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Rideau Canal

This engineering and scenic marvel fills with pleasure craft in summer and transforms into the world’s longest naturally frozen skating rink in winter.

The Rideau Canal is a water channel that runs 126 miles (202 kilometers) between Ottawa and Kingston, Ontario. Built between 1827 and 1832, the canal is North America’s oldest continuously operated canal system. Today the canal is the scenic and recreational centerpiece of Ottawa, filling with boats in summer and skaters during winter. 

Ottawa’s parks, gardens, museums and scenic walkways line the canal. In the summer months, the canal is a thriving waterway. Go boating, take a cruise or walk, jog or rollerblade along the sidewalks. At Dows Lake at the southern end of the canal, rent a paddleboat, kayak or canoe. 

Combine your canal visit with a trip to one of the many cultural attractions along the waterway. Start at the northern entrance with the Parliament Buildings, then visit the Bytown Museum and learn how the canal was built. Explore the National Arts Centre and enjoy the views it has of the canal. At Dows Lake, walk through the ornamental gardens in the Arboretum of the Central Experimental Farm. The wetland areas that were created as a result of its construction are now home to a diverse array of plants, animals and fish.

For about 50 days during winter, you can ski or snowshoe along the canal when it freezes into the world’s longest naturally frozen skating rink. Rent skates and sleds from one of the handy locations along the canal. You’ll find washrooms, heated changing rooms and local vendors selling BeaverTails fried dough and beverages along the way too.

Rideau Canal runs south through the center of Ottawa. Boat access is via the Ottawa River in the north. In winter, the skateway can be accessed via ramps at the Mackenzie King Bridge, Fifth Avenue (Queen Elizabeth Drive side), Bronson Avenue (Colonel By Drive) and Dows Lake Pavilion. Parking is available at a number of locations.


Guide to Exploring around Rideau Canal


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Best Lodging Options Near Rideau Canal

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Fairmont Chateau Laurier CA $251
Fairmont Chateau Laurier

Fairmont Chateau Laurier

1 Rideau St, Ottawa, ON
     
    4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in Downtown Ottawa, this luxury hotel is within a 5-minute walk of National War Memorial, Shaw Centre, and National Arts Centre. Byward Market Square and Parliament Hill are also within 10 minutes.

    Andaz Ottawa Byward Market - a concept by Hyatt CA $152
    Andaz Ottawa Byward Market - a concept by Hyatt

    Andaz Ottawa Byward Market - a concept by Hyatt

    325 Dalhousie Street, Ottawa, ON
       
      4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Downtown Ottawa, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Byward Market Square, Shaw Centre and National Gallery of Canada. Parliament Hill and University of Ottawa are also within 15 minutes.

      The Business Inn CA $95
      The Business Inn

      The Business Inn

      180 MacLaren Street, Ottawa, ON
         
        2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Centretown, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Museum of Nature, University of Ottawa and National Arts Centre. Rideau Centre and Shaw Centre are also within 15 minutes.

        Charming Flat in Ottawa's Glebe Neighborhood (w/Parking)
        Charming Flat in Ottawa's Glebe Neighborhood (w/Parking)

        Charming Flat in Ottawa's Glebe Neighborhood (w/Parking)

        33 Clarey Ave, Unit #2, Ottawa, ON
           
          0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Glebe, this holiday home is within a 10-minute walk of Lansdowne Park, Rideau Canal and TD Place Stadium. Carleton University and Museum of Nature are also within 1 mile (2 km). Carling Station is 27 minutes by foot and Carleton Station is 28 minutes.

          Best Western Plus Ottawa Downtown Suites CA $139
          Best Western Plus Ottawa Downtown Suites

          Best Western Plus Ottawa Downtown Suites

          377 O'Connor St, Ottawa, ON
             
            2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Centretown, this eco-friendly hotel is within 1 mile (2 km) of Dundonald Park, Rideau Canal and Parliament Hill. University of Ottawa and Museum of Nature are also within 1 mile (2 km).

            Residence & Conference Centre - Ottawa Downtown
            Residence & Conference Centre - Ottawa Downtown

            Residence & Conference Centre - Ottawa Downtown

            150 Hazel Street, Ottawa, ON
               
              2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Old Ottawa East, this residence is within a 15-minute walk of St Paul University and Rideau Canal. Parliament Hill and National Gallery of Canada are also within 3 mi (5 km).

              The Westin Ottawa CA $159
              The Westin Ottawa

              The Westin Ottawa

              11 Colonel By Dr, Ottawa, ON
                 
                4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Downtown Ottawa, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Shaw Centre, Byward Market Square and Parliament Hill. University of Ottawa and Canadian Museum of History are also within 1 mi (2 km).

                Les Suites Hotel Ottawa CA $155
                Les Suites Hotel Ottawa

                Les Suites Hotel Ottawa

                130 Besserer St, Ottawa, ON
                   
                  3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Downtown Ottawa, this eco-friendly aparthotel is within a 10-minute walk of Shaw Centre and Byward Market Square. University of Ottawa and National Gallery of Canada are also within 15 minutes.