As the third largest municipality in Canada, it’s no wonder Calgary is full of many different great things to see and do! Here, we uncover our top 10 list of the things no trip to the city would be complete without.
Held annually every July, the Calgary stampede is a true Albertan institution and the source of the city’s ‘Stampede City’ nickname. Each year, more than a million visitors attend the 10 day event, comprised of a parade, rodeo, derby, exhibition and market, which is self-branded as ‘The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.’ Even if you’re not in town at the right time of year to catch the show, you can still visit the park for a variety of other events aimed to promote the local community and Western traditional heritage.
Opening Hours: 11am-midnight daily
Calgary Stampede, 1410 Olympic Way S.E., Calgary, AB, Canada, +1 403 261 0101
Heritage Park Historical Village
Canada’s largest living historical village, Heritage Park, is a great way to gain an insight into Calgary’s vivid past. Spanning the course of local life from 1860 through to the 1950s, the place documents the reality of different periods in history, through an immersive experience complete with costumed staff. Daily activities at the attraction include traditional Métis Bannock bread making, street theatre performances and fibre arts demonstrations, as well as a huge range of tours of different areas of the park.
Opening Hours: 9.30am-5pm daily from May to September plus 9.30am-5pm Saturday and Sunday from October to April
Heritage Park Historical Village, 1900 Heritage Drive S.W., Calgary, AB, Canada, +1 403 268 8500
Calgary Pathway System
Making the most of the city’s scenic Alberta location, the Calgary Pathway system covers over 800km of regional and local pathways, making it the largest network in North America. Maintained by the city, the pathways represent popular routes for walking, jogging, biking and many other outdoor activities. Connecting downtown Calgary to its outer suburbs, much of the route runs along the south side of the Bow River and through well-maintained forest, which is especially beautiful during the Fall.
Calgary Pathway System, Calgary, AB, Canada, +1 403 268 3888
Located towards the east of the city, in its Bridgeland neighborhood, the Calgary Zoo is a not-for-profit organization, which also includes the Dorothy Harvie Botanical Gardens. Covering an area of 120 acres, the six zones of the park house close to 800 animals, from 120 different species groups, as well as many types of fish and insects. The animals also have plenty of space to roam and the zoo’s focus on conservation research has gained it recognition worldwide.
Opening Hours: 9am-5pm daily
Calgary Zoo, 1300 Zoo Road N.E., Calgary, AB, Canada, +1 403 232 9300
The city’s version of the famous Toronto CN Tower, the Calgary Tower stands over the city at 191m tall. From its observation deck, the view of downtown includes many of the city’s most famous landmarks, which you can opt to be guided through in a multimedia tour available in four different languages. The tower also includes a fine-dining restaurant with rotating dining room, the Sky 360 Restaurant, as well as a more casual dining option, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, at ground level.
Opening Hours: 9am-9pm daily
Calgary Tower, 101 9th Avenue S.W., Calgary, AB, Canada, +1 403 266 7171
Unveiled in January 2013, the Wonderland sculpture has already become a well-known landmark, situated downtown in front of the Bow skyscraper. Designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, the sculpture stands at 12m tall and is constructed fully from bent wire. At first sight most visitors see it as the head of a young girl, but if you look closely enough there are actually a total of five faces viewable from different angles!
Wonderland Sculpture, 500 Centre Street S.E., Calgary, AB, Canada
Another great introduction to the city’s growing art scene is Contemporary Calgary, a fusion of the Art Gallery of Calgary with its allies, the Museum of Modern Contemporary Art Calgary and the Institute of Modern and Contemporary Art. Exhibitions here are definitely on the experimental side, with subject matters such as the intersection of minimalism and humour. Read more about the gallery here, in our article on the 10 must-see galleries for Calgary contemporary art fans.
Opening Hours: Both locations are open midday-6pm Thursday to Sunday, closed Monday to Wednesday
Contemporary Calgary, 117 8th Avenue S.W., Calgary, AB, Canada, +1 403 770 1350
Contemporary Calgary, Suite 104, 800 McLeod Trail S.E., Calgary, AB, Canada, +1 403 262 1737
Another art and history destination in the city is Glenbow Museum. Covering the story of Calgary from its pre-to-post-war periods, this well-curated exhibition is full of historical art, multimedia displays and indigenous artefacts. There is also an impressive program of special events held regularly, from specially focused talks on particular artists to more hands on crafting sessions.
Opening Hours: 9am-5pm Friday to Wednesday and 9am-9pm Thursday
Glenbow Museum, 130 9th Avenue S.E., Calgary, AB, Canada, +1 403 777 5506
Calgary Farmer’s Market
Featuring the crème de la crème of local artisan suppliers, Calgary Farmer’s Market attracts huge crowds to its weekly food markets. Browsing the different stalls and sampling regional produce is a great way to spend a sunny afternoon, and there are also plenty of dining options if you want to grab a more substantial bite to eat. The Saturday market is often accompanied by the option of chef’s guided tours and book signings by local food writers.
Opening Hours: 9am-5pm Thursday to Sunday, closed Monday to Wednesday
Calgary Farmer’s Market, 510 77 Avenue S.E., Calgary, AB, Canada, +1 403 240 9113