After enjoying the beautiful beaches of Sandbanks, here we are in Gatineau for 2 days. Despite several stays in Ottawa, we never took the time to visit Gatineau. Renowned for its vast network of recreational trails, its museum and its good restaurants, here we are ready to discover it. 2 days in Gatineau, let’s go.
First, zoom on the fourth city of Quebec
The fourth largest city in Quebec, Gatineau faces Ottawa. Located in Quebec, it is separated from the province of Ontario by the Ottawa River. 5 bridges connect it to Ottawa. Renowned for its Canadian Museum of History, it is also a dynamic city with a very large network of recreational trails and many sporting activities. Without forgetting, a multitude of festivities throughout the year: balloon festival (on Labor Day), comedy festival (early September), the big bonfires of the Lac Leamy casino (August) or even Riverside, the electro music festival (September).
2 days in Gatineau: our travel diary
Day 1: cultural trail and nautical activities
Cultural morning on the Island of Hull
To discover downtown Gatineau (Hull Island), we follow the Cultural Trail. A signposted public art route that links works of urban art, points of interest, exhibition and entertainment venues. A fun walk in the heart of downtown Gatineau to the rhythm of art. Complete itinerary of the Gatineau Cultural Trail: here. The Cultural Trail begins at the Tourisme Outaouais tourist office (in front of the Canadian Museum of History) and ends at the edge of the Ruisseau de la Brasserie (in front of the Brasserie Les Brasseurs du Temps). A 3 km route with 27 works of public art, 13 tourist attractions and around thirty poetic extracts.
We fell in love with the very colorful works of the Parc du Portage and the bizarre and wonderful Hull photos. This route also took us to Old Hull (pedestrian area between Rue Aubry, Kent and Laval). A very nice corner with restaurants, cafes and bars. Very lively in the evening but much less on Tuesday at 11 am. At the end of Rue Laval, is Place Wasa Zibi which seems destined to be a very lively place in Gatineau (under construction during our visit). This is where Interzip is located, the world’s first interprovincial zipline.
The must-see Canadian Museum of History
Finally during the course, we did not stop to visit the Canadian Museum of History because we had already visited it during our first stay in Ottawa in winter. But I strongly advise you to take the time to visit it because it is an incredible and very interesting museum. To date, this is our favorite museum in Canada. From the architecture of the museum, to the exhibits and the view it offers over Ottawa, everything is to be seen in this museum. However, we do not resist walking around the outside of the museum to approach the Ottawa River and contemplate the main buildings in Ottawa: Parliament Hill, the Chateau Laurier or the Alexandra Bridge.
Nautical afternoon in Gatineau
We are now leaving the city center, direction Lac-Leamy. A beautiful lake offering a multitude of water activities. In addition to its supervised beach (paid parking for 30 minutes / $ 2), it is possible to rent canoes, kayaks, cross-country skis and snowshoes. To do this, you have to go to Lac-Leamy Outdoor Center (free parking), in front of the beach. Each rental costs $ 17.50 (free with the Accès Gatineau + card) and lasts 1 hour. To discover Lac-Leamy, we let ourselves be tempted by paddle boarding (stand up paddle). A great first for us. In 1 hour, we had time to reach the Lac de la Carrière where the imposing fountain of the Casino du Lac-Leamy proudly sits. Lac de la Carrière is bordered in particular by the Casino du Lac-Leamy and the imposing Hilton Lac Leamy hotel. Then we took the time to walk, still on our paddle boards, on Lac-Leamy.
After paddling well, we take advantage of the lake beach to swim. It is also possible to go around Lac-Leamy (bike path and pedestrian path 1). Also note that bike path 1 connects Lac-Leamy beach to Gatineau Park.
Bright evening with the DEBOUT course!
Before going to eat, we stop at the Leduc Parking lot. We go up to the 4th floor and there we discover the very colorful Island terrace. A large terrace on the top floor of a parking lot in the heart of Gatineau! A creative, colorful and fun place with several thematic boxes where you can settle down to work or just chill. All 100% free and with a beautiful view of Gatineau.
At nightfall, we will see the illuminations of the STAND UP course! in Portage Park. It is a small spectacle of large inflated luminous spheres that house shadow theater. The course is inspired by the fight of the matches, more than 100 years ago and all those who, since, have stood STANDING! Finally, a photo booth allows participants to participate in the show by displaying their photos live on one of the luminous spheres.
Day 2: discovery of Gatineau Park
To end these 2 days in Gatineau, head to Gatineau Park. This Canadian federal park is the green lung of the Outaouais. On the program: trail running, hiking, swimming, lakes, lookouts and of course good ice cream.
Trail and beach to start
We begin our discovery of Gatineau Park, by the Sentier des Loups (Wolf Trail). An 8.5km loop on a steep forest path leading to the Tawadina, Mahingan and McCaw lookouts. Lookouts offering breathtaking views of the Outaouais region. Intermediate level, the Wolf Trail has a lot of roots and sometimes slippery rocks. It is in trail (running) that I followed this beautiful path offering clear points of view. The starting and ending point of this trail is right in front of Blanchet Beach (Meech Lake). Perfect for cooling off after a good sweat on the climbs of the Sentier des Loups. Even if it is tiny, Blanchet Beach is very pleasant and especially less crowded than O’Brien Beach.
After having a picnic on Blanchet beach, we leave the park time to eat an excellent ice cream at The cicada. Located in Chelsea, a little before the Gatineau Park Visitors Center, La Cigale offers delicious homemade ice cream with original flavors such as Mojito, Guinness Chocolate, Cookie Dough or Lemon-Blackcurrant Cheesecake. The flavors change regularly throughout the season. In any case, if you need to feed yourself, it is clearly in Chelsea that you will find your happiness. In this village, there are many more restaurants and cafes than houses.
Pink Lake and lookouts to finish
It is by the famous Pink Lake, that we start our afternoon in the park. This lake, which does not take its name from its color but from the name of the family who discovered it in 1826, is one of the must-see places in Gatineau Park. A 2.3 km path allows you to go around the lake and many lookouts allow you to observe it. Sometimes at height, sometimes at water level. Its water changes color according to the season: in summer, it is green and in spring, blue. But what makes this lake exceptional are its special characteristics. This is a meromictic lake, which means the bottom and top waters never mix. The waters of Pink Lake do not mix, because it is a small lake that is shaped like a bowl and is surrounded by steep cliffs that protect it from the wind. The last seven meters of the lake are also deprived of oxygen.
We then gain height with the Huron, Étienne-Brûlé and especially Champlain lookouts. The Champlain belvedere, at the top of the Eardley escarpment, offers an unobstructed and panoramic view of the Outaouais region. A 1.1 km loop leading to the top of the Eardley escarpment is accessible from the Champlain lookout. In good weather, from the Huron lookout, it is possible to see Ottawa. Finally, the Étienne-Brûlé lookout offers a magnificent view of the Ottawa River.
We would have liked to continue to discover Gatineau Park (the Carbide Willson ruins, Mont King) but unfortunately it is already time to return to Montreal.
Find more information on Gatineau Park in our article: 1 day in Gatineau Park.
Where to sleep in Gatineau?
It was in an Airbnb in the heart of downtown Gatineau that we stayed during this stay. Unfortunately, we cannot recommend it to you because it did not appeal to us at all.
- Motel Adam : With its Queen bed rooms accessible at a very affordable price ($ 125 per night with breakfast), some with a kitchen, this small, unpretentious motel also offers a nice swimming pool to cool off after a day of sightseeing.
- Les Suites Victoria, Ascend Hotel Collection : Located in the heart of the historic Hull district of Gatineau, this modern, elegant and comfortable hotel offers large double suites starting at $ 195 with free cancellation.
- Hilton Lac-Leamy : a true emblem on the shores of Lake Leamy, this luxury hotel will offer you a breathtaking view of the lake and the surrounding area. Don’t miss its beautiful lake view rooms starting at $ 320 per night with free cancellation.
In conclusion, my opinion on our 2 days in Gatineau
I am pleasantly surprised by this stay of 2 in Gatineau because casually there is something to do. It can be seen that the city is making efforts to attract tourists with, in particular, the Cultural Trail, the very modern and colorful Terrasse Îlot and the Grands Feux of the Casino Lac-Leamy. With its many cycle paths, it is very pleasant to cycle or run in Gatineau. Finally, it is quite possible during a stay in Ottawa to come and spend a few hours in Gatineau.
And you, what did you do in Gatineau? Did you prefer to visit Gatineau or Ottawa?