Calgary is a relaxed, friendly destination that has a cosmopolitan, welcoming vibe, high-quality shopping opportunities, great food, and plenty of family attractions. It's not surprising that it's such an easy city to fall in love with.
This is a city that shines in summer and winter. When temperatures drop, Calgary becomes one of North America's most popular skiing destinations. You can stay in the city and enjoy everything it has to offer, and be within a short drive of Rocky Mountain resorts like Castle Mountain.
When summer comes, Calgary could hardly be a more enjoyable place to spend time. Parks like Prince's Island are idyllic picnic spots. X Fest and the Calgary Folk Music Festival entertain locals and visitors alike, while 17th Street bursts into life, with its diverse range of stores, cafes, and galleries.
Whenever you visit, Calgary has something to offer, from NHL ice hockey to alpine escapes. Book your tickets today and explore "stampede city". You won't leave disappointed.
Calgary hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics, and it's one of North America's premier skiing cities. You can still visit the Olympic Park and try out four of its slopes (excluding the ski jump), but for the best alpine experiences, head to nearby resorts like Kicking Horse or Castle Mountain.
Calgarians love food, whether it's grass-fed beef from the Alberta range, gourmet sushi, vegetarian feasts, or perfectly cooked traditional pizzas. The best times to savor the city's cuisine are during Taste of Calgary, which takes place in mid-August, or the Calgary Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival, which takes place in May.
Although it's a modern business center, Calgary still feels a little like a Wild West outpost, which is how it started. Visitors can head to the Calgary Stampede, which features a thrilling rodeo event and live music in the evenings. You can also head to Heritage Park Historical Village to see authentic 19th-century homes and costumes as well as antique automobiles.
Calgary is a wonderful place to shop. In places like Inglewood and all along 17th Street, you'll find an array of independent stores showcasing the design skills and creativity of Alberta's artisans. From the women's ball gowns at Ette to the jewelry at Rubaiyat, there's plenty on offer for everyone to enjoy.
Calgary is a great destination for hockey fans. You can book tickets at the Scotiabank Saddledome, and sit back as the Calgary Flames do battle in the NHL, watch seven-time champions the Calgary Stampeders in the CFL, or even catch a lacrosse match featuring the Calgary Roughnecks.
Shooting upwards to a height of 191 meters, the Calgary Tower remains the iconic symbol of Calgary's skyline. Opened in 1968 as part of Canada’s centennial celebrations, the tower draws in half a million visitors per year. At the top, a rotating restaurant and an observation deck offer 360-degree panoramic views of the city.
The Calgary Zoo is a modern phenomenon. Not only is it Canada’s most visited zoo, housing upwards of a thousand animals, but it is also rated by Nature Magazine as one of the top five zoos engaged in conservation research. Highlights include the Destination Africa project which spotlights hippos and giraffes, as well as the Canadian Wilds exhibit, home to mountain goats, grizzlies, musk oxen and cougars.
Sixty-odd miles (110 km) due west of Calgary is Banff National Park, a vast marvel of mountains, glaciers and forests. This nesting ground for all nature lovers, bikers, skiers, scramblers and hikers, the park is home to countless recreational activities at world renowned ski resorts and popular lakes.
Heritage Park Historical Village, located on the southern edge of Calgary, is Canada’s largest living museum. Visitors can tuck into some old-timey grub and let themselves be transported back to the nineteenth century fur trade, or ride in a fully restored steam locomotive while watching horse-drawn carriages and antique automobiles drive by. The entire park’s staff is fully-clad in historical garb and committed to giving each visitor an authentic Old West experience.
If you’ve ever ridden a horse, or even seen a saddle, you’ll know where Calgary’s iconic Saddledome gets its design and draws its name. Home to the National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames, the Saddledome is also a venue for the Calgary Stampede rodeo festival. If you visit Calgary in July, grab tickets for the Stampede and discover the venue in full swing.
When you visit really depends on whether you intend to ski. The slopes are at their best between November and March, but not all of the city center businesses will be open owing to the cold. To enjoy the city itself, head to Calgary in April or May when hotel rates will be low and crowds relatively thin on the ground. Summer is also an excellent time to visit, but book ahead to get the best accommodation rates.
The best way to reach Calgary is via Calgary International Airport (YYC), which is 11 miles northeast of the city center, and has connections to American cities like Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, and Phoenix. From there, you can catch the number 300 bus into town, which costs C$9 or take a taxi, which costs around C$40.
Driving to Calgary from US cities is another good option (although it can be time consuming). The best route is to take Interstate 15 to the Canadian border, then switch to Alberta Highway 4, before changing to Highway 3 at Lethbridge and finally to Highway 2, which takes you straight into Calgary.
Calgary is easy to reach by bus. Greyhound Canada has a stop at 877 Greyhound Way SW, just to the west of the center of town, and their Canadian network connects up with services from the USA.
Most of the best hotels in Calgary are situated in the Downtown area and Inglewood, where good options include the Marriott Downtown, Le Germain Hotel, and the Fairmont Palliser. Just over the river, the Kensington Riverside Inn is a luxury hotel housed in a converted mansion that features a gourmet restaurant. Further down the price scale, there's a comfortable HI Hostel in the city center, while the Acclaim Hotel is a good choice if you want to stay close to the airport.
Downtown and Inglewood - Calgary's city center is dominated by high-rise skyscrapers, but at ground level it's charming. Just to the south of the high-rises you'll find Inglewood, the oldest neighborhood in town. It's an eclectic, relaxed area that hosts arts festivals, Calgary Zoo, and many of the city's best pizza and gourmet restaurants.
Forest Lawn - Forest Lawn is one of the most culturally diverse areas in Calgary, which makes it the number one dining destination in town. You'll find great Vietnamese, Mexican, and Lebanese eateries here, and lively bars like Border Crossing and Big Al's Bar and Grill.
The Beltline - the Beltline is Calgary's most dynamic neighborhood, and it's the place locals go to unwind, drink, and celebrate. It contains 17th Avenue, one of the city's best shopping streets, along with excellent restaurants like Cilantro, National, and the Coup - one of Calgary's best vegetarian eateries.
Calgary has a reliable and efficient public transportation system. The centerpiece is the CTrain, a light rail network that serves the city center and many outlying suburbs. Riding in the center is also free, which is a handy bonus for tourists, but if you do need to buy a ticket, it will cost you C$3.15 for buses and light rail routes.
Taxis are a useful way to get around town, particularly in the evening. The city operates a flexible fare system, which fluctuates depending on customer demand, so check the estimated cost before you travel. In general, a short (three mile) taxi ride will cost around C$12.
Calgary has a normal grid system, with streets running north to south and avenues running east to west. The heart of the city is the intersection of Center Street and Center Avenue, and the four quadrants around that point are labeled NE, NW, SE, and SW. Once you've mastered that system, getting around is easy. There are plenty of car rental companies in town, including Avis, Budget, and Alamo, and prices can dip as low as C$14 per day.
Calgary is an excellent place to shop, but there are two major retail neighborhoods. Inglewood is the first, where you'll find independent stores like Adorn Boutique, Gummi Boutique (which specializes in kids clothing), and craft stores like Galleria. The other major shopping area is 17th Street, which features unique businesses like Indo Designer Rugs and Blue Ivy Decor, a hip home interior retailer.
If you are self-catering or need picnic food, you can find what you need at supermarkets like Sunterra, Market 17, and One Way Foods, or Crossroads Market. If you don't fancy shopping for yourself, Kolmol also offers a grocery delivery service to hotel rooms and apartments. Food shouldn't be too expensive, with 12 eggs costing about C$3.40 and a pound of apples around C$1.80.
Beef is Calgary's premier cuisine and restaurants like the Vintage Chophouse, Modern Steak, and the Cattle Baron Alberta Steakhouse can prepare a locally reared steak however you like it. For gourmet French food check out La Chaumiere, Japanese Village serves succulent wagyu beef, and the Coup specializes solely in serving satisfying vegetarian dishes. Expect to pay C$18 for a mid-range meal.