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Calgary, Canada

(*cruise tour)

Calgary, Canada

Calgary is Alberta's largest city and is located near where the prairies end and the foothills begin. That makes it the eastern gateway to the Rocky Mountains and an important center of trade and tourism for the western prairies. It is your best point of access for Banff and Jasper, and a worthwhile destination in its own right. Calgary is the heart of the largest metropolitan area between Toronto and Vancouver.

Calgary was founded by the Northwest Mounted Police (NWMP) in 1875 and was originally called Fort Brisebois. (The name was changed to Fort Calgary in 1876, named after Calgary Bay on the Isle of Mull.) The NWMP was sent west to ensure that Canada would not have an American-style "Wild West." Grave concerns about this were raised after the Cypress Hills Massacre of natives by drunken wolf hunters in 1873. Calgary was one of several forts established in Western Canada... Read more

Calgary, Canada


Calgary is Alberta's largest city and is located near where the prairies end and the foothills begin. That makes it the eastern gateway to the Rocky Mountains and an important center of trade and tourism for the western prairies. It is your best point of access for Banff and Jasper, and a worthwhile destination in its own right. Calgary is the heart of the largest metropolitan area between Toronto and Vancouver.

Calgary was founded by the Northwest Mounted Police (NWMP) in 1875 and was originally called Fort Brisebois. (The name was changed to Fort Calgary in 1876, named after Calgary Bay on the Isle of Mull.) The NWMP was sent west to ensure that Canada would not have an American-style "Wild West." Grave concerns about this were raised after the Cypress Hills Massacre of natives by drunken wolf hunters in 1873. Calgary was one of several forts established in Western Canada by the NWMP to ensure a police presence before the arrival of settlers.
In 1883, the railway reached Calgary. It started to grow in every direction and became an agricultural and business hub. In 1884, Calgary was incorporated as a town in what was then the North West Territories. By 1894, Calgary's population had grown to 3900 people, and it was incorporated as a city.
Alberta's first major oil and the natural gas field was discovered in 1914 at Turner Valley, 60 km south of Calgary. Subsequent discoveries kept the oil and gas scene active in the Turner Valley area for the next 30 years. When the Turner Valley fields were depleted, the next major oil and gas find was at Leduc (near Edmonton) in 1947. By then, Calgary was already established as a center of oil and gas business.
During the 1950s, oil became big in Calgary, and major American oil companies started heading to Calgary and opening offices. The boom extended into the next twenty years, bringing the city to 720,000 people in the metro area by 1985. The relatively low-key low-rise downtown became filled with a sea of skyscrapers, starting with the Calgary Tower and some other towers in the 1960s. By the 1980s, Calgary's luck turned, and a drop in oil prices sent the Calgary metro economy downward. Unemployment raged, vacancies surged, and growth was slow or even negative in some years.
In 1988, Calgary hosted the Winter Olympics and brought world attention to Calgary. By the 1990s, it was on the rebound and began growing again. Calgary today has become a more cosmopolitan city of over one million inhabitants with genuine attempts to diversify its economy and expand its attractiveness to outside visitors.

Neighborhoods of Interest

The Beltline and 17th Avenue: 17th Avenue SW is Calgary's première place to see and be seen. It boasts a large and eclectic variety of restaurants, unique shops, boutiques, and bars. This street is where Calgary parties, most notably becoming the "Red Mile" during the 2004 Stanley Cup ice hockey playoffs, where up to 100,000 cheering fans gathered to celebrate victories by the hometown NHL Calgary Flames. While the Beltline spans from the Stampede Grounds and Victoria Park on the east to Mount Royal on the west, the dense nightlife on 17th Avenue starts at about 2nd Street SW and goes to 15th Street SW.
Bridgeland (Edmonton Trail on the west, Tom Campbell's Hill on the east, Bridge Crescent NE on the north, and the Bow River/Memorial Drive/Zoo on the south) is an urban revitalization area northeast of the downtown. Although the community has long been Calgary's "Little Italy" (hence the abundance of Italian restaurants in the area), the demolition of the old General Hospital in 1998 sparked a long-term project redevelop much of the era. The area is expected to be a family-oriented Pearl District (see Portland, Oregon) and the initial phases are already done. The area includes posh shops, chic apartments, and beautiful lofts while maintaining the old charm of the distinct houses. Eventually, the neighborhood will have more shops and some high rise buildings. It is a great area to walk through for those interested in architecture and planning. The far eastern end of Bridgeland connects with the Calgary Zoo and the newly opened TELUS Spark science center.
Inglewood: Inglewood is Calgary's oldest neighborhood and the site of the city's original downtown. It is also one of Calgary's most culturally influenced and eclectic areas. Inglewood contains everything from stores targeted at bikers, to unique boutiques, antique stores, galleries, and restaurants. It is not as developed as some of the city's downtown districts, but it is quickly becoming one of the city's most popular "urban chic"neighborhoods. It lies immediately east of downtown (east of 1st Street E) and is concentrated along 9th Avenue SE. Just to the north is the Bow River and the Calgary Zoo.
Forest Lawn International Avenue. Forest Lawn is known for its diverse culture, with the city's best Vietnamese, Lebanese, and Central American eateries lining 17th Avenue SE between 26th St SE and 61 St SE. The nightlife of this area is a place to exercise caution. There are many pawn shops that line the streets if you're looking for a deal.
Kensington. Kensington is located along the Bow River on the north side of downtown. It is another one of Calgary's notable shopping neighborhoods, with a somewhat more bohemian feel than 17th Avenue (one particular store specializes in Birkenstocks and futons). It offers a good variety of restaurants, with more of an emphasis on coffee shops than on bars. Kensington runs along Kensington Road NW from 14th St NW to 10th St NW, and also north along 10th St NW to 5 Ave NW.
McKenzie Towne is located on the southeastern outskirts of Calgary (accessible via Deerfoot Trail and McKenzie Towne Boulevard). An exception to the "dull suburb" stereotype, this planned community features parks and classical home facades that come right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Anchoring the area is High Street, a shopping center disguised as a classic small-town main street. Worth checking out if you've rented a car to visit Spruce Meadows.
Marda Loop/Garrison Green (east of Crowchild Trail along 33rd Avenue SW), which contains a large number of quaint shops, restaurants, and services and is a real up and comer area and would be a great place to check out. Marda Loop, centered on the intersection of 33rd Avenue and 20th Street SW, is the older of the two areas and in mid-August hosts the Marda Gras Street Festival along 33 Avenue between 19 Street and 23 Street SW. Garrison Green is a newly developed residential/shopping district immediately to the south of 32 Avenue that features its mix of eclectic shops and old-towne storefronts.
Mission: The Mission district was established as a French and Catholic settlement (later called Rouleauville) at the same time that Calgary was founded. Historic displays at Rouleauville Square and the Elbow River Promenade tell the story of the area. In many ways, Mission acts as an extension of 17th Avenue. Like the Beltline, it is packed full of interesting restaurants and shops. It does not share 17th Avenue's late-night reputation, however, and it generally lacks the bars and nightclubs. Mission extends from 4th Street SW to 1st Street SE and from 17th Avenue SW in the north to 26th Avenue and the Elbow River in the south.
Mount Royal is a neighborhood south of the downtown with charming old homes on winding streets. The area houses some of Calgary's elite. It is a nice area to do a quiet stroll through, admiring old residences. Driving around the community can be challenging due to the preponderance of calming traffic measures and street closures to prevent cut-through traffic.
Parkhill is a neighborhood south of downtown. It is a quite wealthy area that once had many old homes. Today it is home to a range of modern designs, with few old homes still standing. It's a very interesting neighborhood to visit.


Calgary is sunny and rather dry, with wide seasonal and daily temperature ranges. Summers tend to be sunny and mild, with highs averaging about 23°C (73°F) in July/August, usually accompanied by short afternoon storms. June is normally the wettest month. Hot weather (greater than 30°C / 86°F) is rare, occurring on average five times a year. Also, temperatures typically drop dramatically on wet days as well; there's always a couple of days in the summer months that barely manage highs over 10°C (50°F)).
Winter can also vary quite a bit. Temperatures can get extremely cold (below -20°C / -4°F) at times between November and March, while -30°C (-22°F) is possible (on average five times a year). Though average highs in January are about -2°C (28°F) based on a current 30-year average, there's nothing average with Calgary's weather. Because of the regular but unpredictable chinooks (warm Pacific winds), there's no guarantee of when the cold weather may strike. One of coldest months in the last ten years was a March (about -6°C / 21°F for average high), while one January was very mild (+6°C / 43°F average high). Temperatures can swell into the 15°C (59°F) range one day, and drop back into the sub-zero (sub 32°F) temperatures several days later. A typical chinook rolls in fast and is very windy. The warming effects will usually linger for several days to more than a week. In strong chinooks, you can see a chinook arch to the west: an arch of cloud with clear sky below. Calgary can be very dry in winter, with humidity as low as 20%, causing dry skin and making it challenging for contact lens wearers.
Regardless of the time of year, temperatures usually drop quickly at night. Lows in summer hover around 8°C (46°F), while in winter they average about -13°C (9°F). Because of the higher elevation and dramatic temperature drops, snow can fall as late as June and as early as September. These unseasonable snowfalls usually result in just a trace of snow on the ground which soon melts.
Because of the temperature variation, having a variety of clothes is essential at all times in the year. Pack everything from shorts and sandals to light, windproof jacket or fleece for visits from mid-May to mid-October. From mid-October to mid-May, you may need clothes ranging from T-shirts to fleece/ski jackets, gloves, winter hats, and scarves. There's not typically a lot of snow on the ground in winter, because Calgary is located in a very dry region of North America and the regular chinooks melt any snow. This means that heavy or waterproof winter boots aren't usually needed. The nearby Rockies are typically cooler year-round, so plan accordingly for any day trips.
First-time visitors to Calgary should be careful to bring sunglasses (even in winter) and prepare for very low humidity by bringing at least some chapstick, which most Calgarians carry at all times in winter.

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Calgary, Canada: Port Information

Cruise travelers can visit Calgary on a cruise tour. Vancouver is the nearest cruise port.

Get around Calgary, Canada

By transit

It can be fairly easy to get to most destinations of interest by bus and/or light rail transit (LRT, trams). In the downtown core, 7th Avenue South is for public transit only.
Calgary's public transit system was first established in 1909. The first leg of Calgary's LRT (tram) system was completed in 1987 as part of the preparation for the 1988 Winter Olympics. Today, the LRT lines are the backbone of Calgary Transit. Calgary's LRT is called the C-Train (or CTrain) and runs reliably, frequently, and is entirely accessible, with elevators at every station. In the downtown, you can ride the C-Train for free for 14 city blocks along the length of 7th Avenue.

Information about the transit system is available on Calgary Transit's website, or by phoning their information line +1 403-262-1000 from 6 AM-9 PM, local time. Train times are displayed on large electronic signs at stations, using Calgary Transit's real-time information system. Next bus information can be obtained by calling Teleride at +1 403-974-4000, or texting 74000 with the bus stop number, which can be found on the bus stop sign. This information is based solely on bus schedules, and times are not adjusted if buses are delayed by weather or other factors.

Calgary Transit offers a real-time bus information system that displays stop and schedule information on buses.


There are two LRT lines, both of which run on 7th Ave downtown: Route 201 (red on Calgary Transit maps) will be most useful to visitors, while Route 202 (blue) is more useful for locals. Route 201 runs from Tuscany Station in the northwest to Somerset/Bridlewood station in the southern suburbs, passing through the city center and serving attractions such as the Stampede grounds. Route 202 serves mostly residents and runs from Saddletowne station in the northeast, passes through downtown, and ends at 69th St station in the southwest. LRT platforms are labeled with reference to downtown rather than by compass direction, and the trains are well signed.

Trains run every 10 minutes (5 minutes or less in rush hour and 15 minutes on holidays). First trains are between 4 and 5 AM, and last trains are between 1 and 2 AM—slightly earlier on Sundays. During the Calgary Stampede and on New Year's Eve, the C-Train runs all night and some bus routes have extended hours of service. Check Calgary Transit's website for details if you'll be visiting at this time.

Although buses come along less often and tend to serve commuters more than tourists, it is still possible to get around to the main places without too much difficulty. Bus routes usually service either downtown or an LRT station and run from around 5 AM-1 AM. Depending on the route, frequencies can be as low as one per hour in outlying suburbs, although 20 or 30 minutes is more typical. Buses numbered in the 300-399 range are rapid buses intended to provide service like a train: they only stop at major streets and large bus terminals and run relatively frequently. Bus routes with word 'express' in their name only run during rush hour and take commuters to and from downtown. Most major bus routes use low-floor buses equipped with ramps; the express routes are the exception, using 1970s-era buses.

Transit tickets permit 90 minutes of travel on trains and buses, with round trips allowed. Day passes and books of 10 transit tickets are also available at most convenience stores. Ticket machines at C-Train stations and platforms sell day passes and regular tickets. These machines accept coins (but not bills), credit cards, and debit cards. A monthly pass can also be purchased for unlimited usage within the pass's designated month but is not cost-justified unless you intend to commute to downtown daily. The ticket machines allow you to purchase multiple tickets (e.g., 2-day passes) in one transaction but you must press the "Multiple" button before selecting the type of ticket.

The C-Train operates on a "proof of payment" honor system. This means there are no turnstiles, but inspectors (usually 'peace officers' employed by Calgary Transit) randomly check for valid tickets, transfers, or passes. There is no charge for travel on the C-Train in the downtown free fare zone. An automated onboard announcement is made when trains enter and leave this zone.

By car

It is easy to be confused by Calgary's quadrant address system at first, but it is very logical and systematic.

Streets run north-south and avenues run east-west. Centre Street and Macleod Trail divide the city into east and west, while the Bow River (west of Deerfoot Trail) and Centre Avenue and Memorial Drive (east of Deerfoot Trail) divide the city into north and south. Together these split the city into NE, NW, SE, and SW: the four quadrants. Thus any time you get an address on a numbered street, you must get whether it was NE, NW, SE, or SW. Street and avenue numbers—and thus address numbers—increase as you move away from Centre St or Centre Ave.

Many of Calgary's roads are numbered, but this is less common in the newer developments. Important roads are often named "Trails," but there are many exceptions. Newly-built neighborhoods may not yet appear on maps, either paper or GPS. If you are traveling to these places, it may be a good idea to ask for directions beforehand.

The names of small suburban roads usually incorporate the community name at the start of the names of all roads in that community. This means that Taralake Garden, Taralea Place, Taralea Bay, Taralea Way, Taralea Green, Taralea Circle, and Taralea Crescent are all separate roads, in the same community – Taradale. It can be very confusing for tourists and locals alike to navigate an area where very small differences in street names are so important to finding your way. If traveling in the suburban communities, have a map or directions and pay attention to the full, exact name.

Calgary's downtown core is bounded by the Bow River to the north, the railway tracks to the south (between 9th Ave S and 10th Ave S), 11 St W, and 4 St E. Almost all of the roads in the downtown core are one-way, so look carefully at your map for the direction of traffic on each road when planning your trip. When driving in downtown, watch for one-way signs. 7th Avenue S in the downtown core is for Calgary Transit buses and C-Trains (trams) only; cars driving on 7th Ave may be ticketed and will definitely draw stares and glares from waiting transit commuters.

For many years, parking in downtown Calgary has been the second most expensive in North America, after New York City's. Street parking in downtown (and many other parts of the city) is through the city's ParkPlus system. You will find a ParkPlus pay station in every block. Before you leave your parking spot, note the 4-digit ParkPlus zone number on a sign near your car. Also, note your rental car's license plate number. Go to the ParkPlus pay station, where you will need to type in that information and pay for your parking either with a credit card or with coins. If you set up a ParkPlus account before your visit, you can pay using your cell phone. The MyParking app can help you find available parking more quickly.

In general, the city's driving situation is a result of rapid, unanticipated growth, so prepare for the roads being grossly inadequate and gridlocked during rush hour. Outside of rush hour, traffic is not usually a problem. Also watch for lane reversals during peak times on weekdays (6:30 AM–8:30 AM and 3:30 PM–6:30 PM) when going in and out of downtown on some larger streets (e.g. Centre Street, Memorial Drive, 10 Street NW). This increases the traffic flow in one direction by "borrowing" a lane normally going the other way.

Winter driving is very different from driving in other seasons. Major roads are ploughed, salted, and sanded, but smaller residential streets have very little snow removal or winter maintenance. The city bans snow route parking: after a heavy snowfall priority routes in the city – marked as snow removal routes with blue snowflake street signs – become no parking zones for 72 hours; this includes some residential streets, so bear this in mind if you have parked on the street during the winter.

As confounding as driving in Calgary may be, driving is still the best way to explore and see the city.

If you need to hire a car to explore the city or head out into the surrounding area check the prices from agencies on Macleod Trail, you may get a better deal than in downtown or at the airport.

On foot

Downtown Calgary is a compact area which is easily accessible on foot. The pathway system, Eau Claire Market area and Stephen Avenue Walk (8th Avenue) are the primary walking destinations of downtown workers in the warmer months. In the wintertime, everyone navigates their way around the downtown core via the Plus 15 system, so called because the enclosed walkways joining buildings are approximately 15 feet (5 m) above ground.

By bicycle

With approximately 760 km of paved pathways and 260 km of on-street bikeways within its boundaries, the City of Calgary boasts the most extensive urban pathway and bikeway network in North America. Pathways are available online and are available from Calgary swimming pools and leisure centers in the warmer months.

Calgary has cycle tracks in the downtown core. (A cycle track is a bike lane that is protected from other traffic by physical barriers, such as concrete medians.)

The 7th St SW cycle track goes from the Bow River to 8th Ave SW.
There are cycle tracks along 5th St W, 8th Ave S-Stephen Avenue Walk-9th Ave S, and 12th Ave S.

Check the City of Calgary's cycle track map for details.

Downtown, there are many pathways along the rivers and park areas. Though Calgary can be thought of as a safe city, use common sense when biking at dusk and at night. This is particularly true on the east side of downtown along the river (close to the neighborhood of East Village), which is a rougher end of town.

Calgary has a good network of off-street bike paths, although motorists are sometimes less than courteous. Weather is unpredictable, and snowy cycling conditions may occur any time from September to May. Some bike paths are cleared of snow in winter. Bike racks are fairly common, especially in shopping areas. Be sure to use the bike racks provided, or another solid object to lock you bike to; as simply locking your back wheel will not provide sufficient security. Calgary Transit has bike racks at C-Train stations and allows bikes on the C-Trains during off-peak hours (at no additional fee). Folding bikes can be taken on C-Trains and buses at any time when folded and stored in a case that protects other travelers from dirt and grease. All buses on Route 20—Heritage/Northmount are equipped with bike racks on the front. Cycling is not allowed on 7th Avenue SE/SW in downtown Calgary, between 1st St SE and 8th St SW. This section of 7th Avenue is reserved for Calgary Transit vehicles and emergency vehicles Bicycles are also prohibited from using the Deerfoot Trail freeway (Hwy 2).

Cyclists must obey the same rules of the road as other vehicles. All cyclists must have a working bell on their bike, and cyclists under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet. Only cyclists under 14 may ride on sidewalks.
Each major body of water in the city (Bow River, Elbow River, Glenmore Reservoir) has city parks with bike paths. These bike paths are heavily used during the morning rush hour to work, but can provide hours of scenic pedaling. A scenic route starts in downtown and head along the Bow River pathway as it heads south to Fish Creek Provincial Park. Here, leave the banks of the Bow River and cycle through Fish Creek park along the main cycle path until you reach the Glenmore Reservoir (a good place for lunch). At the reservoir, as the bike path crosses the dam, leave the Bow River pathway for the Elbow River pathway. This highly scenic path will take you back to downtown. Cycle time: 4–6 hours (with lunch).

Another major pathway extends north up Nose Creek valley just east of the zoo, including two overpasses to cross Deerfoot Trail (a busy freeway). While there is a pathway that leads to the airport, connecting to it requires crossing an industrial area, which is not recommended for novice cyclists.

Lime has an e-bike dockless rental operation in Calgary. Download their app to hire.

What to see in Calgary, Canada


  • Calgary Tower, 101 9 Ave SW (corner of 9 Ave SW & Centre St), ☎ +1 403-266-7171. The Calgary Tower may not be quite as impressive as the CN Tower in Toronto, but it still commands a great view over the city and the surroundings. On a clear day, you can see the Rockies to the west. It features a revolving gourmet restaurant, a bar, and an observation deck. The tower is best approached from 8th Avenue, as the 10th Avenue side is dominated by railway tracks, parking lots, & parkades.
  • Saddledome. Located on the Stampede Grounds, Calgary's largest hockey arena plays host to the Calgary Flames (ice hockey), the Calgary Hitmen (junior ice hockey), the Calgary Roughnecks (box lacrosse), and many concerts.
  • Stampede Grounds, 1410 Olympic Way SE (from the C-Train Rte 201, get off at either Victoria Park/Stampede Station (N end of Stampede grounds) or Erlton/Stampede Station (S end of Stampede grounds)). The site of Calgary's world-famous exhibition and rodeo, the Calgary Stampede grounds are located east of the Beltline in Victoria Park. Not only are the grounds the site of the excitement of every July's Calgary Stampede, but they also house a conference and exhibition center (the BMO Centre) and a casino.

Museums & Educational Attractions

  • Calgary Zoo, 1300 Zoo Rd NE (LRT Rte 202 to Zoo Station), ☎ +1 403-232-9300. 9 AM-5 PM daily. The world-class Calgary Zoo is home to over 1,000 animals from all over the world, as well as to the Botanical Garden and a Prehistoric Park for dinosaur lovers. It is the second-largest zoo in Canada. Although the St George's Island section of the zoo was temporarily forced to close immediately after the June 2013 flood, the zoo was once again fully open by the end of Nov 2013. 
  • Firefighters Museum of Calgary, 4124 – 11th St SE, ☎ +1 403-246-3322, e-mail: Galleries are temporarily closed due to the construction of a new, larger facility. Expected to reopen in late 2015. This small, professionally-run museum focuses on the history of firefighting in Calgary, with exhibits such as a Calgary invention for fighting basement fires, and Calgary's first 9-1-1 switchboard. The collection also includes many antique fire trucks, including a rare 1929 Magirus Aerial. 
  • Fort Calgary, 750 9 Ave SE, ☎ +1 403-290-1875. 9 AM-5 PM daily. Fort Calgary, a Northwest Mounted Police (NWMP, now RCMP) fort was built in 1875 at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers (near modern Inglewood). It became the nucleus around which Calgary grew. The original fort was destroyed decades ago. Today's Fort Calgary is a museum and historic site focusing on the history of the city and of the RCMP.
  • Glenbow Museum, 130 — 9 Ave SE, ☎ +1 403-268-4100. Tu-Th 9 AM-5 PM, F 11:30 AM-7:30 PM, Sa 9 AM-5 PM, Su noon–5 PM. Western Canada's largest museum, with over 93,000 square feet of exhibition space on three floors. More than 20 galleries are filled with artifacts from Glenbow's collection of over a million objects, emphasizing local history. Regularly changing visiting exhibits focus on art or more distant cultures. ARC Discovery Room has hands-on activities daily for all ages. 
  • Heritage Park, Heritage Dr and 14 St SW (Macleod Tr south to Heritage Dr, Heritage Dr west to Heritage Park. Transit: LRT Rte 201 south to Heritage Station, bus Rte 502--Heritage Park to Heritage Park), ☎ +1 403-268-8500, fax: +1 403-268-8501. One of the largest living historical villages in North America, on 66 acres of land near the Glenmore Reservoir. Attractions include a working passenger train, 155 historical exhibits, a candy store and bakery, old-fashioned amusement park, and riding on the S.S. Moyie, a paddlewheel boat.
  • The Military Museums, 4520 Crowchild Trail SW, ☎ +1 403-974-2850. The most extensive military museum in Canada outside of the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, this facility houses gallery devoted to four local army regiments, galleries for the air force and navy, and several general interest galleries. It covers Canadians' service in the Boer War, the World Wars, the Korean War, the Cold War, and post-1945 operations with the UN and NATO including Cyprus, Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan. There is an outdoor historical vehicle display. Formerly the Museum of the Regiments.
  • TELUS Spark, 220 St. George's Dr. NE (located in the NE at the crossing of Memorial Drive and Deerfoot Trail), ☎ +1 403-268-8300, e-mail: Su-F 9 AM-4 PM, Sa 9 AM-5 PM, first Th of each month 9 AM-9 PM, second Th 9 AM-4 PM, then reopens to 18+ only 6 PM-10 PM. (Formerly named the TELUS World of Science at the previous location) Canada's first purpose-built new science center in over 25 years is a place where people of all ages and abilities can put their imagination into action. Constructed on over 18 acres of reclaimed land, the new 153,000 square foot facility features over one hundred hands-on exhibits, four exhibit galleries, plus a traveling exhibition gallery, an expanded and enhanced Creative Kids Museum, Calgary's only HD Digital Dome Theatre, a new Presentation Theatre and Learning Centre, a 10,000 square-foot atrium, and a four-acre outdoor park. 


  • Battalion Park (road access is via Signal Hill, Dr. SW). A tribute to local soldiers that trained for the First World War at the former Sarcee Camp, this small park has an interpretive 500 m long walking trail/staircase up to the side of a steep hill. Soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force left enormous battalion numerals spelled out in whitewashed stones on the hillside, which have been restored as a permanent memorial. The trail also includes a monument and a self-guided tour with historical tablets and photographs. Most of the numbers are easily seen from the parking lots of the nearby Signal Hill and West Hills shopping centers.
  • Devonian Gardens, 317 7 Ave SW (4th floor of TD Square), ☎ +1 780-987-3054. The Devonian Gardens is a large indoor urban park located in TD Square, above the shopping area. After closing for several years for extensive renovations, Calgary's Devonian Gardens reopened for visitors in 2012. Free.
  • Fish Creek Provincial Park, toll-free: +1-866-427-3582. 8 AM to sunset. Fish Creek Provincial Park is one of North America's largest urban parks, covering 13.5 square kilometers. This natural area park stretches along the banks of Fish Creek and the Bow River in south Calgary, from roughly 14 St SW in the west to the Bow River in the east. The park includes the Sikome Lake Aquatic Facility (a man-made lake open in summer), the Bow Valley Ranch Visitor Centre, The Ranche Restaurant and Annie's Café (both privately operated), picnic sites, group use areas, trails for walking, bicycling, mountain biking, and horseback riding, a native garden, and a sculpture garden. Free.
  • Inglewood Bird Sanctuary & Nature Centre, 2425 9 Ave SE. Trails open sunrise-sunset, Nature Centre Tu-Su 10 AM-4 PM, closed M and statutory holidays, closed at noon on Dec 24. Due to the June 2013 flooding, in 2014 the bird sanctuary will only be accessible through daily guided tours. Pre-registration for tours is recommended. The Nature Centre building is open. This 32-hectare wildlife reserve offers more than two kilometers of walking trails throughout the riverine forest. More than 250 species of birds and 300 species of plants, plus several kinds of mammals, have been observed in the area. Free.
  • Olympic Plaza, 800 block of Macleod Trail SE (corner of 8 Ave SE and Macleod Trail). This public square was built as the site of medal presentations during the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. It continues to host free public events and festivals. During the summer, waders can enjoy the water-filled plaza, while winter visitors can go skating. Also, the site of Calgary's "Women are Persons!" sculpture, celebrating a landmark achievement in the status of women in Canada.
  • Prince's Island Park, immediately north of Eau Claire in the Bow River (from downtown, there are bridges to the park near the end of 2 St SW, 3 St SW and 6 St SW). Calgary's largest inner city park is an island with some pleasant trails for walking and relaxing. In the summer, it plays host to Shakespeare by the Bow, and it is also the site of one of the city's largest annual festivals: the Calgary Folk Music Festival.
  • Nose Hill Park, 5620 14 St NW. Nose Hill Park, one of the largest municipal parks in Canada and North America, is located in the northwest quadrant of Calgary, Alberta. It is a natural environment park, commonly regarded as a retreat from city life and a place to enjoy nature. It is the second-largest park in Calgary, surpassed in size only by Fish Creek Provincial Park. Although large sections of the park are off-leash areas, dog owners should be aware that on a few occasions coyotes have attacked and killed dogs in the park. Your dog's best protection is to be on a leash at all times. Free.

Walk & Shop

  • Barclay Parade (3 St SW between Eau Claire Ave SW and 8/Stephen Ave SW). Barclay Parade (3 St SW) is a pedestrian-friendly section of downtown street that runs from Eau Claire Market in the north to Stephen Avenue (8 Ave S) in the south. It is home to some high-end shops.
  • Chinatown (Area around Centre St S and 2 Ave S). Canada's third-largest Chinatown is in the northeast portion of downtown Calgary. It is the heart of Calgary's Asian diaspora, although much of northeast Calgary has a Pacific Rim influence. The area of about a half-dozen blocks is located along Centre Street S, from 4 Ave S (on the south) to the Bow River (on the north). Calgary's Chinatown packs in a dense network of Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese and other Asian restaurants, shops, housing, and cultural facilities. The area along Centre Street on the north side of the river almost functions as a loosely organized "second Chinatown" with Chinese-oriented businesses stretching for 20 or more blocks.
  • Stephen Avenue Walk (Stephen/8 Ave between Macleod Trail and 3 St SW). One of Calgary's most famous streets, Stephen Avenue was declared a National Historic District by the Canadian government. It is a major venue for boutique shopping, bars, pubs, and restaurants. The mall is closed to vehicle traffic from 6 AM-6 PM daily.


Many Calgarians are understandably proud of the city's collection of skyscrapers. What's more impressive are the clear views you can get downtown from certain spots around the city, sometimes with the mountains in the background.

  • Crescent Road viewpoint (From 16 Ave NW, turn south on 8 St NW until 13 Avenue NW where you turn east until 7 A St NW where you turn south, then go until Crescent Road NW where you turn west onto said street, then take your first left (or south) turn and then drive down that a tiny bit until you think it is okay, then stop and admire. Do not go past 13 Ave.). This ridgetop gives a great view of Prince's Island Park and downtown Calgary. Follow the pathway to a staircase going down the hillside for more varied perspectives.
  • Nose Hill viewpoint. The views of downtown Calgary from Nose Hill Park can only be accessed on foot or by bicycle. Park your car at one of the parking lots near the top of the hill (opposite Edgemont Blvd NW or Berkely Gate NW) and then head towards the southern edge of the hill.
  • Scotsman's Hill viewpoint (6 St SE between Salisbury Rd SE and Spiller Rd SE). The top of this very high riverbank overlooks the Stampede Grandstand. It is a good place to watch the fireworks which are scheduled every evening during Stampede week after the chuckwagon races and the stage show (11 PM). The parking in the neighborhood is 'permit only' so you must park elsewhere, walk up the hill and watch the fireworks for free. That's why it's called Scotsman's Hill.
  • Tom Campbell's Hill Park viewpoint, 25 Saint George's Drive (Take Calgary Zoo exit from Memorial Drive, then head toward the top of the prominent hill just north of the Bow River and the zoo.). Views of the confluence of the Bow River and Nose Creek, with the towers of downtown Calgary off to the southwest.
  • River Park viewpoint, 4500 14A St SW. 5 AM-11 PM. In Calgary's southwest on the ridge above Sandy Beach, large designated off-leash area.


While Calgary is no Rome, Tokyo, or Paris for architecture, Calgary does have some interesting highlights for those interested in architecture. The Bow is a modern masterpiece of glass and steel and would be a shame to miss. (But really how could you? The crescent-shaped Bow building pierces through the skyline from pretty much any angle). Stephen Avenue 1 (8th Ave S in the downtown core) and Atlantic Avenue (9th Ave S in Inglewood) both have an abundance of tightly packed, small, old commercial buildings with great architectural details; follow the links for downloadable self-guided historic walking tours. Calgary's Peace Bridge, a pedestrian bridge crossing the Bow River from the downtown core, opened in 2012. It was designed by Santiago Calatrava and is a change from the cable-stayed bridges he is known for. The Calgary Tower is a beautiful early modern tower with a minimalist design. Even if you don't care about the design, you shouldn't miss the views from the top. Talisman Centre, a large sports complex opposite the Stampede grounds just south of the downtown core, has a unique arch-shaped roofline which is the suspension point for a fabric roof. One could also stroll the construction mazes of Macleod Trail and Scarth St/1 Street SE for many beautiful modern condominiums. Out in suburbia, the pyramid-shaped Fish Creek Library (near Southcentre Mall) is a local landmark.

What to do in Calgary, Canada

Events and Festivals (in date order)

  • High Performance Rodeo. (January, 3 weeks) This unconventional international festival of theatre, dance, music, comedy, visual art and more has been gracing Calgary venues of all sorts for over 25 years.
  • Calgary International Salsa Congress, Hyatt Regency Calgary, 700 Centre St SE, e-mail: (March, 2 days) Weekend of all-night salsa parties and Latin dance performances featuring both world-class and local talent. Includes qualifiers for the World Latin Dance Cup. 
  • Calgary Spoken Word Festival. (April, 2 weeks) Canada's largest spoken word festival takes place in bars, pubs, bookshops, and an intimate theatre setting. Poetry slams, workshops, and the Golden Beret Award.
  • Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, Stampede Park, e-mail: (April, 3 days) Pop culture festival featuring fantasy, sci-fi, horror, gaming, comics, anime, manga, and much more.
  • Funny Fest (Various locations around Calgary), ☎ +1 403-228-7888, e-mail: (Late May, early June; 11 days) A festival of comedy in halls, clubs, pubs, and bars across Calgary. 
  • Calgary International Children's Festival, Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts, Olympic Plaza, ☎ +1 403-294-7414. (May, 4 days) Performing and visual arts festival for children, with many free activities at Olympic Plaza. Paid performances of music, dance, and more take place in the nearby Centre for the Performing Arts.
  • Sled Island Festival, ☎ +1 403-229-2901, e-mail: (June, 4 days) Independent music and visual arts festival, which takes place at over 30 venues.
  • Carifest, Shaw Millennium Park, ☎ +1 403-774-1300, e-mail: (June, 1 day) Calgary's annual festival celebrating the city's large West Indian population starts with a parade downtown to Shaw Millennium Park for the day's festivities. 
  • Calgary Stampede, ☎ +1 403-269-9822, toll-free: +1-800-661-1767. (July, 10 days). During Stampede Week, the whole city goes western! During "the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth," there are events all around the city, but the highlights are the rodeo and chuckwagon races which boast the world's richest prizes.
  • Calgary Folk Music Festival (Prince's Island Park), ☎ +1 403-233-0904, e-mail: (July, 4 days) An extremely broad definition of "folk music" is used for this well-established festival. In addition to seven different stages with dozens of international performers, there is an area with performances & activities for kids, a market, food, and lots more.
  • Sun and Salsa Festival (Kensington Rd NW between 10 St NW & 13 St NW, 10 St NW between Memorial Dr and 5 St NW), ☎ +1 403-283-4810, e-mail: (July, 1 day) A salsa-tasting contest is the focus of this street festival, but there are also five stages with a variety of performances, plus lots of other activities. 
  • Shakespeare by the Bow, Prince's Island Park. (July & August, 4 weeks) Shakespeare presented in an outdoor setting, an annual co-production of Mount Royal University and Theatre Calgary. Donations welcomed.
  • Historic Calgary Week (Various locations in and around Calgary), ☎ +1 403-261-4667. (Late July & early August, 10 days) Learn about local history through talks, behind the scenes tours, and walks. Free, donations welcome.
  • Calgary International Bluesfest. (late July & early August, 4 days) Calgary's got the blues! Many performers at a variety of venues.
  • Calgary Fringe Festival, ☎ +1 403-451-9726, e-mail: (August, 10 days) Calgary's festival of uncensored & unjuried theatre takes place at a variety of traditional and unconventional venues.
  • GlobalFest, 1827 68 St SE (Elliston Park), ☎ +1 403-569-9679, e-mail: 6 PM-11:30 PM. (August, 5 days) Fireworks competition and multi-cultural festival at Elliston Park. Note that there is no parking at Elliston Park, but there is a shuttle bus from Marlborough Mall.
  • Taste of Calgary, Eau Claire Festival Plaza, 200 Barclay Parade SW, ☎ +1 403-293-2888, e-mail: 11 AM-9 PM. (August, 4 days) Enjoy a wide variety of foods at Calgary's outdoor dining festival. Music at the Taste Stage. 
  • Dragon Boat Race and Festival, North Glenmore Park (Catch shuttle bus from Mount Royal University). (August, 2 days) Dozens of 20-person dragon boat crews race to the beat of their drummers on Glenmore Reservoir. Kids' activities, food, and entertainment are all available in the park. 
  • WordFest. (October, 7 days) Banff-Calgary International Writers Festival includes readings, panel discussions, performances, interviews. Festival des mots in French, some programming in Spanish.
  • Marda Loop Justice Film Festival. (November)

Places to Visit

  • Calaway Park, 245033 Range Rd 33, T3Z 2E9 (Highway 1 (Trans-Canada) exit 169, just west of Calgary's city limits), ☎ +1 403-240-3822, fax: +1 403-242-3885. 10 AM-7 PM, daily (summer), weekends only (spring/fall). Western Canada's largest amusement park, located roughly 15 minutes west of Calgary. Gate admission pays for all rides; games, food cost extra. 
  • Harvie Passage, On Bow River downstream of Calgary Zoo. Temporarily closed since June 2013. The area around Calgary Bow River Weir, which killed many boaters, was remade into a Class II and III white water park for paddlers. Harvie Passage is meant only for experienced canoe and kayak paddlers; all others should portage around it. The multi-year Harvie Passage project opened in Summer 2012, but the Harvie Passage section closed for the 2013 season due to damage from the June flooding on the Bow River. Free.

Performing Arts

Calgary has a very vibrant theatre scene. It seems that Calgary has the live theatre for every taste: avante-garde (One Yellow Rabbit), traditional (Theatre Calgary, ATP), mystery (Vertigo), lunch breaks (Lunchbox), improv (Loose Moose), clown arts (Green Fools), and more. The two daily newspapers provide some theatre coverage, but the best coverage and listings are found in a free weekly Fast Forward magazine.

  • Arts Commons, 205 8 Ave SE (adjacent to Olympic Plaza), ☎ +1 403-294-7455, e-mail: Ats Commons hosts the three best-known professional theatre groups; the conservative Theatre Calgary, the more adventurous Alberta Theatre Projects (ATP), and the downright avant-garde One Yellow Rabbit Performance Theatre (OYR). The facility has two additional theatres, so other companies often produce shows here. Of special note is OYR's High Performance Rodeo festival, which runs for January and provides a wildly eclectic mix of performing arts (and performance art). Arts Commons is also home to the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra which presents everything from buttoned-down traditional classical music to pops to symphonies for children. Finally, Arts Commons is the venue for many other concerts and events throughout the year. 
  • Vertigo Theatre, 161, 115-9 Ave SE (at the base of the Calgary Tower), ☎ +1 403-221-3708. is dedicated to producing mystery plays, ranging from musicals to straight-up whodunnits. A second studio theatre frequently hosts other companies.
  • Theatre Junction, 608 1 St SW, ☎ +1 403-205-2922. Offers a slate of highly contemporary theatre and performing arts, and the venue also hosts music and other events. 
  • Pumphouse Theatre, 2140 Pumphouse Ave SW, ☎ +1 403-263-0079. Two theatres contained inside a historic brick waterworks building play host to a large part of Calgary's semi-pro and community theatre scene, with new productions here every week. 
  • Lunchbox Theatre, 160, 115 9 Ave SW (in the Calgary Tower), ☎ +1 403-265-4292. Shows at 12:10 PM M-Sa and 6:10 PM on F. This unique theatre company produces exclusively one-act plays, during the weekday noon lunch hour. Typically lighter fare is suitable for a downtown corporate crowd. 
  • Stage West Theatre Restaurant (Stage West Dinner Theatre), 727 42 Ave SE, ☎ +1 403-243-6642. Offers unchallenging, tried-and-true shows, kids' theatre, and tribute concerts, along with a generic buffet dinner. 
  • Jubilations Dinner Theatre, 1002 37 St SW (next to Westbrook Mall), ☎ +1 403-249-7799, e-mail: Similar to Stage West, with more of a focus on musical parodies of popular television shows. 
  • The Comedy Cave, 9206 Macleod Trail S (Travelodge Hotel Calgary Macleod Trail), ☎ +1 403-287-1120, e-mail: 
  • Laugh Shop Comedy Club, 5940 Blackfoot Trail SE (Hotel Blackfoot), ☎ +1 403-255-6900.
  • Yuk Yuks (Mark Breslin's Yuk Yuks), 218 18 Ave SE (Elbow River Casino), ☎ +1 403-258-2028, e-mail: Stand-up comedy. 
  • Aussie Rules Foodhouse and Bar, 1002 – 37 St SW (next to Westbrook Mall), ☎ +1 403-249-7933. Piano bar with a comic twist, sing-a-longs, dance routines.
  • Calgary Opera, 1315 – 7 St SW (Arrata Opera Centre), ☎ +1 403-262-7286, e-mail: Calgary's oldest opera company presents several operas each year at their Arrata Opera Centre and the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium. 
  • Cowtown Opera Company, 1401 10 Ave SE (Lantern Community Church). The first new opera company to be established in Western Canada in 20 years, Cowtown Opera presents classic operas, sung in English, with a saucy twist. Past shows include Die Fledermaus: Revenge of the Bat, Phantom of the Opera Sing-a-Long, and The Magic Flute: Revised and in English.
  • National Music Centre (Cantos Music Foundation), 134 11 Ave SE, ☎ +1 403-543-5115, e-mail: Tours Sa 1:30 PM, 1st Th of month 6 PM. A collection of antique and notable musical instruments is available to the public by guided tour. The collection includes the Elton John songwriting piano and the famous TONTO synthesizer, as well as many antique pianos and organs, and the artifacts of the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. Currently housed in a temporary location during the construction of the new National Music Centre building. 

What to eat and drink in Calgary, Canada

Calgary offers a wide variety of dining options. While Calgary doesn't have a single signature dish, residents are very proud of Alberta beef, and Calgarians are discerning clients of steakhouses. Speaking of beef, the popular Chinese-Canadian dish of ginger beef was invented in Calgary in the 1970s. Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut (also called Cococo), the winner of international awards for chocolate-making, is based in Calgary, with many stores in the city.
Calgary is also home to a very culturally diverse population, with a very wide selection of international restaurants, especially from East and Southeast Asia, and the Mediterranean from Italy through Lebanon. Calgary is, however, generally lacking in decent Mexican food (see exceptions below), and the inland location means that a good meal of seafood is sometimes hard to find.
Restaurants in the downtown area are very busy between noon and 1 PM on weekdays due to the lunch crowd of office workers; if you can, try to stagger your lunch to start around 11:15 or 1:30. You'll face much shorter lineups. Buffets are often only prepared once for lunchtime, and visiting a buffet after 12:15 or so will typically be a depressing dining experience.
Calgary is also the city of founding for major Canadian restaurant chains Hy's, Original Joe's, and Moxies. (The original Calgary Hy's Steakhouse closed in 2006.)


Calgary's most abundant ethnic specialty is Vietnamese. Most neighborhoods have at least one Vietnamese noodle shop or Vietnamese sub (banh mi) joint. See the "Take Out Only" section below for some more budget options.

  • Banzai Sushi & Teriyaki House, 526A – 4 Ave SW, ☎ +1 403-262-9060, fax: +1 403-262-9060. Competently-executed, low-priced Japanese food in an efficient cafeteria-like setting. A good choice for a fast, cheap, satisfying lunch. Branches in Southland and Downtown. 
  • The Big Cheese Poutinerie, 738 17 Ave SW, ☎ +1 403-457-2873. Basic indoor seating, lots of options on those Poutine fries.
  • Boogies Burgers, A-908 Edmonton Trail NE, ☎ +1 403-230-7070. M-Sa 11 AM-9 PM, Su noon-8 PM. Large burgers on a fresh bun served in many one of a kind creation. Shakes made with real ice cream & milk; regular, spicy & yam fries. 
  • Chianti Café (Chianti), 1438 17 Ave SW, ☎ +1 403-229-1600. Regional Italian restaurant chain with four locations in Calgary (17 Ave SW, 32 Ave NE, Willow Park, and Crowfoot). Appetizers, soup, salad, pasta, seafood, veal, chicken. Lunch menu and takeout available.
  • Falafel King, 225 8 Ave SW, ☎ +1 403-269-5464. Middle Eastern food, falafel, chicken and beef shawarma, and the best hummus in the city. Fresh-squeezed juice on tap. 
  • Pho Pasteur Saigon, 207 1 St SE (Chinatown), ☎ +1 403-233-0477. Pho Pasteur Saigon is a favorite Vietnamese noodle joint. If they're busy, try Pho Hoai, located inside the mall.
  • Rocky’s Burger Bus, 1235 26 Ave SE (Crossroads Market parking lot), ☎ +1 403-243-0405, fax: +1 403-253-8120, e-mail: M-Th 10 AM-3 PM, F-Su 9 AM-5 PM. An old transit bus parked next to Crossroads Market in SE Calgary. They proudly serve AAA Alberta beef to huge lineups at lunchtime on any given day, regardless of the weather. Burgers, hot dogs, smokies, bacon on a bun. Fries, poutine, onion rings. Milkshakes, pop. One of the best burgers in town made from fresh, hand-formed 1/3 pound 100% Alberta beef.
  • Spolumbo's Fine Foods and Deli (Spolumbo's), 1308 9 Ave SE (Inglewood district), ☎ +1 403-264-6452. M-Sa 8:30 AM-5:30 PM. Owned by former Calgary Stampeders football players, Spolumbo's offers delicious Italian style deli foods: sandwiches, soups, and salads. An in-house sausage plant makes some of Calgary's finest sausage, available here and in Calgary grocery stores. Try the Spolumbo's Special, a panini sandwich featuring mortadella, capicolla and genoa salami. Fresh and delicious. 
  • Tubby Dog, 1022 17 Ave SW, ☎ +1 403-244-0694. Su-Th 11:30 AM-late, F-Sa 11:30 AM-1:30 AM; window service only F-Sa 1:30 AM-3:30 AM. Tubby Dog is a hot dog restaurant right on 17th Avenue, close to many of the bars. They offer huge hotdogs with toppings like nacho cheese, bacon bits, peanut butter and jelly, breakfast cereal, fried eggs, sausage, and potato chips. Some nights they have a DJ spinning in the corner, and other nights they have video game tournaments. Expect to wait in line if planning on going on a Friday or Saturday after partying on 17th. Second location at 731 10 Ave SW. 
  • Wicked Wedge, 6455 Macleod Trail SW (Chinook Centre food court), ☎ +1 403-228-1024. M-Sa 9:30 AM-9 PM, Su 11 AM-6 PM. The Wedge offers pizza-by-the-slice, as well as whole pizzas and take and bake pizzas. Innovative pizzas, lots of toppings and hand made crusts have made the Wicked Wedge's reputation.


  • Belmont Diner, 2008 33 Ave SW (Marda Loop), ☎ +1 403-242-6782. M-F 7 AM-3 PM, Sa-Su 7 AM-4 PM. A traditional style diner was serving breakfast all day and lunch after about noon. On weekends be sure to get there early as the line can be half a block long because of its popularity and smaller seating capacity.
  • The Coup, 924B 17 Ave SW (Door off a railed-in sidewalk area.), ☎ +1 403-541-1041, e-mail: Lunch: M-F 11 AM-3 PM; brunch: Sa-Su 9 AM-3 PM; dinner: M-Th 5 PM-10 PM, F-Sa 5 PM-11 PM, Su 5 PM-9 PM. This all-vegetarian restaurant serves a variety of interesting flavors from largely organic and local ingredients. You may have to wait to get a seat in the cozy 32-seat dining room since they take no reservations and seat at most six per table but ask for a drink from their bar (called "Meet") as you wait. Try the yam fries as a side to the El Taco grilled tortilla wrap with shredded beets, or the War and Peas soba noodle salad. Plenty of vegan options. Serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 
  • La Brezza Ristorante, 990 1 Ave NE, ☎ +1 403-262-6230. Lunch: Tu-F 11:30 AM-2:30 PM; dinner: Su-Th 5:30 PM-9 PM, F-Sa 5 PM-10 PM. This Italian restaurant in Bridgeland has been in business since 1987. 
  • Laurier Lounge, 1111 7 St SW, ☎ +1 403-228-3772, e-mail: Tu 11 AM-10 PM, W-F 11 AM-11 PM, Sa 10 AM-11 PM, Su 10 AM-10 PM. French-influenced cuisine, located in historic George Stanley house. Lunch dishes include Poutine and the Warren Buffet Burger.
  • Lolita's Lounge (Salt & Pepper Mexican Restaurant), 1413 9 Ave SE, ☎ +1 403-265-5739. Mexican food, drink, and various shows as entertainment. Cover charge for entertainment. 
  • Marathon Ethiopian Restaurant, 130 10 St NW (Kensington Village), ☎ +1 403-283-6796. Lunch buffet: M-F 11:30 AM-2:30 PM; dinner: 5:30 PM-10 PM daily. Calgary's oldest and finest Ethiopian restaurant, lunch buffet on weekdays, vegetarian options. Often slow service but the tasty and filling food makes up for it. 
  • Moti Mahal, 1805 14 St SW, ☎ +1 403-228-9990. Lunch: M-F 11:30 AM-1:30 PM; dinner: Su-Tu 5:30 PM-9 PM; W-Th 5:30 PM-9:30 PM, F-Sa 5:30 PM-10:30 PM. Excellent Kashmiri Indian restaurant. A second location in Midnapore Mall. 
  • Nick's Steakhouse, 2430 Crowchild Trail NW (Across from McMahon Stadium), ☎ +1 403-282-9278. Best known for Alberta steaks and tasty pizzas.  
  • Orchid Room Fusion Cuisine, 513 8 Ave SW (Bankers Hall – 2nd floor), ☎ +1 403-263-4457. M-W 10 AM-6 PM, Th-F 10 AM-8 PM, Sa 10 AM-5:30 PM, Su closed. A fusion of Vietnamese, Thai, and French cuisine with dishes like seafood phó soup, caramelized salmon, coconut prawn soup, and salad rolls stuffed with mango and shrimp. 
  • Una Pizza + Wine, 618 17 Ave SW, e-mail: 11:30 AM-1 AM daily. Very popular creative pizzas. No reservations, so go early, order takes out, or line up. 


Traditional – Steak, seafood, and French cuisine

  • Caesar's (Julius Caesar's Steakhouse and Lounge), 512 4 Ave SW, ☎ +1 403-264-1222. Lunch: M-F 11 AM-2 PM; dinner: M-Sa 4:30 PM-10 PM. A downtown Calgary institution since 1972, some say that Caesar's is a classic steakhouse, while others feel it's outdated & tacky. The second location in south Calgary.
  • Cassis Bistro, #105, 2505 17 Ave SW, ☎ +1 403-262-0036. Lunch: Su,Tu-F 11:30 AM-2 PM, Sa 11:30 AM-2:30 PM; dinner: Tu-Sa 5 PM-10 PM, Su 5 PM-9 PM; M closed. The cuisine of southern France. 
  • Catch & the Oyster Bar, 100 8 Ave SE (Hyatt Regency Hotel on Stephen Avenue Walk), ☎ +1 403-206-000. M-F 11:30 AM-10 PM, Sa 4 PM-10 PM. Calgary's classic seafood restaurant. The catch is their more formal dining room while the Oyster Bar is more relaxed. Uses Vancouver Aquarium's OceanWise guidelines for sustainable seafood.
  • CharCUT, #101, 899 Centre St SW (Across from the Calgary Tower, in Hotel Le Germain), ☎ +1 403-984-2180. M-Tu 11 AM-11 PM, W-F 11 AM-1 AM, Sa 5 PM-1 AM, Su 5 PM-10 PM. A great place for lunch or dinner if you're looking for meat; very few options for vegetarians. The slow-roasted prime rib and chicken are their specialties, as well as the made-in-house cured meats. The wine list is varied, and there is a selection of microbrews from across Canada. Mains 
  • La Chaumière, 139 17 Ave SW (Next to Rouleauville Square), ☎ +1 403-228-5690. M-F 11:45 AM-2:30 PM, 5:45 PM-midnight, Sa 5:30 PM-midnight, Su closed. French haute cuisine, local Alberta meats, game, and produce, excellent wine cellar. Banquet rooms for 14-100 people, patio in summer, business casual dress code. Reservations required. 
  • Rush Ocean Prime, #100, 207 – 9 Ave SW, ☎ +1 403-271-7874. M-F 11 AM-midnight, Sa 5 PM-2 AM. The focus is on seafood and steaks, with few dinner options for vegetarians. 
  • Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, #294, 115 9 Ave SE (Base of the Calgary Tower), ☎ +1 403-246-3636, e-mail: Lunch: M-F 11 AM-2 PM; dinner: M-Sa 4 PM-10 PM, Su 4 PM-9 PM. Carnivorous delight, with your choice of Alberta or US beef.
  • Saltlik Steakhouse, 101 8 Ave SW (Stephen Avenue Walk), ☎ +1 403-537-1160. A high-end steakhouse in the core of downtown, extremely popular with the people working in the core for a good reason. Food and service are generally excellent with a cosmopolitan atmosphere. Steak is, as expected, quite good. More extravagant steak houses exist but tend to be for the expense account crowd. 

Eclectic – Great cuisine from around the world

  • Alloy, 220 42 Ave SE, ☎ +1 403-287-9255. Lunch: M-F 11:30 AM-2 PM; dinner: 5 PM-10 PM daily. 
  • The Belvedere, 107 8 Ave SW (Stephen Avenue Walk), ☎ +1 403-265-9595, e-mail: The only restaurant to win the coveted Birks Silver Spoon Award for best service in Calgary for two consecutive years. Flawless service and atmosphere. Well-stocked bar and lounge with a nice selection of Cuban cigars.
  • Blink, 111 8 Ave SW (Stephen Avenue Walk), ☎ +1 403-263-5330. Lunch: M-F 11 AM-2 PM; dinner: M-Sa 5 PM-11 PM. Canadian cuisine.
  • Chef's Table, 1126 Memorial Dr. NW (Kensington Riverside Inn, in Kensington Village), ☎ +1 403-228-4442. Breakfast: M-F 7 AM-10 AM; brunch: Sa-Su 8 AM-1 PM; dinner: M-Sa 5:30 PM-9:30 PM. The fine-dining restaurant at Calgary's Relais et Chateaux hotel. 
  • Japanese Village, 317 10 Ave SW, ☎ +1 403-262-2738. A teppan and steak house, they offer meals cooked with flair in front of your eyes. Tends to rush diners through.
  • Model Milk, 308 17 Ave SW, ☎ +1 403-265-7343, e-mail: Lactophobes need not fear a dairy-heavy menu. The restaurant's name is taken from the name of the dairy which occupied this building from 1932 until 1965. The restaurant's very popular fixed-menu Sunday supper is served until 10 PM. 
  • NOtaBLE the Restaurant, 4611 Bowness Rd NW (Montgomery district), ☎ +1 403-288-4372. Tu-Th 11:30 AM-10 PM, F 11:30 AM-11 PM, Sa 11 AM-11 PM, Su 11 AM-9 PM. Rotisserie dishes are their specialty.
  • Q Haute Cuisine (formerly La Caille), 100 La Caille Pl SW, ☎ +1 403-262-5554. Lunch: M-F 11:30 AM-1:30 PM; dinner: M-Sa 5:30 PM-9 PM. An Epicurean journey of discovery that will make your tastebuds very happy.
  • River Café, 25 Prince's Island Park (Prince's Island Park), ☎ +1 403-261-7670. M-F 11 AM-10 PM, Sa-Su 10 AM-10 PM; open until 11 PM nightly during summer. One of Calgary's first locavore restaurants, River Cafe is located in the middle of Prince's Island Park (see map). It's right on the lagoon where the Bow River passes through downtown, thus has no parking. The nearest parking lot is not far, but this can cause problems in bad weather or for diners with mobility issues. 
  • Rouge, 1240 8 Ave SE (Inglewood), ☎ +1 403-531-2767. Lunch: M-F 11:30 AM-1:30 PM; dinner: M-Sa 5 PM-10:30 PM. Located in the historic A.E. Cross House (1891), Rouge's focus has long been on excellent cuisine with local food, including some grown in their on-site garden. Tasting menu available. Bistro Rouge is their more casual & affordable restaurant in southwest Calgary. 
  • Sky 360, 101 9 Ave SW (Top of the Calgary Tower), ☎ +1 403-532-7966, e-mail: Lunch: M-Sa 11 AM-2 PM; brunch: Su 10 AM-2 PM; dinner: Su-Th 5 PM-9 PM, F-Sa 5 PM-10 PM. Revolving restaurant with a view. Ride up the Calgary Tower to the restaurant is free with the purchase of the main dish. 
  • Teatro, 200 8 Ave SE (On Stephen Avenue Walk, next to Olympic Plaza), ☎ +1 403-290-1012. M-W 11:30 AM-10 PM, Th 11:30 AM-10:30 PM, F 11:30 AM-11 PM, Sa 5 PM-11 PM, Su 5 PM-10 PM. Italian fine cuisine in a magnificent heritage building. Tasting menu available. 


Calgary is the original home of the Caesar cocktail, sometimes called Canada's national cocktail. There are many bars located throughout the city, although the core is where the trendiest clubs are located. There is also the ever-popular 17th Avenue SW, home to the Red Mile.

  • The Blues Can, 1429 9 Ave SE (Inglewood), ☎ +1 403-262-2666, e-mail: Calgary's home of live blues music also serves drinks.
  • Cat 'n Fiddle, 540 16 Ave NW, ☎ +1 403-289-0414, e-mail: M-Th 11 AM-1 AM, F 11 AM-2 AM, Sa 10 AM-2 AM, Su 10 AM-midnight. Great place to head for a pint of almost any brew you can think of, sometimes with a touch of Irish
  • Ceili's Modern Irish Pub, 803 8 Ave SW, ☎ +1 403-265-1200. M-F 11 AM-Late, Sa 6 PM-Late, Su closed. Three other locations in Calgary: Royal Oak, Southland, & 4th Avenue downtown.
  • HiFi Club, 219 10 Ave SW, ☎ +1 403-263-5222. Live music venue, dance club and art gallery for those who aren't cowboys/cowgirls and want some different, alternative music.
  • Ironwood Stage & Grill (Garry Theatre), 1229 9 Ave SE, ☎ +1 403-269-5581. Live music every night: folk, pop, country, and more. Shows usually start by 8 PM Su-Tu, Th. Shows usually start by 9 PM W, F-Sa.
  • Moose McGuire's, #25, 1941 Uxbridge Dr. NW, in Stadium Shopping Centre (Off University Drive, near McMahon Stadium and the U of C campus), ☎ +1 403-289-9184. M-Th 11:30 AM-1 AM, F 11:30 AM-2 AM, Sa noon–2 AM, Su noon-1 AM. Pub near McMahon Stadium (home of the Calgary Stampeders, the local Canadian Football League team) and the university campus. As a result, the prices are great, and it's an excellent place to enjoy a game or head to after class.
  • Morgan's, 1324 17 Ave SW, ☎ +1 403-244-6670. A great live music pub with cheaper drinks than most places on 17th Ave. Tuesdays host the must-see Broken Toyz, an exceptionally talented glam-rock band who have become local legends. Get there before 9 PM to avoid long line-ups. Often has a slightly older crowd than other establishments on 17th Ave, with more late 30s and 40s drinkers.
  • The Palomino Smokehouse and Social Club, 109 7 Ave SW, ☎ +1 403-532-1911. Upstairs is a BBQ restaurant featuring various meats smoked over apple and cherry wood along with an expansive selection of bourbon, tequila, and whiskey. Fridays feature live rock-a-billy from 5-9 PM while the downstairs bar features live music every Friday and Saturday evening.
  • Ranchman's Cookhouse and Dance Hall, 9615 Macleod Trail S, ☎ +1 403-253-1100. A year-round destination for all things Western: line dancing, country music, and more. Very popular during Stampede Week.
  • Rose & Crown Pub, 1503 4 St SW, ☎ +1 403-244-7757. M-W 11 AM-midnight, Th-Sa 11 AM-2 AM, Su 11 AM-11 PM. Two-level pubs with a large wood fireplace during the winter. Live music, large beer selection. Once a funeral home, it is rumored to be haunted.
  • Ship and Anchor Pub, 534 17 Ave SW, ☎ +1 403-245-3333. M-F 11 AM-2 AM, Sa-Su 10 AM-2 AM. An excellent place for live music, a lively young crowd, and cheap eats.
  • The Twisted Element (Twisted), 1006 11 Ave SW, ☎ +1 403-802-0230. W 7 PM–3 AM, Th-Sa 9 PM-3 AM, Su 8 PM–3 AM, M-Tu closed. Calgary's only gay nightclub (although there is a leather bar with a heavy gay presence), Twisted has an incredible variety of clientèle. Mostly gay and bisexual men and a variety of lesbian, bisexual, and straight women. Wednesdays and Thursdays feature amateur strip contests (among some themes) and good drink specials.
  • Wine-Ohs Bistro and Cellar ((formerly BeatNiq)), 811 1 St SW (Grain Exchange building (sandstone)), ☎ +1 403-263-1650. Wine tastings are offered upstairs, while the cellar has an eclectic mix of live music and entertainment, from jazz to folk to burlesque.

Shopping in Calgary, Canada

Urban shopping

  • Eau Claire Market, 200 Barclay Parade (corner of 2 St and 2 Ave SW), ☎ +1 403-264-6450. M-W, Sa 10 AM-6 PM, Th-F 10 AM-8 PM, Su 11 AM-5 PM. A unique market-style mall with interesting shops, restaurants, and cinemas. The mall has recently (2014) begun an extensive, multi-year redevelopment.
  • Inglewood. Centered on Atlantic Avenue (9 Ave SE), east of the Elbow River, this quirky neighborhood is almost devoid of chain businesses (save maybe a Starbucks), leaving a sea of unique businesses. The highlights are the coffee shops, art galleries, trendy clothiers, and upscale furniture shops. This is arguably Calgary's best urban shopping area. Inglewood is also a historic district, and a downloadable self-guided walking tour is available.
  • Stephen Avenue Walk, 8 Ave S between 1 St SE and 4 St SW. Stephen Avenue Walk is a pedestrianized section of 8 Ave SW in the heart of Calgary's downtown core. It is home mostly to restaurants and some bars, but you will still find some major retail shops fronting it. Stephen Avenue is also home to most of the downtown mall called the Core. Stephen Avenue is also a Canadian National Historic District. A downloadable self-guided walking tour is available.
  • 17th Ave (Uptown 17). Calgary's best-known urban business street is home to chains like Best Buy and Pet Planet, and independent businesses like Gravity Pope. If you're dropping from all the shopping, the heart of the strip is little Tomkins Park at 17th Ave near 8th St, filled with nice shade and cozy benches.
  • Kensington Village. Centered on 10 Street NW and Kensington Road NW, Kensington is home to art galleries, fashion retailers, and antiques. It is somewhat more upscale than say Stephen Avenue Walk or Inglewood, but not in a snobby way.

Suburban shopping

  • Chinook Centre, 6455 Macleod Trail SW (Macleod Trail at 58 Ave S, near Chinook C-Train station). M-F 9:30 AM-9 PM, Sa-Su 11:00 AM-7 PM. Calgary's largest indoor mall and one of the best shopping experiences in the city for variety and amount of retail shops. An extension opened in 2010. Check out the "flying" sculptures in the food court!
  • CrossIron Mills, 261055 CrossIron Blvd, Rocky View, AB (10 minutes north of the city on Highway 2 (Deerfoot Trail)), ☎ +1 403-984-6800. This large indoor mall is in the neighboring hamlet of Balzac, north of Calgary. Similar in format to other "mills" malls, it opened in 2009 with many well-known stores and outlets as the first new enclosed mall to be built in the Calgary area in a generation. Plan on driving; it's the only way to get there.
  • Crowfoot Crossing Shopping Centre, Crowfoot Way at Nose Hill Drive NW. Crowfoot is a very large outdoor shopping center (power center) located in NW Calgary.
  • Deerfoot Mall (Deerfoot Outlet Mall), At Deerfoot Trail and 64 Ave NE. Anchor tenants include Wal-Mart Supercentre, Winners, and Sport Chek. Outlet stores include Bowling Depot, Bianca Amor's Liquidation Supercentre, Laura Outlet, and Lammle's Western Wear Outlet. Deerfoot Mall began a 5-year redevelopment and renovation plan in November 2013.
  • Deerfoot Meadows, Heritage Dr. SE at 11 St SE (Take Deerfoot Trail southbound to the Southland Drive exit or northbound to the Heritage Drive exit). This sprawling outdoor shopping center (power center) includes big box stores like Ikea, Best Buy, Michael's, Real Canadian Superstore and Future Shop.
  • Market Mall, 3625 Shaganappi Trail NW. M-F 10 AM-9 PM, Sa 9:30 AM-8 PM, Su 11 AM-6 PM. In the northwest, near the University of Calgary. This very large indoor mall also has a playground inside for pre-schoolers.
  • Signal Hill Shopping Centre, Near the junction of Glenmore Trail, Highway 8 and Sarcee Trail. A large outdoor shopping center (power center) in SW Calgary. Located just north of the very similar Westhills Shopping Centre.
  • Southcentre Mall, 100 Anderson Road SE (At Macleod Trail and Anderson Road, a five-minute walk from the Anderson C-Train LRT station.). M-F 9:30 AM-9 PM, Sa 9:30 AM-8 PM, Su 11 AM-6 PM. A very large indoor mall in south Calgary.
  • Westhills Shopping Centre (junction of Glenmore Trail, Highway 8 and Sarcee Trail). A large outdoor mall (power center) in SW Calgary. Includes a small outdoor toddler playground in the southernmost part of the shopping center, near Plum. Located next to (just south of) the very similar Signal Hill Shopping Centre.

Farmers' Markets

  • Calgary Farmers' Market, 510 77 Ave SE (Just off of Blackfoot Trail and Heritage Drive SE), ☎ +1 403-240-9113, e-mail: Th-Su 9 AM-5 PM. Market with 75 vendors providing a variety of products such as fresh local meat and produce, art, organic goods, and jewelry. There is also a large food court with two outdoor patios. The market includes special events like storytelling, demonstrations, dance shows, and live music.
  • Crossroads Market, 1235 26 Ave SE (Blackfoot Trail and Ogden Rd), ☎ +1 403-291-5208. Indoor Market: F-Su 9 AM-5 PM, Outdoor Market: F-Su 8 AM-5 PM (summer). Less than 5 minutes from downtown with ample free parking, Crossroads Markets is located in an eclectic 100,000 square foot historic building. Crossroads Market is home to a flea market, antique market, indoor farmer`s market, international food fair, and a seasonal outdoor farmer's market.
  • Hillhurst-Sunnyside Farmers' Market, 1320 5 Ave NW (Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Centre), ☎ +1 403-283-0554 ext 228, e-mail: 3 PM-7 PM every W, late May/early Jun to early Oct; Nov-May first W of the month only.
  • Hillhurst-Sunnyside Flea Market, 1320 5 Ave NW (Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Centre), ☎ +1 403-283-0554 ext 232. Su 7 AM-3 PM.
  • Market on Macleod (Kingsland Farmers Market), 7711 Macleod Trail S (West side of Macleod Trail, north of Heritage Dr). Th-Su 9 AM-5 PM. Year-round indoor farmers' market with a variety of vendors.

Specialist shops

  • Alberta Boot Company, 50 50 Ave SE, ☎ +1 403-263-4623. M-Sa 9 AM-6 PM. Get the right gear for the Stampede with the only manufacturer of Western boots in Alberta. Custom orders are available.
  • Crown Surplus, 1005 11 St SE (Inglewood), ☎ +1 403-265-1754. M-F 8:30 AM-5:30 PM, Sa noon-5 PM. Calgary's oldest (only?) army surplus store, Crown Surplus occupies a Quonset hut and several adjoining buildings. A good place to look for camping and hunting gear, with plenty of military memorabilia on display. Where else can you buy a 100' diameter parachute?
  • Daily Globe News Shop, 1004 17 Ave SW, ☎ +1 403-244-2060. 9 AM-9 PM daily. International newspapers and magazines.
  • Fair's Fair Books, 1609 – 14 St SW, ☎ +1 403-245-2778. Tu-Sa 10 AM-9 PM, Su-M 10 AM-6 PM. Main shop for this Calgary chain of second-hand book stores. Other stores are in Inglewood, Ranchlands, Macleod Trail, and near Chinook Centre.
  • Mountain Equipment Co-op, 830 10 Ave SW, ☎ +1 403-269-2420. M-W 10 AM-7 PM, Th-F 10 AM-9 PM, Sa 9 AM-6 PM, Su 11 AM-5 PM. A good place to get outdoor equipment and clothing before heading out to the Rockies. They're all about self-propelled outdoor activities, so expect to find gear for climbing, canoeing, cycling, and kayaking, but don't expect to find gear for water skiing, downhill skiing, or snowmobiling. 
  • Smithbilt Hats, 1103 12 St SE (in Inglewood, near Festival Hall), ☎ +1 403-244-9131. M-Th 9 AM-5 PM, F 8 AM-4:30 PM. The manufacturer of Calgary's famous white cowboy hat also makes other felt and straw hat styles.

Safety in Calgary, Canada

Although Calgary is generally a very safe place, walking at night should be avoided in the East Village and Victoria Park areas of downtown (generally speaking, this is the area adjacent to the Stampede Grounds and north to the Bow River). Calgary's 2011 murder rate of 1.1 murders per 100,000 inhabitants was, for example, roughly one-tenth the murder rate of Minneapolis and one-twentieth that of Memphis. Always keep your wits about you when the bars close, regardless of the area of town.
Calgary drivers are typical drivers for a mid-sized western North American city. Culturally, Calgary is a mash-up of small-town culture and big city living, and driving in Calgary is no exception. If you come from a small town in rural North America, the drivers would be considerably more aggressive than you are used to. If you are from a larger busier urban area or are from Europe for instance, Calgary drivers can be considered quite timid and under-skilled. A driver from New York, London or even Montreal and Toronto would consider the Calgary driver to lack confidence more than anything. Calgarians are generally quite aware of pedestrians and usually give pedestrians right of way, as required by law. Calgarians are generally safe and cautious (some consider overly cautious) drivers, though. Note though that Calgarians are probably some of the best inclement weather drivers in the world. Blizzards, storms, floods, etc. are where Calgary drivers shine compared to the rest of the world's drivers, and they can navigate them safely with the minimum of problems.
Calgary freeways are nowhere near as congested and confusing as L.A. freeways or the 401 in Toronto, but Deerfoot Trail (nicknamed the "Deerfoot 500" by locals) is to be avoided if you're not comfortable with 100 km/h freeway driving, and even by experts at rush hour (accidents occur on a daily basis). A second freeway, Stoney Trail, now exists on the northwest, north, and east sides of the city providing an alternate, less hectic route.
Be aware of lengthy wait times at the emergency rooms of the city's hospitals. It may take 1 to 2 hours or more to see an emergency doctor. (Note: this is a province-wide problem.) There is a web page where Alberta Health tracks the current wait times for Calgary emergency departments.
Panhandlers are a sight in Calgary's downtown core. The majority of them just need to be told 'No,' but some can be persistent. A great number of agencies exist to assist the disadvantaged in Calgary, and true charity cases receive assistance from them regularly; money is far better spent donating to these agencies as it ensures that those truly in need will receive it. For that reason, visitors are encouraged not to give money to strangers in the street. Panhandlers have also been found at signalized intersections, holding a cap or hand out to drivers stopped at red lights.
Take care when crossing LRT (tram) tracks, as the trains are quiet. There are no electrified rails. There are usually bells and barriers at pedestrian crossings; heed them.
Boaters on the Bow River should note the Calgary White Water Park (Harvie Passage) located just downstream of the Calgary Zoo; heed the warning signs. People have perished here, the strongest swimmers among them.
Winter driving always requires caution. The key to winter driving is to slow down, as the main hazard in winter is slippery roads due to snow, ice, or slush. Remember, your vehicle – whether it's a compact car or an SUV – relies on four surfaces, each the size of the palm of your hand, to grip the road. When you drive faster or drive on a slippery surface, that means less traction. So the solution for slippery roads is to slow down to give your car a better grip on the road surface. (Winter tires help too: If renting a car in winter, request winter tires, because not all rental cars have winter tires equipped.) In the worst winter driving conditions, you may see drivers on 100 km/h roads drop down to 60 km/h for safety. By slowing down and significantly increasing your following distance, you can safely navigate through most winter road conditions. Winter road conditions are available online from Alberta Transportation and the Alberta Motor Association.
Although Calgary doesn't get a lot of heavy snow, temperatures below freezing can allow ice to form on many roads. The most dangerous condition is when the ice is a clear sheet which resembles the road, called "black ice." Black ice is most commonly seen on bridge decks and other elevated roadways such as on- and off-ramps, where the road surface cools more quickly and so is more prone to freezing. Black ice most dangerous times to drive in these conditions are the two or three days immediately following the first major snowfall of the year. Black ice can also form after a period of warmer weather, such as in late fall, early spring, or after a winter chinook, when melting snow can turn to ice overnight. Freezing rain is not often seen in the Calgary area, but sometimes happens in late fall or early spring, when an evening shower is followed by overnight lows that drop below freezing, covering the roads with ice.
Weather in Calgary is unpredictable from fall through spring. It is always best to dress in layers and come prepared for extremes, even within the same day.

Language spoken in Calgary, Canada

English and French are the official languages.


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