11 Things to Do in Ottawa in the Winter


Being away from home this winter has made us realize just how much we love to spend a snowy winter in Ottawa.

If you’re looking to kick those winter blues with some fun in the city, check out a few things we’ve really enjoyed doing in Ottawa during the winter.

11 Things to Do in Ottawa in the Winter

Skiing at Camp Fortune

Skiing can be a pretty accessible sport during the winter and a great activity to do with friends and family alike. The hills are open for many months in Ottawa and the surrounding region because winter never seems to end some years…

Camp Fortune is a good choice for a number of reasons including diversity of hill difficulties, proximity to the city and a forgiving price tag (especially if you have to rent equipment like us!).

Attending Winterlude

Winterlude is probably one of the most famous things to see or do in Ottawa during the winter months. Spanning over three weekends in February, the festival features all kinds of attractions and sights to see, most of which are free! It takes place on and near the Rideau Canal (as well as other areas in the city), where you can see awesome ice sculptures and play in a huge snow playground. If you need a break, be sure to grab a pipping hot cup of hot chocolate and a delicious BeaverTail!

In 2017, Winterlude will run from February 3rd to the 20th and for the first time ever will feature Ice Dragon Boat races along the Canal! Find out more about the festival’s activities here.

Check out other awesome festivals in Ottawa throughout the year by clicking here!

Skating on the Rideau Canal

Coupled alongside Winterlude, skating on the Rideau Canal is easily the number one thing to do in the city during the cold months. Considered the world’s largest skating rink, the Rideau Canal freezes over during the winter and provides 7.8 kilometers of ice to skate on. Feel free to bring your toque and own skates to lace up and go! Don’t fret if you don’t own a pair of skates, you can rent some on site!

Eating brunch at a sugar shack

An activity that embodies Canadian culture, visiting a sugar shack in the winter and having brunch there is amazing. You can expect farm fresh eggs and bacon along with the purest maple syrup you’ll probably ever drizzle over mountains of pancakes and french toast. Do we really need to say much more? Drool.

For a list of sugar shacks near Ottawa click here!

Tubing at Edelweiss

If skiing isn’t your thing but you still enjoy spending time outdoors on the mountain, why not try some tubing! Hop in a giant inflatable tube and catch some speed (and some air if you’re lucky!) down the mountain side. This is a fun activity for friends and families alike.

For more information about tubing at Edelweiss click here!

Drinking hot chocolate 

Winter in Ottawa is cold. Like REALLY cold. A great way to warm up your body and make your taste buds happy is by drinking a classic cup of hot chocolate. Get it with whip cream, get it with marshmallows or get it nice and plain. Either way, you’ll be happy you did. Our favourite place to get a hot cup of chocolate is at Cacao 70 in the Byward Market – their hot chocolates are basically melted chocolate + milk, yum!

For more awesome coffee shops in Ottawa to get your chocolate fix click here!

Cross-country skiing in Gatineau Park

For avid cross-country skiers and snowshoers, Gatineau Park is a winter wonderland. You can easily spend the day exploring the Canadian outdoors at their finest in this beautiful park. There are over 50 trails to choose from, with a total of over 200 kilometers of cross-country skiing trails!  Plus, if you’re really feeling the need for a winter getaway you can even rent a cabin in the park to extend your outing to a few days.

For more information about cross-country skiing in Gatineau Park click here!

Spending the day at Nordik Spa

If you’re looking for a relaxing activity this winter, Nordik Spa is definitely the place to be. Hailed as one of the biggest spas in North America, Nordik has 7 outdoor baths (that you can enjoy all year ’round), 8 saunas, an infinity pool, a restaurant and massage lounge. You can easily spend the entire day here, sampling each experience and taking some time to unwind. Plus it’s extra romantic in the snow!

For more information or to book your day at the spa, click here!

Watching a hockey game

Hockey is Canada’s game and this is certainly true in the nation’s capital. Home to the Ottawa Senators NHL team, hockey is very popular during the winter months. Tickets are reasonably priced (if you don’t mind not being ice level) and the experience is family friendly to boot. If you’ve never been to a professional hockey game, we highly recommend you check it out. The atmosphere is incredible and you can truly appreciate just how fast the game is.

Ticketmaster is usually the spot to get tickets, but don’t be shy to check other vendors or websites (like StubHub)!

Playing hockey at an outdoor rink

Once you’ve seen a live game, now it’s time to try it out yourself! The city of Ottawa has (what seems like..) hundreds of public outdoor skating rinks. If you have a pair of skates, a stick and some pucks, then check out the city’s webpage to find the nearest rink near you. All rinks are free to skate on, however only some have boards, hockey nets and lights so keep that in mind. Bring warm clothes, some snacks and hot chocolate, we guarantee you’ll be there for a few hours at least!

For a list of rinks around the area, check out the City of Ottawa’s page here! (click outdoor rinks on the left hand side)

And don’t forget Ottawa Rinks to check out the skating conditions before lacing ’em up.

Fun Fact: Playing hockey at an outdoor rink was actually the second date we ever had together! 😉

Spending the weekend by the fireplace of a cottage

After a long day skiing or skating, there is no better place to be than curled up in front of the fireplace in a cozy cottage. There’s just something about being surrounded by the wilderness, among friends and family and the crackling hearth keeping you warm, that makes it all worthwhile to spend the winter in Ottawa.

For awesome rentals check out Airbnb – plus if you sign up for the first time through our link you’ll get $40 CAD off your first rental!

What are your favourite winter activities?

Let us know in the comments below!

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11 Things to Do in Ottawa in the Winter

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Hi, we're Jordon and Katherine, founders of travel and lifestyle blog World Abound. We're a working couple who hope to be able to say one day that we've travelled the world together, even while still working our 9-5 jobs.

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