Visit the most amazing city in Canada by visiting Calgary today. Flanked by the Rocky Mountains and full of fun, you are sure to have an incredible time!
What you need to know about Calgary
Calgary is a friendly and affordable city to visit when you travel in Canada. Locals are always on hand to give you a helping hand if you have any troubles but the city itself is well laid, easy to understand and supported by a good transport network.
Language: In Calgary, as you will find all across Canada, there are two official languages; English and French. Day to day the locals all speak English but the products you will see in any shop or retail outlet have both English and French written on them in accordance with Canadian law.
Currency: The currency is the Canadian dollar (or CAD). The $1 coin is locally referred to as a ‘Loonie’ because of the picture of the Common Loon bird on the back of the coin, and a $2 coin is called a ‘Toonie’.
Banking: ATMs are to be found all around Calgary. All major cards are accepted by retailers and points of sale. Just be aware that when you try to use a card in any machine t will probably ask you if you want to carry out the transaction (or withdrawal) on your checking or savings account. Your normal option is to select ‘checking’ as this will correspond with your day to day bank account if using a non-Canadian bank card.
Weather: Because Calgary is located at altitude compared to much of the rest of the country the weather is polarised and fairly extreme when comparing the region’s seasonal highs and lows.The weather is warm lovely and warm in the summer - hotter than you might expect at times.
It is not uncommon for temperatures to reach over 30 degrees in summer days with average in the mid-20s being expected over the course of the non-snowy months. When winter does descend it can be brutally cold. Below zero temperatures are to be expected and days with -10 to -20 are not uncommon.
When a serious cold snap hits the city the temperatures can drop to below -30 which even Calgarian locals will admit is a little chilly! A bit winter dump of some serious snow is 100% guaranteed so a ‘white Christmas’ is on the cards every year for anyone in the city.
A growing city with vibrancy welcomes you with open arms
There is one thing you can absolutely say about Calgary…. It is probably the friendliest city in the world. Locals are welcoming (including the official ‘greeters’ at Calgary International Airport (YYC) who are normally retired folk that volunteer their time to greet new arrivals with a tip of their hat and a smile. Expect to find every single person employed in the service industry to be super friendly and helpful as that is the way Calgarians tend to be on the whole anyway.
The city centre is seemingly getting bigger by the day. If you were to visit once a year and check out the skyline you would always see a new building that has popped up while you have been away. Calgary may not be the biggest city in Canada (not even close!) but it is one that has its eyes firmly set on growing. From a tourist’s perspective this means more things to do, more attractions to see and more fun to be had.
The main attraction downtown is the Calgary Tower. It stands as one of the tallest buildings in the city and provides you with a stunning panoramic view of the area from the top. The Rocky Mountains look incredible from upon high and after sampling the view you can book a table in the revolving restaurant - lovely setting for a meal, especially at night - and take in some brilliant cuisine.
A frontier heritage to be proud of
Calgary is one of many places from the ‘old west’ that sprung up as industry, prospecting and general activity from frontiersmen spread westward across the North American continent. Although it is a lovely, modern city nowadays there are still attractions that hark back to yesteryear. A visit to the amazing Heritage Park will take you 2-3 hours during which time you will see what life was like in days of old thanks to impressive interactive exhibitions, an entire town laid out to walk around and even a steam train and a paddle steamer to take a ride on!
Bars will often have a bit of a ‘yeeee haw’ sort of theme without being over the top about it. More than anything it is a fun nod to the founding and history of the city that the locals love to embrace.
Local embrace goes into overdrive in early July every year with Calgary Stampede takes place. This massive annual event effectively brings the city to a standstill for several days as parties spring up to celebrate the Stampede. The official events are centred on the Parade Grounds where you will find live music, games, fireworks and a loads of beer to get stuck into. Make sure you check out the main festivities including the rodeo to seee wagon racing, bull riding and more rootin’ tootin’ cowboy action that you can shake your stetson at. You of course should get into the swing of things and don your finest denim and cowboy hat (optional but you’ll be in the minority if you don’t) and sample a long-established Calgary tradition that brings out hundreds of thousands of revellers every year.
The Rocky Mountain trail is just begging to be explored
There is no way of visiting the city without seeing the Rockies - the mountain range spans the horizon and anyone with a draw to nature will love to get on the road and drive right into the heart of them. As you drive towards the mountains you will feel like they are far, far away in the distance as you begin surrounded by plains and flat land up close. Within no time however you are sweeping around a left hand turn to put you directly on the mountain road. This road cuts through the range so as you drive along you are almost engulfed by majestic peaks on both sides. The scenery is spectacular whatever the time of year and is unquestionably the number one thing to do in Calgary for any visitor.
As you delve deeper into the mountains you will likely end up at Banff National Park which is a massive expanse of nature, lakes and mountains. It contains a serious contender for the most beautiful place on earth; namely Lake Louise. Aside from that wondrous spot there are loads of other places to view on a day out in the Rockies such as Lake Minnewanka, Canmore, Moraine Lake, the cute little town of Banff itself (sooooo picturesque!) and lots of little stops along the way. It is one of the most scenic areas you will ever visit so stock up on camera batteries and get snapping.