A cowboy town at heart, in Calgary, leather boots and wide-brimmed hats continue to reign supreme! However, this diverse city is home to glossy high rises, cutting edge eateries and people speaking over 120 languages. Apart from a vibrant nightlife, the city boasts a long line up of events and festivals. The best time to see Calgary in action is in the summer months from June – August. Festivals such as Calgary Stampede, Calgary Fringe Festival and Calgary International Blues Festival take place during these months, and the weather conditions are perfect to enjoy the outdoors. Since this is the peak tourist season, expect room rates and flight prices to skyrocket, especially around the dates of the events and festivals. For a relatively quieter time, visit Calgary in the short spring season from April – May or in the fall from September – October. From November – March, the city is flooded with a large number of winter sports enthusiasts, who make Calgary their base before heading to the powdery slopes. However, winters are cold; average temperatures plummet to 25 – 30 degrees Fahrenheit, and the tourist population overall is at its lowest. However, if you are seeking attractive bargains and don’t mind the harsh winters, this is a good time to travel to Calgary.
Direct international flights from the U.S. to Calgary are available from United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Air Canada, WestJet, and Alaska Airlines. Other airlines that offer flights with 1 or more stops include Aeromexico, All Nippon Airways, and Philippine Airlines.
The airport is approximately 11 miles northeast of Downtown Calgary and is connected to the city center by a variety of scheduled and on-demand ground transportation options.
Several hotels provide a courtesy shuttle service to their guests to and from the airport. Upon arrival, you can use the courtesy phones located in all terminals and call your hotel to request a shuttle. Pickups for domestic arrivals is at Bus Bays #16 and #17, while for international arrivals, it is Bus Bay #37. Private operators such as Allied Downtown Shuttle offer transportation between the airport and designated points within the City of Calgary. Shuttles depart every 30 minutes from Bus Bay #19 and #29. You can purchase tickets at the Allied Shuttle counters located on the Arrivals level by Door 5 and Door 12, between 8 a.m. – 12.00 a.m. Typical one-way fare from the airport is $15.00 CAD per person.
Several public bus routes operated by Calgary Transit pass through the airport. Bus route #300 is a limited stop service that runs approximately every 30 minutes from the airport to Downtown Calgary. The ride takes around 35 minutes and the fare is $10.50 CAD. The fare includes all-day access to Calgary Transit operated buses and trains, as well as the return trip to the airport, if you are travelling on the same day. At the international terminal, you can board this bus from Bus Bay #32 located across Arrivals Door #15.
Round-the-clock taxi service is available at YYC and the taxi stands are located on the Arrivals Level of both terminals. For the Domestic Terminal, taxi stands are located outside of doors #1 and #6 and International Terminal stands are located outside of doors #16 and #17. Fares are based on meter rates. The approximate fare to Downtown Calgary is $40.00 – $50.00 CAD. Ride-share with Uber is also easily available at YYC and the designated pick up locations are on Departures Level curbside by Door #1 and #12.
Most of the major rental car companies are present on-airport at YYC. The Rental Car Centre is located on the Departures Level across the roadway from the Domestic Terminal. The off-airport car rental companies provide a courtesy shuttle service to their rental locations. Shuttle pickup is located on Bus Bay #22 on the Arrivals Roadway. It is definitely worth checking for deals on car rentals with momondo.
There are several ways to get around in Calgary. If you’re going to be within the city limits most of the time, it’s best to avoid driving and rely on other Calgary transportation options. Navigating the city roads may be difficult for newcomers, and parking in the downtown areas is scarce and expensive.
Calgary’s downtown core is very walkable, with plenty of wayfinding signage that guide visitors to various attractions, restaurants and public art. The city also boasts one of the world’s most extensive pedestrian skywalk systems called +15. The covered +15 corridor is 11 miles long and has 62 bridges that connect several hotels, attractions, and shopping centers that can be covered on foot in any weather conditions.
If you do not wish to walk all the time, consider hiring a bike. Calgary has one of the most extensive urban pathway and cycle path networks in North America. You will find dedicated bike lanes even along most of the major streets in the city.
The city’s public transportation network is efficient and economical. Calgary Transit operates over 160 routes for public bus and 2 routes for the Light Rail Transit (LRT), known as the CTrain. The adult fare for both buses and CTrains is $3.30 CAD, which includes transfers for up to 90 minutes. A day pass costs $10.50 CAD and allows unlimited usage of buses and trains for the pass duration. Within the downtown core, CTrain offers a fare free zone along 7th Avenue between City Hall and West/Kerby Stations. You can hop on and off for free when travelling within this area.
Taxis are easily available and fares are reasonably priced. You do not need to pre-book a ride.
Calgary is a diverse and vibrant city that boasts a blossoming food scene, happening nightlife, and several family-friendly attractions. Here are a few ideas for your itinerary, when you travel to Calgary.
Try to visit during the Calgary Stampede
Check out Calgary’s most colorful and festive side in July during the 10-day long Calgary Stampede festival. This is the world’s largest rodeo and features various events including First Nations exhibits, chuck wagon races, shows, and concerts round the clock during the 10 days.
Explore the surroundings
With the awe-inspiring Canadian Rockies just a short drive away, many visitors prefer to make Calgary their base as they explore Western Canada’s gorgeous national parks and natural splendor. For a unique itinerary, consider visiting Calgary in the slightly cooler months when the crowds are less, and head to the hiking trails just outside the city. You can also try luge and a host of other winter sports at the Canada Olympic Park, or hit the slopes for a variety of fun winter activities. Consider a day trip to the Kananaskis Country area that marks the front ranges of the Canadian Rockies. Here you can get up close with a variety of wildlife, including elk, and more than 130 species of birds. Don’t miss the sight of the brilliant blue waters of Lake Louise and spend some time relaxing in the hot springs.