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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


Map

Best Lodging Options Near Rideau Canal

See all 349 properties near Rideau Canal
Lord Elgin Hotel CA $125
Lord Elgin Hotel

Lord Elgin Hotel

100 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON
     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in Downtown Ottawa, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 10-minute walk of National War Memorial, Rideau Centre and Parliament Hill. Rideau Canal is 1.6 mi (2.6 km) away.

    Fairmont Chateau Laurier CA $186
    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.

      The Business Inn CA $111
      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 10-minute walk of Canadian Tribute to Human Rights and Museum of Nature. University of Ottawa and National Arts Centre are also within 15 minutes.

        Capital Hill Hotel and Suites CA $99
        Capital Hill Hotel and Suites

        Capital Hill Hotel and Suites

        88 Albert St, Ottawa, ON
           
          3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

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

          Best Western Plus Ottawa Downtown Suites CA $110
          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 Canadian Tribute to Human Rights, Rideau Canal and Parliament Hill. University of Ottawa and Museum of Nature are also within 1 mile (2 km).

            Residence & Conference Centre - Ottawa Downtown CA $89
            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).

              Cartier Place Suite Hotel CA $114
              Cartier Place Suite Hotel

              Cartier Place Suite Hotel

              180 Cooper Street, Ottawa, ON
                 
                3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Centretown, this eco-friendly aparthotel is within a 10-minute walk of Canadian Tribute to Human Rights and National Arts Centre. University of Ottawa and Parliament Hill are also within 15 minutes.

                Ottawa Embassy Hotel & Suites CA $125
                Ottawa Embassy Hotel & Suites

                Ottawa Embassy Hotel & Suites

                25 Cartier St, Ottawa, ON
                   
                  3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Centretown, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Canadian Tribute to Human Rights, National Arts Centre and Rideau Centre. University of Ottawa and Parliament Hill are also within 15 minutes.