Nine Tips For Those Traveling From Toronto To Ottawa For The First Time

November 23, 2018

For those of you who live in Toronto, Canada, you know better than anyone just how many travel destinations are within reach for you. From long haul to more local trips, there is no shortage of options for those looking to book a getaway. One trip you may want to consider is a visit to the country’s capital city of Ottawa. While it may not be as big and bustling as Toronto, it has its own unique flair, attractions, dining experience, and plenty of landmarks well worth checking out.

So, if you are ready to embark on your first trip from Toronto to Ottawa, here are nine tips you can keep in mind that will help ensure the trip is all you hoped it would be:

Create Your Itinerary in Advance

Just like with any trip, it is always a good idea to create an itinerary in advance. Now, this does not mean plan out every minute of your trip, but it can be very helpful to make a list of attractions, sights, and things you want to do while in Ottawa. This will help ensure that you get to see and do all you had hoped to and do not end up forgetting anything.

Of course, there are bound to be things that catch your attention while you are in Ottawa, so you also should not feel tied to the itinerary or limited to it.

Make Getting There a Breeze

While Ottawa is certainly within driving distance from Toronto, it is going to take up a huge part of your day. The drive from Toronto to Ottawa takes roughly five hours and that is in light traffic, good weather, and without making any stops.

Another option, which tends to be a much better option for those looking to maximize their time in Ottawa, is to catch a flight from Toronto to Ottawa with Porter. For those unfamiliar with Porter, found at, it offers flights to Ottawa right from the Toronto Airport, which is located downtown, rather than heading to Pearson International which is outside the city-centre and incredibly busy. This means you do not have to fight traffic just to get to your flight.

Not only that, but Porter features much shorter check-in lines, you will have fast access to the gate and it goes above and beyond where on-board service is concerned. It is more of a luxury experience than the traditional airline offers. Even the seats are luxurious in that you get extra leg room and there are no middle seats.

Pack for the Activities You Plan on Doing

Ottawa is one of those unique cities where you can go about a typical city adventure filled with sightseeing and walking around, or you can make it more of an outdoor adventure/sports vacation. The style of vacation you plan on having should help you to determine what you end up packing.

For example, if you plan to stick to the typical city highlights and do a lot of walking around town, then you will want to bring comfortable and supportive walking shoes and a backpack for toting around the necessities. Meanwhile, if you plan on taking part in active adventures such as golfing, cycling, rafting, or hiking, then you will need to pack a whole other list of items.

Explore Parliament Hill

For the history buffs out there, and those with an interest in government, then a visit to Parliament Hill is an absolute must. Parliament Hill is located in the middle of the city, which means it is easy to get to from any location. Parliament Hill is not just one building, rather it is three buildings and a stunning garden. Now keep in mind this is a major tourist attraction, so it can get busy during peak travel periods such as the summer months.

Rather than just take photos from the outside, you can also take part in a tour. Just be sure that you get to Parliament Hill by 9AM to book your tour slot.

Check Out Ottawa’s Castle

Did you know that Ottawa is also home to a 660,000 square foot castle? What was once a castle has now been transformed into the Fairmont Château Laurier luxury hotel. This gothic style castle can be found on the banks of the Rideau Canal and is truly a sight to be seen. The hotel is more than 100 years old and features 429 guest rooms. For those who are not guests at the hotel, you will not be able to explore the full facilities, but you can still take in some of the areas.

Book a Guided Sightseeing Tour

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with touring around on your own and exploring Ottawa, by booking a sightseeing tour you will get an inside look and access to information you may not otherwise have known. The city offers all kinds of tours that take part on foot, plane, boat, bus, bicycle, or even by helicopter, so you can really pick what suits you best. Another fun part about a guided tour is the fact you will get to meet others and have a real social experience.

Enjoy the World’s Largest Outdoor Skating Rink

If you plan on visiting Ottawa during the winter months then you will have the unique and rather cool opportunity to skate on the world’s largest outdoor skating rink. As soon as the Rideau Canal freezes over in the winter, it becomes one huge skating rink that meanders downtown. In fact, it covers almost 8KM. The rink is open 24/7, so you never have to worry about the hours of operation.

What is also cool is the fact you can stop at kiosks along the way to get a snack or drink and really make it a whole experience.

Carry Snacks and Drinks with You

Now, because Ottawa’s main attractions and sights aren’t necessarily located near to each other, there is a good chance you will be traveling around quite a bit in the city. With that said, you may not always have time, nor will you feel like stopping each time you want a snack and/or drink. This is why it is a good idea to come prepared and carry the necessities with you.

Investing in a good quality backpack that is comfortable to carry could end up being the best decision you make. You will be able to throw snacks and drinks in the pack as well as your camera, sunscreen, an umbrella, a sweater or jacket, sunglasses, and anything else you may need.

Do Not Forget to Check Out the Food

The final tip is to be sure you take the time to check out Ottawa’s many mouth-watering food options. You will find when it comes to cuisine that there’s a bit of everything here, which in turn creates an intriguing melting pot of flavors and ingredients.

A Perfect and Memorable Trip

Traveling from Toronto to Ottawa is something that many people do each and every year. Ottawa can be the perfect destination for singles, couples, and families who are looking to experience Canadian culture, take in historic sights, and even learn more about the government. You can have a city adventure or head off the beaten and path and take the adventure approach. Whatever suits your travel style.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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