There’s plenty to see and do in Ottawa, from strolling along the Alexandra Bridge, to checking out the Ottawa Art Gallery, but it’s impossible to do absolutely everything! So if you’re only in the city for a quick getaway, it’s important to have a plan in place so that you can enjoy the very best that Ottawa has to offer, from the luxury Ottawa spas to the beautiful natural spaces. Here’s a one day Ottawa itinerary that is sure to give you a glimpse into life in the exciting and lively Canadian capital:
8am – 9am: Start your day off with a bottomless coffee (you’re going to need all the energy you can get!) and a good, hearty breakfast. There’s plenty of great cafes and restaurants to try in the city, but many people flock to the Byward Market, which has a number of stalls selling drinks, snacks, and full plates meals.
9am – 11am: At 9 am, the Byward Market really comes to life, and you can easily spend a few hours here browsing the stalls and finding that perfect souvenir to bring back from your getaway. You’ll find everything here from jewelry shops and clothing boutiques to art galleries and stalls selling locally sourced goods and gifts.
11am – 12pm: If you’ve worked up quite an appetite with all that shopping, then it’s time to take a break and sample what is perhaps the most famous of Ottawan cuisine: the Beaver Tail! A deep fried pastry topped with cinnamon and sugar, some places add extra toppings, too, like stewed apple and maple syrup. Yum!
12pm – 1pm: Now it’s time to see one of the top attractions in the entire city: Parliament Hill. Parliament Hill is home to the Parliament of Canada, and the gothic towers are truly breathtaking. Tours take from 20 – 50 minutes depending on the tour you choose and, perhaps best of all, they’re offered completely free!
1pm – 2pm: It’s just a short walk from Parliament Hill to the Chaudière Bridge where you’ll have a great view of one of Ottawa’s most stunning sights: the Chaudière Falls. You can even visit Victoria Island while you’re here, which is one of the best places to learn more about the First Nations people and Canadian history.
2pm – 4pm: How about spending the next few hours exploring one of Ottawa’s many museums? Whatever your interests, you’re sure to find one that sounds great. For history buffs, there’s the Canadian War Museum. There’s also the Canadian Museum of Nature, the Aviation and Space Museum, and many more!
4pm – 5pm: After such a busy day, there’s only one thing that’s going to relax those aching muscles: a massage. There’s a number of great spas in Ottawa offering everything from sports massage to Swedish body massage. The Atlantis Spa, located in the Old Ottawa district, is considered one of the best in the city.
5pm – 7pm: Now is a great time to enjoy some pre-dinner drinks in one of Ottawa’s many bars and pubs. Some of the best places to have a drink in a nice environment are located near to the Byward Market, with bars situated along Wellington Avenue, Elgin Street, and Bank Street, although there are lots across the city.
7pm – 9pm: The world is your oyster when it comes to grabbing dinner in the city. You’ll find restaurants combining modern Canadian cuisine with classic French techniques which reflect the city’s bilingualism, but there’s plenty of other choices. There’s everything from casual cafes to fine dining establishments in Ottawa.
9pm – 10pm: Before turning in for the night, it’s important to make one final trip back to Parliament Hill for the impressive sound & light show that takes place at 9.30pm during the summer months. The show has a different theme each year, with vibrant lights projected onto the Parliament buildings. It’s free to watch!
Ottawa as a one-day destination: With plane services from most major cities across Canada and the United States, as well as a VIA Rail station and even boat services, Ottawa is a very easily accessible city, which makes it a great option for a short break. There’s also a great public transport system — the OC Transpo Rapid Transit — that makes it quick and easy to get around the city, saving time and ensuring you can visit all the sights and attractions on your list. If you’re looking for a short getaway in Canada, consider Ottawa. There’s no place like it.
Denise C. Silva is a small business owner at AtlantisSpaOttawa the most established beauty spa and salon in Ottawa, Ontario. When not at the spa she is an avid social media fan.