How to spend 24 hours in Ottawa, Canada

This Christmas, I gave as a gift to my boyfriend a little trip to Ottawa to see his favorite hockey team playing. We had SO much fun and rediscovered the capital under a new eye. Thus, I thought about sharing some of the hidden gems we found and great activities to do if you have 24 hours to spend in the city. Enjoy!

About Ottawa

People often think that the capital of Canada is Toronto, but it is actually Ottawa. It is situated in the Ontario province, which is about 447 kilometers from Quebec City. Ottawa is the home of the beautiful Parliament and other important political buildings such as The Supreme Court of Canada, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Bank of Canada, and much more. The Rideau Canal flows through the city and is transformed into a skateway during winter, which is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. To know whether the skateway is functional during the time you plan to visit, consult the National Capital Commission website.

How to get there

If you are starting from Quebec City, there are three ways to get to Ottawa by road: by car, bus, or train. By car is the fastest option; it takes about 4h30 to get there if you do not make stops. Since we were traveling during winter, we decided to travel by train with VIA Rail. There is comfortable seating, you can purchase food, and you don’t get to drive. Simply enjoy the ride. However, it takes more time than by car since there are different stops and there are often delays during winter.

Finally, there is also the bus option which takes less time than the train, and you don’t have to drive, but when I checked this option for my trip, it was considerably more pricy than the train (almost 100$ more!). So each option has its advantages and disadvantages to consider depending on the purpose of your trip and the season.

Time4h30 without stopsBetween 5h30 to 6 hours6 hours, if there are no delays
Comfort-/+ and you are driving+/-++
PriceCheapest optionMore priceyA little bit more pricey than by car, but less than by bus

Plus, traveling by train comes with awesome views;)

Public transport in Ottawa

Once you are in the capital, public transport is available to get you downtown. The O-Train is the metro transit system that you will want to use. If you are arriving from the Ottawa train station, a metro station can get you directly from there (Tremblay station) to downtown (Parliament or Rideau stations). 

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What to do in Ottawa

My boyfriend and I went to Ottawa in the first place to see a hockey game at the Canadian Tire Center. If this interests you, note that the arena is NOT downtown Ottawa and is instead located in a suburb of Ottawa called Kanata. Thus, it’s complicated to get there by public transport. However, Uber does serve the area. Just be aware that after a game, the demand is pretty up, which raises the price of Ubers too. 

Parliament Hill

The day after the game, we decided to explore the city. We went to the Parliament and looked at the Centennial Flame, a monument on which you can see the shields of the ten provinces and three territories of Canada. Could you recognize all of them?

If you are interested in visiting the Parliament, there are two options: the Senate at the Senate of Canada building or the House of Commons at West Block. To do so, you have to reserve tickets for a guided tour. It is a free activity, which is pretty awesome!

Isn’t even more beautiful during winter?

The King Eddy

After a little walk in the city, we decided to head for lunch, and this is when we found a real gem: The King Eddy. This little 80’s inspired diner on Clarence Street is worth a stop if you are going to Ottawa. The decor makes you feel like you are in the Grease movie, and the food is amazing. Plus, we had fantastic service, which made the experience even more enjoyable.

Royal Canadian Mint

Then, before hopping on our train back home, we decided to visit the Royal Canadian Mint. Once again, only guided tours are available, but it makes the experience even more interesting. Guided tours take about 45 minutes and are offered in French and English. We got lucky and were able to find a spot for a tour in French without reserving tickets in advance, but note that it is better to do so, even more, if you wish to have a tour in English.

The Royal Canadian Mint actually has two locations: one in Winnipeg and one in Ottawa. The one in Winnipeg is where circulation coins are made, whereas the one in Ottawa is where the collection coins are made, as well as medals, bullions, and tokens. As a matter of fact, you get to see the medals of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics!

This museum is unique from other traditional museums because it is a production plant. Indeed, you get to see the complete process of making coins, starting from pure gold or silver bullion to the most beautiful collection coin. You get to see the different machines, and depending on the period you are visiting, you see workers working at the same time, which is impressive from my point of view.

Note that it is forbidden to take pictures during the visit, but if you are interested in seeing some pictures of this activity, visit the official website of the Royal Candian Mint.

This is it for How to Spend 24 hours in Ottawa, I hope you enjoyed it and it made you want to discover (or discover again) this Canadian city. We had so much fun, and also found that people were very kind! If you have been to Ottawa, let me know in the comments your favorite thing to do in the city. I would love to read you.

Until next time,

À bientôt!


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