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How to Make the Most of a Weekend in Ottawa

How to Make the Most of a Weekend in Ottawa


by: Brian Clarke

Are you planning a trip to Ottawa? Or maybe you’re a local with a weekend off and looking to have a fun stress-free weekend? Like any city, if you try to see and do everything Ottawa can offer in one weekend, you’ll stress yourself out even more. Here are some tips so you can try to make the most out of a weekend in Ottawa:

1. Know what you’re here for

Some people enjoy going for a weekend getaway with no plan in mind. If this is you, then this tip doesn’t really apply. Nevertheless, knowing why you’re spending a weekend out on the town will help you make the most of your weekend. Ottawa offers activities for a wide range of people. If you’re here to enjoy the outdoors, you can plan your weekend around the area’s many beaches, hiking trails or water parks. If you like to shop, the Rideau Center and nearby Byward Market can certainly keep you busy for two days. If you like the nightlife, the Market and Elgin Street will be the center of your plans. You get the point.

2. Pick the right hotel

Or more specifically, the right area for your hotel if you are staying in one. Conventional wisdom says get a hotel downtown. If you do mind a good amount of walking or paying the extra bucks or two, this isn’t a bad idea. But you can also look for a hotel along Ottawa’s transit system. For instance, there a few hotels in the St. Laurent area that are a short bus ride away and will save you a ton of money.

3. Learn the main bus routes

Even to those of us who have lived in Ottawa our whole lives, this city’s transit system can be confusing. You don’t need to memorize the whole system, but if your spending a weekend in Ottawa, knowing the Transitway and the major routes (numbers 94 through 99) will make getting around much more efficient and inexpensive.

4. Check out our weekly event calendar

This isn’t some sort of shameless self-promotion, but rather a reminder that Ottawa, like most major cities, always has some sort of event or festival going on. Knowing what is happening and where can go a long way to helping you decide what to do on a given weekend. Some other good sources for this information are Ottawa Kiosk and Ottawa Festivals.

5. Have fun!

Ottawa has a ton to offer so if you bring a fun attitude, you will certainly enjoy your weekend in town. If you want some examples of how not to act, you can check out my previous article on How to Not to Have Fun in Ottawa, as well as Adam’s article This is Ottawa, not New York. In short, if you’re pessimistic and think ‘this place sucks, it isn’t like other fun cities like New York’, you will have a bad weekend. Instead, embrace how Ottawa is unique and fun in its own way and you will make the most out of your weekend in Ottawa.

What are some of your favorite things to do in Ottawa, or things you’d like to see if you have/are going to be having a weekend out on the town?