The Rideau Canal, Ottawa, Canada

If you're coming to Ottawa, a visit to the historic Rideau Canal is a must! Snaking and making its way gracefully through Ottawa's charming downtown core, "the canal" as it's known locally, is the heart beat of Canada's Capital in any season. In the warmer months, the canal is a haven for walkers, runners, in-line skaters and cyclists, who stroll along its scenic, rolling green banks. It is also a beautiful, flowing waterway connecting Kingston, Ontario, to Ottawa, which is used regularly by boaters and paddlers alike. Whether it is tourists out on a scenic walk or a guided boat cruise, or a local resident out for a morning run, the canal is always buzzing with activity on a bright sunny day. Built between 1826 and 1832 by Colonel John By of the British Royal Engineers, the stone-walled canal received a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation in 2007 and is the only such site in the entire province of Ontario.

According to UNESCO, the Rideau Canal represents a "masterpiece of creative genius" and meets the 10 different criteria needed to secure such a prestigious designation. The canal is "the best-preserved example of a slack water canal in North America, demonstrating the use of this European technology on a large scale", UNESCO says. It is also the only canal dating back to the 19th century "North American canal-building era" to remain operational with most of its original structures intact.

So whether you're strolling along its paved pathways or floating gently on top of its calm waters, you're a witness to genuine history when you visit this unique site. In the summer, you can explore the famous canal on your own by walking and running, or you can opt to take a Voyageur Canoe Tour. Once the Rideau Canal freezes over, it becomes the Rideau Canal Skate way -the World's largest skating rink as designated by Guinness World Records. Stretching 7.8 kilometers (4.8 miles), the Skate way attracts visitors as well as residents of all ages. Glide easily along on a pair of skates and enjoy great views of downtown Ottawa. Enjoy springtime by walking or cycling along the canal as you take in a multitude of brightly colored tulip beds that line its banks. From downtown Ottawa, follow the water towards Dows Lake, where you will find more than 300,000 tulips in bloom at Commissioners Park.