Calgary skyline

Top 10 Places to Visit in Calgary: Your Ultimate Guide to the City’s Highlights

Calgary, nestled in the heart of Alberta, Canada, serves as a gateway to the rugged beauty of the Canadian Rockies and offers a diverse range of attractions for visitors.

Whether you’re drawn to the natural beauty of parks and rivers or the bustling urban culture of a modern city, Calgary caters to all flavors of interest.

The city is rich in Western culture, evident in its famous ‘Cowtown’ nickname, yet it also boasts a vibrant arts scene, diverse culinary offerings, and a variety of shopping experiences.

Calgary ab

Exploring Calgary, you’ll come across historical sites that paint a picture of its early days, alongside architectural feats that showcase its growth and modernity.

For a taste of outdoor adventure, the nearby natural landscapes provide a perfect playground for your day trips.

From the iconic Calgary Stampede, pulsating with the spirit of the West, to the tranquility of serene parks and the educational insights of top-notch zoos and museums, your itinerary can be as dynamic as the city itself.

Historical Highlights

Calgary’s rich past is encapsulated within its historical sites, from the humble beginnings of Western Canada to the proud military heritage that shaped the nation.

Here, you can step back in time to experience how the pioneers lived and appreciate the sacrifices made by veterans through immersive exhibits and collections.

Heritage Park Historical Village

At Heritage Park Historical Village, you’re transported to the late 19th and early 20th centuries of Western Canadian history.

As Canada’s largest living history museum, it encompasses over 180 exhibits on 127 acres of land.

Roam through the park to see steam trains, antique midway rides, and historical buildings, bringing the spirit of the pioneer era to life.

Military Museums

The Military Museums in Calgary honor the heroic stories of those who served in the Canadian forces.

This impressive museum is a tri-service history, education, and research institution.

The galleries dedicated to the Army, Navy, and Air Force showcase Canada’s military history from the Second World War to recent peacekeeping missions.

Notably, the Naval Museum of Alberta presents a comprehensive look at Canada’s naval history, including the impact of the First and Second World Wars on the country.

First Nations and Cultural History

First Nations history and its cultural impact are deeply rooted in Calgary’s heritage.

Engage with the traditions and artifacts that tell the story of the region’s First Nations people.

Understanding their history provides insight into the cultural landscape of Calgary and Western Canada and acknowledges the role of Indigenous peoples in the nation’s development.

Iconic Landmarks

When visiting Calgary, certain structures set the skyline apart and imbue the city with its distinct character. These iconic landmarks offer you not only spectacular views but also a slice of history and modern architectural prowess.

Calgary Tower

Standing tall at 190 meters, the Calgary Tower presents a panoramic scenario of the city.

Your visit isn’t complete without stepping onto the glass floor of the observation deck, which provides a bird’s-eye view of the urban landscape below.

From this height, you can spot various skyscrapers dotting the skyline, get acquainted with the geography of Calgary, and even witness the Rocky Mountains on a clear day.

Peace Bridge

As you walk towards the Bow River, you’ll find the arresting Peace Bridge.

This piece of public art, designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, is a true testament to contemporary design.

Opened in 2012, its distinctive red color and helical structure make it a favorite spot for photographers and pedestrians alike.

Stephen Avenue

A stroll down Stephen Avenue invites you to immerse yourself in Calgary’s energy and history.

This pedestrian mall is lined by historic buildings and is often buzzing with outdoor performances, sculptures, and public art.

As you walk, the juxtaposition of new and old architecture is evident, with glass and steel skyscrapers framing the avenue.

Here, shopping, dining, and entertainment options abound, offering a lively urban experience.

Natural Wonders

The sun sets behind the majestic rocky mountains, casting a warm glow over the lush greenery of calgary's iconic nose hill park. The city skyline stands tall in the distance, a testament to the harmonious coexistence of nature and urbanity

In Calgary’s proximity, you’ll find some of Canada’s most breathtaking natural wonders.

From the majestic peaks of the Canadian Rockies to the serene flow of the Bow River, these landscapes offer awe-inspiring views and tranquil retreats from the urban hustle.

Banff National Park

Banff National Park is a jewel in the Canadian Rockies and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Your visit to Banff will reveal towering mountains, turquoise lakes like Lake Louise, and vast ice fields.

The park, accessible year-round, offers a plethora of outdoor activities including hiking, canoeing, and wildlife viewing.

Bow River and Parks

The Bow River is an iconic natural feature winding through Calgary, flanked by numerous parks that provide a green escape within the city.

You can walk or cycle along the scenic river pathways in parks such as Bowness and Prince’s Island.

Take time to explore Nose Hill Park, a natural grassland, that provides a panoramic view of the city skyline against the dramatic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains.

Cultural Experiences

Colorful street festival with diverse food vendors, live music, and traditional dance performances. People of all ages explore art exhibits and interactive cultural displays

In Calgary, you’ll discover a vibrant tapestry of cultural experiences, from the thrill of the rodeo to the beauty of fine art. Every visit forms a unique story steeped in tradition and alive with innovation.

Calgary Stampede

The Calgary Stampede is not just a rodeo, it’s a gathering that transforms the city every July into a showcase of cowboy culture.

Experience the heart-pounding chuck wagon races, witness the skill of rodeo athletes, and join in the community spirit that brings everyone together.

Arts and Museums

Dive into the arts scene with a visit to the Glenbow Museum, a treasure trove featuring over 33,000 works, including one of Canada’s largest indigenous collections.

Beyond Glenbow, Calgary’s array of galleries and interactive museums await to engage your senses and inspire your creativity.

Public Events and Festivals

Embrace Calgary’s spirited events and festivals throughout the year:

  • Arts and Culture: Get front-row seats to world-class performances and exhibitions that showcase a range of artistic talents.
  • Family Attractions: Enjoy an outing to Calaway Park, where fun rides and entertaining events promise a delightful day for all ages.
  • Seasonal Celebrations: Participate in the diverse festivals that highlight every season, cultivating a sense of community and shared heritage.

Wildlife and Zoological Parks

Lush greenery surrounds diverse animal habitats in calgary's top wildlife parks

In Calgary, you have the opportunity to admire diverse wildlife and experience world-renowned equine facilities.

Explore the engaging habitats at the Calgary Zoo or immerse yourself in the equestrian excellence of Spruce Meadows.

Calgary Zoo

At the Calgary Zoo, you can observe a variety of animals from around the world, including majestic grizzlies and playful penguins.

During the winter, don’t miss the famous Penguin Walk, where you get to watch these charming creatures waddle along a designated park pathway.

This zoo is an educational hub that focuses on conservation and offers a dynamic experience for visitors of all ages.

  • Animals to See: Grizzly bears, penguins, giraffes, and more
  • Exhibits: Canadian Wilds, Destination Africa, Penguin Plunge, Prehistoric Park
  • Conservation Programs: Active involvement in local and international efforts

Spruce Meadows

Spruce Meadows is acclaimed for its stunning equestrian facilities.

Visitors can enjoy world-class show jumping events and witness the power and grace of horses.

Whether you’re an equestrian enthusiast or simply appreciate the beauty of these magnificent animals, Spruce Meadows provides a unique, close-up look at the sport.

Recreational Activities

People enjoying outdoor activities in calgary's top 10 places. Hiking, biking, and picnicking in scenic parks and riverside areas. Vibrant city skyline in the background

Calgary offers a variety of recreational activities that cater to adventure enthusiasts and sports lovers alike.

From the adrenaline-pumping offerings at WinSport to the expansive outdoor experiences within reach, you’re sure to find something that gets your heart racing.


At WinSport, you have the unique opportunity to engage in winter sports year-round.

This complex, which once hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics, today provides public access to world-class skiing and snowboarding facilities.

Aside from the snowy slopes, WinSport offers activities such as ziplining and mountain biking during warmer months, making it a haven for thrill-seekers regardless of the season.

Outdoor Adventures

The natural landscapes surrounding Calgary serve as a playground for a multitude of outdoor adventures.

Embrace the majestic Rocky Mountains on a sightseeing excursion aboard the Rocky Mountaineer where you can soak in breathtaking views.

If you’re interested in a more grounded experience, the Kananaskis region is ideal for mountain biking or hiking.

For a truly Western experience, consider horseback riding, where the rustic trails and the iconic Peace Bridge serve as the perfect backdrop for a serene adventure through Calgary’s scenic routes.

Shopping and Dining

People browsing shops and dining at outdoor patios in a bustling city square with a mix of modern and historic architecture

Calgary offers a lively shopping scene alongside a diverse array of dining options that provide insights into its rich cultural tapestry.

On 17th Avenue, you’ll discover a vibrant mix of stores and eateries, while local cuisine gives you a taste of Calgary’s famed beef and more.

17th Avenue

When you stroll down 17th Avenue, you’re walking through Calgary’s retail and entertainment district.

This area is bustling with boutiques, high-end retail, and thrift stores. It’s a place where fashion and variety meet, letting you shop for the latest trends or unique finds.

After shopping, relish in the variety of cafes and restaurants lining the street, offering refreshments and meals to suit any palate.

  • Fashion Boutiques: Find the latest styles and unique trends.
  • Home Decor: Discover local and international designs.
  • Dining Spots: Experience a range of flavors from casual eateries to upscale dining.

Local Cuisine

Calgary’s culinary scene is a reflection of its agricultural heritage, prominently featuring local beef.

For a true taste of Calgary, explore steakhouses that specialize in Alberta beef — renowned for its quality and flavor.

Embrace the opportunity to dine on dishes where the local beef is the star, prepared by skilled chefs who understand how to showcase its richness.

  • Steakhouses: Indulge in top-quality Alberta beef.
  • Farm-to-Table: Enjoy meals at restaurants that emphasize fresh, local ingredients.
  • Food Festivals: Participate in events that celebrate Calgary’s culinary diversity.

Entertainment and Nightlife

Crowds fill the lively bars and clubs, music fills the air. Neon lights illuminate the bustling streets, people laughing and dancing. A vibrant atmosphere pulsates through the city's top nightlife spots

Calgary offers a vibrant entertainment scene with options ranging from sports events to bustling nightlife spots.

Whether you’re cheering on the local hockey team or exploring the heart of the city’s nightlife, your evenings in Calgary are sure to be exhilarating.

Flames Game

Attending a Calgary Flames game is an electrifying experience for sports enthusiasts.

The energy of the crowd at the Scotiabank Saddledome is contagious as you watch some of the best hockey players compete.

Remember to wear your Flames colors and join the sea of red cheering for the home team!

Entertainment District

Calgary’s entertainment district is a hub of activity and fun.

You’ll find a variety of sophisticated cocktail bars, vibrant dance clubs, and cozy pubs to suit any preference.

Not to be missed is a visit to a local brewery for a taste of Calgary’s craft beer scene, where the passion for quality and flavor shines through every pint.

Travel Tips

Embarking on a journey to Calgary promises a blend of urban elegance and natural beauty.

To make the most of your visit, consider these strategic tips on where to stay and how to get around.

Aerial view of calgary skyline with iconic landmarks such as the calgary tower and bow river, surrounded by the vibrant cityscape and nestled against the backdrop of the canadian rockies


When selecting your accommodations, you’ll want to factor in both location and accessibility.

Luxury seekers may target hotels with mountain views, while budget-conscious travelers can explore various hostels and guesthouses in proximity to Calgary’s top attractions.

If a walking tour of the city or a road trip to surrounding parks is on your agenda, staying central can save you time and money.

  • Downtown – Ideal for first-timers looking for immediate access to sights and eateries.
  • Kensington Village – An area worth considering for its quaint shops and proximity to the Bow River.


Navigating Calgary is straightforward, whether you opt for public transit or a rental car.

Calgary’s international airport is just 17 kilometers from downtown, facilitating a smooth transition to your base of operations.

If you’re planning road trips to the Canadian Rockies or other scenic locales, renting a car will grant you the flexibility to explore at your own pace.

  • Public Transit (CTrain & buses) – Economical and efficient, with expansive coverage of the city.
  • Car Rentals – Recommended if you’re aiming for the freedom to venture beyond city limits.

Frequently Asked Questions

A bustling city street with a mix of modern skyscrapers and historic buildings, surrounded by beautiful parks and mountains in the distance

This section aims to provide concise answers to some frequently asked questions about visiting Calgary, covering everything from must-see cultural sites to recommendations for enjoying the local vibe.

What are the top cultural attractions to visit in Calgary?

When in Calgary, make sure to visit Heritage Park Historical Village for a historical perspective and Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, to celebrate Canada’s music story.

Which natural landmarks should I not miss when visiting Calgary?

Do not miss visiting the Peace Bridge by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava and enjoying the natural beauty of Fish Creek Provincial Park, one of the largest urban parks in Canada.

What are the best activities for a night out in Calgary?

For an entertaining night out, catch a performance at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium or enjoy live music at one of the city’s lively venues like the King Eddy.

Can you suggest an itinerary for a weekend in Calgary?

Spend your weekend exploring Calgary by starting at the fascinating Calgary Tower, taking a stroll through East Village and its unique boutiques, and wrapping up your day with dining at one of the top-rated restaurants in the city.

Where are the best areas to explore in Calgary without spending money?

You can enjoy the scenic river pathways for a refreshing walk, explore the diverse neighbourhoods of Kensington or Inglewood, or wander around Prince’s Island Park for a day out that doesn’t cost a thing.

How can I experience the unique local vibe of Calgary?

To truly experience the local vibe, visit during the Calgary Stampede. It’s known as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.” You can also engage with locals at one of the many farmers’ markets like the Calgary Farmers’ Market.