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The Ultimate Guide to Visiting the Rideau Canal

If you're looking for a quintessential Canadian experience, look no further than the Rideau Canal. This waterway winds its way through the heart of Ottawa, making it a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. Whether you're going in the summer or winter, there are many things to do. Here is your ultimate guide to enjoying everything the Rideau has to offer.

 In summer, visitors can enjoy cycling, jogging, or walking along the canal's scenic paths. And also in the winter season, you can do skating, fishing, etc

People skating on the canal in Ottawa during the winter.


Constructed in 1832, the RC was the first national historic place in Canada. This canal is 202 kilometers long and links Kingston and Ottawa, and was built as a way to provide a safe route for travel between the two cities and to aid with military transportation. Today, the Rideau Canal is a famous tourist destination and is considered a National Historic Site.

Interesting Facts:

 The 7.8-mile (12.5 km) canal, which links Ottawa and Kingston, Ontario, sees more than a million visits every winter season. It's also home to the largest naturally ice surface in the world. At its peak, the canal was used by more than 2,000 boats per year. Today, it's a popular spot for ice skating, fishing, and cycling in the summer months, and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.

The Rideau Canal, Ottawa ON

How to Get There:

The main tourist season is from May to October. There are many scenic areas with the Rideau, including Upper and Lower Town in Ottawa, and Fort Henry in Kingston.

For visiting, you can drive or take public transportation. If you're driving, there are several scenic roads you can take, including Highway 7 and Highway 15. If you're taking public transportation, OC Transpo offers bus service to many areas along the canal.

Places to Go along with the Rideau Canal


The capital of Canada, Ottawa is a vibrant city with several things you can do and see. Such as Parliament Hill, NGC, and the Canadian Museum of History.


Kingston, which sits at the head of the canal, is a historic city with several attractions such as Fort Henry, Kingston Penitentiary, and Queen's University.


A small town situated on the eastern end of the canal is also its best dining place.

Rideau Canal Cruise:

Visit here in summer. It’s the best technique to watch many picturesque places in Canada. Passing by There is small towns and lovely rural landscapes. Several companies offer cruises. You can easily find one that fits your schedule and budget. You can also choose from an array of different boats, including traditional canal boats, paddle boats, and even houseboats.

Dows Lake:

It is in the downtown core of the city and is a popular spot for residents and tourists alike. The lake has many attractions including a skating rink, boat rental facilities, and parkland.


Merrickville is a beautiful village located in eastern Ontario, Canada. There are also several art galleries, antique shops, and restaurants in Merrickville which make it a popular tourist destination.

Burrits Rapids

Burrits Rapids is a lovely site to go to, and it's a popular spot for whitewater rafting. The rapids are Class III, which means they're not too difficult, but they're still exciting. Burrits Rapids is also known for its scenery, and it's a great place to go hiking or camping.

Chaffey’s Lock Boat Cruise:

Chaffey’s Lock Boat Cruise offers a variety of cruises, including a two-hour lunch cruise, a three-hour sightseeing cruise, and a five-hour wine and cheese cruise. You can also charter your boat for up to 12 people.

Railway Museum:

It has a large collection of locomotives, passenger cars, and freight cars from across Canada. There are also exhibits on the history of railways in Canada, and how they've evolved over the years.

The Rideau Canal, Ottawa ON

Boat and Captain

 Some people think that a captain is necessary for a boat ride. That's not true! Anyone can operate a boat; no special requirements or licenses are needed. However, it is important to know how to safely operate a boat on the water. If you are not familiar with boating safety, it is suggested to take days to learn it before heading out on the canal.

Renting a boat and costing:

If you're looking for a unique vacation experience, consider renting a houseboat. Houseboat rentals range in price from around $100 to $400 per day, based on the size of the boat and the season. You'll need to factor in fuel costs as well; expect to pay around $10 per hour of cruising.

Trip Budget

The cost varies depending on what you wish to do or plans. If you want to walk or bike along the pathways, it is free! but for the boat tour, it costs $8 each individual for a one-hour tour or $20 for a three-hour tour. If you desire to rent a kayak or canoe, it costs $20 per day.

Where to Stay

If you're searching for a spot to stay while visiting. You have a lot of options to choose from hotel, motel, bed, and breakfast, or campgrounds. If you're searching for something a little more unique, you can stay in a lighthouse or even a castle!

 If you're finding for a site to stay near the canal, there are several campgrounds that exist with the waterway. You can easily find camping facilities near Ottawa and other spots in the region.

 Parking and Costing:

Parking fees in Ottawa can range anywhere from $2 an hour to $20 a day, with some locations even charging per hour. On weekdays from 9 am to 3 pm you can park for free at any City of Ottawa parking garage or lot.

Tips for a Great Visit

  • First, be sure to check the website or call ahead to find out about the hours of operation, as they can vary depending on the season.

  • If you're deciding for a ride, dress appropriately according to the weather and bring sunscreen, hats, and water if it's hot outside.

  • There are also plenty of walking and cycling trails, so be sure to bring appropriate clothing and footwear for those activities too.

  • If you're visiting in the winter, be sure to pack warm clothes, as it can get quite cold! And don't forget to bring a camera - the scenery is stunning!

The Rideau Canal, Ottawa ON

Looking for more fun things to do while SMC Demolition works on your constriction project? Check out Parliament Hill next!