Looking for the perfect one day in Calgary itinerary? We’ve got you covered!
Calgary is a vibrant city located in the province of Alberta, Canada. It has been our hangout spot for a few years now (since 2011, actually). In this post, we share our favorite places in Calgary, plus hotel and travel tips.
One Day in Calgary Itinerary & Guide
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Our experience and how to use this guide
Salil and I have been visiting, exploring, and staying in Calgary (for long periods) for more than a decade. Living in Edmonton, we visit Calgary often for work and social commitments. You will find insider tips below from our first-hand experience in the city at different times of the year.
The guide has all the sightseeing stops for one day in Calgary, followed by day trips and a suggested itinerary for the Canadian Rockies (we get a lot of emails from readers asking for an itinerary from Calgary, so we had to include it).
Finally, we will leave you with tons of travel tips 🙂 We have included additional Calgary attractions, which you can swap or remove depending on the time you have for this itinerary. We recommend starting bright and early morning to check off most spots.
Things to do in Calgary in one day
- Start with breakfast at OEB
- Check out the RiverWalk
- Explore Downtown Calgary
- Wander Stephen Avenue
- Climb the Calgary Tower
- Stop by the Wonderland Sculpture
- Visit Glenbow Museum
- Stop by the Calgary Studio Bell – The National Music Center
- CORE Shopping Center & Devonian Gardens
- Explore Fort Calgary
- Late Afternoon at the Heritage Park
- Dinner at Kensington Village
Sightseeing Map: One day in Calgary itinerary
Start your day with breakfast in Calgary
If you are staying at the airport area, you will earn a free breakfast. And if you are downtown, you should head to one of the local cafes for breakfast.
One of our favorites is Sidewalk Citizen Bakery. Located in the Simmons Building in the Downtown East Village, the Sidewalk Citizen Bakery is a perfect spot for breakfast. They offer freshly baked goods from bread, croissants, and sandwiches.
Other options include OEB Breakfast, Cafe at ARTS Hotel downtown, Suzette Bistro, and 1886 Buffalo Cafe.
Note (if staying at an airport hotel): Take Alberta Highway 2 (AB-2) towards the south of the airport hotel, then merge onto Memorial Drive to reach downtown Calgary. Travel time is 20 minutes.
Check out (or walk) the RiverWalk
There will be a lot of walking, strolling, and relaxing in Calgary downtown area, so wear comfortable shoes.
Near the Simmons Building in the East Village, you will find the RiverWalk on the southern bank of the Bow River.
Beginning just off the west end of the RiverWalk is the Peace Bridge, a bright red and white diamond-like pedestrian bridge. Enjoy a walk here.
If you have additional time on hand, opt for a bike ride. The Peace River is a stunning landmark in the city, and it offers a convenient option for pedestrians to head to the downtown core and Eau Claire Park.
Wander Downtown Calgary
With a healthy and filling breakfast, head to walk the beautiful Calgary downtown.
Walking the area is a good idea, so park your car at the many designated public parking areas or take the transit to the Downtown Core.
As soon as you arrive, you will be welcomed by tall buildings, beautiful green spaces, and a tower that follows you everywhere.
Calgary downtown is the perfect place to shop, pig out in amazing restaurants and cafes, and, most importantly, enjoy some beautiful architectural gems. The lanes of downtown Calgary are clean and sprinkled with street art and heritage structures.
Book: A guided tour of Calgary
Explore Stephen Avenue Walk
One of our favorite things in Calgary is exploring the beautiful Stephen Avenue Walk. Lined with vintage-looking stores and buildings, this lane is a delight during summers, with local artisans and shop owners showcasing their craft.
Located in Downtown Calgary and stretching for 8 blocks between 1st Street SE to 4th Street SW, it is one of the most iconic streets in Western Canada.
The origin of the name “Stephen” comes from Lord George Mount Stephen, who was the first president of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and a major contributor to the development of Calgary.
You can see little bits of history and historical facts jotted on different pillars as you stroll. And with so many outdoor cafes, you won’t be hungry!
Climb the Calgary Tower
Head to the Calgary tower next. The Calgary Tower is a free-standing tower located in the downtown core. In 1968, when it was first opened, it was the tallest freestanding structure in North America.
It is still one of the tallest in the city, and the observation tower offers amazing views of Downtown Calgary and beyond.
There is a 360-degree viewing observation deck with a glass floor, where you can view the city and take awesome Instagram photos!
There is also a restaurant in the observation tower, which is an excellent choice for lunches, romantic dinners, or celebrating with friends and family. Here is a detailed guide to Sky360 Revolving Restaurant in Calgary.
There is an entry fee to access the observation deck of the Calgary. The entry fee for Calgary Tower is CAD 21 per adult. If you book a table at the restaurant, you do not have to pay to get to the top of the tower (however, you won’t be able to visit the glass floor viewing area).
On the tower’s ground floor is a souvenir store and the visitor center.
The tower is a must-visit because of the amazing views of the city of Calgary.
Take photos of the Wonderland Sculpture by the Bow Building
As you wander the Downtown Core area, you will cross this landmark building in the shape of a bow called the Bow Building. Right outside the building is a 12-meter, bent-wire girl’s head sculpture created by a Spanish sculptor.
Stop by and take photos to capture this unique creation in the middle of downtown!
The Glenbow Museum is an art and history-culture museum in the downtown core. Their art collection comprises over 33,000 works of art from the 19th century to today.
Their historical archives are massive, with tons of details from individuals, families, organizations, and businesses from Western Canada. Many include textual records, photographs, film footage, and sound recordings.
Their library also contains 100,000 books, periodicals, newspapers, maps, and pamphlets with archival material about Western Canada and beyond.
Access to the Glenbow Museum will be free after its renovation is completed.
Stop by the Calgary Studio Bell – The National Music Center
Just within a 10-minute walk from the Glenbow Museum is the stunning Studio Bell – home to Canada’s largest music-related museum. What is unique about this museum is its stunning building, including its mind-blowing performance hall!
Pro Tip: If interested, book a show at the National Music Centre in the evening and finish with dinner at the Calgary Tower – your date night is set!
CORE Shopping Center & Devonian Gardens
If Studio Bell is not your thing, head to the CORE Shopping Center, shop, and eat. This indoor shopping area is home to over 120 shops, including large department stores like Holt Renfrew and Simons. You will also find a wonderful food court inside.
The Shopping center has a beautiful indoor tropical garden called the Devonian Gardens.
The garden spans over three acres and is home to waterfalls, 500 trees, and thousands of plants. You can grab food and sit in the designated areas in the garden or just admire the displays and tranquility!
Explore Fort Calgary
Up next is the Fort Calgary National Historic Site. From the downtown area, drive away to Fort Calgary. You can also walk for 20 minutes to arrive here.
Fort Calgary National Historic Site is the birthplace of the city of Calgary. It is the site where the North West Mounted Police built a fort at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers. This site is a must for history lovers, as it is filled with heritage remnants and is a great visit if you wish to know more about Calgary’s past.
There is a museum and a gift shop as well. Spend a couple of hours here exploring museum exhibits about Treaty 7, Métis influence in Alberta, and the founding and early stages of the city of Calgary. You will also find a replica of the 1888 Barracks for special exhibitions.
Fort Calgary offers a variety of regular programs throughout the year, including winter camps and corporate tours. When visiting for a day, consider opting for a self-guided audio tour to learn about parklands and understand why it was a place of significance to Indigenous peoples long before 1875, when the North West Mounted Police established Fort Calgary.
The entry fee to the Fort Calgary site is 10 CAD for adults.
Late Afternoon at the Heritage Park
Late afternoon, head to the Heritage Park Historical Village.
This is a unique museum – a living history museum and park in Calgary. This heritage park is one of the most visited sites in Canada and is perfect for families with young children, couples, and solo travelers.
Inside the park, you will find historical buildings transported and reserved here. You will be welcomed by people in vintage clothing from the 17th and 1800s to the 1950s.
There are antique automobiles, including horse-drawn vehicles, and a museum showcasing the province’s industrialization story. That’s the Heritage Park for you – fun, vintage and informative.
You can also learn about the history of Indigenous people and the Hudson’s Bay Company. There are tipis and other items (like cookware, fur, and cots) laid out outdoors for guests to enjoy. The Gasoline Alley Museum (located near the Village entrance) is a must-visit.
You can expect to spend around 3-5 hours here. The entry fee is CAD 27 per adult for single-day admission, including ride access and the Gasoline Alley Museum. You can also purchase a 2-day summer or annual pass at discounted prices.
Dinner and signing off for the day
Calgary is a city that comes alive in the evening. The city has a vibrant nightlife scene with endless dining and hanging-out options.
One of the most popular destinations for dining and hanging out in the evening is Kensington Village. This eclectic neighborhood is known for its trendy restaurants, unique shops, and lively bars. You can find a variety of cuisines to satisfy any craving, from local Canadian fare to international dishes.
It is also a popular pedestrian-friendly neighborhood in Calgary. It is within walking distance from downtown via Louise Bridge. You can also use LRT to get there. In Kensington, head to the outdoor alleyway bar – The Container Bar!
After dinner, head to one of the many bars or pubs in the area for some drinks and live music. Kensington also hosts various events throughout the year, such as street festivals and outdoor movie nights, making it a must-visit spot in the evening.
If you prefer a more upscale experience, Downtown Calgary is the place to be. The downtown core houses some of the city’s high-end restaurants and cocktail bars. You can enjoy a delicious meal and breathtaking views of the city’s skyline.
After dinner, head to one of the stylish lounges or rooftop bars for a classy night out. Many of the city’s best clubs and live music venues are also located downtown, making it a prime spot for those looking to dance the night away.
Here are more options for dining in Calgary.
- Dine at the Sky 360 – Calgary Tower
- Fine dining at the Fairmont Calgary
- Or head to a cool neighborhood like Inglewood
Inglewood, located east of the city center and East Village, is perfect for craft beer lovers. Once upon a time, Inglewood was home to the Calgary Malting and Brewing Company, the Brewery Flats. Opt for dining at Ol’ Beautiful Brewing Co. or High Line Brewing.
More Places to visit in Calgary
If you are staying in Calgary for more than one day, we have some ideas for you
Canada Olympic Park in Calgary was the site of the 1988 Winter Olympics. Today, it is a popular place for people looking to go skiing without driving out to the mountains.
If you are short on time and want to see the site, you can pay a quick visit and get pictures taken by the compound with all international flags from Olympic participants. You can see the ski lifts from a distance or when you drive out to Banff from Calgary.
If you plan to explore, remember there is an entry fee. It is CAD 79 per adult for single-day admission. You can also purchase a 2 day summer or annual pass at discounted prices (starts at $499+).
On our first trip to Calgary, we visited the Olympic site complex in the early summer days and subsequently explored it for winter activities.
WinSport, who manages the complex, conducts ziplining and other sports courses. You can also hit the slopes and enjoy winter tubing.
Alberta has seven signature products – bison, beef, canola, honey, Saskatoon berries, root vegetables, and Red Fife Wheat. So booking a food tour to experience the local delicacies would be a great idea.
Most food tours last about 3 – 3.5 hours, which includes hopping and tasting different staple food items from different restaurants.
River-Front, Segway Tours & Eau Claire Park
A wonderful way to experience the riverfront of Calgary is to take a segway tour. The River Valley Adventure group, located in the Riverfront area, provides training and conducts segway tours in the river valley area. It’s a fun way to explore the city.
If you wish to explore independently, head to Eau Claire Park, a delightful green space where you can hang out, read a book, and relax. Prince Island Park is also located in the neighborhood.
Calgary Stampede Park
This is a must-visit and must-do Canadian bucket list item. The Calgary Stampede is an annual event that occurs every July. It’s a ten-day rodeo festival that attracts millions of visitors every year.
This event dates back to the 19th century, and now the area even hosts a museum, market, and exhibition. The museum on-site can be visited all year round.
Scotiabank Saddledome is an indoor arena also home to the Calgary Flames of the NHL. It is located in Stampede Park in the southeast end of downtown Calgary. It is one of the most recognizable structures in the city.
The Saddledome is best viewed from the Calgary Tower. Inside the Saddledome, there are restaurants, and it also hosts events other than sports.
Exploring Canadian Rockies for a day trip or more from Calgary
And, of course, from Calgary, the Canadian Rockies are just an hour away. It is perfect for a romantic weekend getaway, nature therapy, adventure tour, or a quick day trip.
Here is a Banff itinerary sample that you can use after completing one day in Calgary,
- Day 1 – Explore Calgary
- Day 2 – Drive from Calgary to Banff, driving time 1 hour. Head to Banff town and check into your hotel. Explore nearby areas – Sulphur Mountains, Banff Gondola, Vermillion Lakes, Bow Falls, and Fairmont Banff Springs. Read Banff Trip Inspiration
- Day 3 – Take the less traveled and winding Bow Valley Parkway from Banff to reach Lake Louise. If you are into hiking, stop at Johnston Canyon. Explore Lake Louise and stay there for the night. Hike in Lake Louise or canoe in the pristine waters. Stop by (or stay at) the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise for dinner!
- Day 4 & 5 – Drive to Jasper National Park from Lake Louise, taking one of the scenic routes in the Canadian Rockies; this will be a road trip to remember!
- Stay at least 2 days in Jasper to visit the town and natural attractions like Pyramid and Patricia lakes, Icefields Parkway, Athabasca Falls/Glacier, Maligne Canyon, and Sunwapta Falls, to name a few.
- Day 6 – Return to Calgary to fly out. Or explore more of Calgary.
More Day Trips from Calgary
Besides the iconic Banff and the Canadian Rockies, there are more day trip options from Calgary. Here are a few of our favorites from the past few years,
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump:
For history buffs, a trip to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is a must. Located just two hours south of Calgary, this UNESCO World Heritage Site offers a glimpse into the lives of Indigenous peoples and their traditional hunting techniques.
You can also visit the nearby towns of Fort MacLeod and Lethbridge to learn more about the history and culture of the region.
If you’re looking for something more adventurous, consider a trip to Drumheller, which is known as the “Dinosaur Capital of the World”. This charming town, located two hours east of Calgary, is home to the Royal Tyrrell Museum, which showcases a vast collection of dinosaur fossils.
You can also explore the unusual landscape of the Badlands and even participate in a real-life dinosaur dig.
Sylvan Lake, located just an hour and a half from Calgary, is another popular day trip destination. This picturesque town offers a variety of water activities such as swimming, boating, and paddleboarding on the stunning Sylvan Lake.
You can also enjoy some delicious food at one of the many lakeside restaurants or take a stroll along the quaint main street.
Sheep River Falls:
Sheep River Falls is another hidden gem, located just an hour from Calgary. This scenic waterfall offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city with its tranquil surroundings and stunning views.
Bragg Creek, known for its charming streets and beautiful scenery, is also just an hour’s drive from Calgary. This quaint town is a popular destination for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and horseback riding.
You can enjoy a short hike to the Elbow Falls and soak in the views of the cascading falls.
Hotels Calgary: Where to stay in the city
When planning a trip to Calgary, one of the biggest decisions you must make is where to stay. With so many diverse and unique neighborhoods, it can be overwhelming trying to narrow down your options. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
In this guide, we’ll break down some of the best neighborhoods in Calgary and recommend the top hotels in each area.
Calgary offers state-of-the-art hotels like Fairmont and Sheraton Hotels (both in Downtown Calgary). Hotel prices range from CAD$ 300+ for 5-star hotels.
There are budget Calgary hotels available, with free parking and breakfast. Hotel prices start at CAD$ 70-100+ for motels and budget styles.
Downtown Calgary is the city’s heart, with its towering skyscrapers and bustling streets. This neighborhood is perfect for those looking to be in the center of all the action. It’s home to some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, including the Calgary Tower and Stephen Avenue Walk. You’ll also find various shopping, dining, and entertainment options in this area.
Best Hotels in Downtown Calgary
- The Fairmont Palliser: This historic hotel is a landmark with its grand Victorian architecture. It’s also conveniently located near the Calgary Tower and other popular attractions.
- Hotel Le Germain Calgary: Sleek and modern, this boutique hotel offers luxurious rooms with stunning city skyline views.
- The Westin Calgary: Located in the heart of downtown, this hotel offers spacious rooms and top-notch amenities such as a rooftop pool and fitness center.
Other hotels close to Calgary downtown
- Alt Hotel Calgary East Village: Located near the Stampede grounds, this eco-friendly hotel boasts a sleek design and stunning views of the city.
- Hotel Arts Kensington: This trendy hotel offers a unique blend of art, culture, and luxury. It’s also located close to some of the best restaurants in Calgary.
Calgary International Airport Area
For travelers looking for convenience and easy access to the airport, staying in the Calgary International Airport area is a great option. This neighborhood offers a variety of hotels and is just a short drive away from downtown Calgary.
We enjoy staying near the airport during our trips.
Newer Calgary hotel options with great rooms are available in and around the airport area. It is a perfect spot for an overnight stay before heading to Banff, long-term accommodation, or group and family stays.
Best Hotels near Calgary International Airport
- Delta Hotels by Marriott Calgary Airport In-Terminal: Located right inside the airport, this hotel offers comfortable rooms and convenient amenities for travelers on the go.
- Wingate by Wyndham Calgary Airport: This hotel offers a complimentary shuttle service to and from the airport, as well as spacious rooms and a fitness center.
- Hampton Inn by Hilton Calgary Airport North: With modern rooms and a complimentary breakfast, this hotel is a great option for those looking for comfort and convenience near the airport. Check hotel rates here
Resources: Find the best hotels to stay in Calgary
Planning your trip to Calgary, Alberta
Calgary is a beautiful city located in the province of Alberta, Canada. When planning to visit Calgary, here are some helpful travel tips to keep in mind,
How to reach Calgary?
Calgary is well connected via roads and airways.
Nearest Calgary Airport: Calgary has an international airport. (YYC) If flying into Canada internationally, you will most likely arrive in YYC (Calgary) or YEG (Edmonton).
- By taxi – Calgary Airport to the city center is 20 minutes away.
- By transit – 30 minutes travel time, one way. Route 300 Airport-City Centre is an express bus service that connects the airport to the downtown area. Available from 05:00 am to midnight every day.
Accessibility and getting around:
Calgary has an efficient public transportation system that includes buses and trains. The train network is called the C-Train and it connects all major areas of the city. It’s safe, fast and convenient. There are 2 CTrain lines in the city:
- The Red Line runs from the northwest to the south,
- and the Blue Line starts in the northwest and travels to the west.
You can purchase a day pass or pay per ride using cash or a ticket at the station.
If you prefer to drive, renting a car is also an option. Calgary roads are well-maintained and easy to navigate. You can also pick up a car rental from the airport to drive to the Rocky Mountains.
Good to know: The city of Calgary is divided into 4 quadrants: Southeast (SE), Southwest (SW), Northeast (NE), and Northwest (NW). They are numbered and laid out in a grid, especially in the downtown core. The Bow River flows eastward to the city and continues to form the South Saskatchewan River (and it joins the Oldman River in southern Alberta).
Visitors from European nations (and certain other countries) must get an ETA before flying to Canada. It costs CAD 7 and takes a few minutes to apply online. Many international travelers, including those with Indian passports, must apply for a Canadian Tourist visa beforehand.
Citizens from the United States must have a valid passport or passport equivalent, such as a passport card or NEXUS card.
Best Time to visit Calgary:
The best time to visit Calgary is during the summer months, from June to August. September is also a good time for fall/autumn experiences, and it is an off-season, so air travel and accommodation prices are cheaper.
We have visited Calgary in almost all months of the year, and we like it during winter, too. However, weather can be quite unpredictable in winter, and you won’t be able to walk around as temperatures could drop below -15 degrees Celsius on some days in December and January.
Food in Calgary:
Calgary’s diverse population has led to many culinary options in the city. You can find everything from traditional Western Canadian cuisine to international dishes.
Remember to try some local specialties, such as Alberta beef and poutine, a classic Canadian dish made with french fries, gravy, and cheese curds.
Calgary has a wonderful coffee and cafe culture. You will also find locally owned restaurants serving a variety of foods, from baked goods to ice cream and everything in between.
Safety in Calgary:
Calgary is generally a safe city, but practicing common sense while traveling is always important. Keep your belongings close to you and be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas.
If you need help or have any concerns, don’t hesitate to ask a local or contact the authorities. Exercise caution when traveling alone at night.
Is one day in Calgary enough?
We love Calgary and would love to live here. It is one of the most livable cities in the world for a reason. The downtown area is walkable and has trendy cafes and shopping areas.
It is possible to explore Calgary city highlights in one day. Focus on the downtown areas, relax, eat, and sightsee. You can also use this one day Calgary itinerary as a stopover before heading (or leaving) to Banff National Park.
We hope you enjoyed our 1 – 2 days itinerary and Calgary travel guide. Most people touch down in Calgary for work or to visit the Canadian Rockies. We highly recommend setting aside a day or two to enjoy this beautiful city. It has a lively nightlife, food culture, magnificent nature, and a great urban scene!
Have a great time in Calgary!
- Small Towns in Alberta: Top picks for Alberta towns
- Banff Airbnbs: Stay at one of these Banff Airbnbs
- Canadian Rockies: Canadian Rockies Road Trip Guide
- Edmonton: Guide to best restaurants in Edmonton
Last Updated: 2024