Canada's Capital: 48hrs in Ottawa, Ontario
For those who are lost, there will always be cities that feel like home'
- Simon Van Booy
As a British tourist, when thinking of cosmopolitan Canadian cities, it's often that Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are the first to spring to mind while Ottawa is usually left without a single thought. But with so much history, culture and adventure on offer, Ottawa is by no means any less of a multicultural metropolis than her Canadian counterparts and in fact, she's a pretty cool place to explore - come snow or shine!
Appointed as Canada's capital city in 1857 by Queen Victoria, Ottawa is indeed the epitome of bureaucracy but after spending a short while in her company, it's safe to say that there's a lot more to Ottawa than politics, poutine and pucks (of the ice hockey variety, of course).
Where To Stay
ARC The Hotel, 140 Slater Street, Ottawa, Ontario
Ottawa's first boutique hotel, ARC The Hotel, pairs ultimate comfort with unobtrusive luxury set inside a beautiful contemporary design. Centrally located in Downtown Ottawa, ARC The Hotel offers a tranquil dwelling for those looking to explore the city and is within walking distance of many of Ottawa's top attractions including Parliament Hill, the Rideau Canal, ByWard Market and The National Gallery of Canada.
Enter into the lobby where you will be greeted with the warmest of welcomes and a truly harmonious atmosphere. Oversized windows fill the space with natural light while bright bursts of red breathe life into the muted brown and grey tones. On the walls, local art is proudly displayed which pays homage to Ottawa's history and subtly accentuates the hotel's creative energy. Atop a mezzanine floor, you will find a large, lavish lounging area with sizeable sofas and stylish tables, offering guests the opportunity to be social in a comfortable and homely environment.
With a choice of 112 rooms and suites, there's a space perfect for everyone; whether you require a queen room, a kingsize room, a double room or a luxury suite. Each room is modern, minimalist and calming with all the amenities required to provide impeccable comfort. The bathrooms come complete with deep Roman bath tubs, powerful showers, vanity mirrors and a selection of Gilchrist & Soames toiletries. And with luxurious linen, plush bathrobes and a pillow menu, ARC The Hotel is dedicated to providing its guests with a blissful night's sleep.
When you're not out exploring Ottawa, ARC The Hotel makes it very easy for guests to enjoy some down time in their rooms: watch some HD TV complete with premium cable channels or take advantage of the in-room complimentary WiFi. Lounge in the sumptuous arm chairs with a good book or munch on the complimentary fruit and bottled water. What's more, ARC is a pet-friendly hotel so guests can enjoy all of these moments alongside their furry friends.
While there are many places to dine out in Ottawa, ARC The Hotel's lounge and bar is a must visit if you're looking to embark on a culinary journey across Canada. Providing a versatile space ideal for both intimate dining and group gatherings, the ARC lounge and bar prides itself on using locally sourced ingredients to create mouth-watering dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Start your day with a hearty classic breakfast or healthy smoothie and finish it with Ontario pickerel and a chia-spiced creme brûlée. But if you don't fancy dining in in the restaurant, the devoted lounge and bar team will ensure you receive the same unrivalled dining experience and delicious food in the comfort of your own room instead. Nothing is too much trouble for ARC The Hotel, making it a great place to stay in Ottawa whether you're visiting for business or pleasure.
What To Do
Visit Parliament Hill, 111 Wellington St, Ottawa, Ontario
Overlooking the Ottawa River, Parliament Hill is home to Canada’s federal government. Vast, yawning archways, copper-topped turrets and Gothic revival gargoyles dominate the facade of the stunning lime and sandstone Parliament buildings. Completed in 1865, Canada's political core welcomes visitors year-round; tours are free but a same-day ticket, which are offered on a first-come first-served basis, must be acquired from the ticket office to gain entry and expect lengthy security checks on arrival.
As well ascending the Peace Tower, discover Centre Block and see the Senate, the House of Commons and the Library of Parliament. The Library of Parliament is the only part of the original structure to survive a disastrous fire in 1916 and has often been called The Most Beautiful Room in Canada.
Visit ByWard Market, 55 ByWard Market Square, Ottawa, Ontario
The ByWard Market is one of the oldest and largest farmers’ markets in Canada, as well as the name of the eclectic neighbourhood that surrounds it. Ottawa’s entertainment district is filled with great restaurants, clubs, bistros, coffee shops, boutiques and food retailers making it a cool place to explore while you're in town. In the height of summer, up to 175 outdoor market stalls sell an endless selection of art, jewellery, plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables so there's something for all tastes to enjoy. You'll also find the original Beaver Tails stall, which serves up the most iconic and delicious Canadian pastries known to man.
Visit Parc Omega, 399 Road 323 North, Montebello, Quebec
Located approximately 1hr from Ottawa and situated on 2200 acres of beautiful Canadian landscape, Parc Omega allows you to observe Canadian wildlife within their natural habitat. From the comfort of your own car, take the safari tour while listening to Parc Omega's informative radio station and come face-to-face with red deer, moose, elk, bison, wolves, bears and more. Before you embark on the tour, be sure to purchase a bag of carrots from the gift shop to feed to the smaller roaming animals - they will love you forever!
Visit the Rideau Canal, Queen Elizabeth Drive, Ottawa, Ontario
Stroll along the Rideau Canal through downtown Ottawa and explore the series of lakes, rivers, and canals. Winding 202 kilometres from Kingston to Ottawa and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the canal fills Ottawa with quaint bridges with waterfront views, and a system of paths to explore downtown Ottawa by foot and fresh air. In the winter, watch as the canal turns into the world’s largest naturally frozen ice skating rink and thousands strap on skates to commute to work or for play. Ottawa’s popular Winterlude Festival takes place over several weekends in February each year along the canal, featuring ice carvings, a snow playground, and skating.
Visit the National Gallery of Canada, 380 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Ontario
The National Gallery is a work of art in itself: its striking ensemble of pink granite and glass spires echoes the ornate copper-topped towers of nearby Parliament. Inside, vaulted galleries exhibit predominantly Canadian art, classic and contemporary, including an impressive collection of work by Inuit and other indigenous artists. It's the world's largest Canadian collection, although additional galleries of European and American treasures include several recognizable names and masterpieces.
Visit the Bank of Canada Museum, 30 Bank Street, Ottawa, Ontario
The Bank of Canada Museum reopened on July 1, 2017 in a totally renovated building on Sparks Street, sharing an impressive glass entrance with the Bank’s conference centre. The new facility features a gift shop, an educational space, a bright and open visitor centre as well as temporary and permanent exhibition halls. Positioning itself as the heart of the economic system with fun, hands-on and interactive exhibits that cover everything from how people’s expectations affect the health of an economy to how inflation targeting works, the museum mixes in high-tech interactive and informative videos, multimedia stations and old-school exhibits featuring centuries’ worth of economic artefacts.
For more information on more great things to do in Ottawa, visit Ottawa Tourism.