Get to know the best of Canada in this itinerary, sampling experiences, attractions and pleasures that are uniquely Canadian.
Day 1 – Arrival and overnight in Ottawa, Canada’s Capital
8:45 a.m.: Arrive at Parliament Hill, Canada’s seat of Government (1 ½ hr). One-hour tours are available in French and English year-round. Arrive 15 minutes prior to your tour for a security check.
10:00 a.m.: Take a group picture with the iconic Peace Tower as the background (30 minutes).
Note: The Changing of the Guard Ceremony, takes place from the end of June to the end of August (8 weeks in summer). Admission is free.
12:00 p.m.: For lunch, enjoy different flavours in a local Indian restaurant.
1:30 p.m.: Visit the Bytown Museum (1 hr) located beside the Rideau Canal, Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage site. Housed in Ottawa’s oldest stone building, the Bytown Museum traces the history of Ottawa’s early years from the construction of the Rideau Canal to the city’s emergence as Canada’s capital and beyond.
2:45 p.m.: Aboriginal Experiences/Voyageur Canoeing – (groups only product, 2 ½ hr). An authentic Voyageur canoeing experience reliving the history of Canada, combining trade, dance, native food, legends and crafts at Canada’s only urban First People experience in an urban setting. Enjoy a traditional lunch, interpretation, storytelling and Pow Wow dances.
Depart for the ByWard Market, an outdoor farmers’ market shopping area. This is a good area to buy local products or gifts including maple syrup (a local speciality product).
Dinner: Enjoy fresh lobster in a local restaurant in the ByWard Market neighbourhood. The ByWard Market is home to Canada’s largest farmers’ market and it is also the name of the eclectic neighbourhood that surrounds it. This is a popular area to taste world cuisine.
Evening: Take in the Northern Lights Sound and Light Show on Parliament. Northern Lights is a free bilingual show presented nightly from early July through early September. Show times: in July at 10:00 p.m., in August at 9:30 p.m., and in September at 9:00 p.m.
Day 2 – Ottawa, Canada’s Capital City
9:00 a.m.: Visit the Canadian Museum of History (2-3 hrs). This is Canada’s most visited museum. Learn about Canada’s First People and see the largest indoor collection of totem poles in the world.
10:30 a.m.: Take an Ottawa River cruise offered by World Famous Paul’s Boat Line. Board a boat on the Ottawa side of the river at the Ottawa Locks by foot or use the coach and arrive at the Gatineau dock for the Ottawa River cruise.
Enjoy lunch in the ByWard Market or take an excursion to the countryside to shop and explore.
Afternoon: Located close to the entrance of Gatineau Park, Nordik Spa-Nature is a relaxation spa that features Nordic baths in a unique nature setting. This is the largest spa in North America. Relax in the Nordic baths for a half day and continue on your journey relaxed and refreshed! Or alternatively, enjoy tea or lunch at the Mackenzie King Estate in the Gatineau Park and explore the beautiful flower gardens.
Explore the ByWard Market a bit more or explore the CF Rideau Centre, a premier shopping complex located in the heart of the city and home to 180 shops of the biggest names in fashion, food and services.
Following shopping enjoy afternoon tea at Zoe’s Lounge at the grand dame hotel, the Fairmont Château Laurier. The glass adorned atrium with glowing chandeliers has a chic décor for a relaxing afternoon activity.
Dinner: Choose international food at one of the local downtown restaurants in Ottawa.
Optional tours: FIT and groups.
- Beavertails: Every Ottawa visitor needs to sample this uniquely Canadian tradition; a delicious whole wheat pastry treat located in the ByWard Market and served year-round.
- Maple syrup experience at Fulton’s Pancake House: Learn about maple syrup product and enjoy a tour and traditional meal (year-round product for groups). Fulton’s is located 1-hour west of Ottawa. (1-3 hrs)
- The National Gallery of Canada is the country’s showcase of the largest collection of Canadian art along with Inuit and native art (1-3 hrs).
- Calypso Waterpark: Canada’s largest theme waterpark is located at a 25-minute drive east of Ottawa. The park offers the tallest waterslide in North America, a 2.5G loop plus 10 waterslides. (early June 1- early September). (2-4 hrs)
- Visit the Canadian Museum of Nature in the castle-like Victoria Memorial Museum Building; view Canadian gems at the Mineral gallery or visit one of country’s largest repositories of animals, and plants. The museum is also one of the few in the world to have a blue whale skeleton.
- See the city on the 190 kilometres (118 miles) of recreational pathways.
- Travel along the Rideau Canal Heritage Route scenic drive route (Ottawa-to Kingston) as you learn more about the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and 202 kilometres (126 miles) of North America’s oldest continuous operating waterway; lakes and rivers that connect Ottawa to Kingston. Visit Jones Falls or Chaffey lock stations or the picturesque towns of Westport, Perth or Merrickville that offer artisans shops.