Key Highlights:

  • Location: Situated in southern Alberta, at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers
  • Population: Over 1.3 million in the metropolitan area
  • Climate: Semi-arid with cold winters and warm summers
  • Nickname: “Cowtown,” due to its western heritage and famous Calgary Stampede

Calgary is a city that truly has something for everyone, from its world-class restaurants and shopping to its abundant green spaces and proximity to stunning natural landscapes.

Travel Resources

To help you plan your perfect trip to Calgary, here are some essential resources:

  • Flights: Find the best deals on flights to Calgary International Airport (YYC) using our flight comparison tools.
  • Insurance: Secure comprehensive travel insurance to protect against unexpected events.
  • Car Rental: Book a rental car for flexibility in exploring Calgary and its surroundings.
  • Tours: Discover guided tours showcasing Calgary’s unique culture and natural beauty.
  • Packing: Use our Calgary-specific packing checklist to ensure you’re prepared for all weather conditions.

Some History First

Calgary’s rich history is deeply intertwined with Canada’s western expansion and the development of the prairies.

Key Historical Points:

  • 1875: Establishment of Fort Calgary by the North-West Mounted Police
  • 1883: Arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway, spurring rapid growth
  • 1894: City of Calgary incorporated
  • 1914: Discovery of oil in nearby Turner Valley, beginning Calgary’s association with the energy industry
  • 1988: Hosted the XV Olympic Winter Games, putting Calgary on the global stage

Today, Calgary honors its past while embracing a dynamic future, evident in its preservation of historic sites alongside modern architectural marvels.

Calgary Today

Modern Calgary is a thriving metropolis that balances its western heritage with cutting-edge innovation.

Notable Aspects of Contemporary Calgary:

  • Economic Hub: Center for the energy, financial services, and technology sectors
  • Cultural Diversity: Home to a rich tapestry of cultures and communities
  • Green Spaces: Boasts the most extensive urban pathway and bikeway network in North America
  • Education: Home to world-class institutions like the University of Calgary and SAIT
  • Arts Scene: Vibrant arts community with numerous theaters, galleries, and music venues

Is Calgary Safe?

Calgary consistently ranks as one of the safest large cities in Canada, offering peace of mind to visitors and residents alike.

Safety Tips:

  • Exercise normal precautions as you would in any urban environment
  • Be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas or at night
  • Keep valuables secure and out of sight
  • In winter, be cautious of icy sidewalks and roads

Emergency Services: Dial 911 for police, fire, or medical emergencies

Where is Calgary?

Calgary is strategically located in the southern part of Alberta, Canada, offering easy access to both urban amenities and natural wonders.

Geographical Details:

  • Coordinates: 51°03′N 114°04′W
  • Elevation: 1,045 m (3,428 ft) above sea level
  • Area:5 km² (280.5 sq mi)
  • Proximity to Rocky Mountains: About 80 km (50 mi) east of the front ranges

Nearby Attractions:

  • Banff National Park: 1.5 hours west
  • Drumheller (Royal Tyrrell Museum): 1.5 hours northeast
  • Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump: 2 hours south

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From The Area

What is the Best Time to Visit Calgary?

Calgary experiences distinct seasons, each offering unique attractions and experiences.

Seasonal Highlights:

  • Summer (June-August):
    • Pros: Warm weather, outdoor festivals, Calgary Stampede
    • Cons: Peak tourist season, higher prices
  • Fall (September-November):
    • Pros: Beautiful foliage, fewer crowds
    • Cons: Cooler temperatures, some attractions may have reduced hours
  • Winter (December-February):
    • Pros: Winter sports, festive events, potential for seeing the Northern Lights
    • Cons: Cold temperatures, shorter daylight hours
  • Spring (March-May):
    • Pros: Warming temperatures, blooming landscapes
    • Cons: Unpredictable weather, potential for late snowfall

Best Time to Visit: For most travelers, late spring to early fall (May to September) offers the best balance of pleasant weather and abundant activities.

How to Get to Calgary & Around

Calgary is well-connected and easy to navigate, whether you’re arriving from abroad or exploring the city itself.

Getting to Calgary:

  • By Air: Calgary International Airport (YYC) serves numerous domestic and international flights
  • By Car: Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1) runs east-west through Calgary
  • By Bus: Intercity bus services connect Calgary to other major Canadian cities

Getting Around Calgary:

  • Public Transit: Calgary Transit operates buses and the CTrain (light rail system)
  • Taxis and Ride-sharing: Readily available throughout the city
  • Bike Share: Explore Calgary’s extensive pathway system with bike-sharing services
  • Walking: Many attractions in the downtown core are within walking distance

Tip: Consider purchasing a Calgary Transit day pass for unlimited use of buses and CTrain.

Things to Do in Calgary

Calgary offers a wide array of attractions and activities for visitors of all interests.

Must-Visit Attractions:

  • Calgary Tower: Iconic 191-meter tower with panoramic city views
  • Calgary Stampede: World-famous rodeo and exhibition held annually in July
  • Heritage Park Historical Village: Canada’s largest living history museum
  • Calgary Zoo: Home to nearly 1,000 animals from around the world
  • Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre: Celebrate Canadian music history

Outdoor Activities:

  • Fish Creek Provincial Park: One of the largest urban parks in North America
  • Bow River Pathway: Scenic route for walking, jogging, or cycling
  • WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park: Year-round activities at the 1988 Winter Olympics venue

Cultural Experiences:

  • Glenbow Museum: Extensive collection of art and historical artifacts
  • Prince’s Island Park: Urban oasis hosting numerous festivals and events
  • Stephen Avenue Walk: Historic pedestrian mall with shops, restaurants, and street performers

Where To Stay In Calgary

Calgary offers accommodations to suit every budget and preference.

Popular Areas to Stay:

  • Downtown: Ideal for business travelers and those wanting to be close to major attractions
  • Kensington: Trendy neighborhood with boutique hotels and easy access to downtown
  • Beltline: Vibrant area known for its nightlife and diverse dining options
  • Airport Vicinity: Convenient for short stays or early departures

Accommodation Types:

  • Luxury hotels
  • Boutique inns
  • Budget-friendly chain hotels
  • Vacation rentals
  • Hostels for budget travelers

Tip: Book in advance if visiting during the Calgary Stampede or other major events.

What To Eat In Calgary

Calgary’s culinary scene reflects its diverse population and agricultural roots.

Must-Try Local Specialties:

  • Alberta Beef: World-renowned for its quality and flavor
  • Ginger Beef: A Calgary-invented Chinese-Canadian dish
  • Caesar Cocktail: Canada’s national cocktail, invented in Calgary
  • Bison: Leaner alternative to beef, often featured in upscale restaurants
  • Pierogies: Reflecting Calgary’s Eastern European heritage

Notable Dining Areas:

  • 17th Avenue SW: Known as “Red Mile,” offers a variety of cuisines
  • Kensington: Home to trendy cafes and international eateries
  • Chinatown: Authentic Asian cuisine
  • East Village: Up-and-coming area with innovative dining concepts

Tip: Don’t miss the Calgary Farmers’ Market for local produce and artisanal goods.

Entry & Exit Requirements

Visitors to Calgary must comply with Canadian immigration regulations.

Key Requirements:

  • Valid Passport: Required for all international visitors
  • eTA or Visa: Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) required for visa-exempt foreign nationals flying to Canada. Others may need a visitor visa.
  • Length of Stay: Typically up to 6 months for tourists
  • Proof of Funds: May be required to show you can support yourself during your stay
  • Return Ticket: May be asked to show proof of intention to leave Canada

Note: Requirements can change. Always check the official Government of Canada website for the most up-to-date information.

What To Pack For Your Trip

Calgary’s weather can be unpredictable, so packing versatile clothing is key.

Essential Items:

  • Layered Clothing: Temperatures can fluctuate widely, even in summer
  • Comfortable Walking Shoes: For exploring the city and natural areas
  • Sun Protection: Hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen (Calgary gets a lot of sunshine)
  • Rain Jacket: Weather can change quickly
  • Winter Gear: If visiting in colder months, pack a warm coat, gloves, and boots
  • Casual and Smart Casual Attire: For dining out and cultural events
  • Swimwear: For hotel pools or hot springs visits

Tip: Don’t forget a camera to capture Calgary’s stunning cityscapes and natural beauty!

Remember to check current local guidelines and restrictions before your trip, as they may affect your travel plans and experiences in Calgary.


Check the Government of Canada’s official website to determine if you need a visa based on your nationality.

Enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, and snowboarding in the nearby Rocky Mountains.

Calgary has an efficient public transit system, making it easy to get around the city using buses and the CTrain.