This post covers many free walking tours you can take in the capital city of Canada.
These tours cover a variety of subjects including the history of the city and the most notable sites in Ottawa.
OVERVIEW + SCHEDULE
There are multiple free walking tours available in Ottawa, and most of them focus on the history of the city in one way or another.
The most popular type of service offered is historical sightseeing tours that cover the most notable landmarks and sites in the city while providing information about the political development of Ottawa.
You can also take similar free walking tours which take place after dark, but these outings are typically only available during the summer months.
Finally, there is at least one pub crawl which is actually something of a tour covering the historical taverns in Ottawa which also includes a free drink.
Each of these services is a pay-what-you-wish walking tour that is offered on a tip-based basis.
What this means is that you get to decide how much the tour is worth once it is finished. Most guests choose to give their guides $10-$15 on average.
If you’re looking for any alternatives or you’d like to avoid the often large groups that join free walking tours, there are many paid small-group tours to consider as well.
FREE OTTAWA HISTORICAL SIGHTSEEING TOURS
Discover the most significant landmarks in the city while learning about the history of Ottawa on one of these free walking tours.
While you’re exploring the Canadian capital, you’ll find out about the political characters who helped shape this city, see memorials to heroes of the past, and even receive tips about the best places to grab a bite to eat.
You can expect to see some of the following sites along the way:
- Parliament Hill
- The National War Memorial
- The Confederation Buildings
- The Chateau Laurier
- ByWard Market
- Sparks Street
- And more!
If you want to learn more about these locations and many more, consider taking one of the following pay-what-you-wish walking tours.
Ottawa Walking Tours
With an overall rating of 5 out of 5 stars, this tour company clearly offers one of the best pay-what-you-wish walking tours in Ottawa.
Reviewers indicate that in addition to providing historical details, their guides will also offer tips on the best places to eat.
This free walking tour is approximately 2 hours in length, and it is offered daily at 11 am.
Ottawa Free Tours
This is another option that also lasts for approximately 2 hours and is usually offered every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday at 11 am during the summer.
This company has received an overall 5 out of 5 star rating, and most guests are quite happy with their pay-what-you-want walking tours.
Find out more or book this tour.
Additional Historical Sightseeing Tours
If you’re looking for another free guided walking tour, the Parliament Hill Visitor Welcome Centre offers a tour of Parliament you may want to consider.
Alternatively, you can also visit the Capital Information Kiosk to pick up free, printed guides that allow you to take a self-guided walking tour.
They also offer a mobile app called Capital Tours which provides free GPS-enabled multimedia walking tours.
Finally, you may also want to think about taking a paid tour for a longer service (3-4 hours) or an outing that explores the city via bus, boat or even bike.
Check this list of paid Ottawa Historical Sightseeing tours to find one that fits your schedule.
OTTAWA NIGHT TOURS
If you want to see what this beautiful city looks like after dark, there is at least one pay-what-you-wish walking tour available that covers historic sites in Ottawa at night.
This outing is typically only offered during the summer, but you may find some paid tours that are available at different times of the year.
You can expect to see several locations at or near Parliament Hill, experience the city skyline at sunset, and enjoy a free light show during the summer.
Ottawa Free Tours
In addition to their history sightseeing tour, this company also offers a similar outing after dark during the summer months (Apr-Sept).
Much like their other services, this free one hour night tour is well received, and reviewers often give the tour a full 5 out of 5 star rating on TripAdvisor.
Although this outing isn’t currently available due to the pandemic, you can expect them to offer it once again starting in 2021.
When the tour returns, it will be available on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday and it will begin at just the right time to finish things off at the Parliament for their free light show (8:30 pm in July, 8 pm in August, 7:30 pm in September).
Additional Ottawa Night Tours
If you’re looking for another opportunity to explore this city after the sun goes down, there are several paid tours you might want to consider as well.
Some of these outings are walking tours, but others are cruise tours you can enjoy from the river. Prices range from $20-$100 or more.
Here are a few of the best options to choose from:
HISTORICAL TAVERN/PUB CRAWLS
Explore some of the most notable taverns, bars and pubs in Ottawa on a pay-what-you-wish walking tour.
In addition to visiting multiple locations, you’ll also receive a free drink at the last stop!
There’s currently only one free pub crawl available in this city, and it includes 3 different stops.
You’ll learn about some of the more debaucherous events that took place at historic taverns in the area along the way.
This tour is only available for audiences 19 years of age or older.
Ottawa Free Tours
If you’re looking for something different from either their historic sightseeing or night tour, this company also provides a pay-what-you-wish historical tavern tour.
As with their other free walking tours, most guests give this service a 5 out of 5-star rating on TripAdvisor, and some reviewers indicate they keep group sizes relatively small (10 or fewer people).
Due to the pandemic, this free walking tour is currently not available, but it will likely be available once again after life returns to normal.
When they return to normal service, you can expect this tour to be offered on Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons, and these outings are 2 - 2 ½ hours long on average.
Additional Historical Tavern/Pub Crawls
There actually aren’t a lot of other pub crawls and historic tavern tours in Ottawa, but it’s worth mentioning at least a few other paid options you might want to consider.
These services typically cost $15-$40 per person, and some of them include free drinks in addition to information about the locations you’ll visit.
- Nightly Spirits Ghost Pub Crawl
- Let’s Roam Ottawa Bar Crawl