Rideau Canal Skateway

Make the most of your business trip to Ottawa in winter

Happen to be in the capital for a business meeting or conference in the cold season? Not to worry, Ottawa has so much to offer in winter, from natural wonders and icy escapades to cozy comforts and cultural gems.

Indoor or outdoor, there are many ways to enjoy Canada’s capital after your business meeting

Chill out after a full day of meetings at one of the lively pubs in the ByWard Market neighborhood, and enjoy Canadian, Irish or Scottish hospitality. It's also the perfect place to buy souvenirs for your loved ones and to find local products such as maple syrup or Obama cookies, named after President Barak Obama’s visit in 2009. Warm up with a golden, beaver tail-shaped pastry from the iconic BeaverTails stand. There are plenty of flavours to drool over: classic cinnamon sugar, maple, apple pie and more.

Shop 'til you drop at the CF Rideau Centre, a premier shopping complex located right next to the Shaw Convention Centre, home to 180 shops of the biggest names in fashion, food and services. 

Steps from the SHAW Centre is the Rideau Canal, which in the winter turns into the largest ice-rink in the world! You can rent some skates or just stroll along the ice and stop to warm up with toasty fires, hot drinks and tasty snacks.

Join your colleagues or clients at one of Ottawa’s great restaurants. The culinary scene in Ottawa is thriving, offering upscale and award-winning gourmet restaurants as well as casual dining and a large choice of international cuisine.

Staying in Ottawa on a Thursday night? Spend the evening discovering one of the capital’s world-class museums — admission is free from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Walk among Inuit sculptures in the Canadian National Gallery or dinosaurs in the Canadian Museum of Nature.

Extend your stay on a weekend to experience the capital winter thrills

DAY 1 – Explore downtown

Start the day at the Albion Rooms for a perfect breakfast including fresh croissants and pancakes.

Explore downtown Ottawa on the largest outdoor skating rink in the world, the frozen Rideau Canal Skateway. The Canal is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site on which you can skate and winds 7.8 kilometres (4.8 miles) through the heart of downtown Ottawa until Dows Lake.

Ottawa’s famous annual Winterlude festival runs over the first three weekends of February, with skating, ice-carving competitions, snow sculptures, sleigh rides, concerts and activities for everyone. 

Visit the Canadian Museum of Nature in the castle-like Victoria Memorial Museum Building; explore the Artic Gallery to learn about ecosystems and life in the North, as well as the impacts of climate change. The museum is also one of the few in the world to have a blue whale skeleton.

Enjoy afternoon tea at Zoe’s at the grand dame hotel, the Fairmont Château Laurier. The glass adorned atrium with glowing chandeliers has chic décor for a relaxing afternoon activity.

Check out a home game of the National Hockey League’s Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre or the Ottawa 67s, who play at TD Place at Lansdowne in the lively Glebe neighborhood.

DAY 2 – Winter wonderland

Fuel up for your last day of exploration by trying one of Ottawa’s hot brunch spots.

Enjoy a breath-taking drive to Gatineau Park and pick up a pair of snowshoes from the Gatineau Park Visitor’s Centre. Snowshoe trails are available throughout the park so grab a trail map and get ready to spend a magical day in a truly serene setting only 20 minutes from Ottawa’s bustling downtown core.

Prefer downhill skiing or snowboarding? You can hit the slopes at Camp Fortune, located within the boundaries of Gatineau Park, offering eight lifts and 24 runs, as well as equipment rentals, instruction and restaurant.

Warm up after a snowy adventure with steamy saunas and hot baths. Nordik Spa-Nature’s fairy-tale setting near the entrance of Gatineau Park will allow you to experience the magic of an outdoor massage in a heated, insulated wood pavilion.

Or escape the frost and head over to the Canadian Museum of History. This is Canada’s most visited museum! Wander through the Grand Hall, home to the world’s largest indoor collection of totem poles and discover the artifacts and people who helped shape Canada. Located in the Museum, the CINÉ+ offers a unique perspective on history, culture, adventure and nature through an array of stunning films.

Return to downtown Ottawa to spend a lovely dinner at Forty One, on the main level of the Lord Elgin Hotel. The restaurant features a modern environment and classic menu that is a perfect match to end your gateway in Canada’s capital.

Stay up to date

Stay up to date on upcoming events and ideas to plan your next trip to Ottawa with friends, family or on your own by signing up for the Ottawa Tourism Newsletter.