Ottawa is a popular travel destination that boasts grand Victorian architecture, top-notch museums and an array of other attractions. Even if you only have a weekend in Ottawa, you can still see the best the city has to offer. Here are itinerary ideas for spending 2 or 3 days in Ottawa and how to be sure you take in the best sights in the city.

Friday Evening

Friday night starts your 72 hours in Ottawa. Start with dinner at Supply and Demand, a hip restaurant with raw bar offerings, vegetarian small plates, local meat and fish and fresh-made pastas. This is a great restaurant for surf and turf, or you can attend a cooking class to prepare your own gourmet pasta meal.

majors hill park weekend in ottawa

Major’s Hill Park, Ottawa

When night falls, head to the ByWard Market district, an area of the city that’s known for artisans and boutiques during the day and as the hub of the city’s nightlife in the evening. You’ll find plenty of bars and lounges in the area, as well as venues for live entertainment like the Mercury Lounge and The 27 Club.

If you prefer a different kind of evening entertainment, you can visit Casino du Lac-Leamy near the downtown area, which offers table games, slot machines and other gaming options, as well as restaurants and stage shows.

Saturday Morning

On Saturday morning, you’ll have 48 hours in Ottawa. Start with breakfast at Stoneface Dolly’s, a brunch favourite with large portions and great service. The restaurant offers a small menu with classic dishes such as eggs Benedict and specialty foods like a New York strip steak.

Once you’re done with breakfast, you can visit Major’s Hill Park, a vast parkland across from Parliament Hill. It not only offers beautiful views of city landmarks like the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica and Parliament Hill, but it’s also a peaceful place to relax and unwind.

Saturday Afternoon and Evening

After sightseeing, stop into a restaurant for lunch before visiting your next attraction. The Meat Press is a creative charcuterie and sandwich shop with an array of delicious options. You can try dishes like smoked duck with roasted veggies and a smoked sauce, house capicola with fried cheese curds and more.

parliament hill ottawa

Parliament Hill, Ottawa

The afternoon is a good time to visit some of Ottawa’s prized museums. You can explore the Canadian Museum of History, the Canadian Museum of Nature or the National Gallery of Canada to experience the local history and culture. Several specialty museums can be found throughout the city as well, such as the Bank of Canada Currency Museum.

Saturday night in Ottawa is when the city comes alive. Start at Citizen, a Nordic-inspired restaurant with beer, wine, cocktails and dinner options. You can eat a full meal of eclectic foods and enjoy a few cocktails before your next stop.

After dinner, visit La Promenade du Portage for live music options, bars and theatres. There’s always something happening in this area. You could also visit the Kavali Club, a stylish spot with an energetic atmosphere and late-night music entertainment and dancing.

Sunday Morning

On Sunday morning in Ottawa, you’ll have 24 hours left to get in all the sights and attractions you may have missed. Begin with breakfast or brunch at Goodness Gracious Cafe, a family-owned brunch spot with a low-key atmosphere and simple, flavourful foods with local ingredients that will fuel your day.

national gallery of canada

National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

After breakfast, you can visit the Fairmont Château Laurier, a large castle and luxury hotel with spectacular French Gothic architecture with unique touches. You can take a tour of the castle to see features like Tiffany stained-glass windows, a copper roof, marble floors and a stunning atrium.

Sunday Afternoon and Evening

When it’s time for lunch, visit Ola Cocina Taqueria for a touch of Mexican food. This local favourite boasts over a dozen taco options, such as codfish tacos with mango salsa and wasabi crema.

rideau canal ottawa

Rideau Canal, Ottawa

Then, you can work off your meal with stand-up paddleboarding on the Gatineau River. Paddleboarding is one of the most popular activities in the city, and making your way down the river gives you a chance to view the gorgeous parliament buildings along the way. After the trip, you can visit Parliament Hill in person to marvel at the Gothic Revival architecture and the formal gardens. Tours are available throughout the day to learn more about the history of the buildings.

Sunday night in Ottawa is the perfect time for a more relaxed evening before you head home. You can start at North & Navy, an Italian restaurant that uses local Ontario ingredients for a twist on classic Italian cuisine, such as fried smelt with orange and basil. The restaurant also serves drinks and hearty meals.

You could also try Union Local 613, a three-story building with a speakeasy, small bar and restaurant with curated lists of specialty cocktails, beer and wine. The Velvet Room is another unique venue that’s designed in a 1920s speakeasy theme and offers a quieter vibe.

Another popular attraction is the Haunted Walk of Ottawa, which takes you on a tour of the city’s dark past with stories about famed landmarks like the Ottawa Jail Hostel and the Bytown Museum.

Ready for the perfect weekend getaway?

From fascinating museums to exciting nightlife, Ottawa has a little bit of everything for an exciting weekend break. If you’re planning a short trip to Ottawa, check out Ottawa vacations on Expedia to prepare for a once-in-a-lifetime experience!