Ottawa’s Top 5 Travel Experiences

Tourist attractions are plentiful in the capital city; the problem is fitting them all in.

First time visitors will want to allow several days for exploring the many museums and historical sites. Make sure to save time for a skate on the Rideau Canal.

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ABOVE: The stunning glass structure of the National Gallery of Canada is most easily identified by the ‘Maman’ spider statue in front.

1. The National Gallery of Canada and The Canadian Mint are just northwest of the bustling restaurant and shopping district known as Byward Market. The gallery focuses on Canadian art featuring works by the Group of Seven, Emily Carr and Alex Colville, but also showcases an impressive display of American and European pieces. Pick up a newly minted or treasured souvenir after a tour at the Royal Canadian Mint.

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2. It’s hard to miss the castle-like structure that houses the Canadian Museum of Nature. Kids of every age will enjoy the natural disasters exhibits.

3. New skate chalets, found at varying intervals, make changing and resting much easier on the 7.8 km outdoor skating rink known as the Rideau Canal. After a brisk workout on the ice you’ll be able to enjoy (practically guilt free) an iconic Canadian pastry known as the beavertail. Best enjoyed with a steaming cup of hot chocolate.

4. Rideau Hall is home to the Governor General of Canada and, in turn, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II when she’s in town. It’s the only official residence open to the public and it’s worth a visit, especially if you’re prone to royal fever.

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5. On the edge of the Rideau Canal, in the downtown core, the National Arts Centre attracts prominent theatre including Broadway productions and notable performances in a variety of mediums. Annual tickets to shows like The Nutcracker or Handel’s Messiah are a family tradition for many local residents.

The Castle District in Prague

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It’s unlikely you’ll need directions to Prague’s towering Castle District. Make your way to the well-marked Charles Bridge and follow the upward stare of fellow tourists. A complex of buildings, Prague Castle dates to the 9th century and includes museums, palaces, restaurants and, at its apex, the gothic cathedral of St. Vitus.

An easy 30 minute walk takes you to Hradcany Square Hradcanske namesti and the top of the castle complex. Sweltering hot day? Grab a cab from your hotel and start at the top.

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Once at the top, orient yourself towards the Palace of the President with its behemoth Baroque stone statues of Fighting Giants, and observe the dutifully present uniformed guards.

Dabble Savvy

A full day pass to Prague Castle is pricey but it provides access to many of the castle buildings. To save funds and avoid crowds, visit before 9am or after 6pm when architecture and gardens can be enjoyed for free. Purchase individual tickets to desired buildings.