The Best Road Trip Itineraries From Ottawa
Canada's capital city is in a great location, between the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Just two hours from Montreal, and a four hour journey from Toronto - there are plenty of towns, parks and unique destinations to explore around the city. Once you've visited the canals and historic buildings of Ottawa, pick up your rental car and take a drive to some of these destinations.
This picturesque section of the St Lawrence River is well-worth a day trip from Ottawa. As the name suggests - visitors will be able to see plenty of small islands in the area. Scattered between Canada and the US, visitors can take a cruise along the river to discover important historic sites. One of the most photogenic sights can be found on the American side of the river at Boldt Castle. There are also a number of interesting museums you can visit in the area to learn more about the region.
Travel Time: 1hr 30mins
Directions: From the Trans-Canada Highway, exit onto the Veterans Memorial Highway. Continue onto the Macdonald Cartier Freeway and follow signs for the Thousand Islands. Keep in mind, if you are planning to cross the Thousand Islands Bridge to the United States, you may need prior-authorisation from the car rental company and you will need to have appropriate documentation.
- Thousand Islands Tower: The best way to take in the view of the scattered islands is from the Thousand Islands Tower, which is on the Canadian side of the river. The observation deck is located 400ft above the St Lawrence River, providing an unparallelled view of the region.
- Boldt Castle & Yacht House: For one of the best photos in the region, visit the impressive Boldt Castle. Located in Alexandria Bay, New York, the castle is one of the most popular attractions in the region. Explore the castle and learn the tragic story of the family who commissioned it to be built.
- Garanoque: The small town of Garanoque is the perfect gateway to the Thousand Islands. Scenic cruises of the St Lawrence River leave from the town, and visitors can catch a show at the Thousand Islands Playhouse.
Just a short drive from Ottawa, Wakefield is the perfect destination for outdoor adventure. Located on the Gatineau River, there are plenty of watersports to try in the town, including kayaking and paddleboarding. The fun doesn't slow down in winter, with snow sports popular at Gatineau Park. A small town with a lot of character, it's a great day trip destination from Ottawa.
Travel Time: 30mins
Directions: Cross from Ottawa into Quebec and join the Autoroute de la Gatineau. Take Exit number 28, following signs for Wakefield.
- Gatineau Park: With more than 50 trails, Gatineau Park is the perfect place to enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and a range of other winter activities. During the summer months many people choose to go camping in the park.
- Lafleche Cave: A short drive from Wakefield, make sure you visit this impressive cave. In the area visitors can also enjoy zip-lining, hiking and climbing through the treetop ropes courses.
- Wakefield Covered Bridge: This historic bridge is well-worth a visit if you're in town. The bridge has a dramatic history. It was re-built after it was burned down in the 80s.
This charming small town is the perfect place for a luxurious getaway. Spend your time relaxing by the river and enjoying everything the region has to offer. Make sure you enjoy a meal in one of the local cafes before you leave, as there is some delicious local cuisine on offer.
Travel Time: 1hr
Directions: Follow Autoroute de l'Outaouais east from Ottawa. Take Exit 210 to reach Montebello.
- Omega Park: One of the best ways to get up close to native Canadian wildlife is at the popular Parc Omega. Drive through the safari park and spot animals such as bison, caribou, wolves, bears, elk, coyotes and more.
- Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello: If you're looking for a luxurious stay in Montebello, look no further than the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello. The beautiful hotel has its own golf course and world-class restaurant. It's the perfect place to relax and unwind.
Located just two hours from Ottawa, you'll have a difficult time trying to see all the sights of Montreal in just one day. Montreal is Quebec's largest city, and one of Canada's cultural capitals. From the city's European-infused Old Town to the beautifully-designed parks and modern art galleries, Montreal is a city that celebrates both the past and the future.
Travel Time: 2hrs
Directions: From Ottawa, join the Trans-Canada Highway heading east. For central Montreal, take the exit onto Autoroute Decarie and follow Atwater Avenue into the city.
- Old Montreal: You'll feel like you are in the cobblestone streets of an old European city when you walk through Old Montreal. Make sure you stop by the beautiful Notre Dame Basilica, and visit some of the local museums and galleries.
- Mont Royal: For the best view of Montreal, climb to the top of Mont Royal. While you're in the area, make sure you enjoy a stroll through the beautiful surrounding parkland.
- Square Saint-Louis: For a taste of Montreal's unique architecture, visit this square just north of the city centre.