The city of Edmonton in Canada is not necessarily the city everyone might have a ready made travel plan and itinerary for.
Vancouver, perhaps or even Toronto but seeing as we had to get one together after visiting recently, and one that saw us make the most of the season we visited in, I figured it was high time to pull together this itinerary and travel plan for Edmonton, Canada (not to be confused with the many Edmontons out there, including one right here in London) to save you the hassle of planning when you visit!
And visit, you must! Edmonton is absolutely incredible – especially so in winter.
One of my favourite things about Canada is that it does seasons right! Winter is winter at its finest here – cold, brisk and covered in snow. Summer is glorious and feels so much warmer than the UK… you get my drift.
Without giving it too much thought, we decided to visit Edmonton in winter. I’d been to Canada in summer. We’d been to lots of warm destinations prior to this trip in Edmonton but I hadn’t really done a full-on proper wintry trip.
Like yes, I’ve travelled in winter but I’m talking more about average minus double digit temperatures. More snow than you could imagine possible and winters so harsh even lakes and waterfalls would (or could) freeze over! With it’s gateway access to the Canadian Rockies (incredible mountains), Edmonton was just the perfect place for a wintery vacation.
A little caveat before I begin! First off, the itinerary is actually for 6 days, not a full 7 days – there’s one day free in there for you to chill out or to catch whatever you might have missed in the city. Secondly, as we visited in winter, there are 2 things on here that you can’t do in summer – the Ice Castles and the Frozen Lake (*for obvious reasons).
You can still visit the lake in summer, it just won’t be frozen but on the flip-side, your chances of seeing the incredible wildlife here increased dramatically.
As for the Ice Castles, you might just need to figure out an alternative to that one but you won’t find that hard in Edmonton (and seeing as it only takes an hour or two out of your plans for the week, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. 😁
Right! So let’s get started with our itinerary and travel plan for exploring Edmonton, Canada. 😀
Afternoon/Early Evening: Welcome to Edmonton!
Pick up car and drive to Metterra Hotel, your home for the next few days. Mettera Hotel is located in Old Strathcona (the fun part of the city – it’s essentially where you’d go to for a night out in town).
The rooms here are huge – I had a suite with a separate living area here… and you also get free wine in the evenings here so it’s a fairly easy choice! Check out prices for Metterra Hotel here.
7:00 PM: Go whiskey tasting at Have Mercy Southern Table and Bar! It’s a pretty great place to start or finish off an evening and is just a short walk from your hotel.
8:00 PM: Dinner at El Cortez. El Cortez is a restaurant and a tequila bar so I definitely recommend starting your meal here with a cocktail before diving into the delicious food! Oh, and on the weekends, the cellar bit downstairs is a music venue so y’know, might be the opportunity to go for a god boogie if the jetlag hasn’t gotten the best of you yet.
Later that night: Head back to the Metterra Hotel for a good night’s sleep.
If you’ve managed your jetlag properly, you’ll be up bright and early but thoroughly refreshed after a great night’s sleep. The whole thing with jet lag is to make your body adjust to the local time as fast as possible.
Coming from Europe, what we did was to stay awake as long as possible(but definitely not past midnight), leaving you absolutely knackered, followed by a long sleep which will see you wake up in the morning the next day thoroughly refreshed but also close enough to the local time.
I think 10pm was my limit that night – the 7 hours time difference meant that it was 5am in the UK and so by the time I got up at 8am the next day, I’d had 10 hours sleep and was up on-time to make the most of the day.
9:00 AM: Have breakfast at District Café. The food here is amazing – it’s all so fresh and very much feel good food (they even make their own granola). Being the glutton that I am, I went with quite a few choices for breakfast.
1:00 PM: Lunch at Rostizado
– a fantastic Mexican restaurant in the Downtown area of Edmonton. The rotisserie chicken and melting pot of cheese and tacos (not the official name – can’t remember what it’s called) are definitely must-haves when you’re here.
By the way, you don’t really need 3 hours for the Fat Biking (i.e. from 10am till 1pm) but when you arrive at the Ice Castles, I think you’ll end up so distracted by how amazing it is that time will just fly by! 3 hours then won’t seem like enough time.
Plus you do a tour on the way over to it so you’re gonna get some rather interesting perspectives and viewpoints of Edmonton.
Mid-Afternoon: Explore 4th Street Promenade – it’s a fun part of Downtown to kick around in. It’s also the part of town you’re in anyway and a little jaunt around to work off that lunch-time indulgence is probably a good idea (if you’re like me – you’ll got for all the courses…and then some).
When you’re here be sure to pop into Jacek Chocolate Couture to try some home-made chocolate. (She’s got some pretty interesting flavours here!)
If you’ve got some free time, be sure to pop into the Art Gallery of Alberta! It’s also not too far from where you are and is a great way to spend a few hours in the city.
7:00 PM: Dinner at MEAT. MEAT pretty much does what it says on the tin – it serves up delicious home-smoked meats (there’s stuff for veggies here too), with some amazing sides and home made sauces! It’s just so good!
(*And if you over-indulge on your food, like I did 😄, your hotel is like 1 minute away so you don’t have too far of a walk back)!
Later that evening: Head back to the Metterra Hotel for a good night’s kip!
Morning (At your leisure, really): Have a bit more of a lie-in and have breakfast at your hotel.
10:30 AM: River Valley Segway Tour. This was actually my first time on a segway and it was so much fun!
The challenge of learning to balance on one (it’s a lot easier than I’m probably making it sound) and the opportunity to use it to manouvre through the snow in the woods was brilliant! Plus, it’s just a really easy way to cover ground when sightseeing than trying to walk everywhere. 😄
12:00 PM: Lunch at Little Brick Café. The food here is sooooooo good! Like seriously, I was just expecting ‘cafe food’ (i.e. something to fill the gap) but once we tucked into the meals, I could instantly see why this place was recommended to us by quite a few people.
Afternoon: Head over to the West Edmonton Mall. This is a mall like no other! For starters, there’s a beach inside this mall – complete with slides so when it’s -30C outside, it’s a nice warm 30C inside! 🙂
And then there’s Galaxyland – an indoor amusement park and home to the largest indoor roller coaster in the world (methinks). I was so disarmed by the rollercoaster being indoors that it wasn’t till we got to the top of it that I realised how huge it was. 😄
I didn’t do much shopping, except for a pair of gloves and spare trousers (I’d managed to rip not one, but two trousers in the little time I’d been here thus far) but if you’re really into shopping, you’re definitely in the right place for a bargain!
4:00 – 5:00-ish PM: Visit the nearby Hansen Distillery for a few drinks (and a little tour, if you’re inclined 😀 )
The Hansen family actually started off making moonshine back in the day and so the distillery culture is strong with the family. Of course, back then it was illegal (prohibition and all that) but now it’s all legal and open for cocktails to start your evening with.
7:00 PM: Go for dinner at Baijiu.
Baijiu is, I guess an Asian (or perhaps Asian-fusion, restaurant serving some of the most delicious meals Downtown! The vibe is also pretty nice in here and so, even if it’s just for drinks, make you pop in here at least once when you’re in the city.
Later that evening: This is an evening that shouldn’t end too early. You’ve been to a couple of places for cocktails, and you’re not too far from a few great spots for a night out in town.
Here are 3 places worth checking out for more drinks and a great night in town. (By the way, right outside Baijiu is the Neon Sign Museum so have a gander at this as you make your way to any of the places below for drinks).
1.) Head over to Mercer Tavern. They serve food as well as drinks and it’s a popular haunt for locals (I asked!)
2.) Red Star was also another suggestion for drinks. It’s more pub than bar and so is a great place to head to for beers, ales, stouts and the lot.
3.) The Needle Vinyl Tavern is a live music venue with restaurant and bar also in the Downtown area.
You could, of course, carry on with your night out in town. There’s something to be said for a bit of spontaneity so I’ll leave you to figure out where next you wanna go to! 😁
If you’re stuck for choice, heading over to Old Strathcona is always a safe bet! (Plus that’s where your hotel is anyway so you might as well slowly make your way over there).
The next morning: Have breakfast at hotel (hopefully, sans hangover though I wouldn’t judge you if you were… 😄 😉)
Late Morning: Head over to Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market and proceed to sample your way through the market (perhaps even in search of a hangover cure 😄) The market closes at 3:00 PM so feel free to take your time.
12:30 PM: (Optional, of course – depending on if you can handle it) Head over to Situation Brewing for lunch and perhaps a tour. We ended up just having lunch (I pigged out so much – which you wouldn’t think was possible, consider all the eating I’d done in the market).
Afternoon: Explore Old Strathcona neighbourhood and generally just relax. The last few days have been pretty full on so take things slowly this afternoon. Have a nap after exploring the town if you want to – we’ve got something planned for later at night.
4:30 PM: Early Dinner at Ampersand 27. Hahaha! I know, I know… 4.30pm for dinner??? We did this and we had to take it away as I was still stuffed from lunch but you’re going to be heading out of the city to Elk Island so you won’t have much time for dinner afterwards.
6:15 PM: Drive to Elk Island National Park. This should take 45 minutes. Be on the look out for Bison when you’re in the park too though since you’re arriving in the dark, you might not get too lucky with your Bison sightings. 😃
7:00 PM: Go Moonlight Snowshoeing on a frozen lake in Elk Island National Park. It’s so incredible! The landscape under moonlight is absolutely stunning and if you’re lucky, you might even see the Northern Lights here! You finish off with hot drinks and toasted marshmallows by the fire. 😄
Late Night: Head back to Metterra Hotel for the night.
Morning: Breakfast at hotel (you know the drill 😁).
You don’t have to do this part but as it’s the final night in the city, you might wanna try something different and stay smack in the Downtown area because of what you’ll be doing later this evening.
What we actually did was leave Edmonton for a couple of days to go explore Jasper (which looks AMAZING in winter – check out our itinerary with details and photos here) before coming back to Edmonton so switching hotels was a bit more of a natural thing to do.
If you do decide to stay, here’s what you should do.
Late Morning: Check out of the Metterra hotel and Check into the Crash Hotel.
Afternoon: Alas, I’m gonna have to leave you to play this one by ear. You can head over to some of the ones above (if there’s one you really wanted to try out more stuff on their menu – now would be the time to do so).
Late Afternoon: This time is free time and totally up to you. Spa time? Knock yourself out. Cocktail time? (No judgement) Go ahead. Shopping time? Go crazy and burn that plastic. Long story short – do what you want with your afternoon.
5:30 PM: Dinner at Crash Lobby. Mostly out of convenience but the food is pretty great here and the drinks are fantastic! I know it’s early but you’re going to be experiencing a favourite Canadian past time and you might not have time for dinner later on.
7:00 PM: Go watch an Ice Hockey match at the incredible Rogers Place (it sounds like some cute little pub somewhere but it’s a gigantic arena in Downtown Edmonton). I don’t know much about Ice Hockey (I know the basic stuff i.e. try to score, I’m gonna say – the puck, into the net) but honestly, even if you had no clue what was going on here, the atmosphere is so incredible and the thing is sooooooo much fun!
Obviously, we don’t get to watch much Ice Hockey back in the UK so I just picked a side to cheer on – Edmonton Oilers (it would be rude not to…😁) who were up against the Arizona Coyotes. Be sure to get a few beers in while you watch!
The Oilers won, by the way and you should have seen the crowd go crazy every time they scored! It’s absolutely unrestrained fun and one of the best nights we had in the city.
Late night: Head back to the Crash Hotel. It’s like 2 minutes from Rogers Place which means you don’t have to be stuck in traffic and can be in your cosy bed in almost no time at all!
Morning: Breakfast at Crash Lobby
Late Morning/Afternoon: Check out and head to the airport – hopefully with some rather fond memories of Edmonton and Alberta as a whole. 😁