Cruise in to Ottawa: 48 hours in the nation’s capital

The Best of Ottawa in 48 hours

When it comes to exploring Canada’s capital, the city of Ottawa, you want to ensure you have time to take in the many exceptional attractions and experiences! This world-class city boasts a population of 1.25 million people and is a happening place for residents and visitors all year long. From museums, to parks, landmarks, restaurants, breweries – and more – Ottawa has more than enough to keep you busy for days on end.

As the final destination on Canada’s iconic Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, boaters travel the Rideau Waterway for miles to explore the best of the nation’s capital. When cruising on the Rideau Canal with Le Boat, you can explore on your own or choose from several suggested routes that take you to Ottawa where you can explore the city on your own schedule.

Of course, the question becomes how to make the most of a couple of days in Ottawa while making sure you see the best of the best, and get a sense of what being a Canadian is all about. Here’s your hand-made 48-hour itinerary so you can see and do it all during your visit!


boating with Le Boat

Day 1 - the First 24 hours in Ottawa

1.       Hog’s Back Park
600 Hog’s Back Rd., Ottawa, ON
Plan for 1 hour

One of the last lock-throughs before Ottawa, Hog’s Back Park is one of those hidden gems that everyone in the family can enjoy. Take a few minutes to disembark at Hog’s Back Park before you reach Ottawa and explore the spectacular 60-foot waterfall and rapids that made for one of the most challenging dam-building projects during the construction of the Rideau Canal.

2.       Parliament Hill

111 Wellington St., Ottawa, ON
Plan for 2.5 hours

Any visit to Ottawa needs to begin at Canada’s Parliament, Canada’s most iconic buildings. Parliament Hill almost makes for a full day’s adventure on its own, but some of the experiences you won’t want to miss include seeing the Centennial Flame, the Changing of the Guard, and the Sound and Light Show. Another must-see is the Library of Parliament, the only part of the original building to survive a 1916 fire. Tours are offered daily to view the inside of Parliament, but be prepared to go through an in-depth security clearance before gaining admission to the inside. 

3.       Wilfrid’s (Fairmont Chateau Laurier)

1 Rideau St., Ottawa, ON
Plan for 1.5 hours

After so much Canadian architecture and history you’ll be ready for a refreshing break for lunch. Make the short 5-minute walk from Parliament Hill to the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, a National Historic Site, and enjoy a light lunch at Wilfrid’s Restaurant. Built in 1912, the Chateau Laurier is another one of Canada’s iconic buildings, with a castle-like exterior is designed in the French Gothic style. Take a stroll through the luxurious and opulent interior complete with Belgian marble floors and Tiffany windows. Wilfrid’s restaurant is a popular meeting place for politicians and Canadian movers-and-shakers, and overlooks Major’s Hill Park.

4.       Sparks Street
Anywhere on Sparks Street (a short walk south from Parliament Hill)
Plan for 1.5 hours

Once you’ve satiated your appetite you’ll be ready to build it again with some shopping, and in downtown Ottawa you’re in the right place! Make the short 10-minute walk to Sparks Street, Canada’s equivalent to a town square right in the heart of downtown Ottawa. Sparks Street is closed to traffic and here, pedestrians rule. The area is home to a number of chic and charming shops for some of the best shopping anywhere.

5.       Canadian Museum of History
100 Laurier St., Gatineau, Quebec
Plan for 2 hours

The Canadian Museum of History is located directly across the Ottawa River from Parliament Hill, in the province of Quebec. To get to the museum from Ottawa, you can either take a cab or bus, walk, or you can rent a bicycle from Le Boat to cycle the roughly one-and-a-half miles from Parliament Hill to the museum. The museum features both ongoing and travelling exhibitions, and focuses on 20,000 years of human history with more than 200,000 artifacts. If you only have time to visit one museum during your stay in Ottawa, this is the one to see.

6.       Moscow Tea Room
527 Sussex Dr., Ottawa, ON
Plan for 1.5 hours

End your day at a unique restaurant in downtown Ottawa, the Moscow Tea Room. This famous lounge in Ottawa is an experience in and of itself. Located in the Byward Market on Sussex Drive, this tea room simply must be seen to truly appreciate its unique décor. Expand your horizons and sample champagne and caviar, tapas, and, of course, vodka. End your day with a bang with this one-of-a-kind experience in downtown Ottawa.

Day 1 - the second 24 hours in Ottawa

1. National Gallery of Canada
380 Sussex Dr., Ottawa, ON
Plan for 2 hours

Begin your second day with some artistic expression at Canada’s national gallery. The National Gallery building is almost an art form in itself, take a look at how the structure mirrors the architecture of the buildings on Parliament Hill. Inside you’ll find everything from impressionist to post-modern artistic styles, and more.

2. Royal Canadian Mint320 Sussex Dr., Ottawa, ON
Plan for 1 hour

Only a short walk from the National Gallery of Canada, the Royal Canadian Mint sits in a historic building that is also where the Mint was originally founded in 1908. The Ottawa location is where special coins are created, along with medals and medallions. Take a guided tour for the full experience and learn how coins are made from start to finish.

3. Zak’s Diner 14 Byward Market Square, Ottawa, ON
Plan for 1.5 hours

It’s lunchtime! One of Ottawa’s longest-operating restaurants is Zak’s Diner, an old-fashioned diner that will make you feel like you stepped back in time to the 1950s. Located in the Byward Market and open 24-hours a day, Zak’s Diner is the local go-to spot for a fantastic and filling meal. Known for their delicious milkshakes, towering burgers and mile-high apple pie, Zak’s Diner will fill your belly, and then some.

4. Byward Market
Plan for 2 hours

Explore Ottawa’s ByWard Market, one of the oldest farmers’ markets in Canada where you’ll find everything from produce to cheese, chocolates and flowers. With so much to choose from you won’t need to dine out to enjoy everything the city has to offer; instead, pick up some fresh supplies and create your own mouth-watering dinner in the privacy of your boat. Le Boat’s Premier Horizon cruisers even offer a large “fundeck” to take in the sights while you enjoy your meal. While you’re exploring the market, don’t miss the Tin House, a reconstruction of a tin-covered façade that hangs on a wall in the Byward Market. See if you can find it!

5. BeaverTails
Plan for ½ hour

Located on the Byward Market is where you’ll find the restaurant that created the uber-Canadian sweet treat, BeaverTails. This sweet pastry is a true Canadian treat, and needs to be sampled fresh and hot, with a hint of lemon. End your day like a boss at the BeaverTails stall on the Byward Market, where you’ll feel like a real Canuck!

6. Downtown Breweries

  • Waller Street Brewing (14 Waller St., Ottawa, ON)
  • Lowertown Brewery (73 York St., Ottawa, ON)

Plan for 1 hour

Check out Waller Street Brewing, a tiny little brewery tucked away in the basement of a heritage building in downtown Ottawa, or visit Lowertown Brewery where you can sample great food and pre-prohibition cocktails. Both breweries are only a short 5-minute walk apart and would make the perfect way to end a fun-filled day in the city

More to see and do

More to see and do:

  • Major’s Hill Park (Across from the United States Embassy, downtown Ottawa)
  • Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica (385 Sussex Dr., Ottawa)
  • Canadian Museum of Nature (240 McLeod St., Ottawa)
  • Canadian War Museum (1 Vimy Pl., Ottawa)
  • Dow’s Lake (1001 Queen Elizabeth Dr., Ottawa) (a short cruise from downtown Ottawa)