Winter Activities in Ottawa: A Comprehensive Guide

Winter Activities in Ottawa

Skating on the Rideau Canal


The Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage site, becomes the world’s largest naturally frozen skating rink every winter. Spanning 7.8 kilometers, it offers a unique skating experience right in the heart of the city.


Skate Rentals:

Available at various locations along the canal, making it easy for tourists and locals alike.

Food and Beverages:

Warm up with hot chocolate, beavertails (a popular Canadian pastry), and other snacks from the vendors along the canal.


Participate in Winterlude, an annual winter festival that features ice sculptures, performances, and special skating events.

Winterlude Festival


Winterlude is Ottawa’s premier winter festival, celebrating the season with a wide range of activities and attractions spread across the city.


Ice Sculptures:

Marvel at the intricate ice sculptures displayed in Confederation Park.

Snowflake Kingdom:

Located in Jacques-Cartier Park in Gatineau, it features giant snow slides, obstacle courses, and snow sculptures.

Cultural Performances:

Enjoy live music, dance performances, and interactive workshops that showcase local and international talent.

Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing


Ottawa offers numerous trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, allowing you to explore the city’s natural beauty at your own pace.

Top Spots:

Gatineau Park:

Just a short drive from downtown Ottawa, this park boasts over 200 kilometers of groomed trails suitable for all skill levels.

Mer Bleue Conservation Area:

Known for its scenic trails that wind through forests and wetlands, offering a peaceful retreat from the city’s hustle and bustle.

Greenbelt Trails:

A network of trails that provide a variety of routes for both beginners and experienced skiers and snowshoers.

Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding


While Ottawa is not nestled in the mountains, several ski resorts within a short drive offer excellent downhill skiing and snowboarding opportunities.

Top Resorts:

Camp Fortune:

Located in Gatineau Park, it offers a variety of runs suitable for all levels, along with night skiing options.

Mont Cascades:

Known for its family-friendly atmosphere and well-maintained slopes.

Edelweiss Valley:

Offers a range of runs, a snow park, and facilities for tubing.

Tobogganing and Sledding


Tobogganing and sledding are classic winter activities that are fun for the whole family. Ottawa has several hills perfect for a thrilling ride.

Top Spots:

Carlington Park:

Features a popular sledding hill with a long, gentle slope.

Mooney’s Bay:

Offers multiple hills of varying steepness, ideal for both young children and adults.

Bruce Pit:

Known for its wide open spaces and gentle slopes, making it a favorite for families.

Ice Fishing


For those who enjoy fishing, winter in Ottawa presents the unique opportunity to try ice fishing on the frozen Ottawa River and other nearby lakes.

Top Spots:

Petrie Island:

Located in the east end of Ottawa, it’s a popular spot for ice fishing, with huts available for rent.

Shirleys Bay:

Known for its abundant fish species, including perch, pike, and walleye.

Winter Hiking and Photography


Winter transforms Ottawa’s landscapes into picturesque scenes, perfect for hiking and photography.

Top Spots:

Hog’s Back Falls:

Offers stunning views of frozen waterfalls and rapids.

Dominion Arboretum:

A beautiful setting for winter walks among snow-covered trees and plants.

Dow’s Lake:

Ideal for capturing the serene beauty of the frozen lake and surrounding parklands.

Indoor Activities


For those who prefer staying indoors, Ottawa offers a variety of activities to enjoy during the winter months.

Top Attractions:

National Gallery of Canada:

Explore an extensive collection of Canadian and international art.

Canadian Museum of History:

Learn about Canada’s rich history and heritage through interactive exhibits.

Nordik Spa-Nature:

Relax and rejuvenate at North America’s largest outdoor spa, located just across the river in Chelsea, Quebec.

Tips for Enjoying Winter in Ottawa

Dress Warmly:

Layering is key to staying warm. Invest in good quality thermal wear, waterproof outerwear, gloves, hats, and scarves.

Stay Informed:

Check local weather forecasts and trail conditions before heading out.

Stay Hydrated:

It’s easy to forget to drink water when it’s cold, but staying hydrated is important.

Be Prepared:

Carry essentials like a map, snacks, and a first aid kit, especially if venturing into more remote areas.

Ottawa’s Winters Can Be Fun!

Ottawa’s winter season is packed with exciting activities that cater to a wide range of interests and ages. From skating on the iconic Rideau Canal to exploring the winter trails of Gatineau Park, there’s no shortage of ways to embrace the beauty and excitement of winter in Canada’s capital. Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, Ottawa’s winter activities offer unforgettable experiences that make the season truly special.

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