OTTAWA – Canada’s Capital
This 4-day Capital itinerary will take you to the must-see Ottawa attractions, landmarks and sights, with stops in between for delicious food, drink and entertainment.
Day 1 - THE ROYAL TREATMENT
9:00 am: Take the awe-inspiring walk into the marbled Grand Entrance Hall of the Supreme Court of Canada. If the time is right, you may be able to sit in on a hearing.
9:45 am: Changing the Guard Ceremony is held each morning on Parliament Hill in Ottawa from late June through late August.
10:30 am: Visit Parliament Hill — Canada’s seat of government. Book group tours in advance (remember that the activities of Parliament sometimes have an effect on tours). Jump into the elevator and land on the observation deck of Peace Tower for a bird’s-eye view of Ottawa. And don’t forget to capture the fantastic stonework — including over 370 gargoyles, grotesques and friezes — on the Peace Tower.
12:30 pm: Stop for lunch at D’Arcy McGee’s Irish Pub where they offer fresh takes on traditional Irish fare. Good food, friendly service, and a vast selection of beer, wine, cocktails, and premium whiskies all make for a relaxed and fun dining experience.
1:30 PM: After lunch stop at Rideau Hall, the residence and workplace of the Governor General of Canada. In the spring and summer the gardens are spectacular.
4:00 PM: It’s time for ‘Hill Hour’ at Métropolitain Brasserie! Located in the heart of Ottawa, this French Brasserie has something for everyone — it boasts the city’s largest fresh oyster bar, and daily creations from their award-winning chef are always a hit. Go Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. to enjoy specials on oysters, jumbo shrimp, and mussels!
Youth/family-friendly option: Test your knowledge of Ottawa on a scavenger hunt with UrbanQuest. You can run it as a race against your friends, a tour of the city, a new way to have dinner on the town, or just a fun way to spend an evening.
8:00 PM: Jazz, blues, and folk are just a few of Ottawa’s fantastic music festivals in the summer months. Classical music fans will love the world-renowned Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival (see the Calendar of Events for dates). For something more eclectic, the RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest has something for everyone, featuring blues, rock, urban, pop, and electro.
Or, if you need a winter sports fix, you could go see Ottawa’s National Hockey League (NHL) team, the Ottawa Senators , the hottest ticket in town!
Youth/family-friendly option: In the summer months, head back to Parliament Hill after dark for Mosaika, the free nightly Sound and Light Show performance. (early July to early September; July show starts at 10 p.m., August-Sept show starts at 9:30 p.m.)
Day 2 - TOURING THE CAPITAL
9:00 am: The Canadian War Museum is a must for a ‘Capital’ tour. Plan to spend a few hours as you explore the six different galleries and special exhibits suitable for all ages.
12:30 pm: Head back downtown and have lunch at the Empire Grill in the ByWard Market neighbourhood. You won’t be able to resist popping into the one-of-a-kind shops and stalls in the market, so schedule a good two hours for the lunch break.
2:30 pm: For groups travelling in the summer months, Aboriginal Experiences (groups only) is the world’s only urban-based Aboriginal cultural attraction and a worthwhile visit. Located minutes from downtown on Victoria Island, Aboriginal Experiences recreates the traditions, food, and dancing of First Nations Peoples from across North America.
Alternatively, head east to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum and marvel at more than 130 aircraft on display — a collection that rivals many in the world. While there, take a ride in a historic biplane or helicopter for a fantastic view of the city.
5:30 pm: Patterned after the great steak houses of North America, Prime 360 – The Ultimate Steakhouse, is one of Ottawa's best choices for steak and seafood.
8:00 pm: After dinner explore the spooky side of Ottawa with Haunted Walks of Ottawa. Locals and newcomers alike are fascinated by these glimpses into the dark history and haunting past of Canada’s Capital.
Day 3 - ROLLING ON THE RIVER
9:00 am: No ‘Capital’ tour is complete without a trip to the town of Carp (30 minutes west of Ottawa) to visit Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum, a fascinating relic of the Cold War.
12:30 pm: On the way back downtown, stop for the best Tex-Mex food in town at the Lone Star Texas Grill (Kanata).
2:00 pm: Explore the Ottawa River aboard a Capital Cruises boat tour, an ideal way to sightsee on the water. You will see the natural beauty of the region that captured the imagination of the first European explorer Samuel de Champlain (400 years ago). Operating from May to October.
3:30 pm: Wrap up your ‘Capital’ tour with a visit to Laurier House, the former home of two of Canada’s former prime ministers: Sir Wilfrid Laurier and William Lyon Mackenzie King.
6:00 pm: Prepare for a fabulous evening at Signatures Restaurant at Le Cordon Bleu. Signatures Restaurant at Le Cordon Bleu presents a formal fine dining atmosphere that celebrates the history and tradition of French cuisine and culture.
8:00 pm: The National Arts Centre, a National Historic Site of Canada and home to Canada’s National Orchestra, always has something wonderful to see, whether your choice is theatre, music, or dance.
Day 4 - EXPLORE
10:00 am: You can’t leave town without a tour through the largest visual arts museum in Canada, the National Gallery of Canada. Its giant bronze spider, Maman, greets you on the plaza entranceway providing a taste of what to expect inside. The Gallery boasts the world’s most comprehensive collection of Canadian (including Inuit) art, plus permanent exhibits include major works from European, American, and Canadian masters among many others.
1:00 pm: Pick a delicious dish from the Blue Cactus Bar & Grill in the ByWard Market Neighbourhood.
3:00 pm: Spend the afternoon at the Mackenzie King Estate in Gatineau Park. Roam the romantic gardens and picturesque ruins, or take one of the many trails through the woods before stopping for tea at the Mackenzie King Tearoom. (Travel time approx. 20 min)
6:30 pm: For dinner, indulge at the Courtyard Restaurant. A favourite destination for relaxed fine dining, the restaurant specializes in Canadian cuisine using fresh, seasonal ingredients from local suppliers.
Youth/family-friendly option: Always popular with a younger crowd, stop at Fatboys Southern Smokehouse for dinner. Great food and southern charm make for a fun evening.
8:00 pm: The Casino du Lac-Leamy offers slot machines, blackjack, and a variety of poker games, among many other options. If gaming isn’t for you, there is always great entertainment at the Théâtre du Casino.