Ottawa – a day in Canada’s capital city


No, Montreal nor Toronto are Canada’s capital city. The quaint little fairytale town of Ottawa on the border between Ontario and Quebec has that honour.

So what is there to do in this little known city? To keep it short – a lot! Here are the things we loved doing during our 24 hour stop in Canada’s capital.

1Remarkable architecture

The Canadian Parliament building

Ottawa’s stunning landmarks, copper roofed buildings and castle-like hotels made this city one of the most beautiful ones we visited in Canada (perhaps with the exception of Quebec city alone).

The city centre is dotted with charming European style architecture. The most impressive of which is, without a doubt, Canada’s parliament (you can take a free internal tour by booking at the tourist centre across the road).

Other beautiful buildings to check out are:

  • Ottawa City Hall;
  • Ottawa Court;
  • The Supreme Court of Canadá;
  • The library and National Archives of Canada; and
  • The Château Laurier Fairmont Hotel

2Browse through ByWard Market

Established in 1826, the ByWard Market is one of the biggest and oldest food markets in Canada. The market isn’t restrained by its walls, with pop-up shops, stalls and cafes lining the streets all around the area.

3Taste a mighty ‘Beaver Tail’

If you love sweets (like Michaela), you cannot go to Canada without trying the famous Beaver Tails – there’s a shop right outside Byward Market!

The little red shop is easy to find, especially when there’s a line of customers waiting for their gooey treat that runs down the street.

The dessert is super popular – a cross between French Toast, a pancake and fried churros its no wonder why. The strange name comes from its shape – exactly like a beaver’s flat but strong tail.

Try one with whipped maple syrup, garlic and cheese (the only savoury option) or a chocolate/peanut butter concoction! You won’t regret it!

4Check out the Ottawa river and Rideau Canal

There’s many places to enjoy a view of the Ottawa river, but one of the city’s most popular spots is along the walking trail that runs through Major’s Hill Park (you’ll go right past the Fairmont Château Laurier Hotel, and walk across the Rideau Canal).

A visit to the Rideau Canal by itself is worthwhile. The canal was built to connect Ottawa with the then capital of Canada, Kingston, some 202kms away. There are eight separate lochs that allow boats to climb and descend the hills along its course.

In winter time the entire canal freezes and creates the largest public ice skating area in the world – you’ll even see businessman skating to and from work on the long corridor of ice.

One of the lochs along the Rideau Canal

5Try an ‘Obama Cookie’

When Obama was still President back in 2009, he decided to visit Ottawa and stop by at the Moulin de Province Bakery in ByWard Market to munch on a cookie.

That was it. The next day the bakery’s popularity exploded!

Making the most of the opportunity, the owner’s decided to sell “Obama Cookies” (you’ll now also find “Justin Trudeau Cookies – Canada’s prime minister).

The bakery does however have some quality bread and pretty decadent looking french-style pastries.

6Visit the National Gallery of Canada

One of the best things about Ottawa is that most of its attractions are all in the same area of the city centre. The National Gallery of Canada, for example, is right next to Major’s Hill Park and costs only $12 to enter.

The exhibitions and galleries are constantly changing, so if you’re looking at visiting its worthwhile checking out their website to see whats on.

7Walk and explore

Exploring places by foot when we get somewhere new is one of our favourite pastimes. It costs nothing, gets us moving and we always seem to find hidden gems and interesting areas that are hard to find otherwise.

Ottawa is a relatively small city, but packed full of things to see and do. It has been one of our favourite built-up places to visit on the trip so far (even if it was a super cold day).

So go and get exploring!!!