A two-hour drive along Autoroute 40 and then the King’s Highway 417 will bring you to Canada’s capital city; Ottawa.
Like Montreal; on entering Ottawa you will be struck by the urban backdrop of high-rise skyscrapers, but underneath Ottawa’s modern exterior lies a striking downtown with 19th century buildings, Gothic spires, gorgeous canals, the Ottawa River and a picture perfect background set by the wondrous Gatineau Hills.
Activities are also aplenty in Ottawa, with many of the sights within a walkable radius of its centre. Boat tours are a common pastime in the city, with a variety of companies offering services from Ottawa’s Conference Centre, which takes in the Ottawa River and Ottawa Locks. Also, it is possible to cruise the Rideau Canal and venture out as far as Gatineau Docks an hour away. One particular favourite is the ‘Amphi-Bus’, which takes in a number of the city’s historical points on land, before embarking on a river cruise.
Go to the heart of Canadian political life at Parliament Hill and go on a guided tour of Parliament itself from one of the many guided tours available from the info-tent outside, or simply enjoy the site of the impressive governmental buildings, characterised by the Peace Tower. Split into three large structures, Parliament is inclusive of the House of Commons and the Senate. Nearby you will also pass the Centennial Flame, lit in 1966 to mark the inaugural session of the first Parliament of the new Dominion of Canada in 1867.
If you happen to be in Ottawa from June to August, you may be able to catch the Changing of the Guard, held on Parliament Hill lawn. Also in the summer months, Ottawa holds a dazzling sound and light show - two evening performances taking place against the backdrop of Parliament.
Ottawa is also resident to a number of terrific museums and visitor centres, celebrating both local and national heritage. The Canada Agriculture Museum is one of the most notable and encompasses over 1000 acres of land, despite being located in urban Ottawa. However, the museum boasts livestock barns, a celebrated ornamental flower garden and more than 2,000 varieties of trees and shrubs.
The Canadian Aviation Museum also makes for a terrific visit and even allows for visitors to enter mock-up aircraft cockpits as well as look at static displays of both civilian and military planes dating back before the First World War to modern day jets. For aviation buffs, the museum houses components of the rarely seen Avro Arrow interceptor from the 1950s.
Only two miles from Parliament lies Gatineau Park, a mammoth 88,000 acres of woodland and lakes, home to black bears, otters, marten, raccoons, white-tailed dear, beavers and over 100 species of birds, not to mention the rarely sighted Lynx and wolverines. Facilities to visitors include almost 100 miles of hiking trails and manned swimming beaches and boating lakes.