or croissant breakfast sandwiches with asiago cheese, sea salt, and a poached egg are my top picks.
2 Daly Ave, Ottawa, ON K1N 7B9, Canada
Nestled in behind the Rideau Centre and two towering hotels, Arts Court is home to over 20 different arts organizations. The building has a theatre, two galleries, a dance studio, a video and a film cooperative, as well as numerous other opera,...
Canada, 64 George St, Ottawa, ON K1N 5V9, Canada
The best place to find a sandwich downtown is La Bottega. Stacked with meats, cheeses, hot eggplant, hot peppers, lettuce, tomato and olives, these $5 sandwiches can be shared with a friend along with a soda and a chocolate bar, cannoli, or a...
110 Murray St, Ottawa, ON K1N 5M6, Canada
Murray Street has all the makings of a nice evening, with a healthy selection of Old & New World wines, outstanding charcuterie, and a constantly changing menu that's upscale without being pretentious. It's a nice place for a leisurely meal, not...
258 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K2P 1L9, Canada
Having worked as an antiquarian bookseller at one time, independent bookstores are always of interest to me. Perfect Books, which specializes in fiction, history, and mystery, is a great place to discover some of Ottawa's hometown writers, placing...
150 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K2P 1L4, Canada
The Scone Witch is a great place for a quick bite, a casual lunch, or even just a cuppa in the morning (though it's nearly impossible to leave without one of this place's "spellbinding" baked goods). Grab a table early, or take something to go—...
Pretoria Ave, Ottawa, ON K1S, Canada
Easily accessible from downtown, bike with the family on over 50km of automobile-free roadways every Sunday morning during the summer. If you haven't got your bike already, pick up a Bixi bike located at numerous locations throughout downtown....
380 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1N 9N4, Canada
Moshe Safde's glass tower is covered up for the summer of 2013 by Inuk artist Silis Høegh's giant iceberg installation—part of Sakahan, the National Gallery of Canada's blockbuster summer exhibition. Arguably one of the biggest and best exhibits...
474 Gladstone Ave, Ottawa, ON K1R 5N8, Canada
One of the best ways to discover a city anytime of year is on foot, and your guides await at Ottawa Walking Tours. They have a number of different tours to choose from, but their most popular is a two-hour historical option—just be sure to bring...
296 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K2P 1M3, Canada
As its slogan says, "Town loves you, and wants you to be happy." This little gem is big on character and atmosphere, and features a Mediterranean menu that's impressively extensive. It's also committed to locally sourced produce and meats, taking...
93 Murray St, Ottawa, ON K1N 7B3, Canada
Rene Rodriguez's Navarra is a fusion tapas experience, with influences from all over Spain, as well as Latin America. The wine list is carefully curated, and there are a number of cocktails to get any evening started on the right foot, in a hip,...
104 Guigues Ave, Ottawa, ON K1N 5H7, Canada
Owners Regine and Katie have been instrumental in developing this end of Dalhousie Street with the establishment of Victoire. Dalhousie continues out of the Northeast corner of the Market and has a range of independent coffee shops, salons,...
67 Nicholas St, Ottawa, ON K1N 7B9, Canada
A recent installation for the Creative Cities Summit. Galerie SAW Gallery is housed in a former courthouse next to the Ottawa Jail Hostel. The gallery programs high-quality contemporary Canadian and international group exhibitions, installations,...
50 Rideau St, Ottawa, ON K1N 9J7, Canada
There are three locations of Magpie Jewellery throughout the city, but the most accessible for visitors might be the one located in the Rideau Centre. Magpie presents a collection of both Canadian and international designers—it's a deadly...
310 St Patrick St, Ottawa, ON K1N 5K4, Canada
From experimental, electronic music (Electric Fields), to performance art (Annie Sprinkle's White Wedding to the Snow), to the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, this deconsecrated Catholic church—now St. Brigid's Centre for the Arts—plays host to a...
385 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1N 1J9, Canada
One of the most striking architectural accomplishments in Ottawa is the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica—the city's oldest and largest church, with its origins dating to 1839. Whether or not you're religious (or even a fan of neo-gothic...
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