DAY 1 – Elegant and Lively
Arrive in Ottawa and check into the hotel of your choice. Ottawa has many hotels for you to choose from; from luxurious establishments to more economic options. Learn more about accommodations on Ottawa Tourism’s Stay page.
Around 9:00 a.m.: Head out to discover Gatineau Park’s beautiful Pink Lake Trail. This 2.5 km trail makes its way around a crystal clear, unique and vibrantly turquoise “meromictic” lake, meaning that its layers of water don’t mix. This trail lasts about 45 minutes to one hour. It’s good for all levels of hikers and provides fantastic photo opportunities all along the way. Pink Lake’s famous aqua hue is similar to what you’d find in the Caribbean!
Want to take your Gatineau Park experience one step further?
10:45 a.m.: Head to Camp Fortune’s Explorer Park. Located in Gatineau Park as well, the Explorer Park allows you to experience the beauty of the Gatineau Hills by zip-lining through them! Zip-line through the air, make your way across ladders and twisting bridges that are all located high in the park’s luscious tree tops. This fun adventure takes two to three hours to complete.
2-2:30 p.m.: After all of that adventure, you’ll be ready to relax and there’s no better place to do that than Nordik Spa-Nature.
Located just around the corner from Camp Fortune, ‘Nordik’ as it’s known locally, is the biggest outdoor luxury spa of its kind in North America. Grab a drink and a snack at one of Nordik’s two restaurants before enjoying the spa’s thermal hot tubs, steam rooms and saunas experience.
Want to indulge? Book a massage or opt for Nordik’s unique salt water Källa treatment. The underground Källa floating pool, which offers many health benefits, is only the second of its kind in the world. The other one is in Switzerland!
5:30-6:00 p.m.: Head back into Ottawa’s downtown core to relax for a little while and get ready for dinner.
Housed in an elegant 1877 former lumber baron mansion, which is also home to Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute, Signatures offers modern French cuisine crafted by Executive Chef Yannick Anton. Enjoy a quiet and candlelit dining atmosphere.
DAY 2 – A Little Bit of Culture and Culinary Delight
9:00 a.m.: Start your morning with a visit to one of Ottawa’s many Bridgehead Coffeehouses. Bridgehead, which offers fairly-traded organic coffees and teas, is an Ottawa-owned company and is a favourite with visitors and locals alike. Here, you’ll find delicious lattes and fresh organic snacks.
10:00 a.m.: Once you’ve gotten your caffeine jolt, head to the National Gallery of Canada – one of Ottawa’s great cultural highlights, and only one of Ottawa’s seven national museums..
Housed in a beautiful glass building on Sussex Drive, the National Gallery is the permanent home of the world’s most comprehensive collection of Canadian art, including Inuit art. As of June 15, 2017, you’ll be able to visit the museum’s new Canadian and Indigenous Galleries.
OPTION 11:30 a.m.: Walk up to Parliament Hill to participate in a noon-hour yoga class on the iconic front lawn. Each Wednesday from May through August, Lululemon Athletica offers a free ‘guerilla yoga’ class. Up to 1,000 people – visitors and locals – participate on a weekly basis!
Early afternoon: After all of that sightseeing and/or yoga, you might want to stay cool for a bit. Visit CF Rideau Centre, Ottawa’s downtown shopping mall. Having undergone a $360-million renovation, Rideau Centre is home to several high-end brands including Stuart Weitzman, Kate Spade New York, Tiffany & Co. and Nordstrom, among others. Do some shopping and get something that will remind you of Ottawa when you put it on.
3:00 p.m.: Arrive at the iconic Fairmont Château Laurier for its famous Afternoon Tea. At the Fairmont’s Zoé’s Lounge – named one of the best bars in Canada by enRoute magazine – you’ll want to order the Canadian tea, which features Canadian delicacies from across the country. Sit by the solarium-style windows, sip your maple tea and melt away your afternoon by watching the comings and goings along Rideau Street.
7:45 p.m.: Head to Restaurant e18hteen for dinner. Located in Ottawa’s historic ByWard Market neighbourhood, this restaurant offers fine dining in a sumptuous atmosphere.
9:45 p.m.: Visiting in July? Walk up to Parliament Hill to take in Northern Lights at 10 p.m. This is Ottawa’s free and unique 30-minute Sound and Light Show that is set against the backdrop of the beautiful Parliament Buildings. Through impressive digital technology, this show depicts Canadian stories of nation-building, discovery, valour and more. This show also plays daily in August at 9:30 p.m. and in September at 9 p.m.
DAY 3 – See the City
Morning: Visit the quaint Bytown Museum – Ottawa’s oldest stone building – to learn about Ottawa’s famous Rideau Canal. Snaking its way through the city, this is Ontario’s only UNESCO world heritage site! At the museum, you’ll learn about the canal’s difficult construction from start to finish.
11:00 a.m.: Want to see more of the Rideau Canal? From the Bytown, walk across the street and hop on a boat tour with Rideau Canal Cruises. Enjoy a guided tour as you float along quietly on an electric, state-of-the-art bateau mouche. See the sights from the downtown core to Dows Lake. Canal cruises are offered from May on.
Lunch: After your boat tour, cross the bridge and head to the National Arts Centre (NAC) where you will find 1 Elgin (formerly Le Café). Can’t get enough of the Rideau Canal? Opt to sit on 1 Elgin (formerly Le Café)’s charming covered patio, which is at the water’s edge. Enjoy a lovely view and contemporary Canadian cuisine.
Afternoon: Hop in a regular taxi or opt for Ottawa’s Au feel de l’eau Aqua-Taxi and head over to the Canadian Museum of History. This is Canada’s most visited museum!
Wander through the Grand Hall, home to the world’s largest indoor collection of totem poles, and discover the artifacts as well as people who helped shape Canada.
Here on or after July 1, 2017? Visit the museum’s brand new Canadian History Hall, where the oldest hockey stick in existence will be on display!
Evening: If you’re visiting Ottawa over the summer months, your getaway is sure to coincide with one of the city’s many music festivals that go on all season long. This is the perfect way to spend your last night in the capital!
Here in July? Take in the star-studded RBC Bluesfest! Going on for about two weeks at LeBreton Flats in front of the Canadian War Museum, this is one of the largest outdoor music festivals in North America. Close to 300,000 fans attend Bluesfest each year. Past performers have included legends such as Van Morrison, Sting, The Black Eyed Peas, Keith Urban, Snoop Dogg and James Brown, among many others. Catch a great act under the stars and rock the night away!
Interested in knowing more about summertime in Ottawa? Browse Ottawa Tourism’s website.