Free Things to Do in Ottawa in 2023

We're looking forward to a whirlwind visit to the capital city of Canada: Ottawa!

We've got one week of vacation after school, before our teenager's summer job starts.  We're planning on packing in as much sightseeing as we can, while keeping it on a budget.

We've got a busy schedule planned, and we've strategically planned free (or low cost) activities to offset the cost of admission to the paid activities we're looking forward to.

6 Free Things to do in Ottawa

Rideau Hall

Built in 1838, Rideau Hall is the official residence of the Governor General, who is the King's representative in Canada.   Free 45 minute guided tours are offered of the State Rooms, where foreign dignitaries are welcomed, and Canadians are honoured.

Wander the grounds and take in the beautiful monuments and gardens for free as well!  

Bank of Canada Museum

Through interactive exhibits, learn about the economy and how money really works, all for free!  The Bank of Canada museum is open everyday through the summer, from 10am to 5pm.

Canada Aviation & Space Museum

Normally the Aviation & Space Museum costs about $47 for a family of 5.  But from 4pm to 5pm, admission is free of charge!  

Sure, we'll need to keep moving to see as much as we can, but what a great way to get a quick look at the exhibits without spending a dime!  And hey, we can always choose to pay for admission on another day if we decide we'd like to spend more time there 😉

Parliament Buildings: East Block and House of Commons

While the Centre Block is closed for renovations, the East Block, and the buildings currently acting as the Senate and the House of Commons are open for guided tours for free!

Where we live, students usually take a school trip at the end of Grade 8 to Ottawa to tour the Parliament buildings and learn more about how Canada's government.  Our youngest graduated from Grade 8 online during Covid, and wasn't able to have that experience.  We're taking the opportunity to make up for it during this trip!

Ottawa Walking Tour

I'm looking forward to this one -- a two hour guided walking tour through Ottawa's streets, visiting places like Byward Market, the Prime Minister's Offices, and the Rideau Canal.  Tickets are absolutely free, although tips for the tour guide are recommended on a pay-what-you-can scale.

What a great way to get an up close & personal tour of Ottawa, from a local tour guide!

Canadian War Museum

The Canadian War Museum is close to the top of our bucket list, but with our family, it would cost about $68.  Instead, we'll be visiting on Thursday evening, during their free hours from 5pm - 7pm.  

From experience, I know that 2-3 hours is the maximum amount of time that our family is interested in staying at any museum (we're like goldfish with our attention spans!), so 2 hours should be lots of time for us to explore!

There are a ton more free things to do in Canada's Capital, including other museums with free hours, festivals, outdoor events and more!  I'm glad that we found these free activities so that we can get as much as possible out of our vacation budget.

What's your favourite way to save money while on vacation?


  1. These are great! I wish we had some free stuff like this to do here.

  2. These sound like fun places to go. I’m looking for some free stuff to do with my son this summer. Too bad we don’t live close enough.

  3. I like to walk and to visit new places and a Ottawa Walking Tour would be perfect for me!

  4. I've never been to Canada before but it's on my bucket list. I'm surprised those museums are free. They look so huge and nice!

  5. Wow, it's been so long since I've visited Canada. I know my kids would enjoy all these museums especially the Canada Aviation & Space Museum.

  6. It looks like there are a lot of beautiful museums that one could visit while in Ottawa and the sneak peek of Rideau Hall does look beautiful and I'd love to see more of it!

  7. These are neat places to explore. I'm not familiar with any of these, and it would be nice to explore places like the Parliament. All great family destinations!

  8. Wow! What a wonderful and beautiful places you have here! I would love to visit all of it! -Richelle Milar

  9. My brother and his family lives just a few minutes from Ottawa. We hope to visit them soon and hopefully, check these places out too. -LYNNDEE

  10. Megan, this list of free things to do in Ottawa in 2023 was fantastic! It offered a wide range of activities and attractions that won't break the bank. I appreciate the variety and the helpful descriptions provided for each suggestion. It's a great resource for locals and visitors alike.


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