With plenty of noteworthy attractions worth visiting, one of the best ways to explore Ottawa is on a sightseeing bus tour. Here are a couple options that you can take.
Bus Tours in Ottawa
Ottawa is one of the most historic cities in Canada and thus has numerous places of interest. Whether you’re a visitor to the city or a resident looking to explore a few different areas, a bus tour is a good way to hit a variety of spots.
One of the best bus tour companies in Ottawa is Gray Line Tours, which has multiple touring options. This includes a “Hop-on, Hop-off” bus route, water cruises and even airplane rides. Another option is Lady Dive Tours – a partner company with Gray Line – which offers regular bus tours but also an “amphibus” tour that drives across the Ottawa River!
Gray Line Tours
Gray Line Tours has a few different transportation options but is most well-known for their double-decker bus tours. These large busses can hold up to 80 people and have an open roof on the upper level which makes it a pleasant place to sit when the weather is nice.
All the tours begin and end at the Gray Line main hub located at 59 Sparks Street. This first stop is right across the road from Parliament Hill, the first of the major attractions along the route. The tours are narrated by a guide as you drive and they can be done in 8 different languages.
The standard tour is around 1.5 hours in length. The route covers a wide range of different attractions from museums to parks to government buildings to important streets and more. The cost for this Round Trip Tour (as of July 2021) is around $28 for adults (ages 13-64), $24 for seniors and students, and $18 for children (ages 3-12).
Hop-on, Hop-off Tours
For those who want some more freedom in how they go about exploring Ottawa, the Hop-on Hop-off tour is a great option. These tickets allow you to get off at any of the 14 stops along the tour route, before later getting back on a new bus and continuing your tour from there. There is no requirement to go to every stop either,. You can get off one and then hop on to another bus at any other stop on the route.
This flexibility means it’s easy to spend time at whatever attractions you want to visit without the worry of a set schedule. Of course, this option does cost a little more than the standard tour. A one-day Hop-on Hop-off pass (as of July 2021) costs about $36 for adults, $34 for seniors and students, and $25 for children. A two-day pass costs around $53 for adults, $50 for seniors and students and $38 for children.
While the busses are the most common form of transportation, Gray Line can also take to the water and air. For the former, cruises on both the Ottawa River and Rideau Canal are available. They must be bought in tandem with a Hop-on Hop-off pass. For adult tickets expect to pay around $60 to $65 for this dual purchase.
There’s also the option of a ride in an airplane which must be done in either a pair or a group of three passengers. This option also must be bought in conjunction with a Hop-on Hop-off ticket. The flight gives a unique look at Parliament Hill and the rest of downtown from the air. Expect to pay over $100 for this experience.
Lady Dive Tours
Another bus tour company is Lady Dive Tours, which is related to Gray Line. In fact, from their website you can buy tickets for the Gray Line double decker bus tours. The two companies don’t necessarily advertise themselves as having the same route, but they do.
The one big unique thing that Lady Dive does have is their amphibus tour. This is an hour-long bus ride that not only takes to the road but also the water! It’s done in a specially-designed vehicle that can drive through shallower parts of the Ottawa River. This route gives you quite an interesting experience as it loops around large swathes of the river. It’s not every day that you get to drive on water, so this is something worth checking out.
As of the last time we checked, the cost for the amphibus tour is around $34 for adults (ages 13-64), $31 for seniors and students and $24 for children (ages 3-12). The tour is done in both English and French and, like the regular bus tours, it’s narrated the whole time. The amphibus is also fully enclosed so you don’t have to worry about getting wet.
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