Calgary is always a delight to visit, whether I’m there to get rowdy at the rodeo (the Calgary Stampede in July attracts more than 1 million visitors annually) or to unwind in nearby nature. Nicknamed “Stampede City,” Calgary blends the adventure of the Wild West with urban sophistication.
You can find the perfect pair of cowboy boots on a shopping spree in the quirky Beltline neighborhood before fueling up for adventure at a barbecue joint—but there’s also a thriving public art scene and nearby natural wonders such as Banff National Park. Whatever your interests, follow my itinerary to get the most out of your time in Calgary.
Expect mild summers and chilly winters—pack for the season and bring a raincoat.
If you only have time for one thing, make it an exploration of downtown Calgary and the nearby riverside.
Spread out along the Bow River, Calgary is characterized by its close proximity to nature. While the walkable downtown encourages you to explore on foot, try renting a bicycle to cover more ground. Ride along the river until you reach Prince’s Island Park—an urban oasis on the water—and then continue to Chinatown. Visit the Chinese Cultural Centre to see its highly intricate interior decorations, replica terracotta warriors, and to get a look into one of Calgary’s most vibrant communities.
In the evening, head over to 17 Avenue Southwest (a main thoroughfare) to discover Calgary’s diverse culinary scene and bustling nightlife.
Get a taste of Olympic glory with a visit to WinSport Canada Olympic Park, which hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics. In summer, the facility offers mountain biking, miniature golf, ziplining, and downhill karting. In winter, hit the mountains and go skiing or snowboarding, or opt for a tube park. It’s a 30-minute drive from downtown and you’ll feel like a true Albertan as you embrace outdoor adventure.
In the afternoon, learn about the land you’re visiting with a walking tour led by an Indigenous guide—discovering the region’s rich cultural heritage makes for an immersive trip.
Hit the road and head to Banff National Park for snow-capped mountain views and untouched nature. Canada’s oldest national park is located a 1.5-hour drive from Calgary—hike the trails overlooking Lake Louise’s glacial blue waters, or opt for a gondola ride to the peak of Sulphur Mountain for panoramic views over the park.
For an evening excursion, explore the Beltline neighborhood. Calgary is known for its variety of murals and public sculptures, and an evening of art and craft beer is the perfect end to your trip.