Ottawa, nestled between Canada’s two largest cities, Montreal and Toronto, had far more to offer than we thought it had. A perfect blend of cityscape, art, culture, history, and people makes this non-descript capital city a must visit in a trip to the eastern part of the country.
Although it is supposed to be an anglophone, plenty of people here speak French possibly due to the proximity to Quebec City. When entering the city from the east, we headed straight to the downtown, the arts district. We were there during the Canada day (July 1st) which was a fantastic coincidence. The parades, celebrations, and fun around the town was even better than the independence day celebrations in the US. We even got free bus rides the entire day.
Although there is not a lot to keep a tourist interested in visiting attractions, the museums and historical places may keep a visitor occupied for 2-3 days. Here are the places you cannot afford to miss:
1. Parliament Hill & Building – Gothic revival style buildings on the bank of the Ottawa River, this building is a masterpiece of history and architecture. The surrounding area of the buildings have several interesting vista points to the river and the city. During the Canada day celebrations, the Centennial flame looked marvelous in the backdrop of the gatherings.
– Tip: the Parliament Hills look mesmerizing from the other side of the river – the Civilization Museum.
2. Rideau Canal – A UNESCO heritage site, you won’t regret spending time here for the history it carries. Connecting the Rideau river with the Ottawa river was an engineering marvel. The stepped structure, the periodic opening and closing of the gates and the sheer history of the ups and downs in the local economy caused by the canal are not to be missed. Walking up and down the two sides of the canal with coffee in hand was a fun activity with people watching and exploring the famous hotel next to the canal.
3. Notre Dame Basilica
Highly recommend walking around the area including the arts district and Byward market area. The coffee shops and restaurants are amazing in the Byward market.
Food and Nightlife
Byward market has the best nightlife/restaurants in town. We ate at The Keg steakhouse. The ambiance, service, and food were excellent with the steak surpassing my expectations. My review here.