9 Things To Do In Ottawa This Winter That Prove It's The Best Time To Visit

Come to Canada's capital for the true north experience.

Ottawa Staff Writer
9 Things To Do In Ottawa This Winter That Prove It's The Best Time To Visit

Welcome to winter in Ottawa, a city that not only accepts the colder weather but thrives in it.

Once the snow hits, the number of attractions to enjoy seems to multiply, as there is no shortage of picturesque hikes, skating trails and places to ski. There are more unique winter experiences in the region that you may not know about.

Have a true Canadian experience at Winterlude

Price: Free

When: February 4 - 21, 2022

Address: Sparks Street, Jacques Cartier Park, Rideau Canal and more in Ottawa and Gatineau.

Why You Need To Go: Tourists come from far and wide to join Ottawans for an annual celebration of winter. There are light displays, live performances, dragon boat races, ice sculptures, snow tubing and much more to experience around the Capital region.


Snowshoe, bike and ski on groomed trails

Price: Free

Address: Sir John A. Macdonald Pkwy., Ottawa, ON

Why You Need To Go: There are a number of multi-use winter trails across the city that are groomed for cross country skiing, fat-biking, snowshoeing and walking. The Kichi Sibi Winter Trail (previously SJAM winter trail), is an urban winter pathway that reaches downtown.


Ski down one of many nearby hills

Price: $29+ per person

Address: 577 Ski Hill Rd., Pakenham, ON

Why You Need To Go: The Ottawa region has a number of ski hills you can enjoy, that are close enough to visit just for the day. Some of the nearby hills include Camp Fortune, Calabogie Peaks Resort, Ski Vorlage and Mount Pakenham. Mount Pakenham is only 45 minutes from downtown and a great hill for beginners.


Skate the largest outdoor rink

Price: Free

When: January to March (Exact date TBA)

Address: Rideau Canal, Ottawa, ON

Why You Need To Go: It's a bucket list winter activity for many to skate the largest outdoor skating rink in the world. Once the ice is thick enough it is open daily (depending on the weather) and free to enjoy, with access to skate rentals and tasty treats like Beavertails. There are a number of other outdoor skating trails to use while waiting for the canal to open.


Walk along beautiful hiking trails

Price: Free

Address: Gatineau Pkwy., Gatineau, Quebec

Why You Need To Go: Ottawa has a vast number of hiking trails both within the city and nearby that can be enjoyed year-round. If you want to venture into Quebec, the Pink Lake trail is an easy loop that has sections of boardwalk and views of a beautiful icy lake. The parkway closes to vehicles during the winter but you can access these views from connecting trails.


Warm up in a national museum

Price: $20 per person, free Thursdays between 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Address: 380 Sussex Dr., Ottawa, ON

Why You Need To Go: Ottawa has many museums to visit such as the Canadian War Museum, Canadian Museum of History, Bytown Museum and National Gallery of Canada. Escape the cold and, when current restrictions allow, spend an afternoon learning about Canada and admiring works of art. While closed, you can still admire the Maman statue out front of the gallery.


Drive through a Canadian safari

Price: $33+ per person

Address: 399 QC-323, Montebello, QC

Why You Need To Go: Only an hour from Ottawa you'll find a natural Canadian landscape with native animals such as deer, boar, bison and wolves. You can drive your car along a set path, similar to a safari, seeing the animals in their habitat, while feeding carrots to the deer that will approach your car. It's open year-round but extra beautiful to experience with the snow.


Adventure into icy caves

9 Things To Do In Ottawa In The Winter Proving It's The Best Time To Visit

Courtesy of Arbraska

Price: $28+ per person

When: Thursdays through Sundays

Address: 255 Rte. Principale, Val-des-Monts, QC

Why You Need To Go: Explore underground caves, learn about the mysteries within and discover unique ice formations. Arbraska Laflèche offers a cave discovery tour where you can venture down into the largest cave open in the Canadian Shield. Book the snowy adventure package which includes the cave tour as well as snowshoeing and winter ziplining.


Jam at winter Jazz Fest

Price: $15+

When: January 28-29 and February 3-5

Address: 355 Cooper St., Ottawa & 2 Daly Ave., Ottawa, ON

Why You Need To Go: This annual celebration of music and culture has been going on since the 90s and now takes place in the summer, fall and winter. Enjoy a number of live music performances, over two weekends. This year (as it currently stands) the event is back in person featuring artists such as Dominique Fils-Aimé and Blind Boys of Alabama.


In Ontario, a vaccine passport is required to access some events, services and businesses, including restaurants and bars.

Before you get going, check our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.

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