Experience all of what Canada is known and loved for in one great city: Ottawa.

From museums showcasing the country’s rich culture and Indigenous history to green spaces ripe for outdoor recreation, group travel has no limit in Canada’s capital city. Here groups will find a metropolis that combines urban and rural beauty across 80 vibrant neighborhoods.

Group tour planners can get inspired by this diverse mix of group experiences, activities, and destinations in Ottawa.

Canadian Museum of History - Ottawa Tourism
Canadian Museum of History
Credit: Ottawa Tourism

1. Engage with Canada’s Indigenous heritage

Learn about, understand, appreciate, and reconcile with the Indigenous Peoples of Canada.

While traveling on the ancestral land of the Odawa and Algonquin Anishinabe Nation, groups can embrace a variety of cultural perspectives and experiences in honor of and with the Indigenous People of Canada.

The country’s most-visited museum, the Canadian Museum of History, features the world’s largest indoor collection of totem poles, the largest exhibition about Canadian history, and displays the achievements of Canada’s Indigenous Peoples in the First Peoples Hall. Groups can also engage directly with the Indigenous community themselves via Indigenous Experiences, which hosts programming focused on educating and celebrating Canada’s diverse Indigenous cultures and communities. And on Mādahòkì Farm, which encompasses 164 acres of pristine farm and rural land, groups can participate in agritourism, learn about Indigenous farming practices and perspectives, and enjoy farm-to-table harvesting and cuisine.

Rideau Canal - Ottawa Tourism
Rideau Canal
Credit: Ottawa Tourism

2. Experience Ottawa’s waterways

The Ottawa River flows through the heart of the region, providing an amazing backdrop of jaw-dropping images and one-of-a-kind activities.

This vital waterway has played a significant role in the history of Ottawa and provides a natural border between two provinces, Ontario and Québec, providing the opportunity for groups to visit both provinces at one destination. Travelers can walk or bike across one of the river’s several bridges, take a river cruise by boat with Paul’s Boat Line, Au feel de l’eau – Aqua taxi, Ottawa Yacht Tours, and Ottawa Palapa Tours, or even ride the world’s first interprovincial zipline, the 120-foot Interzip Rogers. Groups can also explore the entire length or a section of the scenic and historic Rideau Canal through tour operators like self-drive luxury houseboats by Le Boat or docent-guided boat experiences with Rideau Canal Cruises.

Canadian Museum of Nature - Ottawa Tourism
Canadian Museum of Nature Credit: Martin Lipman/Canadian Museum of Nature

3. Visit cultural and historic museums

A whopping seven of Canada’s nine national museums are located in the Ottawa region – making the city a hub for history-centered tourism.

To appreciate and learn about Canada’s social and geopolitical history; ​​natural science and technological advancements; or artistic, wartime, and agricultural influences, groups can visit:

  • Canada Agriculture and Food Museum
  • Canada Aviation and Space Museum
  • Canada Science and Technology Museum
  • Canada Museum of Nature
  • Canadian Museum of History
  • Canadian War Museum
  • National Gallery of Canada

And as the country’s capital city, Ottawa is home to Parliament Hill, the seat of Canada’s federal government, and Rideau Hall, the historic home of the Governor General of Canada.

Fitz Bike Tours - Ottawa Tourism
Fitz Bike Tours
Credit: Fitz Bike Tours

4. Adventure in the great outdoors

Hike, bike, run, walk, explore – the best of city life and outdoor adventure comes together in Canada’s capital.

With more than 200 kilometers (125 miles) of trail to explore along the Capital Pathway, one of the most extensive bike trail networks in North America, a biking adventure is a must when visiting Ottawa. Escape Bicycle Tours & Rentals gives groups the opportunity to take a docent-guided or self-guided adventure on two wheels. Unforgettable vantage points of the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Museum of History can be found on trails that pass in and around Parliament Hill. Beyond biking, groups can explore Canada’s Capital Greenbelt, an impressive 500,000-acre swath of green space including dense forests, wetlands, and park area encompassing Ottawa.

Thursty Pedaler - Ottawa Tourism
Thursty Pedaler
Credit: Thursty Pedaler

5. Indulge in local flavors

Groups can taste and tour their way through Ottawa’s more than 80 unique neighborhoods with an endless list of restaurants, cafes, food trucks, breweries, and more.

The Good Food Tour, Experience Food, and Ottawa Tasting Tours each gives groups close-up and hands-on food tours. Or groups can embark on a culinary adventure with C’est Bon Cooking, which offers private cooking lessons or walking tours of Ottawa’s top food spots. Taste and traveling like a local, C’est Bon takes groups into the heart of neighborhoods like ByWard Market Square, one of the most iconic and integral hubs of city life, Wellington West, and the Glebe, to experience ethnic, award-winning, and fine-dining feasts. Beer enthusiasts will love tour-guide-led brewery hopping on the Brew Donkey bus or a self-pedal adventure on Thursty Pedaler party bikes.

For more information on group travel in Ottawa, call 833-864-7839 or visit ottawatourism.ca/traveltrade.

Article by Erica Zazo

Main photo: Indigenous Experiences; Credit: Ottawa Tourism