Major's Hill Park, view of Parliament, Cycling

Where to Capture Iconic Photos of Ottawa

There is a lot to see and do when visiting Ottawa! As Canada’s Capital, Ottawa offers several national museums, national historic sites and the beautiful green Parliament Hill, which is home to the country’s Federal Government. From great cultural attractions, to vast green spaces, to wonderful natural vistas, this capital city creates the ideal backdrop for any memorable, iconic photo in any season. But with so many beautiful locations, how do you know where to go to get that perfect, recognisable Ottawa photo? We’ve compiled a list of 5 perfect downtown spots to get you started!

1. Parliament Hill:

Pose in front of Parliament Hill’s Centre Block, home to Ottawa’s iconic 92.2-metre (302-foot) Peace Tower.

Also on Parliament Hill, closer to Wellington Street, you’ll find the ever-burning Centennial Flame, which commemorates the hundredth anniversary of Canada’s Confederation. Walk down the centre pathway over to this monument and capture the flame with the impressive Centre Block in the background. This is a great image in any season, day or night.

In the summer, from late June to late August, you’ll see the daily Changing of the Guard ceremony. This colourful military ceremony has taken place on Parliament Hill since 1959, featuring drills as well as a regimental band and pipers. The ceremony is free and is a great iconic photo opportunity.

2. Rideau Canal:

For a great photo of the Rideau Canal – Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site – stroll down to the Ottawa Locks (located beside the Bytown Museum) and look up at the Fairmont Château Laurier hotel. In the evening, during the warmer weather months, the lighted rooms of this iconic hotel are softly reflected on the canal’s still water, creating a truly enchanting tableau. In the daytime, you can also capture boats floating through this famous waterway. Great photos can be captured from the bottom or the top of the Ottawa Locks.

3. Nepean Point:

Located in downtown Ottawa behind the beautiful National Gallery of Canada, Nepean Point is where you’ll want to go for spectacular panoramic photos of the Parliament Buildings, the Ottawa River and the Canadian Museum of History at any time of the day or night. This is a great vantage point from which you can see all that Ottawa has to offer.

4. Major’s Hill Park:

Located behind the Fairmont Château Laurier, Major’s Hill is a picturesque park that offers stunning views of the Parliament Buildings and of the surrounding Ottawa-Gatineau region throughout the year.

But if you’re here on Canada Day (July 1), this is THE place to be for the big fireworks display at 10:00 p.m. Wander through the park towards the Ottawa River and set yourself up near the railing, looking over at the Canadian Museum of History. From here, you’ll get great panoramic photos and unobstructed views of the fireworks!

5. Mackenzie King Bridge:

Located in Ottawa’s downtown core, just beside the CF Rideau Centre, this bridge goes over the Rideau Canal. Go onto the bridge and face north, which will allow you to capture scenic photos of downtown Ottawa including the National Arts Centre, the Shaw Centre and Sussex Drive. This is a great spot at any time of the year.

Again, these are only a few suggestions to get you inspired. Ottawa is also home to several unique, trendy neighbourhoods that offer eclectic storefronts, charming courtyards and interesting public art. Once you’ve captured some beautiful vistas, consider heading into the busy ByWard Market neighbourhood, where you’ll find one of the oldest farmers’ markets in Canada as well as a few shops that have been around since Ottawa’s beginning. Then see where your exploration takes you!

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