One of my favourite Canadian cities is Ottawa!
I love that Ottawa has a certain European charm to it, with it’s historic buildings, under the city tunnels, and in places cobblestone streets and courtyards. I love that it boasts a diverse and interesting mix of residence that don’t shy away from a deeper discussion or debate. I love all the culture and theatrics (whether in theatre or parliament) that Ottawa offers at every bend! I love the diversity of cuisine that acts as a salacious temptress to the taste buds in Ottawa! But most of all I love that Ottawa is such an active city, making it easy and utterly desirable to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Best of all, this activity is beckoning you from the outdoors, and for those you that know me well, you know that while I struggle with making it to preplanned exercise classes on time and hate the smell of indoor gyms and swimming pools, I can never get enough of outdoor activities, and as I enjoy them so much, I forget that I’m exercising.
Now while I cannot speak from experience of all four seasons in Ottawa, I know I want to go back to Ottawa and experience them: the Autumn with the beautifully changing leaves that beckons you for long outdoor rambles through the parks and along the Rideau Canal; Winter with its skating along the canal and cross-country skiing through the cities network of trails; the Spring with it’s cycling paths all over the city, not to mentions parks for walking in and yoga on the Hill (yes, Parliament Hill!); and Summer that I envision like Zürich, where everyone heads for the water!
For me, it is the Ottawa Spring that I have been currently ‘roamanced’ by! The Spring with it’s perfect weather … sun shining … warm enough for short sleeves, but not too hot … perfectly balmy!
So what sort of outdoor fitness teases does Ottawa have in store for the active traveller?
Walking is one of my guilty travel pleasures. ‘Guilty’ I guess that I don’t go walkabout more at home. It’s also one of the reasons why I love exploring Europe – it’s great for walking, and so is Ottawa, as I discovered. Below are just a few my steps on my first day in the city!
… and I left Ottawa wanting to do more. I feel like I only got the smallest of teases as to what Ottawa has to offer.
Impromptu Dances With a Character Awaiting Around Every Corner
I’m not sure if it was the beautiful Spring weather or the fact that I was falling in love with Ottawa, but I just couldn’t help myself, Ottawa made me want to dance! And apparently I wasn’t alone …
If this is what happens in Ottawa without any music, I hate to know how infectious the dance urge gets at one of Ottawa’s many festivals!
I am so impressed by how bike friendly Ottawa is – both for locals and travellers. Seems like cycling is one of the best and most beautiful ways to get around the city in the fair weather with all of Ottawa’s excellent network of bike paths. Just get a load of this google map of Ottawa Bike Paths!
It’s also cheap transport and entertainment! We got our bikes from RentABike, which only charges $10/hour, $40/day, or $95/week.
There are no shortage of other bike sharing options in Ottawa either, including Bixi Bikes, RightBike, Cycos, The Bike Dump, and La Maison du Vélo.
Ottawa even has Sunday Bikedays in which on Sunday mornings from late May through Labour Day, Ottawa’s River Parkway, Colonel By Drive, Rockcliffe Parkway and Gatineau Park’s Champlain and Fortune Parkways are all closed to traffic for Alcatel-Lucent Sunday Bikedays. Would love to experience that!
Parks to Explore
Nothing I love more than wandering through the parks in and around the cities I visit, and just get a load of this wiki list of Ottawa parks. There’s absolutely no shortage of green spaces to explore and quiet, reflective spots like the one below to discover!
Yoga on the Hill!
I did a lot of pretty gosh darn cool things during my stay in Ottawa, but Yoga on Parliament Hill was definitely the most memorable!
Such a fun experience, doing yoga with so many others on the lawn of our Canadian Parliament!
If you are heading to Ottawa, you can join a free yoga session on Parliament Hill every Wednesday from noon to 1 pm, weather permitting, from late May to September! And don’t be surprised if it is not just yoga that you will be treated to in the course of that hour …
Waterways to Play On
With so many lakes, canals and rivers in and around Ottawa, there is no shortage of water experiences to be had, from paddling to rafting to sightseeing to sailing to diving on in, once the water is warm enough!
I truly owe Ottawa a huge thank you, as these were my most recent travels prior to my accident in 2013, and got me on an active, exercise addicted path before I was injured. Thanks to this, I was that much more determined to get outdoors and try my best to start moving again. So last summer while this was a tortoises race of slow and steady, thanks to the path that my visit to Ottawa put me on, I kept at it, with short dips in the pool and light walks at first, to by the Autumn getting back on my bike again, and being able to once again feel the wind in my hair.
Thank you Ottawa! I can only imagine that this last year’s battle would have been that much harder had you not had me in shape before, and hungry to get outside and be active!
I look forward to discovering the host of other outdoor active allures that your other seasons hold in store!
I would love to do yoga on Parliament Hill!
I’ve been wanting to start yoga for a while now, but I want to do it in the right setting. This seems like a good setting:)
It is an awesome setting for yoga Sofie, but I don’t know that I’d choose it as my first yoga experience, as there are too many people at yoga on Parliament Hill for any personal assistance from the instructor.
My advice? Take a couple of yoga classes in a small studio at home first, and then take in cool yoga experiences, like this one, while you are travelling.
Thanks for the tip:)
I haven’t started at home yet because every studio offers soooo many different types of yoga and how the heck should I know what I want to do:D
So I figured: if I’d jump in somewhere where they only teach one type, I won’t have to choose, which is always great for me:p
Start with Hatha Yoga Sophie – it is the one focused on gentle stretching, breathing and relaxation. If you want to try harder core yoga after that, then all the power to you, but Hatha is what you want when you are first being introduced to yoga and starting out. It is also my personal favourite form of yoga.
Really? I’m not so much for gentle, relaxing and focusing on breathing. Those things make me nervous.
Which is probably why I should train them:)
Yeah, that is the core to yoga Sofie and what the practice was built around improving in it’s participants.
(plus some pore words or I cannot publish this comment:))
Ha! Curses to the spam filter!
I was in Ottawa last year, and it was really pretty but I was totally stressed out (from working and traveling) when I was there. A yoga session on Parliament Hill probably would’ve done me some good.
Indeed. It was not the most relaxing yoga session I have done, but relaxing none the less, and memorable, given the context.
Ottawa certainly looks like a lovely place…am sure gonna love the outdoor activities there!
That you shall Siddhartha! A great city to be active outdoors in!
I’d LOVE to do yoga on the hill. It looks like such a powerful and motivation event. All those yogis down dogging and embracing the universe together. And the Parliament building looks amazing. I wonder how many politicians get their yoga on in front of Parliament. Namaste!
Well, this particularly day, Justin Trudeau was downward dogging. Expect many parliamentarians need the stress relief.
I hope you can too Ashu! An interesting city, full of culture!
You’ve really done Ottawa justice … it’s a gorgeous city (for all the reasons you’ve mentioned). Can you recommend me any yoga course or video that can help me get into yoga myself? Thanks for sharing!
Thanks Frank! I wouldn’t really term myself a yoga expert. What I can tell you though is that the best way to get started in yoga is to attend a local-to-you drop in class, preferably in Hatha yoga.
Politics and posing, huh? looks so fun. I was only there for a few days, but I could tell that Ottawa is definitely an underrated Canadian city. I was there in winter, so I wasn’t able to get out there and get too active, but it sure looks like there are lots of chances to do so, dully noted.
Well I totally agree with the line that Ottawa has that European charm in it. I am been in Ottawa for two times and really it is the best city of Canada. The best thing to do there is yoga on hills, it refresh us. By the way thank you so much for this post.
Hello there…..Yeah no dought Ottawa is the best city. Well I had only got one chance to visit there and yeah really it is one of the awesome city OD Canada. Moreover thank you so much for this post. Keep posting and keep growing.
yes. ottawa is the best city in the world, no doubt about that.Specially in the summer, you will have most amazing time to spend.
Super cool that yoga is so widespread that you’re doing it in front of the parliament.
Hope you’re having a wonderful day 🙂
My wife and I are going to be in Ottawa this summer. We are so looking forward to it!
Nice content, walking is one of my pleasures as well. I like to take long walks and look as far down the road as I can, I guess it helps me relieves some stress. Very valuable information, I will have to visit Ottawa in the near future.
It’s great to see that Ottawa is such a health conscious place to be. The yoga in front of parliament looks like a real blast. If I ever get the chance to visit, I’ll certainly want to check it out!