Looking for the perfect one day in Calgary itinerary? We 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. 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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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 to (or leaving from) Banff National Park.
We have included additional sightseeing ideas for a 2 day trip to the city.
Best Time to visit Calgary
Best time to visit Calgary are 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, we like it during winters 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.
How to reach Calgary?
Calgary is well connected via roads, and airways.
Nearest Calgary Airport: Calgary has an international airport – YYC. You will most likely be arriving in YYC (Calgary) or YEG (Edmonton), if flying into Canada internationally.
- By taxi – Calgary Airport to the city center is 20 minutes away.
- By transit/public transportation – 30 minutes of 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: Bus service and LRT is very good in Calgary. 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
Car rentals services are available as well to drive to the Rocky mountains.
Visa Requirements: Visitors from the European nations (and certain other countries) have to get an ETA before flying to Canada. It costs CAD $7 and takes a few minutes to apply online. Many international travelers including those with Indian passports have to apply for a Canadian Tourist visa head of time.
Citizens from the United States must have a valid passport or NEXUS card, to arrive in Calgary Canada.
Hotels Calgary: Where to stay in the city
The city of Calgary is divided into 4 quadrants: Southeast (SE), Southwest (SW), Northeast (NE), Northwest (NW). They are numbered and laid out in a grid, especially in the downtown core.
The Bow River flows eastward to the city, and it continues on to form the South Saskatchewan river (and it joins the Oldman River in southern Alberta).
Calgary offers state of the art hotels like Fairmont, Sheraton Hotels (both in Downtown Calgary). Hotel prices range from CAD$ 300+ for 5 star hotels.
There are budget Calgary hotels available as well, with free parking and breakfast. Hotel prices start at CAD$ 70-100+ for motels and budget styles.
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, or for long term accommodation for group and family stays. Find the best hotels to stay in Calgary
Top hotel picks in Calgary:
- Hampton Inn by Hilton is one of our favorite hotels in Calgary. The location is great – quick access to the airport and Banff. It is a 3-star hotel but is packed with great value. Their rooms are spacious, clean, and beautiful. The hotel offers free breakfast every day. Parking, free airport shuttle and WiFi and fitness center are included at the hotel property. Check hotel rates here
- Sheraton Eau Claire is a beautiful 4 star hotel in Downtown Calgary. The hotel is located close to restaurants, and other downtown tourist attractions. The hotel rooms are spacious, and provides stunning views of downtown Calgary. View hotel reviews here
- Hyatt Downtown Calgary is another 4 -star hotel in Calgary downtown area. It is home to the STILL-WATER spa, considered one of the best in the city. The hotel is located close to all the tourist sightseeing/attractions and restaurants in Calgary. Find hotel rates here
- Find more hotel deals in Calgary here
Start your day with breakfast in Calgary
If you are staying in the airport area, you will earn a free breakfast. And if you are staying in downtown you might want to 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, theSidewalk 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, 1886 Buffalo Cafe (Eau Claire)
Note: From your airport hotel, take Alberta Highway 2 (AB-2) towards the south, 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 to 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 a filling breakfast head to walk the beautiful Calgary downtown.
It is a good idea to walk the area, 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.
Explore Stephen Avenue Walk
One of our favorite things to do in Calgary is to explore 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.
As you stroll along, you can see little bits of history and historical facts jotted on different pillars. 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 downtown core. In 1968, when it was first opened, it was the tallest freestanding structure in the whole of 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 romantic dinners, or to celebrate with friends and family.
At the ground floor of the tower is a souvenir store. There is an entry fee to the tower. The tower is a must visit, because of the amazing views of the city of Calgary.
Entry fee for Calgary Tower is $18 CAD/adult.
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, take photos to capture this unique creation in the middle of downtown!
The Glenbow Museum is an art and history-culture museum located in 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.
Entry fee to the Glenbow Museum is $15 CAD/person.
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 their mind blowing performance hall!
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, then head to the CORE Shopping Center, shop and eat for a bit. The Shopping center has a beautiful indoor 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 a meal and sit in the designated areas in the garden, or just admire the displays and tranquility!
Explore Fort Calgary
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. You can easily spend 2-3 hours here.
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 alike.
Inside the park, you will find historical buildings that were transported and reserved here. You will be welcomed by people in vintage clothing from the 17th century to the 1950s.
There are antique automobiles including horse-drawn vehicles, and a museum showcasing the story of industrialization in the province. 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 tapis and other items (like cookware, fur, cots), etc.
You can expect to spend around 3-5 hours here. The entry fee is $27 CAD per adult for single-day admission. You can also purchase 2 days or summer and annual pass at discounted prices.
Dinner and signing off for the day
Here are a couple of options for dining in Calgary.
- Head back to Calgary downtown and dine in one of the restaurants at Stephen Ave
- Calgary Tower
- Fairmont Calgary Hotel
- Or head to a cool neighborhood like Inglewood or Calgary’s Urban Village Kensington
Kensington Village is a popular pedestrian-friendly neighborhood in Calgary. It is within walking distance from downtown via Louise Bridge, or you can also use LRT to arrive. In Kensington, head to the outdoor alleyway bar – The Container Bar!
Inglewood, located on the east of the city center and East Village is perfect craft beer lovers. Once upon a time, Inglewood was home to the Calgary Malting and Brewing Company aka the Brewery Flats. Opt for dining at Ol’ Beautiful Brewing Co. or High Line Brewing.
Read: Day trips from Calgary
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.
To visit and explore the site, remember there is an entry fee. It is $26 CAD per adult for single-day admission. You can also purchase a 2 day or summer or annual pass at discounted prices (ranges from $499+).
WinSport who manages the complex today, conducts zip-lining and other adventure sport courses.
If you are short on time and just want to see the site, you can pay a quick visit and get pictures taken from the outside lobby where international flags from Olympics participants are kept. You can see the ski lifts from a distance, or when you drive out to Banff from Calgary.
Alberta has seven signature products – bison, beef, canola, honey, Saskatoon berries, root vegetables, and Red Fife Wheat. So it is a great idea to book a Food Tour to experience the local delicacies.
Most food tours last about 3 – 3.5 hours, which includes tasting different staple food items from various restaurants.
River-Front, Segway Tours & Eau Claire Park
A wonderful way to experience the river-front of Calgary is to take a segway tour. The River Valley adventure group located in the Riverfront area, provides training and conducts the segway tours in the river-valley area. It’s a fun way to explore the city.
If you wish to explore on your own, head to Eau Claire Park, which is a delightful green space where you can hang out, read a book, and relax. Prince Island Park is also located in the neighborhood.
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, which is also home to Calgary Flames of the NHL. It is located in Stampede Park in the southeast end of downtown Calgary.
The Saddledome is best viewed from the Calgary Tower. Inside the Saddledome, there are restaurants and it also hosts events other than sports.
Exploring the Canadian Rockies for a day or road-tripping 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 the areas nearby – 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! Read about the scenic lakes in the country
- 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! Here is a detailed Banff 5 day itinerary
- Stay at least for 2 days in Jasper to visit the town, and natural attractions like Pyramid and Patricia lakes, Icefields Parkway, and Athabasca Falls/Glacier, Maligne Canyon, Sunwapta Falls to name a few.
- Day 6 – Return to Calgary to fly out. Or explore more of Calgary.
We hope you enjoyed our 1 – 2 days itinerary and Calgary travel guide. Most people touch down 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