The Capital of Canada, Ottawa, is full of fantastic photo spots and one of the most beautiful cities in Canada. We should know; we live here. We’ve scoured Ottawa for the best places to take photos near us and collected what we think are the very best photography locations. So, whether you are a nature photographer, a hunter of abandoned places, or love architecture, we have an Ottawa photo spot for you. Here are the top ten photo spots within an hour’s drive of Ottawa city centre for you to explore. Ottawa is our home city, so we think we’ve got it pretty well covered. But, if you’re from here and there’s a photo location we haven’t included, we’d love to know about it. Drop us a line, and we’ll shoot it, or upload your own picture, and we’ll add it to the collection.

1. Parliament Buildings

Parliament of Canada by Shawn M Kent

Any guide to Ottawa photography locations must begin with the Parliament buildings and surrounding public spaces. The Parliament buildings exemplify the ideals of gothic revival architecture. Standing prominently on a clifftop overlooking the Ottawa river, the nation’s capital building is majestic from almost any angle. The interior is stunning, featuring cathedral halls, a beautiful wood-panelled library, and vaulted halls of government. Wandering the grounds, the photographer will find spectacular views of the uniquely styled Canadian Museum of History, the termination of the Rideau canal, and vast expanses of lawn.

As a commonwealth country, Canada also maintains several British customs, including a daily changing of the guard from June to August. Every day at 10:00 am, soldiers in red scarlet tunics and bear fur hats march across the Parliamentary lawns in historic military pageantry. The photographic tapestry of soldiers in bright red uniforms against the vivid green of the gardens form perfect colour compliments.

Winter months also offer photography magic as well. Each evening on the lead-up to Christmas, holiday light projections paint the castle-like buildings starting in November.

2. National War Memorial

National War Memorial - Photo by Faris Shewayhat

Once you finish taking photos of the Parliament buildings, you should head to the National War Memorial a few blocks away. The Canadian National War Memorial is a fantastic Ottawa photo spot. With the majestic Chateau Laurier nearby, the two landmarks can combine to make quite a compelling scene. We also recommend shooting at night when the tourists are away, and the city’s ambient light is on full display.

The War Memorial was erected in 1939 to commemorate the Canadians who fought in the first world war for Canada. The site is also home to the Canadian Unknown Soldier, and at certain times of the year, you can photograph the honour guard protecting the area and conducting drill manoeuvres.

3. National Gallery of Canada

National Gallery of Canada by Shawn M Kent

A trip to Ottawa is not complete without shooting the modern architecture of the National Gallery of Canada and its iconic giant spider sculpture. Named Maman, this sculpture is one of seven similar sculptures found around the world. The Ottawa version is among the world’s largest at 30 ft high and 33 ft wide.

The Gallery itself is well worth a tour and the soaring interiors offer almost limitless architectural photography opportunities. The glass-enclosed concourse, in particular, begs to be photographed. The use of flash and tripods inside the exhibits is not permitted, and some do not allow any photography. But the art and photography in its galleries make the visit worth it. You can find the open hours and more informaiton on their website at: https://www.gallery.ca/

4. Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica

Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica by Dan Fleury

Ottawa’s Basilica is a tapestry of vibrant colours and vaulted arch ceilings. The textures and colours combine to create an interior like no other. This historic landmark was built in 1846 and is Ottawa’s oldest and largest church. Photography no problem within its walls, but appropriate and respectful shooting of this Ottawa Photography location is a must. More info can be found on thier website here: https://notredameottawa.com/

5. Gatineau Park

MacKenzie King Estate by Shawn M Kent

Once you tire of the bustling tourism and crowds of people in the city, photographers must take a few days at Gatineau Park. While technically not an Ottawa photo location, the park is only about twenty minutes from the city, and it is enormous. In addition, Gatineau Park is home to many natural wonders and photo locations hidden within its forested hills. We recommend spending several days hiking its trails and discovering its many gems, such as the MacKenzie King Estate, and numerous waterfalls. Luskville Falls are particularly spectacular in the springtime but require a special trip to visit. Also, be sure not to miss the Carbide Wilson Ruins, a fantastic abandoned old secret laboratory hidden deep within the park.

6. Eagles Nest Lookout

Eagles Nest Lookout by Shawn M Kent

The Eagle’s Nest lookout is the perfect Ottawa photography location if you’re looking for all the raw and natural beauty that Canada has to offer. About an hour and a half west of the city, this clifftop offers a beautiful scenic expanse of the surrounding area. It can be found along a 2.7 km trail loop with two routes depending on the fitness levels of the hiker.

7. St Raphael's Ruins

St Raphaels Ruins - Photo by Shawn M. Kent

Another Ottawa Photography location that is about an hour and a half outside the city is St Raphael’s ruins. The Church of St. Raphael burned to the ground in 1970, leaving the exposed stone shell of the church. After its destruction, the parishioners chose to build a more modern church nearby and preserve the ruins. The ruins now give a sense of the scale of the church and include the disfigured and partially melted bell from the clock tower. The whole site is quite moving and a pleasure to photograph. As well, across the street can be found what remains of the College of Iona, a former seminary that itself is an excellent abandoned photography location.

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8. Canadian Museum of Nature

Canadian Museum of Nature by Shawn M Kent

The Canadian Museum of Nature is housed in a historic building in downtown Ottawa. The museum is well known in the city for its unique blend of old and new architectural styles, particularly the stunning glass-enclosed atrium at the front of the building. The museum features a number of beautiful nature exhibits including insects, dinosaurs and more.

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9. ByWard Market

ByWard Market Square by Shawn M Kent

The ByWard Market is a fantastic place for taking photos day or night. This bustling part of Ottawa is full of great spots to shoot and fascinating subjects day and night.

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10. Hog's Back Falls

Hogs Back Falls-Photo by Shawn M. Kent

Officially called the Prince of Wales Falls, Hog’s Back Falls are a series of artificial falls in the heart of Ottawa. The falls make a lovely spot for taking photos especially in the autumn months when the leaves begin to turn.

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Add Your Own Ottawa Photo Location

We hope that you found this guide to Ottawa photo locations useful. Both Ottawa and Gatineau offer tremendous photographic opportunities to the visiting photographer. Don’t forget, if you have a great Ottawa photo location that isn’t on our map, you can share it with us and have a chance to win monthly and yearly prizes in the PIXEO Photo Challenge. All images uploaded remain the copyright of the submitter and we always attribute our photographers. Full terms and conditions can be found here.

Bonus Ottawa Photo Spots

To discover even more fantastic photo spots in Ottawa, check out the PIXEO Photo Spot Map of Canada or download the Free PIXEO App. You’ll find even more great places to take pictures in Canada’s capital city.