There are many national museums and galleries in Ottawa and neighbouring Gatineau. All museums in Ottawa have free admission on Canada Day, July 1, although they are generally very crowded then.
The primary attraction for most visitors is
Parliament Hill is in the middle of downtown Ottawa, overlooking the Ottawa River. Not only is the building a fine example of the Gothic revival style, it makes an excellent starting point to visit all other points of interest in the area.
The Changing of the Guard takes place daily on the lawns of Parliament at 9:00am. The Governor General's guards can also be seen at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider and at Rideau Hall.
Tours of the building are available daily with multiple tours (in both official languages) available at staggered times throughout the day. If you have a group of greater than 10 people, you must make a reservation in advance by calling the reservations office at +1 613 996-0896.
The Centre Block tour is the most popular as it includes inside views of the House of Commons, the Senate, and the newly renovated Library of Parliament. Same-day tickets are free and available on a first-come-first-served basis from 9:00 AM. Pick up your ticket as early as possible to have the best chance of securing a start time that works for you. Tours last from 20 to 60 minutes depending on building activity.
From July 2 to Labour Day (early September), tours of the East Block are also available; tour guides take you through the restored offices of some of the Fathers of Confederation (Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir George-Etienne Cartier, Governor General Lord Dufferin and the original Privy Council Office) explaining the beginnings of the Dominion of Canada while historical characters let you in on the daily lives of Canada's past politicians. Tours last about an hour and free same-day tickets can be picked up at the Info-tent on the Hill by West Block.
If there are no more tickets available, or you have to wait for your time, a fine self-guided walking tour around the grounds of Parliament Hill will keep you busy. Free booklets are available at the visitors' centre.
One of the nicer, unexpected views, looking from the bottom up, can be accessed at the back of the Parliament Buildings—that vantage point also provides a river view of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, across the river in downtown Gatineau (a sector that was formerly the city of Hull).
The walk down from the southwest corner of the Centre Block allows visitors to visit the Hill cats, a group of feral animals housed there by volunteers. Behind the Parliament Buildings at sunset is a sight to remember. You can walk by the Rideau Canal locks (at the east corner) and visit the Bytown Museum at the level of the canal. (No longer available as of January 2013)
The locks divide Parliament Hill from the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, a former railway hotel. This hotel once housed the offices of CBC Radio in Ottawa as well as the studio of well-known portrait photographer Yousuf Karsh. Several framed Karsh photographs are hung in the hotel lounge. His (and his wife's) home suite is now available for guests and displays a small sampling of framed prints on the walls.
Mosaika Parliament Hill Sound & Light ShowNewly developed for 2010 by the National Capital Commission, the Sound & Light Show is a 30 minute film about Canada projected on the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings. Bleacher seating is available and no reservations or tickets are required. There is one show nightly until September at 21:30. Canadian War MuseumPrice: Admission is $12 for adults. A joint War Museum and Museum of Civilization ticket can be purchased for $18. Admission is free on Th after 6PMMoved to a new building west of downtown in 2005 but still within walking distance of the downtown attractions, the museum presents Canada's involvement in armed conflict beginning with battles between the French and British, through to the World Wars, Korea, and the country's current involvement in NATO and UN operations. Museum of CivilizationPrice: Admission is $10 for adult. A joint War Museum and Museum of Civilization ticket can be purchased for $15. Admission is free on Th after 4PMThis museum presents the story of Canada's population beginning with Aboriginal migration across the Bering Strait through European settlement by the Vikings around 1000 CE, and the British and French in the 1500s. The museum is full of a variety of items ranging from full size Salish totem poles to the recreation of a small prairie town complete with grain elevator. The museum also includes an exhibit on Canada Post and a separate museum for children. Science and Technology MuseumThe museum has several displays that are popular with children, including massive locomotives inside the building and electricity demonstrations. Supreme Court of CanadaPrice: FreeCanada's highest court and the best example in Ottawa of Art Deco architecture. Its marble Grand Entrance Hall is particularly impressive. Visitor reservations are required during low season (September 1 to April 30). Canada Agriculture Museum861 Prince of Wales DrPhone: +1 613 991-3044Tollfree: +1 866 442-4416Hours: Exhibitions: 9AM-5PM daily late Feb-late Nov. Animal barns: 9AM-5PM daily all yearPrice: $7 adults, $6 students/seniors, $4 children 3-14, $16 families (2 adults and 3 children), free for children under 3. Seniors free on Tu. Admission to animal barns is by donation during time of year when the exhibitions are closedA working animal farm in the city. You can visit animal barns, see various demonstrations and exhibitions, and ride on a horse-drawn wagon. The museum also has a playground and picnic area. It is very popular with young children and a welcome change of pace for kids who have seen enough history after visiting some of the other sights. Bytown Museum1 Canal LnPhone: +1 613 234-4570Hours: Victoria Day weekend-Thanksgiving Day: F-W 10AM-5PM, Th 10AM-9PM. Rest of year: Tu-Su 11AM-4PMPrice: $6 adults, $4 seniors/students/youth, $3 children 5-12, $15 families (2 adults plus three children under 18), free for children 4 and under. Free admission Th 5PM-9PM from Victoria Day-Thanksgiving DayA small museum at the foot of Parliament Hill with a focus on Ottawa's early history. Rideau Hall1 Sussex DrPhone: +1 613 991-4422Tollfree: +1 866 842-4422Hours: Residence tour (without reservations): Apr 30-Jun 26: Sa-Su 10AM-4PM, Jun 27-Sep 5: 10AM-4PM daily (unguided open-house tours available Jul-Aug), Sep 6-Oct 30: Sa-Su noon-4PM. Advance reservations required for tours at any time from Nov-Apr, and weekdays May-Jun and Sep-6-Oct 30. Grounds tour: 8AM-1 hour before sunset dailyPrice: FreeThe official residence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and her representative the Governor General of Canada. The grounds and the residence are open to the public for tours. Reservations are recommended during low season (September 1 - April 30). Diefenbunker - Canada's Cold War Museum3911 Carp Rd, CarpPhone: +1 800 409-1965Hours: Self-guided tours 11AM-4PM dailyPrice: $14 adults, $13 seniors, $10 students, $8 youth 6-18, $40 families (2 adults plus 3 youth), free for children 5 and underBuilt to protect the government from nuclear attack, this once-secret bunker is now a museum and National Historic Site of Canada. "Diefenbunker" is a play on "Diefenbaker", a Canadian Prime Minister in the 1950s. In addition to preserving and promoting Canada's Cold War history, the museum offers a variety of visitor programs and services. You can learn, play or shop as you discover the bunker's secrets and relive the experience of the Cold War. Guided tours by reservation only. If you do not have access to a vehicle and are willing to do a 50 minute bus ride plus pay a 30$ taxi, you can # take the OcTranpo #95 or #97; # Transfer to the #93 at Lincoln Fields; # Get off at the Legget / Ad. 515 stop; # Walk 3 minutes to Brookstreet Hotel; # Take a taxi to the Diefenbunker.
For the sports fan, Ottawa has professional sports teams: