In collaboration with Expedia Canada, Ottawa Tourism is exploring the best ways to spend a quick trip to Canada’s stunning capital.
Nestled on the scenic banks of the ancient Ottawa River, Canada’s beautiful capital city straddles the provincial, cliff-lined border of Ontario and Quebec. Ottawa is a city of culture and of vibrant celebration, but it’s also blessed with a slower pace and a cozy, laid-back atmosphere.
If you want to take in a bit of culture, enjoy a beautiful city in all its splendour, and savour a place like a local, Ottawa is the perfect city to visit. With a walkable downtown core – most major attractions are within a 20-minute walk of downtown area hotels – it’s easy to see a lot of the city in a short amount of time. Here’s how to get the most from a quick getaway to Ottawa.
Upon your morning arrival in the city, grab a quick bite at one of Ottawa’s legendary bakeries. French bakery Moulin de Provence is just steps from Parliament Hill, offering delicious delights from pastries, to cookies, to sandwiches and more. If you’re looking for great local coffee, stop by Bridgehead. You’ll find these coffee shops throughout the city’s downtown core. They’re a local favourite!
After sampling famous baked goods and getting a caffeine jolt, head to Parliament Hill, home to the intricately carved Parliament Buildings and Canada’s federal government. Here, opt to take a free tour of Centre Block, which will take you to the iconic 92.2-metre Peace Tower, the House of Commons, and the Victorian-style Library of Parliament. Did you know the library is the only part of the original Parliament Buildings to survive a disastrous fire in 1916?
From here, head to one of Ottawa’s seven national museums, where you can learn about Canada’s history or take in world-class art. At the National Gallery of Canada, the art spans from indigenous to contemporary with detailed prints and drawings, ancient sculpture, breathtaking photography, and thought-provoking paintings.
With all of that exploration, you’re sure to work up an appetite, and there’s no better place to go than the ByWard Market neighbourhood. In the city’s popular entertainment district you’ll find restaurants, clubs, bistros, coffee shops, boutiques, and food retailers. From high-end, fine dining establishments to more casual and cozy pubs, you’ll be able to tailor your dining experience to your travel budget.
The next day, take a quick taxi ride to the luscious Gatineau Park and go for a walk along one of its many scenic hiking trails. Surrounding a beautiful turquoise lake, the beginner-friendly, 2.5 km Pink Lake Trail is a favourite amongst visitors and locals alike. Entry into the park is free. Make sure to bring a camera!
For a more relaxing experience, consider taking it easy in a bubbling hot tub at Nordik Spa-Nature. Many Ottawans are a fan of this activity.
Located in Chelsea, Quebec, just a short 20-minute drive south of downtown Ottawa, Nordik is the largest outdoor spa of its kind in North America. Enjoy the hot and cold Thermal baths and saunas experience, get a massage or float around weightlessly in Nordik’s unique Källa salt water treatment.
And whether you’re a local or not, no visit to downtown Ottawa is complete without a BeaverTails pastry. Ottawa is where this sugared, deep fried delicacy was born in 1978!
Written by Danika Grenier