Explore Ottawa in 3 days
Is it possible to explore Ottawa in 3 days without a car?
My answer below.
Hey there! This is the part 1 about our experience travelling through three eastern Canadian cities, Ottawa, Montreal (part 2) and Quebec City (part 3 coming soon). I will explain and show you why, in my opinion yes, is it possible to explore Ottawa in 3 days if you like walking 10 Km per day, taking a lot of buses, being out for 8 hours per day, keeping your mask on and just explore the city.
Since is the capital of Canada, I always wanted to visit it just because of it. I personally didn’t get really positive opinions from researches and advices but, since we had planned to visit Montreal and Quebec City from Toronto by train, why not to add 3 days to explore Ottawa?!
10 Quick Facts:
- Ottawa is the capital of Canada, chosen in 1857 from the Queen Victoria.
- 1.3 million of people live in the area (CMA and Gatineau).
- The name “Ottawa” is believed to mean“to trade”, derived from an Algonquian word. The Algonquian languages are a subfamily of American indigenous languages.
- Ottawa is usually the seventh coldest capital in the world.
- Temperatures range: 25°C in summer, -10°C during the winter.
- Nearly half the population is under the age of 35.
- 25% of the population living in Ottawa has born outside of Canada.
- 45.5% of the population speak english only, 8.6% french only and 44.8% both languages.
- Ottawa is the forth cleanest capital on Earth.
- Quality of Life Index (world): 30th.
The best way, at least in the summer, to explore Ottawa in 3 days is with buses, using or buying a Presto Card. Is the same card used in Toronto, 6 C$ non-refundable. You can load a 3 days pass for 26.50 C$ and take all the busses you need. All the prices here. For us, the public service OC Transpo worked really well!
You have other alternatives to the public transportations. You can hire vehicles with Uber or Lyft; use sharing E-scooters with Bird, Lime or Roll (not worth it in my opinion, too expensive but widely used from the locals); rent a bike (I didn’t find an “official” service); or you can walk! Is approximately 30 minutes to walk from the Crowne Plaza to the Rideau Centre, have a look here.
What we visited?
Major’s Hill Park, a huge park, a peaceful retreat immerse into the city right above the Rideau Canal at the spot where it empties into the Ottawa River.
Canal Lane, where you can have an amazing view through the canal to the Ottawa River.
Chinatown, along Somerset Street west of downtown Ottawa. This area was designated in 1989, under the name of Somerset Heights, until renamed Chinatown in 2005. A stop that we always love to have, especially me, as an enthusiast street photographer. A colourful little neighborhood with an amazing Royal Arch at the beginning.
Little Italy, the classic Italian neighborhood situated in Centretown west, settled around 1900 by Italian immigrants. This neighborhood is distinguishable from small Italian flags alongside Canadian ones in some street corners. Great graffitis and green areas.
Dominion Arboretum, nice and huge park, in the south part of the city, next to the Dow’s Lake. There are light trails, paddle/canoe rental and good views.
The Glebe, interesting neighborhood, with lot of shops and café.
Old Ottawa East, right next to The Glebe. There are really beautiful parks and walks path.
Rideau Canal Cruise, yes I know, it’s something super touristic, but was an easy way to admire part of the city from the river (canal). This electric cruise goes from Winterlude Rideau Canal all the way down to the Dow’s Lake, and then back. For 30 C$ it was worth it, except for the guide that was fine and funny but he talked all the time with a microphone.
District de Hull, a great area to see, especially the Place du Portage Phase II. We ate at the Bistro Coqlicorne, delicious. In this part of the city, the Ottawans speak mostly french, but we had no issues speaking in english.
Canadian Museum of History, is Canada’s national museum of human history. Designed by Douglas Cardinal, a famous Aboriginal architect. Amazing from outside. Unfortunately was closed due to COVID-19.
Port de plaisance Jacques-Cartier, facing the National Gallery of Canada and the Parliament of Canada.
Alexandra Bridge, strongly recommended to walk on this bridge, the view is amazing and there is a separate area for bikes and pedestrians.
The ghost sign G.A. Snider, I was in front of the “Illuminate Mural” in Bank Street taking pictures when an old man showed up asking me if I knew about the ghost sign of G.A. Snider, pointing up the finger to the building just in front of the paint (134 Bank St). He explained me the story about this photographer, the first wedding photographer in Ottawa, born in 1856. He was used to paint on his photograph. At the end of the conversation the old man continued on his way but after a few steps he went back asking me if I knew the year when color cameras arrived in Canada. I replied that I didn’t know but that I could look on the internet. He greeted me and left. Maybe it was him, the Snider’s ghost!
Remic Rapids Park, a must see. It’s a lovely park on the Ottawa River side. Here you can admire the structures of John Felice Ceprano, an Italian immigrated to Canada in 1978. He built these sculptures in 34 years, seeking a relaxing place to meditate, and get away from the city. In 2015, he received the Award of Excellence for urban design in public places from the city of Ottawa.
For this trip I brought just one camera, the Fujifilm X-T3 with two lenses, but I forced myself to use just one lens and shoot everything in black and white.
Just to have a color grade base I’ve selected the Film Simulation Acros with yellow or red filter. No CPL, no ND filters, I’ve been pretty minimalist.
The lens I used was the Fujifilm 35mm 1.4, an amazing lens that I purchased one month ago and I’m absolutely loving it. It’s super versatile, precise, small, with a wonderfully designed lens hood. On these APSC cameras is the 50mm equivalent.
When I travel, I prefer to bring the f2 lens versions because of the weather sealing feature and the compactness. For a “city trip” like this, that’s not supposed to be super wild and dusty, I have chosen this “old” lens with that extra stop of light (f1.4), that make a huge difference when you need it.
Some pictures below. Don’t forget to leave a comment letting me know your thoughts, advices or just to say hi!
Thanks for reading.
Psst! I have an AirBnb discount of 95 C$, just in case you want to register and book your first accommodation!