When we ask anyone outside of Canada what Canada’s capital is, we tend to get a lot of wrong answers.
Despite the fact that Toronto, Ontario, is our country’s largest and best-known city, Canada’s capital actually lies northeast of it.
The city of Ottawa is the capital.
Non-Canadians also quite understandably scratch their heads when it comes to understanding our home city of Victoria.
The capital of our province, British Columbia, is Victoria. It’s located on Vancouver Island. But the city of Vancouver isn’t – it’s found on the mainland.
Now that we’ve thoroughly confused you, let’s go back to Ottawa, Ontario…
Sporting massive Parliament buildings, uniquely designed museums and a thriving downtown core, there are many interesting places to visit in Ottawa.
Got a crush on Canada? Read this! It’s blooming at the 5 best gardens in Victoria, BC
Places to visit in Ottawa
Here’s the scoop on places to see in Ottawa.
And seeing as it’s the New Year, we’re putting a wintery spin on our winter guide to Ottawa.
Conceived as early as 1859, Parliament Hill has housed Canada’s federal government ever since the complex was completed in 1876, nine years after the formation of Canada in 1867.
A major fire destroyed much of the complex in 1916, and though Canada was at war at the time, rebuilding Parliament became a priority.
Eleven years later, the Peace Tower was built as well, commemorating those lost in World War I.
Parliament Hill has been the scene of many historic ceremonies in Canada, including the VE Day celebrations, the first raising of Canada’s new flag in 1965, and the celebration of Canada’s Centennial in 1967.
Today, Parliament Hill is a beautiful area to tour on foot.
It features many statues of famous Canadian figures (like Sir John A. Macdonald, our first prime minister), monuments commemorating veterans and police, and also the Rideau Canal.
One of Canada’s most popular and iconic sites, the Rideau Canal is a top Ottawa attraction – and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
For decades, families have skated and played ice hockey on the canal. Skating in winter, in fact, is what the Rideau Canal is most famous for today.
You’ll love skating on the groomed “Skateway.” It stretches for almost five miles from Ottawa’s downtown area to Dows Lake.
Cool fact: Together, the canal and Dows Lake form the “largest, naturally frozen skating rink in the world”.
Gliding along the ice as a way of getting around has even been done by members of Parliament and prime ministers over the years!
Yes, it’s a truly Canadian tradition.
If you get the chance, do hop on the ice and go for a skate on this picturesque canal.
It’s one of the best things to do in Ottawa in winter!
There are three Ottawa museums you’ll want to check out.
First is the National Gallery of Canada.
Considered one of Canada’s finest galleries, this museum focuses on Canadian art.
But it also has some foreign collections, including several of Andy Warhol’s most famous pieces.
Outside in front of the gallery, you can’t miss the sculpture of a gargantuan spider (“Maman”), complete with a sac of large white marble eggs under her belly – a great photo opp, by the way!
Next is the Canadian Museum Of Nature. It has an impressive fossil collection, a live insectarium and other nature-inspired exhibits.
And then there’s the Canadian War Museum, which features displays from Canada’s war history.
Ottawa in winter
Enjoy your trip. Pack woolies if visiting in winter and stay warm!
Visiting Vancouver? Read our post about bicycling Stanley Park and best Stanley Park bike rentals