Skip to main content.
Guides

Calgary Travel Tips

Find a place to stay

Calgary is the epicenter of Canada’s cowboy country, and home to the world famous Calgary Stampede rodeo. But if you’re imagining a sleepy rural retreat, think again. This gem of a city is a bustling, multicultural metropolis, with thrilling nightlife, a mouthwatering dining scene, and fascinating museums and cultural attractions. There’s also heaps to keep younger visitors enthralled, from top-class zoos to thill-packed amusement parks.

 

Best Time to Travel

 

Calgary enjoys a relatively dry and sunny climate throughout most of the year. Summers tend to be pleasantly warm rather than scorching hot, with average highs of 23°C in July and August. Winters can be fairly unpredictable, with temperatures ranging from chilly to breathtakingly cold. As a general rule, you should pack expecting a variety of weather conditions. July is indisputably the busiest month of the year, as visitors flock from far and wide to attend the Calgary Stampede, which started life in 1886 as a humble agricultural fair, but today is one of Canada’s biggest and liveliest festivals.

 

Not to Miss

 

The Glenbow Museum is one of Calgary’s most widely-renowned cultural attractions. It’s home to the largest art collection in Western Canada, encompassing everything from early Inuit commercial art, to radical installation and video pieces by ground-breaking local artists. Heritage Park allows visitors to step back in time to the Calgary of yesteryear, with its vibrant historical village packed with authentic recreations of 19th century buildings, and its friendly cast of costumed actors and guides. Back in the here and now, Calgary is home to one of the country’s largest Chinatowns, reflective of the city’s vibrant and diverse Asian communities. It’s a colorful district, packed with first-rate authentic Chinese, Vietnamese, and Japanese restaurants

 

Getting around

 

Calgary International Airport is conveniently located a short drive from the city center. It’s served by flights from many major North American destinations, such as Toronto, Vancouver, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. You can also fly direct from major European transport hubs like London, Paris, and Amsterdam. There’s a wealth of transport options available at the airport, including metered taxis, public and private shuttle buses, and rental cars. Downtown Calgary is relatively small, and easy to peruse by foot. If you’re planning to explore the city more widely, the light rail transit system is speedy and efficient. Even better, there’s a free fare zone which covers 14 blocks of the city center.

 

Cuisine

 

As you might expect from a city nicknamed "Cowtown", top quality beef features prominently on menus all over town. Although it’s reported to have originated in LA, the beef dip – a delectable hot roast beef baguette, served alongside a cup of meat juice for dipping – is something of a local specialty. The Caesar, one of Canada’s best-loved cocktails, was invented in Calgary. It’s a spicy twist on the classic Bloody Mary, flavoured with hot sauce and clamato – a blend of tomato juice and clam broth.

 

Customs and etiquette

 

While it’s a little more socially conservative than Toronto or Vancouver, Calgary is a very laid-back and welcoming city. Common courtesy and friendliness is much appreciated and quickly reciprocated, so a few smiles will go a long way to ensure you’re treated well by the locals you encounter. Tipping around 15-20% of the total bill is customary in restaurants, while at least 10% for services like haircuts and taxi rides is common.

Fast Facts

 

Population: 1.2 million

Spoken languages: English

Electrical: Canada runs on 120V, 60 Hz current

Phone Calling Code: +1 403112