Most people agree that a romantic weekend getaway sounds infinitely better than a romantic take-out dinner.
The promise of a small vacation for two is a great idea for Valentine’s Day.
The downside is that trips are generally expensive and it is downright impossible for a student to spend a huge chunk of cash on hotels and restaurants.
Fear not. The impossible is possible in Canada’s capital city. Ottawa is filled with free activities, cheap lodging and affordable food. Students can spend less than $150 a day for a romantic Valentine’s Day adventure.
Transportation is simple. A Greyhound bus destined for Ottawa leaves every hour between 5:30 a.m. and midnight at the Montreal Berri-UQAM bus terminal. Round-trip fare between Montreal and Ottawa is only $47 for students. No advanced booking is required.
For cheap transportation within Ottawa, use the public transportation system.
Accommodation is often the most expensive part of a trip.
Many hotel room prices start at around $89 per night.
Ottawa’s hostels are an alternative to costly bed & breakfast and hotels. Both the Ottawa Backpackers Inn and the HI-Ottawa Jail Hostel offer clean, cheap rooms in the heart of downtown.
The hostels are within walking distance of a major bus terminal, a shopping mall, the Rideau Canal, Parliament buildings, the ByWard Market, the National Gallery and many pubs and bars.
Food can be quite expensive. Fortunately, the hostels have kitchens. There are plenty of fresh meat and produce stores in the ByWard market.
Try buying groceries from Lapointe Fish or Bottega Nicastro. Also try out the several bakeries in the area for romantic dinners.
If cooking is not your forte, the HI-Ottawa Jail Hostel serves a $4 breakfasts every morning. There are also many student-friendly restaurants in the ByWard market area because of its proximity to the University of Ottawa.
If you are willing to splurge on a fancy meal, some of the classiest restaurants in the city are located downtown such as E18Teen, Empire Grill, and Kinki.
The Ottawa Backpackers Inn is a three-storey house, filled with plush couches and pictures. Souvenirs are displayed wherever there is space.
The guests come from all over the world. You are almost guaranteed to meet interesting people.
There is a small kitchen and a BBQ that guests can use. Dormitory rooms containing four to eight beds are available for $22 a night. However, if you are looking for your own space, semi-private rooms are also available for $44 per night.
Activities don’t have to cost a fortune. There are plenty of cheap things to do in Ottawa to keep you and your hearts’ desire entertained.
The National Gallery of Canada has an extensive permanent collection of Canadian and Aboriginal art, European, American and Inuit art, contemporary pieces and more.
A trip to the gallery could present an opportune time to impress your Valentine with your superior knowledge of The Group of Seven and Alex Colville. Prices range from $3 – $5 per student.
Winterlude, a winter entertainment festival in Ottawa, runs from Feb. 2 to the 18, just in time for Valentine’s Day. The majority of the activities are free. Why not take a moon-lit stroll through Confederation Park to see the ice sculptures.
Skating on the Rideau Canal is another amorous Winterlude activity also free of charge.
Try sharing a Beaver Tail dessert or some hot chocolate with your Valentine. Remember to pack warm mittens and hats for the occasion.
The National Arts Center is a cultural hot-spot. Any full-time student can show their student identification card and purchase up to two tickets at only $10 each for theatre, dance or musical performances.
Shopping is a fun part of any trip. The ByWard Market is located a stone’s throw away from both hostels and is filled with boutiques, spas, outdoor vendors and great food.
Some shops worth checking out are The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and Oh So Good Desserts Caf