Offbeat Ottawa: Must-do things in Canada’s capital

Sure, Canada’s capital city is rich with historical and political culture, but there’s much more to Ottawa than that. With the upcoming 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation, we look at the city’s unmissable and unique.

Guerrilla yoga

Active wear juggernaut Lululemon Athletica (one of Canada’s greatest exports), runs free ‘guerrilla yoga’ classes on Parliament Hill each Wednesday at noon, from May to the end of September (weather permitting).

Up to 1000 people participate on a weekly basis, so bring your yoga mat and join in the fun, or just enjoy the spectacle on the grassy lawns of Parliament Hill.

Shop like a local

The ByWard Market in Lower Town is as historic as Ottawa itself.

It was here back in 1826 that extra wide streets were incorporated into Ottawa’s initial town planning to accommodate the horse-drawn carriages that brought foodstuffs to the market each day.

Today it’s one of Canada’s oldest and largest public markets, home to over 500 businesses, a local farmers’ market and artisans with over 260 stands.

It’s also the best place in town for shopping, dining and entertainment, drawing some 50,000 visitors per each in the summer.

Skate the world’s largest ice rink

The Rideau Canal, which connects the city of Ottawa to the city of Kingston, has two main claims to fame. As well as being North America’s oldest operating waterway, during winter it transforms into the world’s largest naturally frozen ice rink.

During the colder months you can skate around this local icon, or when it’s warm, you can cruise down it, passing impressive landmarks like the Parliament buildings, National Gallery of Canada, the Prime Minister’s residence and Rideau Falls.

Play prisoner

For a stay with a difference, rest your bones at the HI-Ottawa Jail Hostel in the heart of downtown.

Formerly the Carleton County Gaol, you can stay in an authentic cell, now with added creature comforts like electricity and free wifi.

But be warned, this hostel is considered one of the most haunted buildings in Canada, as you’ll learn on your complimentary tour of the heritage jail, which also gives an insight into the daily lives of inmates.

Indulge in the blues

Renowned as one of the greatest music festivals on the planet, Bluesfest takes over Ottawa every July, showcasing the world’s best musicians across blues, indie, rock and pop genres.

Originally a one-stage, three-day event, it has grown in size (and popularity) to become a multi-staged, two-week music extravaganza.

Sleep like an A-lister

Celebrating 100 years of history, Fairmont Chateau Laurier is one of Ottawa’s most iconic hotels, which has hosted heads of state, celebrities, dignitaries and guests from all around the world.

Matching its impressive guestlist is the regal décor, art-deco pool and central location.

From as little as $359 you can rest your weary head at this legendary chateau.


Canada celebrates 150 years!

The countdown is on for Canada’s sesquicentennial! On 1 July, 2017, Canada will celebrate 150 years since Confederation – when three colonies got together to form one united maple-syrup-hockey-and-poutine-loving country. And, as the nation’s capital, Ottawa is the focus of the birthday festivities, with 12 full months of events.

Visit for the full lineup of events, including these highlights:

  • Head to Shaw Centre – Canada’s Meeting Place on Canada Day for incredible Canadian cuisine prepared by some of the nation’s top chefs.
  • Ignite 150 will present a series of 17 epic stunts to turbo-charge every corner of the city. Savour a gourmet dinner 50 metres in the air, relax during a yoga session on a barge floating down a local waterway accompanied by a live orchestra, or watch a movie on a downtown terrace rooftop
  • Picnic on the Bridge on July 2, will see the majestic span above the Ottawa River transformed into a grassy green for one special day.