15 Best Romantic Things to Do in Ottawa

Ottawa, Canada

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Picture yourselves strolling hand in hand as you take in the sights of the Canadian capital, passing top attractions like the National Gallery of Canada, admiring the Fairmont Château Laurier hotel, and taking in scenic views of Rideau Falls. Or maybe you're more into being outside—Ottawa offers many parks and opportunities for outdoor recreation in any season—or would rather spend time inside together at a couples massage, seeing a show, or honing your dancing skills.

Whatever your particular style of romance may be, there's something for everyone in this vibrant Canadian city. Here's how to make your next trip to Ottawa a romantic getaway you'll never forget.

01 of 15

Take in a Show

A ballet show at the National Arts Centre

National Arts Centre

1 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K1P 5W1, Canada
Phone +1 613-947-7000

If you're in the mood for some culture, check to see what's on at the National Arts Centre and the Great Canadian Theatre Company, two of the city's best theatrical venues. The National Arts Centre is home to the NAC Orchestra, NAC English Theatre, NAC French Theatre, NAC Indigenous Theatre, and NAC Dance, all of which offer a variety of performances and events all year long.

The Great Canadian Theatre Company features well-written works focusing on historical and current topics of conversation like Indigenous culture, reconciliation, environmentalism, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and modern-day takes on Shakespeare plays, among other themes.

02 of 15

Catch a Movie at The Drive-In Experience Ottawa

The Drive-In Experience Ottawa

The Drive-In Experience Ottawa

300 Coventry Rd, Ottawa, ON K1K 4P5, Canada

Movie lovers should head to The Drive-In Experience Ottawa for a unique night out on the town. In addition to nightly film screenings, the venue also hosts live entertainment such as comedy shows and concerts, as well as specially themed movie night events. Keep in mind that you will need to BYOC—bring your own car, and not an RV or camper—to attend, and that the drive-in's two locations are only open seasonally.

03 of 15

Hone Your Dancing Skills

Couples learning how to dance

Hispanolistic / Getty Images

74 Jamie Ave, Nepean, ON K2E 6T6, Canada
Phone +1 613-406-0066

Whether you want to fine-tune your technique as a couple or you've always wanted to learn how to do the Cha Cha, Dance With Us Ottawa offers lessons for dancers of all levels, particularly if you're into Salsa, Bachata, or the Waltz. Read through the course list online before you go—private lessons might be better if you're just visiting for a few days, while additional options are available if you're sticking around longer (classes range from drop-in to more intensive six-week sessions).

04 of 15

Hit the Farmers' Marker, Then Have a Picnic

Ottawa Farmers' Market

E Murray / Getty Images

1000 Exhibition Way, Ottawa, ON K1S 3W7, Canada
Phone +1 613-417-3595

Stop by the Ottawa Farmers' Market for a chance to pick up some tasty picnic-making materials—think fresh fruits and veggies, meats, cheeses, breads, and other sweet treats—then head to one of the city's parks for a romantic picnic with your beloved.

Depending on when you're in town, there are four seasonal spots to choose from. You'll find it year-round in Lansdowne Park inside the Aberdeen Pavilion November through April and outside from May to October. The other three locations operate from late May through late October: The Westboro Market, held at Byron Linear Park on Saturday; the Orléans Market, held in the parking lot of the Ray Friel Recreation Complex on Thursday; and the Barrhaven Market, held at the Nepean Woods Park & Ride on Sunday.

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05 of 15

Indulge in a Couples Spa Treatment

Two women relaxing at the spa

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135 Rideau St, Ottawa, ON K1N 5W8, Canada
Phone +1 613-241-7770

Across the street from the Fairmont Château Laurier, Holtz Spa is one of the largest in Ottawa and offers several bridal and romantic packages. If you treasure togetherness, choose a couples treatment that includes a Swedish or hot stone massage in the same room, then add on body polishes and pedicures for two.

Nearby, just north of the city center in Chelsea, Nordik Spa-Nature offers a variety of treatments and massages in rustic-chic all-season wooden pavilions so you can relax while being surrounded by nature.

06 of 15

Skate on the Rideau Canal

Rideau Canal Skating Ring in Otawa

Vladone / Getty Images

524 O'connor St, Old Ottawa, ON K1S 3P8, Canada
Phone +1 613-580-2595

This 126-mile long waterway connecting Ottawa and Kingston was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2007. In warm weather, couples can rent bicycles and ride alongside it. But it is in winter, after the water freezes to ice, that the magic of this Ottawa attraction becomes most apparent.

Enter the canal across from Parliament Hill, rent a pair of skates, and glide arm-in-arm on the world's largest skating rink for nearly five miles. Patterson Creek, a secluded offshoot of the canal, tempts romantics to twirl away from the crowds. Huts along the frozen waterway sell BeaverTails, a local pastry delicacy that's fried, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, savored while warm, and best when shared by two.

07 of 15

Check Out the Fairmont Château Laurier

Fairmont Chateau Laurier

William Manning / Getty Images

1 Rideau St, Ottawa, ON K1N 8S7, Canada
Phone +1 613-241-1414

Even if you don't stay overnight at the Fairmont Château Laurier, the castle-like hotel next door to Parliament Hill, it's still worth stopping by. This landmark has been welcoming celebrities, politicians, and couples in love for close to a century.

Pause between your visits to other Ottawa attractions to have a proper afternoon tea in Zoe's lounge or a genuine gourmet meal in Wilfrid's restaurant. Afterward, linger in the drawing room, where iconic portraits of Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, Georgia O'Keeffe, and other 20th-century giants shot by renowned photographer Yousuf Karsh, a longtime resident of the hotel, hang in gratitude.

08 of 15

Visit the National Gallery of Canada

National Gallery of Canada

Charlie Harding / robertharding / Getty Images

380 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1N 9N4, Canada
Phone +1 613-990-1985

Arts lovers will want to include a visit to the National Gallery of Canada on their Ottawa itinerary. It's the permanent home of the world's most comprehensive collection of Canadian art, including distinctive works by Indigenous Inuit sculptors.

Yet it is a creation by French-American artist Louise Bourgeois that draws the most glances. Positioned on the plaza beside the gallery's front doors, Maman is a bronze spider that stands more than 30 feet tall and holds 26 white marble eggs in a sac beneath her. Astounding art is not the only attraction in this Ottawa landmark. Nepean Point, located behind the gallery, provides beautiful views of the city—and isn't a bad place to smooch.

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09 of 15

Spend Time Outdoors at Gatineau Park

Gatineau Park

Glenn Davy / Getty Images

33 Chem. Scott, Chelsea, QC J9B 1R5, Canada
Phone +1 819-827-2020

A haven for outdoor lovers in every season, Gatineau Park lies north of Ottawa, and is a great place for couples who want to go biking, hiking, canoeing, stroll hand-in-hand, or even pitch a tent in warm weather. Come winter, it's also a significant attraction for skiers. Whether you fancy snowshoeing, cross-country or downhill skiing, there's a trail or slope for the two of you.

10 of 15

Visit the Canadian Tulip Festival

Canadian Tulip Festival

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Each May, Ottawa celebrates a resplendent spring, when hundreds of thousands of tulips bloom. The attraction is a result of a gift from the people of the Netherlands, grateful to Canada for sheltering its royal family during World War II.

The 18-day Canadian Tulip Festival, which traditionally ends on Victoria Day, includes an international pavilion, where visitors to the attraction can sample food, crafts, culture, and entertainment from other countries. Celebridée presentations enhance the gathering with talks by intellectuals in a festive environment, while the tulips themselves draw crowds to Ottawa at this time of year, who come in droves to marvel at nature's annual resurrection.

11 of 15

Visit the Canadian Museum of History

Canadian Museum of Civilization

Ron Watts / Getty Images

100 Rue Laurier, Gatineau, QC K1A 0M8, Canada
Phone +1 819-776-7000

Canada's largest and most popular museum is a vast repository of the country's natural and cultural history. The structure itself is an impressive piece of undulating architecture. Not only does this prime Ottawa attraction cover a thousand years of the nation's history, it also invites visitors to walk through a diorama to experience it for themselves.

Go early or late on weekdays to avoid school trippers, and if possible, forgo weekend visits. If, despite careful planning, you still end up surrounded by energetic tykes, head to the on-site Japanese Garden for some quiet contemplation—and keep your eyes wide open, as some of the best views of the city can be seen from here.

12 of 15

Shop and Snack at the ByWard Market

Byward Market

Cosmo Condina / Getty Images

55 Byward Market Square, Ottawa, ON K1N 9C3, Canada
Phone +1 613-244-4410

This fun and funky, four-block district in the center of Ottawa is one of the city's major visitor attractions. Whether you want to get something fresh to eat, browse unique boutiques—if you wish to shop at chain stores, the Rideau Centre shopping mall is located along the outer edge—be entertained, or just stroll the urban tableau, this is a must-see destination. At night, ByWard Market's ethnic restaurants, pubs, clubs, and music venues all have their fans.

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13 of 15

See the Sound and Light Show at Parliament Hill

Sound and Light Show at Ottawa Parliament

Bruce Yuanyue Bi / Getty Images

Wellington St, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A9, Canada
Phone +1 613-992-4793

Ottawa's Parliament is already stunning, but if you're visiting from July through September, you can enjoy an incredible sound and light show that serves as a journey through Canada's history. Three times each night, incredible moving images are projected onto the historic building as an original score and narration play in the background. 

14 of 15

Go to an Ottawa Senators Game

Ottawa Senators

Ottawa Senators

1000 Palladium Dr, Ottawa, ON K2V 1A5, Canada
Phone +1 613-599-0100

It's not a stereotype: Canadians love hockey, and luckily, an Ottawa Senators game makes for an exciting date. Win or lose, the atmosphere at the Canadian Tire Centre, where the team plays, is always extremely high energy, so you're guaranteed a good time. 

15 of 15

Go for a Stroll In Jacques-Cartier Park

Jacques Cartier Park in Ottawa

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Rue Laurier, Gatineau, QC J8X 3W9, Canada
Phone +1 613-239-5000

Scenic Jacques-Cartier Park is situated at the base of the Alexandra Bridge, near the National Gallery. Every winter, the 56-acre park hosts Winterlude, a unique winter festival featuring ice sculpture contests and other family-friendly wintertime activities. It's also home to Maison Charron, the oldest surviving house in Hull.

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15 Best Romantic Things to Do in Ottawa