Calgary is sometimes seen as the entry point to the great outdoors in Alberta. Yes, it’s within easy access of the dramatic Banff National Park, but it’s also a snug little city to spend a few days exploring. Honestly, there’s a heap of places to see and some epic things to do in Calgary; so much so that it’s worth tagging onto any Alberta itinerary.
To be honest, I hadn’t even thought of visiting Calgary before we visited. I saw it as ‘the airport’ to get into the Canadian Rockies and explore the stunning nature. That being said, I’m so glad we made a stop in the city as we loved our few days here; so much so that we’ve been back quite a few times since!
Of course, if you’re travelling to the best places in Alberta, you’ll be wanting to visit Banff, maybe go skiing in Sunshine Village, see the stunning Lake Abraham (bubble lake) or Grotto Canyon and Canmore?
Well, just be sure to leave a day or two to spend some time in downtown Calgary, too.
With that in mind, I wanted to share some of the best things to do in Calgary on your next trip. Oh yeah, and with any of our posts, pop us a message if you need any other advice. Have the best time in Canada!
Okay, so Kensington is one of my favourite neighbourhoods in Calgary and a place that’s got a really cool vibe! It kind of reminds me of Camden in London (or the Lower East Side in NYC) and is a great place to wander around the independent stores or yummy restaurants.
For me, wandering this area is easily one of the best things to do in Calgary, especially if you’re hungry. For some tasty bites to eat, make sure to pop into
Also, for some great coffee, pop into Higher Ground. Their roast is so good.
Inglewood is one of those areas that’s so simple to visit when staying in the centre of Calgary. With it being around a 25-minute stroll, it’s honestly worth heading across on a weekend or in the evening to make the most of the cool little bars and eateries.
We popped over to Gorilla Whale which is a Japanese-fusion restaurant that serves up some of the best ramens in all of Calgary. Plus their yakitori skewers and cocktails are amazing. It’s the perfect place for dinner; just make sure to reserve a table before you go. This place fills up fast.
Whilst here, be sure to visit Fair’s Fair Books, too. It’s such a cosy place that has an epic book selection of old and new books. It’s a treasure trove for bookworms.
Finally, if you fancy warming up, pop into Gravity Espresso & Wine, which, not only has great coffee (and wine) but also live DJs on certain days, too.
3.) Studio Bell
Perched in the centre of Calgary, Studio Bell is one of Canada’s biggest and best homes of Canadian music. Housing thousands of exhibits, it’s somewhere that any music lover will totally love. If that’s you, you’ll easily find this to be one of the best things to do in Calgary. Not only that, the building is pretty cool, too.
Now, a visit to Studio Bell will likely take around 90-minutes and is well worth stopping by on your stroll around the centre. That being said, if you’re not a music-lover, you might wanna give this spot a miss. After all, it’s all about the music!
Afterwards, you’ve had your fill at Studio Bell, King Eddy is well worth visiting (next door). It’s a historic music venue and eatery that’s perfect for a bite, or an obligatory Ceasar!
4.) Wonderland Sculpture
Right next to the Bow skyscraper (in the centre of Calgary), seeing the Wonderland Sculpture is one of the best things to do in Calgary if you want to see some local arts.
Being a whopping 12-metre high wire face, the Wonderland Sculpture is great to see. Now, you obviously won’t spend more than 10-minutes here, but it’s well worth seeing.
Oh yeah, and for a tasty brunch, pop over to OEB Breakfast Co that serves up one of the mightiest breakfasts in the city. Their walls are so fluffy and the eggs benedict is so good.
5.) Calgary Library (Central Library)
Now, you might not think that visiting a library is one of the best things to do in Calgary, but trust me, this one is.
Well, if you love books and architecture at least!
You see, Calgary Library is totally stunning and houses a huge mix of books a lovely cafe and some incredible architecture that you should see. Even if you’re not ‘into’ books, just pop in for a quick wander. It’s lovely.
6.) Prince’s Island Park
Strolling Prince’s Island Park is one of the best things to do in Calgary on a sunny summer day. For me, it’s the kinda place that’s perfect if you want to step away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Calgary and really just chill out for a little while. That being said, if you visit in winter, you can also try your hand at some outdoor skating )on the lagoon), too.
Plus, there are trails for both walkers and cyclists, too. Oh, and during the summer months, you may be there on a day when one of the city’s events are held. Keep an eye out for listings when you arrive.
Afterwards, pop over to Village Ice Cream for some of Calgary’s most yummy treats. No joke, their salted caramel gelato is heaven.
7.) Calgary’s Heritage Park
Calgary’s Heritage Park brings history back to life in this living history village.
This is a paradise for history lovers like you with re-enactments of how life ‘in the west’ was once like. During your visit, you will have the chance to trade at a replica trading post, visit a ranch as well as the historic village, too.
Finally, if you’re feeling up to it, you can then go on a steam train, take a ride in a horse-drawn wagon or cruise along in a paddle wheeled boat. It is great for families.
8.) Glenbow Museum
The Glenbow Museum is heralded as one of the finest of Canada’s museums and one of the best things to do in Calgary for sure!
The exhibits are mainly focused on Western Canada’s culture with displays from the First Nations history and more historical artefacts that go back centuries.
Not only that, but you’ll also see art and sculptures from Europe, Asia and Africa, too.
Finally, for a bite to eat, hop over to Ten Foot Henry that serves up some of the tastiest sharing plates in Calgary. Their salmon gravlax and masala chicken is everything and more!
9.) Canada Olympic Park
The Canada Olympic Park was the venue for the 1988 Winter Olympics and this massive winter sports complex is used as both a training ground for any future Olympians. 😉
It’s a great place to try your hand at skiing, too! Though, if skiing is not exciting enough for you then you can try bobsleigh or the luge, too.
Oh, and Don’t forget to visit the Olympic Museum while you are there.
10.) Calgary Tower
The Calgary Tower was once the city’s tallest building at 626 feet high and built to commemorate the country’s Centennial in 1967.
Today, you can go to the top for the spectacular views of the city and the nearby Rocky Mountains. To get to the top you can take the elevator or would you prefer to climb the 762 steps? Ha!
Just an FYI, we took the elevator. There’s no way we’d have made those steps!
Afterwards, take a cab over to Native Tongues for some of the best Mexican food in all of Canada.
Plus, they create some of the tastiest mescal cocktails, yummy tostadas and freshly-fried doughnuts. Love this place.
11.) See some Canadian Hockey
The Saddledome is where you will find the Calgary Flames play their home games!
We loved watching a game and it was so much fun. Though, it totally surprised me how brutal and contact-heavy hockey is! We saw a player get knocked out by a puck. Still, he was all fine… I think!
All in all, it’s such a great experience, and well worth going whilst in Calgary.
12.) Fort Calgary
Fort Calgary is where the history of the city all began as a mounted police stronghold. Nowadays, seeing it is one of the best things to do in Calgary if you want to explore some of the city’s history.
Although it was buried until the 1970s, now though you can go and witness the reconstruction and see some original remains of the fort, too.