Toronto, Vancouver are probably the first names that people will think of when it comes to Canada tourism. However, this country is extremely large and there are many other attractive destinations and cities with countless interesting things for us to explore. One of them is Calgary – which was once voted as the most livable city in North America. And in this article, we will share with you everything about Calgary to help you make a perfect trip to this beautiful city. So, is Calgary worth visiting, what to do in Calgary and how to plan a perfect budget trip to Calgary for the first-time? Let’s check out our Calgary travel blog (Calgary blog) with the fullest Calgary travel guide (Calgary city guide, guide to Calgary, Calgary guide, Calgary tourist guide) from how to get there, best time to come, where to stay, best places to visit, what to eat and top things to do in Calgary to find out the answer!
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With a vibrant, modern life, rich tradition and a desirable green living space, Calgary is planned to be a modern city, with a developed transportation system and bustling streets. Coming to Calgary, visitors not only discover the beautiful natural landscape but also experience a dynamic city no less than the leading cities of the United States.
Calgary travel blog: Overview of Calgary
Calgary is the largest city in in the southern provincial state of Alberta, located near the Rocky Mountains. It has many skyscrapers that thrive on one resource: Oil. Calgary is the “oil center” of Canada. Due to the fast and strong development, it makes Calgary more American and more vibrant than many other Canadian cities. Visiting the tourist sites, attractions of Calgary is easy because the city is well planned, with an excellent public transport system.
Calgary is about 300km from Edmonton and 240km from the border with the United States. With an area of 825 square kilometers, a population of more than 1.6 million people, Calgary is currently Canada’s third largest city. Despite being a rich, bustling and developed industrial city, Calgary topped the list of the greenest cities in the world (according to Forbes magazine in 2007), this also explains why people call this “green industrial city”.
Calgary has an average elevation of about 1,045 meters above sea level. The main terrain here is mountainous and majestic plateau. Not only that, this city is also considered the “oil field” of Canada. Therefore, Calgary has an extremely developed economy, people’s living standards are very high. In recent years, the city government has also made strong investments in tourism sector, making it one of Canada’s top destinations.
The Economist Intelligence Unit has ranked Calgary as the most livable city in North America in both 2018 and 2019. Calgary has been a top contender for the title for the past 10 years. Calgary was also ranked as the best city in the world for motorists in 2019.
Calgary blog: When to visit?
Calgary is influenced by a humid continental climate with warm summers and cold dry winters, but compared to many other Canadian cities, it has a much milder and more pleasant climate.
The best time to come here is from June to August every year, this is the time when Calgary has a pleasant cool air and takes place many festivals and special events of the city. In addition, if visitors want to experience winter activities such as skiing, they can also choose to travel to Calgary during the period from November to March.
Calgary guide: How to get to Calgary?
Calgary International Airport is located about 17km northeast of downtown Calgary. To getting to the city center, you can choose a taxi or shuttle service for about 40 USD. A more economical solution is to go by bus (costs about 10 USD) depends on routes.
Calgary travel guide: Getting around Calgary
You can choose the means of transportation in the city easily and economically thanks to the advanced transportation system here. Calgary, like many cities in Canada, has a good public transport system. The system has a light rail system (C-Train), regular and low-rise buses and community buses. Transit bus routes run through most of Calgary’s major roads.
Calgary travel blog: Where to go, what to do in Calgary and top things to do in Calgary
Address: 101 9 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2P 1J9, Canada
Hours: 12–9PM/Saturday, Sunday: 10AM–9PM
As soon as you arrive in Calgary, you will definitely be impressed with a soaring tower in the center of the city with a red observatory, which is the Calgary Tower – the tourist symbol of this city.
Not only is a famous tourist spot, the Calgary Tower is also considered a symbol of the city. It was built in 1967, with a height of up to 197 meters. This is currently the second tallest tower in Canada (after CN Tower in Toronto with a height of 553 meters).
On the top of the tower there is an observatory surrounded by a layer of transparent glass. This is a great place for you to see the beautiful city of Calgary from above or admire the majestic scenery of the Rockies located not far away.
In the city of Calgary, there is an interesting neighborhood that anyone who comes here wants to explore is Chinatown. Here, you will have the opportunity to get lost in a Chinese world right in Canada. Not only that, this place is also considered as a culinary paradise with countless attractive street foods of China as well as many other Asian countries that you can enjoy such as the most Chinese signature dish Dimsum.
Bow River and Peace Bridge
Flowing through the heart of the city of Calgary is the beautiful and poetic Bow River. The river water is clear and green with undulating white cliffs. Please go up to the Peace Bridge with green trees to check in with beautiful photos. In winter, the Bow River freezes over and is a favorite place for people to enjoy skating here.
The Peace Bridge spanning the romantic Bow River is a place that anyone visiting Calgary wants to have a check-in. The river water below is clear and green, combined with the red color of the bridge to create a charming scene.
Address: 210 St. George’s Drive NE, Calgary, AB T2E 7V6, Canada
Another place you should not miss is the Calgary Zoo. There are currently about 1,400 animals, from 272 different species living here. Among them are rare and endangered species. The zoo has a Prehistoric Park area, with life-size dinosaur models in ancient natural formations.
You may not know, in 1988, the Winter Olympics were successfully held in Calgary and this place became the first Canadian city to hold the position of the host of this major worldwide sports festival.
At that same time, Calgary built a high-speed skating rink on the campus of the University of Calgary, becoming one of the largest indoor skating rinks in the world. If you come here in winter, don’t forget to visit this famous ice rink to experience fascinating winter sports!
Address: 130 9 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0P3, Canada
A history and art museum in the city, which focuses on the history of unknown peoples in North America. The museum’s good location and many permanent art collections make it a must-visit in Calgary. In 2021, the museum was undergoing major renovations with plans to expand the existing and subsequent artworks to open to the public for a period of three years.
If you don’t like the outdoor recreational activities, check out the art galleries on Stephen Avenue and the Glenbow Museum downtown.
Address: CORE Shopping Centre, 333 7 Ave SW 4th floor, Calgary, AB T2P 1B5, Canada
Hours: 11AM–5PM/Sunday: 12–5PM
As an indoor botanical garden in the heart of the city, this unique green space features hundreds of different plants and trees. Like an urban oasis in the heart of the city, the indoor park is located inside one of the floors of the shopping mall. It is one of the great and perhaps only largest indoor places in the world to see tropical gardens in a visit to Downtown Calgary’s cultural sites.
Address: 8900 48 Ave NW, Calgary, AB T3B 2B2, Canada
Located on the banks of the Bow River in the Bowness neighborhood of Calgary, the park is especially known for its lagoons, skating rinks, picnic spots, and overall serene setting. This green space is one of the city’s favorite spots for boating and riverside picnics and one of the city’s best all-season locations.
The Calgary Stampede is the city’s most popular festival. During the 10 days of the festival, horse riding competitions, music and agricultural product displays attract millions of visitors. This is an opportunity for visitors to join the cheering crowd to watch the horse-drawn carriage performances, or hold their breath to watch the adventurous bull-riding competition.
Calgary is an extremely ideal destination for an overseas trip in your summer, because in the summer there is a very special rodeo Stampede (this is considered the largest event in the world). You have been fascinated by the wild beauty of the cowboys of the West through the movies, rest assured that you will see many such “manly men” in this event.
Fish Creek Provincial Park
Fish Creek Park is the perfect spot for those looking for a taste slice of nature in the American skies where there are walking trails that lead through forested areas; and along streams. There are also several heritage buildings in the park.
The Hangar Flight Museum
Address: 4629 McCall Way NE, Calgary, AB T2E 8A5, Canada
Also known as the Aero Space Museum of Calgary focuses on Canadian and Western Canadian aviation history, about Canadian pilots who fought in World War II.
In the museum there are series of exhibits a variety of aircrafts, simulators, aeronautical art prints, radio equipment, and information on aviation history. The museum is housed in a large building near the Calgary airport.
Address: 1900 Heritage Dr SW, Calgary, AB T2V 2X3, Canada
On 127 acres next to Glenmore Reservoir Calgary, visitors will be able to visit the typical cultural models here. Friendly atmosphere and information, interesting images and landscapes at Heritage Park will bring attraction not only for adults but also for children.
Royal Tyrrell Museum
Address: 1500 N Dinosaur Trail, Drumheller, AB T0J 0Y0, Canada
An in Drumheller Valley, about 135km from Calgary, visitors can view fossils of these dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum.
At night, go to the Jubilee Theatre, enjoy a Broadway musical, opera or ballet. Or cross the Bow River, to 17th Southeast Avenue, or International Food Avenue, to enjoy the multicultural cuisine, from Ethiopia, Portugal, Vietnam, India Philippines, Hong Kong to many other regions. This is a must-visit destination for foodies.
In addition, Calgary is also close to the Banff, Canmore and Kananaskis ski resorts. The city is also not far from the Alberta Badlands, a natural landscape with magical rock formations, paleontological sites and ghost towns.
Coming to Calgary you should not miss the opportunity to go to the Rocky Mountain road, this is one of the most beautiful and famous roads of the Rocky Mountains which starting from the town of Jasper to the town of Banff located about an hour and a half east of Calgary.
These two towns are famous for being beautiful because they have many wooden houses as well as flowers everywhere on the streets or cities crowded with tourists and towering rocky mountains.
On both sides of the road are majestic rocky mountains, waterfalls rivers and streams or snow fields as well as lakes and ponds. This is sure to be one of Banff’s popular winter destinations to be reached. Other highlights on this part of the mountain (at the top 3,600 meters) include Lake Louise, Kicking Horse and Rogers Pass.
Banff National Park
Located in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, Banff National Park has endless mountain terrain, wildlife, numerous glacial lakes, dense forests, and everything that defines Canada’s richest natural scenery. The park is known as Canada’s oldest national park, featuring many of the country’s famous lakes, including the famous Moraine Lake and Lake Louise.
Banff National Park also has Canada’s most iconic hot spring, known as Banff Upper Hot Springs or Canadian Rockies Hot Springs. The hot springs pools are one of the park’s commercial developments with spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains. Banff Upper Hot Springs is one of the park’s beautiful UNESCO Heritage Sites.
Calgary travel blog: Shopping in Calgary
Calgary is a great place to shop. Visitors will find an array of fashion boutiques in Inglewood and 17th Street by Alberta artisans, from Ette evening wear and Rubaiyat jewelry.
West Edmonton Mall with 350,233 m2, is one of the largest shopping places in the world, 3 hours north of Calgary by car. In addition to 800 booths and diverse services, the center also has the world’s largest indoor theme park and an ice palace. In addition, West Edmonton Mall also has an 18-hole miniature golf course, a cinema and a bowling alley.
Calgary travel guide: What to eat?
The people of Calgary are very gourmet, the dishes in the city are often delicately prepared, perfect like French florentines, Cheezy Waffle Sandwich, Salmon Lox Sandwich, Big Kahuna, Spolumbo Bun, etc.
The wild cowboy feel of the city of Calgary in Canada is reflected in steaks you’ll find in its cuisine. Calgary citizens are mostly immigrants, so don’t be surprised when you find Japanese cuisine, Thai, Greek, Indian, Korean, German, Spanish or Middle Eastern in the city.
Calgary blog: Where to stay?
Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- Hyatt Regency Calgary (Agoda, Booking)
- Grey Eagle Resort & Casino (Agoda, Booking)
- Wyndham Garden Calgary Airport (Agoda, Booking)
- Hampton Inn by Hilton Calgary Airport North (Agoda, Booking)
- Fairmont Palliser (Agoda, Booking)
- Carriage House Hotel & Conference Centre (Agoda, Booking)
- Le Germain Hotel Calgary (Agoda, Booking)
- Best Western Plus Port O’Call Hotel (Agoda, Booking)
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Calgary you can refer to
- Calgary: Calgary Tower General Admission Ticket
- Calgary: Heritage Park Historical Village Admission Ticket
- Calgary Downtown: 2-Hour Introductory Walking Tour
- Calgary: 3.5-Hour Bus City Tour with Gasoline Alley Museum
- Calgary & Lake Louise: Smartphone Audio Driving Tour
- From Calgary: Private Banff National Park Day Trip
- Downtown Calgary: Smartphone Audio Walking Tour
- Calgary: Discover Calgary Smartphone Audio Walking Tours
Read more Canada travel guide here.