When someone goes to a country, he/she tend to go to the Capital of that same country. For example, France with Paris 🇫🇷, Italy with Rome 🇮🇹, etc. But there are some countries that get their capital forgotten and preferred to other cities like the USA with NYC 🇺🇸, Australia with Sydney 🇦🇺, etc. This is also happening to the capital of Canada, Ottawa 🇨🇦. Often overlooked by its neighbouring cities Toronto and Montreal. I gave a chance and 2 days of my trip through Canada to see what Ottawa has to offer. And it was Otta-wow! (Ok cheesy, I know. I saw that on a postcard 😂 😜) And do you know what? I really liked this place! 😁
Getting There And Around
I was in Niagara Falls 💦 just before visiting Ottawa (did you read our Niagara post? 😉 ) and the cheapest option for me to get to the capital was the bus via Toronto (did you read the Toronto post too? 😜 ). The journey from Toronto is 5 hours by bus 🚌 💨 and 4 hours by train 🚊 but the price difference is huge! I saved €30 just by taking the bus 😲. And of course, Ottawa also has an international airport if you decide to fly in! ✈
To get around the city, you’ll be using local buses. Presto card (local transport pass) costs a non refundable CAD6 (€4/£3/$5) and a minimum CAD10 (€7/£6/$8) to be charged on it. One single journey on the bus is CAD3.50 (€2.3/£2/$2.7). Make sure you get the right amount as they do not give any change back. Also, don’t forget the proof of payment too once paid 😉.
Good to know: Ottawa used to be called Bytown. In honour of Colonel John By who supervised the construction of Rideau Canal and therefore the creation of the city!
Things To See
Parliament Hill is right in the center of Ottawa. Beautiful place where the Parliament sits (the name kinda gave it away, I know). There is a change of guards 💂🏼♀️ in summer months from June 25 to August 24 at 10am sharp and in the evening they also have a sound and light show (free) on the Parliament building! If you are not going to Ottawa in summer ☀ (like me!) then, walk around and check out the awesome view from Parliament Hill to St Laurent River and enjoy the place! 😁
Notre Dame Cathedral. I haven’t been inside but the outside is astonishing 😍. Have you ever seen a cathedral with such colour? If you are wondering what is that big spider 🕷 (called ‘Maman’ or ‘Mother’ in English) doing? Well she is welcoming you to the National Art Gallery which is just a stone away from the Cathedral ! 😁
I will mention some museums but haven’t done any! 😔 Canadian War Museum and National Art Gallery. Get the Museum Passport if you can – you can get to 3 museums for CAD35 (€23/£20/$27)! I skipped museums because it was super sunny ☀ and I spent longer times outdoors… But I feel real bad about it 😔. People here advised me to go for Museum of Canadian History (entry fee is CAD20 for an adult, see the passport is a real good deal!). Ottawa is recognized to have the best museums in whole Canada 🇨🇦 and I should have squeezed in a visit there at least!! 🤦🏻♀️
Good to know: All museums are free to visit every Thursday from 5pm to 8pm!
Things To Do
There is a shop called RentABike.ca next to Rideau Canal or Rideau street and walking or cycling along Rideau canal is very popular. I did it for a couple of hours and I really enjoyed it! 🚴🏻♂️
Rideau Canal was a real hard work to build and connect over 200km of rivers for commercial activities that helped Ottawa to grow business wise and become the capital. It is still the longest working canal in North America and I can’t believe that there are 47 locks through itl!! Oh and Rideau Cana is a UNESCO World Heritage site too! 😉
Good to know: During the winter ❄ this place is frozen and becomes the biggest skate way ⛸ in the world 🌎, it is nearly 8km long (close to 5 miles)!!! 😲
Tour at the Parliament Building. This definitely needs booking in advance at 90 Wellington to get tickets or online. They have a first come first serve basis so get there at 9am for whatever time you booked that day or you won’t make it! It lasts for an hour and looks pretty nice to do! But if you don’t get a chance to book, you can still walk around by yourself and that’s what I did! The building is impressive and made me think of Westminster in London 🇬🇧.
Nepean Point. That’s a great viewpoint on Parliament Hill, the start of Rideau Canal and the Ottawa river too! 🏞 This view makes me think of Edinburgh and its castle!! 🏴
I will mention hiking in Gatineau park but I did not do it due to lack of time (again! 😔). Two hikes depending on your level of fitness were recommended: Pink Lake for beginners and/or Luskville Falls for advanced hikers!
Things To Eat
Byward Market. Next to parliament you’ll find this local market which is a great place to walk around, get a bite to eat but also shopping!
Beavers Tale. Right next to Byward Cafe is BeaverTails Pastry which is the classic treat when in Ottawa! 10 different type of crazy tales to fill you up for an afternoon snack! I got myself the simple one sugar and cinnamon but you can also get a sweet or savory depending on your mood! Coffee is CAD 1.50 (€1/£0.90/$1.2)!
Lansdowne Farmers Market on Sunday’s only from 10am to 3pm. Everything is local here and that’s the rule! I loved the vibe you are getting in this market. All natural products and made freshly in front of you (for most of them). Forget looking for a restaurant for your breakfast, brunch or lunch! 😋 You’ll have so much choice over there! What I liked the most is that you know where the money goes, directly to the local economy and its farmers. Must do! 😁
How long would I recommend you to stay in Ottawa? I recognise that I totally underestimated this place! 😔 Give 3 or 4 days minimum to Ottawa. This way you’ll be able to actually visit a bit deeper the Capital! 😉
And if you haven’t planned a visit of Quebec region during your stay in Canada 🇨🇦, you can get there by just visiting the closest city Hull and from Ottawa center, you’ll get there in 10 minutes drive! 😉
So what did you think of Ottawa 🇨🇦?
Let me know in the comments section below!
Check out a short video of this trip!!! 😉🤩
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Until next time, Go and Explore! 😉