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If you’re travelling to the capital of Canada then you’re in for a treat! Ottawa is a small city with a population of just over a million that is sadly often overlooked as a travel destination. There’s so much more to this city though than just being the political center of Canada. Beyond the Parliament, the Supreme Court and yes, even Justin Trudeau, lies this relatively small town with all the big city amenities and more! Ottawa is growing quickly, becoming a sprawling metropolis but it still manages to retain it’s charm, rich history and natural beauty! Plus there’s still loads to do… even after 5:00 pm!
The lightshow at Parliament is a must-see! While the Parliament is only available for tours during the day, a great way to get up close and personal is to see it by night! Generally this is an activity that is available most months of the year always be sure to check online as the shows can vary. The summer edition when it stays bright out till late is lovely and usually talks about the history of Canada, while the winter edition is usually before Christmas time and focuses on the holidays.
How to Get to Ottawa
Ottawa is accessible by all modes of transportation, trains, planes, cars, you name it! It’s a city that’s easy to get to and only a few hours away from neighboring metropolises Montreal (~2 hours away) and Toronto (~4.5 hours away).
The downtown core is very accessible by foot, bike or bus. The bus system here is called OC-Transpo and getting around is a breeze, even more so once the new metro opens up as well. If you plan to do some sightseeing outside of the downtown core, a car will be your best bet.
Where to Eat in Ottawa
Best View // In the summer months at the bottom of Major Hill’s park you’ll find Tavern on the hill. For incredible views of the Ottawa river, Parliament and the Art gallery, this is the patio to be at! Come for the view and stay for the gourmet hot dogs!
Best Tacos // You’ll be lucky to get in at this spot, even on a weeknight sometimes, but thank goodness they now have several locations. At El Camino is where you’ll find the cities most talked about tacos, the oxtail tongue in particular!
Best Casual // You’ll come here to find the best bread in the city! But Art-is-in bakery is now known for so much more. On weeknights they have pizza nights, where they’ve put their own spin on the classics (with the most mouthwatering dough, I swear!). I guarantee you’ll enjoy it so much, you’ll try to sneak out there again for a brunch!
Best Healthy // If you’re health conscious, and really, even if you’re not, Pure Kitchen has recipes that’ll convert the pickiest eaters into vegetable lovers. Try whatever from the menu, but don’t leave without having the Korean BBQ cauliflower wings!
Best Sharing // If you’re a group of co-workers looking for a nice spot to unwind, then head to EVOO in Little Italy. This modern Greek restaurant will having you wanting to try everything on the menu! Just get all of the sharing platters!!
Best Dessert // Without a doubt, you just have to read the name to believe it, Oh-So-Good. Any cheesecake you’ve ever dreamed of, they’ll have.
What to Do in Ottawa
Ottawa Sign // Installed and available to be seen at any time of day, is the cities newest attraction, a gigantic Ottawa sign!
Museums // Ottawa has several museums worth visiting from Nature, Aviation, War or Science and Technology, there’s something for everyone! As a bonus, most museums are free on Thursdays from 5-9pm.
National Gallery of Canada // Not only are the exhibits at the gallery interesting to take in but the highlight of your visit will be at the entrance, admiring the giant ‘Maman’ spider statue.
Rideau Canal // Depending on the time of year you visit, the activity you can do at the canal will vary. If you visit in winter, it transforms into the world’s longest skating rink. Whereas in the summer, find a new friend with a boat, or rent a kayak and take a trip!
Grab a beavertail // Don’t worry no animals were harmed in the making of this delicious pastry! Give it a try, it is a local favorite!