This 2-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 a.m.: 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 a.m.: The Changing of the Guard Ceremony is held each morning on Parliament Hill in Ottawa from late June through late August.
10:30 a.m.: 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 the 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 — located on the Peace Tower.
12:30 p.m.: Stop for lunch at D’Arcy Mc- Gee’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 p.m.: 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 p.m.: 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 awardwinning 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 p.m.: 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. For something more eclectic, the RBC Bluesfest has something for everyone, featuring blues, rock, urban, pop, and electro.
Or, if you need a winter sports fix, the Ottawa Senators, Ottawa’s National Hockey League (NHL) team, are the hottest ticket in town!
Youth/family-friendly option: In the summer months, head back to Parliament Hill after dark for the Sound and Light Show, Northern Lights the free nightly performance. (Early July to early September; July show starts at 10 p.m., August-September show starts at 9:30 p.m.)
Day 2 – Touring the Capital
9:00 a.m.: 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 p.m.: Head back downtown and have lunch at the Empire restaurant 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 p.m.: 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 p.m.: Enjoy dinner at Restaurant e18hteen. Named after its unique location in an 18th century heritage building in the ByWard Market, Restaurant e18hteen has established itself as one of Canada’s premier upscale dining experiences.
8:00 p.m.: After dinner explore the spooky side of Ottawa with Haunted Walk of Ottawa. Locals and newcomers alike are fascinated by these glimpses into the dark history and haunting past of Canada’s Capital.