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A Day in Ottawa: Exploring Canada’s Capital

Things to do in Ottawa: Parliament Hill, Rideau Canal, ByWard Market and many more.

A Day in Ottawa? Of course, it’s possible! It’s a city brimming with charm and history, ready to unfold its treasures in just a day. Let’s craft an enchanting itinerary for your day trip, ensuring you catch Canada’s capital’s highlights and hidden gems.

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A Day in Ottawa: Exploring Canada’s Capital

How to Get to Ottawa from Toronto

Getting to Ottawa is straightforward and convenient. From Toronto, you can take a Flixbus, which typically takes about 5 hours and offers a comfortable and economical journey. Alternatively, boarding a train from Toronto provides a scenic route to Ottawa in approximately 4 hours. If you plan to travel from Ottawa to Montreal, a bus ride will get you there in less than two hours, making it a quick trip to explore another vibrant Canadian city. 

Getting Around Ottawa

Skip driving around the city because it is best to discover things on foot. All the tourist attractions you’ll see are within walking distance. This “A Day in Ottawa” itinerary offers a delightful experience for those traveling without a car. You can effortlessly explore the city’s charms with various transportation options. Rent a bike, navigate the extensive cycling paths, or use rideshare services. Taxis are abundant, and the local bus network connects you to all major sights. Take a small boat across the river for a unique twist, providing a picturesque view and a memorable journey. 

Related Post: 12 Days in Eastern Canada

Where to Stay in Ottawa

In Ottawa, accommodation options cater to all preferences and budgets. Consider the Saintlo Ottawa Jail Hostel for a unique stay. Here, you can sleep in a natural cell in a converted 19th-century jailhouse. Yes, you will be sleeping in a jail-like room—a very unique accommodation you must try! They also have private rooms if you’re not into sharing a room with strangers or other travelers. Check out the rates here

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A Day in Ottawa: Exploring Canada’s Capital (Parliament Hill)

9:00 AM – Arrival at Parliament Hill 

Begin your day at Parliament Hill, where the impressive architecture is a must-see. Walk up and down the stairs next to the Parliament Building. Make sure to pre-book a tour to gain access to the iconic buildings, including a visit to the Parliament Library, known for its exquisite Victorian Gothic Revival architecture. This early access will allow you to marvel at the intricate interiors and historical significance without the rush. Also, if it’s open, check out the Peace Tower for panoramic views of the city. 

11:00 AM – ByWard Market for lunch

Nearby, you’ll find the ByWard market. Go there early before workers get there for lunch. It’s going to be crowded. This is one of Canada’s oldest and largest public markets, bustling with artisans, farmers, and food vendors. Not hungry yet? Grab a coffee and a locally made pastry as you wander through the colorful stalls. Try the classic poutine or be adventurous with a beaver tail, a must-try Canadian pastry.

1:00 PM – Rideau Canal

After lunch, make your way to the historic Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Depending on the season, you can enjoy a scenic boat ride along the waterway or, if you’re visiting in winter, lace up your skates for a glide along the world’s largest skating rink (in winter).

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A Day in Ottawa: Exploring Canada’s Capital (Rideau Canal)

2:30 PM – National Gallery of Canada 

A short walk from the Rideau Canal brings you to the National Gallery of Canada. Outside the entrance, marvel at the vast collection of artworks, including indigenous pieces and the famous “Maman” spider sculpture by Louise Bourgeois. Across the street is the Notre Dame Basilica. 

4:00 PM – Canadian Museum of History 

Hop across the river to Gatineau to visit the Canadian Museum of History. Canada’s rich history through its indigenous and colonial past. The museum’s architecture and the Grand Hall are as impressive as the exhibits themselves. The best way to go there is by Aquataxi. This small boat service adds a little adventure to your travel between the two sites, allowing you to enjoy beautiful views of the Ottawa River and the surrounding landscapes. It’s a quick and enjoyable way to cross the river while adding a unique touch to your sightseeing experience in Ottawa. Discover

6:00 PM – Dinner with a view 

Head to Tavern on the Hill for a dinner with a view of Parliament Hill. Nestled in Major’s Hill Park, this outdoor restaurant offers a panoramic backdrop of the illuminated Parliament Buildings. Specializing in gourmet hot dogs and craft drinks, it’s ideal for a relaxed, scenic meal. Alternatively, Le Café at the National Arts Centre presents a more formal setting. Overlooking the Rideau Canal, it serves French-inspired Canadian cuisine in an elegant atmosphere. Both venues blend delectable dining with stunning views, enhancing your Ottawa experience. Would you like more information on anything else?

8:00 PM – Lights and Sounds Show

If you think Parliament Hill is impressive during the day, see it at night. In the summer, there’s a ‘Lights and Sounds Show.’ You shouldn’t miss it, so I recommend staying there for a night.   

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A Day in Ottawa: Exploring Canada’s Capital (Parliament Hill)

Goodbye Ottawa

Ottawa might be just a place to stay or visit for a day, but this ‘A Day in Ottawa’ itinerary offers a glimpse into the vibrant heart of Canada’s capital. This guide ensures every moment is packed with discovery, showcasing how even brief visits can leave lasting memories. Whether crossing a picturesque river or sampling local cuisine, Ottawa invites you to experience its unique Canadian charm. 

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