By transit (train/bus)
Calgary can be surprisingly fairly easy to get to most destinations of interest on bus/rail easily. This would be important for those not renting a vehicle, not within walking distance to all destinations that are desired, or not using taxis.
Calgary’s public transit system was first established in 1909 as the Calgary Municipal Railway. Since then, it has developed into an efficient, fast, and extensive transit system. In particular, it was significantly built up in preparation for the 1988 Winter Olympics. The light rail transit system is called the C-Train (LRT) and runs faithfully and frequently. In the downtown core, you can ride the C-Train for 14 city blocks for free, along the length of 7th Avenue. There are four spurs of LRT track meeting in the downtown along 7th Avenue; line 201 starts in the far south (at Somerset-Bridlewood station), travels through downtown to the northwest, traveling to Tuscany Station. Line 202 starts in the northeast at Saddletowne Station, and travels through downtown, ending at 69 Street Station on the SW leg. Both 201 and 202 lines share the 7th Ave corridor. Trains are marked with the end station they are traveling to; a ‘Somerset’ train leaves Tuscany Station, travels south into the downtown, then south to Somerset station (where it turns around to become a ‘Tuscany’ train). Be sure to go by the destination declared in the FRONT of the train, as the rear of the train often displays where the train came from, not where it is going. Check the website to see schedules and if the C-Train is down for maintenance. Unfortunately, the C-Train does not serve the Calgary International Airport, although bus connections exist.
Although buses come along somewhat 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 are numbered, and generally designed to connect with the downtown or with an LRT station. Trains run every 10 minutes (5 minutes or less in rush hour and 15 minutes on general holidays), serving from around 4 AM to 1 AM. The exception to this schedule is when the Calgary Stampede, which occurs at the beginning of July, is in session. On those days, the trains run 24hrs a day. Major bus routes may run as early as 5 AM and late as 1 AM, but many more only operate until 8 or 9 PM, or, worse, during rush hours only. Bus frequencies can be as low as one per hour, although 30 minutes is more common.
Transit tickets are $3 for adults, and permit 90 minutes of travel connecting to any transit line. Day passes ($9) and books of 10 transit tickets ($30) are also available at most convenience stores. A monthly pass can also be purchased for unlimited usage within the ticket’s designated month ($94.00). The C-Train operates on a honour system, although inspectors do occasionally check riders for valid tickets, with expensive fines ($150 or more) being charged. Travel on the C-Train in the down-town free fare zone is free of charge.
Information about the Transit System is available on the Calgary Transit Web Page, or by phoning their information line (403)262-1000 from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM, local time.
It is easy to be confused by Calgary’s quadrant address system at first, but it is very logical, and, well, systematic.
Streets run north-south and avenues run east-west. Centre St divides the city into east and west, and Centre Ave (and parts of the Bow River) 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 addresses–increase as you move away from Centre St or Ave.
Many of Calgary’s roads are numbered, but this is less common in the newer developments. Important roads are usually called “trails,” but there are many exceptions. Note that newly-built neighbourhoods may not yet appear on maps, whether they be paper or GPS. If you are travelling to these places, it may be a good idea to ask for directions beforehand.
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. Also watch for lane reversal rules during these peak times on weekdays (6:30 am-8:30am and 3:30pm-6:30pm) when going in and out of downtown on some larger streets. This increases the traffic flow in one direction by “borrowing” a lane normally going the other way.
Keep in mind that driving in winter is very different from driving in other seasons. Major roads are plowed, salted, and sanded, but often smaller residential streets are not at all. Note that as of fall 2011 the city has instituted Snow Route parking bans. This means after a heavy snowfall certain priority routes in the city – marked as snow removal routes with street signs – become no parking zones for 72 hours; this includes some residential streets, so bear this in mind if you’re visiting family and 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.
Downtown Calgary is a compact area which is easily accessible on foot. The pathway system, Eau Claire Market area and Stephen Avenue Mall (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 above ground.
With approximately 635 km of 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. Pathway maps are available online or at Calgary Co-op stores. 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 Side 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 anytime from September to May. 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). Some bike routes also have buses equipped to accommodate bicycles with racks on the front . Cyclists must remember that they must obey the same rules of the road as other vehicles. All cyclists under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet, and all cyclists must have an working bell on their bike.
Each major body of water in the city (bow river, elbow river, Glenmore reservoir, etc) will have both city parks and thus city bike trails passing through. These bike paths are heavily used during the morning rush hour to work, but can provide hours of scenic peddling. A scenic route starts in downtown and head along the “bow river pathway” as it heads south to Fishcreek provincial park. Here, leave the banks of the bow river and cycle though Fishcreek Park park along the main cycle path 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 (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. Cyclists are not permitted on Stephen Avenue Mall or Deerfoot Trail.
- 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 2nd St SW, 3rd St SW and 6th St SW). Calgary’s largest inner city park is an island with a number of pleasant trails for walking and relaxing. In the summer, it plays host to Shakespeare in the Park and it is also the site of two of the city’s largest annual festivals: the Calgary Folk Music Festival and Carifest (Calgary’s annual festival celebrating the city’s large West Indian population).
- Barclay Parade: Barclay Mall is a pedestrian mall that runs from Eau Claire on the north to Stephen Avenue in the south. It is home to a number of high end shops and encompasses the Penny Lane Entertainment District.
- Calgary Tower,101 9th Ave SW (corner of 9th 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 backs onto railway tracks and some run down blocks on the 10th Avenue side and is best approached from 8th Avenue for a more enjoyable experience.
- Stephen Avenue Walk: As one of Calgary’s most famous streets, Stephen Avenue (8th Avenue S between Barclay Mall and 2nd Street E) 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 free of traffic throughout most of the day.
- Chinatown: 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 north and east 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.
- Olympic Plaza,800 block of Macleod Trail SE (corner of 8th Ave SE and Macleod Trail). This public square was built as the site of medal presentations during the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. During the summer, waders can enjoy the water-filled plaza, while winter visitors can go skating.
- Glenbow Museum,130 — 9 Avenue SE, ☎ +1 403-268-4100. 9AM – 5PM M-Sa, Noon – 5PM Su. Western Canada’s largest museum, with over 93,000 square feet of exhibition space spreading over 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. Children can make art on weekends. $14/$9 (adult/youth).
- Telus Spark(The Calgary Science Centre), 220 St. George’s Drive NE (located in the NE at the crossing of Memorial Drive and Deerfoot Trail), ☎ +1 403-268-8300 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Sun – Fri: 9am – 4pm, Sat: 9am – 5pm, 1st Thurs: 9am – 9pm, 2nd Thurs: 9am – 10pm. (Formally named Calgary Science Centre) Canada’s first purpose-built New Science Centre in over 25 years. 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 travelling exhibition gallery, an expanded and enhanced Creative Kids Museum, Calgary’s only HD digital Dome Theatre, a Presentation Theatre and Learning Centre, a 10,000 square-foot atrium, and a four-acre outdoor park. $19.95 (adult/youth).
- Calgary Zoo,1300 Zoo Rd NE (LRT 202 – Zoo station), ☎ +1 403-232-9300. Open daily 9AM – 5PM. 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. $18/$10 (adult/youth).
- Fort Calgary Historic Park,750 9th Ave SE, ☎ +1 403-290-1875. Open daily 9AM – 5PM. Before becoming a city in 1894, the Calgary area was home to Fort Calgary. The Northwest Mounted Police (NWMP) fort was built in 1875. Today, Fort Calgary, located in Inglewood at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers is the city’s oldest historic monument. $11/$7 (adult/youth).
- Inglewood Bird Sanctuary & Nature Centre,2425 9 Ave SE. Trails open from sunrise to sunset, Nature Center open daily Tuesday to Sunday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., closed Mondays and statutory holidays, closed at noon on December 24.. A 32-hectare wildlife reserve that offers more than two kilometres 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.
- Stampede Grounds,1410 Olympic Way SE. The site of Calgary’s world-famous exhibition and rodeo, the Calgary Stampede grounds are located on the east end of the Beltline in Victoria Park. Not only are the grounds the site of the excitement of every July’s Calgary Stampede, they also house a conference and exhibition centre (the Round-Up Centre) and a casino.
- Scotiabank Saddledome,Located on the Stampede Grounds, Calgary’s largest hockey arena plays host to the Calgary Flames (hockey), the Calgary Hitmen (junior hockey), the Calgary Roughnecks (lacrosse), and many concerts.
- 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 galleries devoted to four local Army regiments and their 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, several general interest galleries, the former Naval Museum of Alberta, and an outdoor historical vehicle display. Formerly known as the Museum of the Regiments.
- Battalion Park.A tribute to local soldiers that trained for the First World War, this is an interpretive 0.5 km hiking trail up the side of the bluff overlooking the former Sarcee Camp. Soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force left enormous battalion numerals spelled out in whitewashed stones which have been restored as a permanent memorial. The interpretive trail also includes a monument and a self-guided tour with historical tablets and photographs. Most (but not all) of the numbers are easily seen from the parking lots of the nearby Signal Hill and West Hills shopping centres.
- Devonian Gardens,317 7th Ave SW (4th floor of TD Square), ☎ +1 780-987-3054. The Devonian Gardens is a small indoor urban park located in TD Square, above the shopping and adjacent to the food court. It is currently open for visitors.
Many attractions are LRT accessible, and the stops have been noted. A rental car is recommended for the less accessible attractions, although buses are usually still possible.
- Canada Olympic Park(COP), 88 Canada Olympic Rd (catch the LRT to Brentwood station, then bus 408 to the park), ☎ +1 403-247-5452. Take a tour of the site of the 1988 Winter Olympics, which includes going to the top of the ski jump for a fantastic view. Four runs are available for your skiing pleasure during the winter months, and there is also an on-site museum, as well as the Canadian Olympic Hall Of Fame and the new Canada Sports Hall of Fame. The halfpipe and rail park are frequented by some very talented skiiers and snowboarders, making for interesting viewing. The COP hosts Canada’s only bobsled track (until Whistler’s track is finished) and they offer rides periodically during winter.
- Heritage Park,Heritage Dr and 14th St SW. One of the largest living historical villages in North America, on 66 acres of land near the Glenmore Reservoir. Attractions include a working Steam Engine, 155 historical exhibits, a candy store and bakery, old fashioned amusement park and ride on the S. S. Moyie, a paddlewheel boat.
- Spruce Meadows. Located just south of the city proper on Highway 22X, Spruce Meadows is a world-renowned show jumping and equestrian facility.
- Baitun-Nur Mosque: The first thing you should go see isBaitun-Nur Mosque in the north-east area of Calgary. Currently owned by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community,this Mosque is the biggest in all of North America. This Mosque is located at 4353 54th AVE NE CALGARY, AB. This $16,000,000 Mosque is a whopping 48,000 sq ft. Over 1,600 worshipers worship there on Friday Prayers,(Jumuah).This Mosque is open to all people. If you ever think of coming just call 403 243 1600. As everyone says you haven’t seen Calgary if you haven’t seen this tremendous Mosque, Baitun-nur Mosque!
Many Calgarians are understandably proud of the vast collection of skyscrapers. What’s more impressive are the clear views you can get of downtown from certain spots around the city, with the mountains in the background, naturally.
- Crescent Road, (From 16 Ave NW, turn south on 8 St NW until 13 AvenueNW where you turn east until 7 A St NW where you turn south, then go until Cresent Road NW where you turn west onto said st, 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.).
- Nose Hill, (Go to the nose hill park).
- Scotsman Hill.This location overlooks the Stampede Grounds and is a good place to watch the fireworks which are scheduled every evening during Stampede Week after the Chuckwagon Races and the Stage Show. People simply park their cars – there is no cost – and watch the fireworks for free. That’s why it’s called Scotsman Hill.
- Tom Campbell’s Hill Park.
- River Park.
Calgary has some highlights that may be worth visiting/seeing for those interested in architecture. The Bow is the newest modern masterpiece of glass and steel and would be a shame to miss (but really how could you? The Bow pierces through the skyline from pretty much any angle). Stephen Avenue and Atlantic Avenue both have an abundance of tightly packed, small, old commercial buildings with great architectural details. The Calgary Tower is a beautiful early modern tower with a minimalist design that, even if you don’t care for the design, shouldn’t miss if only for the views. One could also stroll the construction mazes of Macleod Trail andScarth St/1 Street SE for many beautiful modern condominiums.
- Glenmore Reservoir. This man made reservoir provides aquatic recreation such as sailing, kayaking, and canoeing. Equipment rentals and lessons are also available. A multi-use path around the reservoir is used for walking, running, cycling, and rollerblading.
- Canada Olympic Park. A training facility and recreation area for winter and summer sports including, skiing, snowboarding, luging, skeleton, bobsled, mountain biking, and hockey. COP was previously used for the 1988 Winter Olympics and athletes continue to use the facilities for training. Lessons and equipment rentals are available for both winter and summer sports.
- Calaway Park. Western Canada’s largest amusement park is located just west of Calgary’s city limits on highway 1.
- Harvie Passage.The former weir (known as “the drowning machine”) has been remade into a White Water park for paddlers. It is located downtown near the Calgary Zoo on the Bow River. Inexperienced paddlers should not attempt Harvie Passage alone. The passage is split into two streams, one rated as a Class 2 rapid, the other as a Class 3 rapid.
- Calgary Stampede. Yearly, July. For ten days the whole city goes western! Billed as “the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”, the festival has events all around the city, but the highlights are the rodeo and chuck-wagon races which boast the world’s richest prizes.
- Calgary Flames Hockey Club. Yearly, October to June. Calgary’s NHL team is a consistent playoff contender in recent years, and tickets may be hard to come by. Expect a great atmosphere and game if you’re lucky enough to get tickets. Price range from $40-$200
- Calgary Stampeders Football Club. Yearly, June to November. Calgary’s CFL football team is another city sports attraction. The CFL plays 3 down football, with only 20 seconds between plays, so watching a CFL game is quite different to watching an NFL game!
- Calgary Hitmen. Yearly, September to May. Calgary’s Junior Hockey team play in the Western Hockey League and at the Saddledome when the Flames are not in town. Junior Hockey serves as a feeder league for the NHL. Usually as fun as the Flames, but cheaper!! Prices range from $15-40.
- Calgary Roughnecks. Yearly, January to May. Calgary’s National Lacrosse League team were Champions Cup winners in 2004 and 2009. The sport is fast, rough and tough. Features loud music throughout and a great experience. Prices range from $15-60.
- Calgary Vipers. Yearly, May to September. Independent minor league professional baseball in the Golden League. Formerly of the Northern League.
- Calgary International Salsa CongressYearly, beginning of February. 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.
- University of Calgary Dinos
- Mount Royal University Cougars
- SAIT Trojans
Calgary has developed a fairly vibrant theatre scene including both professional and amateur theatre. The two daily newspapers provide some theatre coverage, but the best coverage and listings are found in free weekly Fast Forward magazine.
- EPCOR Centre for the Performing Arts, 205 8th Avenue S.E. (adjacent to Olympic Plaza), +1 403 294-7455. The epicentre of Calgary’s theatre scene, the EPCOR Centre hosts the three best-known professional theatre groups; the conservativeTheatre Calgary, the more adventurous Alberta Theatre Projects (ATP), and the downright avant-garde One Yellow Rabbit Perfomance Theatre (OYR). The facility has two additional theatres, so other companies often produce shows here. Of special note are two festivals held by the resident companies; OYR’s High Performance Rodeo runs for January and provides a wildly eclectic mix of performing arts (and performance art) while ATP’s PlayRites runs from February into early March and focuses on new works. $10-60.
- Vertigo Theatre,161, 115 – 9 Avenue 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 1st St SW, ☎ +1 403 205 2922. Offers a slate of highly contemporary theatre and performing arts, and the venue also hosts music.$20-30.
- Pumphouse Theatre,2140 Pumphouse Avenue 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. $10-25.
- Loose Moose Theatre,1235 – 26th Ave. S.E. (in the Crossroads Farmer’s Market), ☎ +1 403 265-5682. One of the originators of, and international leaders in, short-form improvisation and Theatresports (think Whose Line Is It Anyway?), Loose Moose does improv weekly, as well as the occasional original children’s show or comedy. $8-12.
- Lunchbox Theatre,160, 115 9th Ave SW (in the Calgary Tower), ☎ +1 403 265-4292. Shows at 12:10PM M-Sa, 6:10PM on F, and 7:30PM on SA. This unique theatre company produces exclusively one-act plays, during the weekday noon lunch hour. Typically lighter fare suitable for a downtown corporate crowd.$18-22.
- Stage West Dinner Theatre,727 42 Ave SE, ☎ +1 403 243-6642. Offers unchallenging, tried-and-true shows, along with a generic buffet dinner. $60-100.
- Jubilations Dinner Theatre,1002 37 ST SW (in Westbrook Mall), ☎ +1 403 249-7799. Similar to Stage West, with more of a focus on parodies of popular television shows. $55-65.
- The Comedy Cave
- Funny Fest
- Yuk Yuks
- Aussie RulesFoodhouse & Bar with duelling pianos.
- Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra
- Calgary Opera
- Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame
- Big Rock Breweryhas tours Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 1:30PM. Prebook by calling 403-720-3239 or 1-800-242-3107.
- National Music Centrehas tours every Thursday evening. The NMC has a large collection of preserved and restored working musical instruments dating back hundreds of years.