Experience winter thrills in one of the world’s most exhilarating national capitals. In Ottawa, we embrace our four distinct seasons, and celebrate winter by heading outdoors and taking it all in. Preparation is everything, and that means dressing for outdoor winter activities. Mittens, hats, warm coats and winter boots are all musthaves before you head off to enjoy many activities described in our Winter Chill itinerary.
Day 1 - Winter Wonderland
Enjoy a breath-taking drive up to Gatineau Park and pick up a pair of snowshoes from the Gatineau Park Visitor's Centre. Snowshoe trails are available throughout the park so pick up a trail map and get ready to spend a magical day in a truly serene setting only 20 minutes from Ottawa's bustling downtown core.
Day 2 - Relax...
Soak away your cares at Nordik Spa-Nature, the largest spa of its kind on the continent, with baths, whirlpools and relaxing therapies and treatments both outdoors and in. You can easily spend the entire day here going in and out of the cold and hot pools, saunas and unique experiences such as Källa (the only salt-water floating pool in America) and Banyä (a festive experience inspired by a Russian tradition). Complete your day of relaxation with a meal at one of the dining options on site.
Day 3 - Skates, Syrup and Shots
Start the day in downtown Ottawa on the largest outdoor skating rink in the world, the frozen Rideau Canal Skateway. The Canal is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site on which you can skate, and wind 7.8 kilometres (4.8 mile) through the heart of Ottawa. Don’t have your own skates? Rent some from Capital Skates or Dows Lake Pavilion. Access to the Canal—open January through February, weather permitting—is free.
TIP: Ottawa’s famous annual Winterlude festival is the first three weekends of February, with skating, ice sculptures, a giant snow playground and activities for everyone. Beavertails stands can also be found at the various sites and in the ByWard Market. Warm up with a hot chocolate and this delicious one-of-a-kind pastry.
Head out for lunch and the afternoon at Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush, a fourseason destination just west of Ottawa specializing in group visits and tours and the Spring Maple Syrup Season. Tantalize your senses at the Maple Shop with maple gourmet food products and Maple Luscious Bath & Body Care line handmade onsite. Enjoy a maple meal, guided tour, horse-drawn hayride, music, hike and more.
The National Hockey League Ottawa Senators’ season is underway in winter and they might just be in town when you are. Check out the Sens schedule.
Day 4 - Cross-Country & Downhill
For a day of cross-country skiing, head just north to Gatineau Park. Gatineau Park provides a network of nearly 200 kilometres (124 miles) of cross-country ski trails that are regularly groomed and marked for their level of difficulty. Some offer both skate-skiing and classic crosscountry. There are heated shelters in the park and the trails are patrolled for safety. Daily passes are available at the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre and at the 16 parking lots with direct access to the trails.
TIP: Prefer downhill skiing or snowboarding? Camp Fortune is located within the boundaries of Gatineau Park and offers 23 trails, 7 lifts, 3 separate ski areas and 1 Terrain Park, as well as equipment rentals, instruction, and more.