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Rideau Canal
Vacation Travel Guide

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.

Top things to do in Rideau Canal

Top Hotels Close to Rideau Canal

Fairmont Chateau Laurier
Fairmont Chateau Laurier
4.5 out of 5
1 Rideau St, Ottawa, ON
The price is CA $230 per night from Feb 28 to Mar 1

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 ...

4.3/5Excellent! (2,123 reviews)

"The closeness to downtown and for skating on the canal."…"

Reviewed on Feb. 21, 2021

Fairmont Chateau Laurier
Arc The Hotel
Arc The Hotel
4 out of 5
140 Slater St, Ottawa, ON
The price is CA $112 per night from Feb 28 to Mar 1

Located in Downtown Ottawa, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 10-minute walk of National Arts Centre, Parliament Hill, and Rideau Centre. Byward Market Square ...

4.1/5Very Good! (1,093 reviews)

"Great hotel and very nice room! Clean, spacious and great customer service! A little bit noisy due to the heating system and downtown location. We had to pay extra for parking (25$/night)."…"

Reviewed on Feb. 24, 2021

Arc The Hotel
Andaz Ottawa Byward Market - a concept by Hyatt
Andaz Ottawa Byward Market - a concept by Hyatt
4 out of 5
325 Dalhousie Street, Ottawa, ON
The price is CA $144 per night from Mar 13 to Mar 14

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 ...

4.5/5Wonderful! (1,511 reviews)

"Great hotel. Clean. Kind staff. A"…"

Reviewed on Feb. 22, 2021

Andaz Ottawa Byward Market - a concept by Hyatt
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Top Rideau Canal Flight + Hotel Deals

Les Suites Hotel Ottawa
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Reviews of Rideau Canal

4.5

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
1377
5 - Excellent 59.58459541324102%
4 - Good
836
4 - Good 36.174816096927735%
3 - Okay
86
3 - Okay 3.7213327563825183%
2 - Disappointing
4
2 - Disappointing 0.17308524448290782%
1 - Terrible
8
1 - Terrible 0.34617048896581565%

3/5 - Okay

Robert

Sep 25, 2019

Rented bikes and biked along canal. Could not get along the river below Parliament, as the pathway was closed off for the military run. Too bad

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

Jun 29, 2019

The cruise on the Rideau Canal was awesome.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

Jun 7, 2019

We drove to Smith Falls and went to the interpretive center

2/5 - Disappointing

Verified traveller

Mar 14, 2019

the reason for our visit, but it closed for the season the minute we got there.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

Feb 20, 2019

My son refuses to skate indoors after this experience! Come with cash. There are many concession booths all along the canal but they take cash only.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

Feb 16, 2019

Broke an arm. Canal staff was amazing

Read travel guides and advice on visiting Rideau Canal

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Best Lodging Options Near Rideau Canal

Fairmont Chateau Laurier
Fairmont Chateau Laurier
4.5 out of 5
1 Rideau St, Ottawa, ON
The price is CA $230 per night from Feb 28 to Mar 1
Fairmont Chateau Laurier
Arc The Hotel
Arc The Hotel
4 out of 5
140 Slater St, Ottawa, ON
The price is CA $112 per night from Feb 28 to Mar 1
Arc The Hotel
Andaz Ottawa Byward Market - a concept by Hyatt
Andaz Ottawa Byward Market - a concept by Hyatt
4 out of 5
325 Dalhousie Street, Ottawa, ON
The price is CA $144 per night from Mar 13 to Mar 14
Andaz Ottawa Byward Market - a concept by Hyatt
Les Suites Hotel Ottawa
Les Suites Hotel Ottawa
3.5 out of 5
130 Besserer St, Ottawa, ON
The price is CA $116 per night from Feb 28 to Mar 1
Les Suites Hotel Ottawa
The Westin Ottawa
The Westin Ottawa
4 out of 5
11 Colonel By Dr, Ottawa, ON
The price is CA $166 per night from Mar 5 to Mar 6
The Westin Ottawa
The Business Inn
The Business Inn
2.5 out of 5
180 MacLaren Street, Ottawa, ON
The price is CA $104 per night from Mar 1 to Mar 2
The Business Inn
Ottawa Embassy Hotel & Suites
Ottawa Embassy Hotel & Suites
3.5 out of 5
25 Cartier St, Ottawa, ON
The price is CA $125 per night from Mar 4 to Mar 5
Ottawa Embassy Hotel & Suites
Residence & Conference Centre - Ottawa Downtown
Residence & Conference Centre - Ottawa Downtown
2.5 out of 5
150 Hazel Street, Ottawa, ON
Residence & Conference Centre - Ottawa Downtown
Ashbury House B&B
Ashbury House B&B
3 out of 5
303 First Ave, Ottawa, ON
The price is CA $158 per night from Feb 28 to Mar 1
Ashbury House B&B
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.