Calgary

For other places with the same name, see Calgary (disambiguation).

Onward!, the official motto of Calgary, is more apt than ever in the wake of the major flooding the city experienced in June 2013. A year later, the casual visitor would have been hard-pressed to find any traces of the flood. As of August 2014, the only changes visitors would have been likely to notice were the closure of the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary (accessible only by daily guided tours throughout 2014, but the Nature Centre is fully open), interruption of canoeing/kayaking on the Harvie Passage section of the Bow River, and roughly 36 km of bike paths that were closed as a result of flood damage and detours.

Calgary is Alberta's largest city, and is located near where the prairies end and the foothills begin. That makes it the eastern gateway to the Rocky Mountains and an important center of trade and tourism for the western prairies. It is your best point of access for Banff and Jasper, and a worthwhile destination in its own right. Calgary is the heart of the largest metropolitan area between Toronto and Vancouver, with over 1,210,000 people as of 2011 (1.1 million within city limits), making it Canada's fourth largest metropolitan area.

Understand

Saddledome and Calgary skyline at night

Calgary was founded by the Northwest Mounted Police (NWMP) in 1875 and was originally called Fort Brisebois. (The name was changed to Fort Calgary in 1876, named after Calgary Bay on the Isle of Mull.) The NWMP was sent west to ensure that Canada would not have an American-style "Wild West". Grave concerns about this were raised after the Cypress Hills Massacre of natives by drunken wolf hunters in 1873. Calgary was one of several forts established in Western Canada by the NWMP to ensure a police presence before the arrival of settlers.

In 1883, the railway reached Calgary. It started to grow in every direction and became an agricultural and business hub. In 1884, Calgary was incorporated as a town in what was then the North West Territories. By 1894, Calgary's population had grown to 3900 people and it was incorporated as a city.

Alberta's first major oil and natural gas field was discovered in 1914 at Turner Valley, 60 km south of Calgary. Subsequent discoveries kept the oil and gas scene active in the Turner Valley area for the next 30 years. When the Turner Valley fields were depleted, the next major oil and gas find was at Leduc (near Edmonton) in 1947. By then, Calgary was already established as a centre of oil and gas business.

During the 1950s, oil became big in Calgary and major American oil companies started heading to Calgary and opening offices. The boom extended into the next twenty years, bringing the city to 720,000 people in the metro area by 1985. The relatively low-key low-rise downtown became filled with a sea of skyscrapers, starting with the Calgary Tower and some other towers in the 1960s. By the 1980s, Calgary's luck turned, and a drop in oil prices sent the Calgary metro economy downward. Unemployment raged, vacancies surged, and growth was slow or even negative in some years.

In 1988, Calgary hosted the Winter Olympics and brought world attention to Calgary. By the 1990s, it was on the rebound and began growing again. Calgary today has become a more cosmopolitan city of over one million inhabitants with genuine attempts to diversify its economy and expand its attractiveness to outside visitors.

Neighbourhoods of Interest

The main transit routes and attractions of Calgary

The Beltline and 17th Avenue: 17th Avenue SW is Calgary's première place to see and be seen. It boasts a large and eclectic variety of restaurants, unique shops, boutiques, and bars. This street is where Calgary parties, most notably becoming the "Red Mile" during the 2004 Stanley Cup ice hockey playoffs, where up to 100,000 cheering fans gathered to celebrate victories by the hometown NHL Calgary Flames. While the Beltline spans from the Stampede Grounds and Victoria Park on the east to Mount Royal on the west, the dense nightlife on 17th Avenue starts at about 2nd Street SW and goes to 15th Street SW.

Bridgeland (Edmonton Trail on the west, Tom Campbell's Hill on the east, Bridge Crescent NE on the north, and the Bow River/Memorial Drive/Zoo on the south) is an urban revitalization area northeast of the downtown. Although the community has long been Calgary's "Little Italy" (hence the abundance of Italian restaurants in the area), the demolition of the old General Hospital in 1998 sparked a long-term project redevelop much of the era. The area is expected to be a family oriented Pearl District (see Portland, Oregon) and the initial phases are already done. The area includes posh shops, chic apartments, and beautiful lofts, while maintaining the old charm of the distinct houses. Eventually the neighbourhood will have more shops and some high rise buildings. It is a great area to walk through for those interested in architecture and planning. The far eastern end of Bridgeland connects with the Calgary Zoo and the newly opened TELUS Spark science centre.

Inglewood: Inglewood is Calgary's oldest neighbourhood and the site of the city's original downtown. It is also one of Calgary's most culturally influenced and eclectic areas. Inglewood contains everything from stores targeted at bikers, to unique boutiques, antique stores, galleries, and restaurants. It is not as developed as some of the city's downtown districts, but it is quickly becoming one of the city's most popular "urban chic" neighbourhoods. It lies immediately east of downtown (east of 1st Street E) and is concentrated along 9th Avenue SE. Just to the north is the Bow River and the Calgary Zoo.

Forest Lawn International Avenue. Forest Lawn is known for its diverse culture, with the city's best Vietnamese, Lebanese, and Central American eateries lining 17th Avenue SE between 26th St SE and 61 St SE. The nightlife of this area is a place to exercise caution. There are many pawn shops that line the streets, if you're looking for a deal.

Kensington. Kensington is located along the Bow River on the north side of downtown. It is another one of Calgary's notable shopping neighbourhoods, with a somewhat more bohemian feel than 17th Avenue (one particular store specializes in Birkenstocks and futons). It offers a good variety of restaurants, with more of an emphasis on coffee shops than on bars. Kensington runs along Kensington Road NW from 14th St NW to 10th St NW, and also north along 10th St NW to 5 Ave NW.

McKenzie Towne is located on the southeastern outskirts of Calgary (accessible via Deerfoot Trail and McKenzie Towne Boulevard). An exception to the "dull suburb" stereotype, this planned community features parks and classical home facades that come right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Anchoring the area is High Street, a shopping centre disguised as a classic small-town main street. Worth checking out if you've rented a car to visit Spruce Meadows.

Marda Loop/Garrison Green (east of Crowchild Trail along 33rd Avenue SW), which contains a large number of quaint shops, restaurants, and services and is a real up and comer area and would be a great place to check out. Marda Loop, centered on the intersection of 33rd Avenue and 20th Street SW, is the older of the two areas and in mid-August hosts the Marda Gras Street Festival along 33 Avenue between 19 Street and 23 Street SW. Garrison Green is a newly developed residential/shopping district immediately to the south of 32 Avenue that features its own mix of eclectic shops and old-towne storefronts.

Mission: The Mission district was established as a French and Catholic settlement (later called Rouleauville) at the same time that Calgary was founded. Historic displays at Rouleauville Square and the Elbow River Promenade tell the story of the area. In many ways, Mission acts as an extension of 17th Avenue. Like the Beltline, it is packed full of interesting restaurants and shops. It does not share 17th Avenue's late night reputation, however, and it generally lacks the bars and nightclubs. Mission extends from 4th Street SW to 1st Street SE and from 17th Avenue SW in the north to 26th Avenue and the Elbow River in the south.

Mount Royal is a neighbourhood south of the downtown with charming old homes on winding streets. The area houses some of Calgary's elite. It is a nice area to do a quiet stroll through, admiring old residences. Driving around the community can be challenging due to the preponderance of traffic calming measures and street closures to prevent cut-through traffic.

Parkhill is a neighbourhood south of downtown. It is a quite wealthy area that once had many old homes. Today it is home to a range of modern designs, with few old homes still standing. It's a very interesting neighbourhood to visit.

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) -3 0 4 11 16 20 23 23 18 12 3 -1
Nightly lows (°C) -15 -12 -8 -2 3 7 9 9 4 -1 -9 -13
Precipitation (mm) 12 9 17 24 60 80 68 59 46 14 12 12

See the Calgary 7 day forecast at Environment Canada

Calgary is sunny and rather dry, with wide seasonal and daily temperature ranges. Summers tend to be sunny and mild, highs averaging about 23°C (73°F) in July/August, usually accompanied by short afternoon storms. June is normally the wettest month. Hot weather (greater than 30°C / 86°F) is rare, occurring on average five times a year. Also, temperatures typically drop dramatically on wet days as well; there's always a couple days in the summer months that barely manage highs over 10°C (50°F)).

Winter can also vary quite a bit. Temperatures can get extremely cold (below -20°C / -4°F) at times between November and March, while -30°C (-22°F) is possible (on average five times a year). Though average highs in January are about -2°C (28°F) based on a current 30-year average, there's nothing average with Calgary's weather. Because of the regular but unpredictable chinooks (warm Pacific winds), there's no guarantee of when the cold weather may strike. One of coldest months in the last ten years was a March (about -6°C / 21°F for average high), while one January was very mild (+6°C / 43°F average high). Temperatures can swell into the 15°C (59°F) range one day, and drop back into the sub-zero (sub 32°F) temperatures several days later. A typical chinook rolls in fast and is very windy. The warming effects will usually linger for several days to more than a week. In strong chinooks, you can see a chinook arch to the west: an arch of cloud with clear sky below. Calgary can be very dry in winter, with humidity as low as 20%, causing dry skin and making it challenging for contact lens wearers.

Regardless of the time of year, temperatures usually drop quickly at night. Lows in summer hover around 8°C (46°F), while in winter they average about -13°C (9°F). Because of the higher elevation and dramatic temperature drops, snow can fall as late as June and as early as September. These unseasonable snowfalls usually result in just a trace of snow on the ground which soon melts.

Because of the temperature variation, having a variety of clothes is essential at all times in the year. Pack everything from shorts and sandals to light, windproof jacket or fleece for visits from mid-May to mid-October. From mid-October to mid-May, you may need a clothes ranging from T-shirts to fleece/ski jackets, gloves, winter hats, and scarves. There's not typically a lot of snow on the ground in winter, because Calgary is located in a very dry region of North America and the regular chinooks melt any snow. This means that heavy or waterproof winter boots aren't usually needed. The nearby Rockies are typically cooler year-round, so plan accordingly for any day trips.

First-time visitors to Calgary should be careful to bring sunglasses (even in winter) and prepare for very low humidity by bringing at least some chap stick, which most Calgarians carry at all times in winter.

Get in

By plane

Domestic airlines

International airlines

From Europe there are non-stop charter flights from London, Glasgow, Manchester, Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.

While the airport is connected quite well to other Canadian cities, there are fewer options for Americans in neighbouring states, with most flights to the US going to major airline hubs. In some cases, it may be better to drive from locations just across the border—especially northwestern Montana. The four closest U.S. airports that currently have service to Calgary are Seattle, Salt Lake City, Denver, and Minneapolis.

Since it's a major Canadian airport, Calgary International has US border pre-clearance facilities; if your flight goes from Calgary to the States, you will go through American customs and immigration immediately after check in. Thus you get off the plane at your stateside destination as if you were on a domestic flight and make quicker connections there. The price for this perk is that you should budget more time when departing; most airlines recommend for you to check in at least 90 minutes before flight time when travelling to the U.S. Note however, that passengers are not permitted to access US security more than 90 minutes before their flight departs.

Like most large airports, there are many options for getting into the city:

For connections to other parts of the city by transit, consult the Calgary Transit website, or call their service centre at +1 403-262-1000.

It is also possible to fly into the Edmonton International Airport, three hours away by ground transport.

By car

Calgary is roughly 90 minutes' drive east of Banff (on the Trans-Canada Highway, aka Highway 1), and about 3 hours south of Edmonton on Queen Elizabeth II Highway, aka Highway 2. From the U.S., use the I-15 Freeway (east side) or U.S. Hwy 93 (west side) from Montana or U.S. Hwy 95 from Idaho. Calgary is about 320 km (200 miles) north of the border.

By bus

By train

There has been no VIA Rail passenger service to Calgary since 1990. In the summer, the Rocky Mountaineer tourist train runs to Banff, Lake Louise, and Vancouver, but is slow and expensive as this is a daytime-only sightseeing train. CP runs a luxury excursion tourist train as the "Royal Canadian Pacific" but service is infrequent and prices exorbitant (thousands of dollars) as this is nostalgia, not practical transportation.

Get around

Detailed maps

By transit (LRT/tram & bus)

It can be fairly easy to get to most destinations of interest by bus and/or light rail transit (LRT, trams). In the downtown core, 7th Avenue South is for public transit only.

C-Train routes

Calgary's public transit system was first established in 1909. The first leg of Calgary's LRT (tram) system was completed in 1987 as part of preparation for the 1988 Winter Olympics. Today, the LRT lines are the backbone of Calgary Transit. Calgary's LRT is called the C-Train (or CTrain) and runs reliably, frequently, and is entirely accessible, with elevators at every station. In the downtown, you can ride the C-Train for free for 14 city blocks along the length of 7th Avenue.

There are two LRT lines, both of which run on 7th Ave downtown: Route 201 (red on Calgary Transit maps) will be most useful to visitors, while Route 202 (blue) is more useful for locals. Route 201 runs from Tuscany Station in the northwest to Somerset/Bridlewood station in the southern suburbs, passing through the city centre and serving attractions such as the Stampede grounds. Route 202 serves mostly residents and runs from Saddletowne station in the northeast, passes through downtown, and ends at 69th St station in the southwest. LRT platforms are labelled with reference to downtown rather than by compass direction, and the trains are well signed.

Trains run every 10 minutes (5 minutes or less in rush hour and 15 minutes on holidays). First trains are between 4 and 5AM, and last trains are between 1 and 2AM—slightly earlier on Sundays. During the Calgary Stampede and on New Year's Eve, the C-Train runs all night and some bus routes have extended hours of service. Check Calgary Transit's website for details if you'll be visiting at this time.

Although buses come along 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 usually service either downtown or an LRT station, and run from around 5AM-1AM. Depending on the route, frequencies can be as low as one per hour in outlying suburbs, although 20 or 30 minutes is more typical. Buses numbered in the 300-399 range are rapid buses intended to provide service like a train: they only stop at major streets and large bus terminals, and run relatively frequently. Bus routes with word 'express' in their name only run during rush hour and take commuters to and from downtown. Most major bus routes use low-floor buses equipped with ramps; the express routes are the exception, using 1970s-era buses.

Transit tickets are $3.15 for adults, and permit 90 minutes of travel on trains and buses, with round trips allowed. Day passes ($9.50 for adults) and books of 10 transit tickets ($31.50) are also available at most convenience stores. Ticket machines at C-Train stations and platforms sell day passes and regular tickets. These machines accept cash, credit cards, and debit cards. A monthly pass can also be purchased for unlimited usage within the pass's designated month ($99.00), but is not cost justified unless you intend to commute to downtown daily.

The C-Train operates on a "proof of payment" honour system. This means there are no turnstiles, but inspectors (usually 'peace officers' employed by Calgary Transit) randomly check for valid tickets, transfers, or passes. There is a $250 fine for transit riders unable to present proof of payment. There is no charge for travel on the C-Train in the downtown free fare zone. An automated onboard announcement is made when trains enter and leave this zone.

Information about the transit system is available on Calgary Transit's website, or by phoning their information line +1 403-262-1000 from 6AM-9PM, local time. Train times are displayed on large electronic signs at stations, using Calgary Transit's real-time information system. Next bus information can be obtained by calling Teleride at +1 403-974-4000, or texting 74000 with the bus stop number, which can be found on the bus stop sign. This information is based solely on bus schedules, and times are not adjusted if buses are delayed by weather or other factors.

In August 2014, Calgary Transit began testing a real-time bus information system that displays stop and schedule information on some buses, but the system is not fully implemented. This will eventually provide a much-needed update to the existing Teleride system.

By car

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 Street divides the city into east and west, while the Bow River (west of Deerfoot Trail) and Centre Avenue and Memorial Drive (east of Deerfoot Trail) 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 Centre Ave.

Many of Calgary's roads are numbered, but this is less common in the newer developments. Important roads are often named "Trails," but there are many exceptions. Note that newly-built neighbourhoods may not yet appear on maps, either paper or GPS. If you are travelling to these places, it may be a good idea to ask for directions beforehand.

The names of small suburban roads usually incorporate the community name at the start of the names of all roads in that community. This means that Taralake Garden, Taralea Place, Taralea Bay, Taralea Way, Taralea Green, Taralea Circle, and Taralea Crescent are all separate roads, in the same community – Taradale. It can be very confusing for tourists and locals alike to navigate an area where very small differences in street names are so important to finding your way. If travelling in the suburban communities, have a map or directions and pay attention to the full, exact name.

Calgary's downtown core is bounded by the Bow River to the north, the railway tracks to the south (between 9th Ave S and 10th Ave S), 11 St W, and 4 St E. Almost all of the roads in the downtown core are one-way, so look carefully at your map for the direction of traffic on each road when planning your trip. When driving in downtown, watch for one-way signs. 7th Avenue S in the downtown core is for Calgary Transit buses and C-Trains (trams) only; cars driving on 7th Ave may be ticketed and will definitely draw stares and glares from waiting transit commuters.

For many years, parking in downtown Calgary has been the second most expensive in North America, after New York City's. Parking fees of over $25/day are not unusual. Street parking in downtown (and many other parts of the city) is through the city'sParkPlus system. Instead of meters at every downtown parking spot, you will find a ParkPlus pay station in every block. Before you leave your parking spot, you need to note the 4-digit ParkPlus zone number on a sign near your car. Also note your rental car's licence plate number. Go to the ParkPlus pay station, where you will need to type in that information, and pay for your parking either with a credit card or with coins ($2, $1, $0.25). If you set up a ParkPlus account before your visit, you can pay using your cell phone. The MyParking app can help you find available parking more quickly.

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. Outside of rush hour, traffic is not usually a problem. Also watch for lane reversals during peak times on weekdays (6:30AM–8:30AM and 3:30PM–6:30PM) when going in and out of downtown on some larger streets (e.g. Memorial Drive, 10th St NW). This increases the traffic flow in one direction by "borrowing" a lane normally going the other way.

Winter driving is very different from driving in other seasons. Major roads are ploughed, salted, and sanded, but smaller residential streets have very little snow removal or winter maintenance. In Fall 2011, the city instituted snow route parking bans. This means after a heavy snowfall certain priority routes in the city – marked as snow removal routes with blue snowflake 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 have 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.

If you need to hire a car to explore the city or head out into the surrounding area check the prices from agencies on Macleod Trail, you may get a better deal than in downtown or at the airport.

On foot

Downtown Calgary is a compact area which is easily accessible on foot. The pathway system, Eau Claire Market area and Stephen Avenue Walk (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.

By bicycle

With approximately 760 km of paved 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 and are available from Calgary swimming pools and leisure centres in the warmer months. The June 2013 flooding affected Calgary's bike paths. As of February 2014, roughly 36 km of bike paths remain closed due to flood damage and detours, so check the City of Calgary's website for current pathway closures. If you choose to walk or cycle on closed pathways, you may receive a $150 ticket.

In 2013, Calgary introduced its first cycle track in the downtown core. (A cycle track is a bike lane that is protected from other traffic by physical barriers, such as concrete medians.) The 7th St SW cycle track goes from the Bow River to 8th Ave SW. In 2014, cycle tracks along 5th St W, 8th Ave S-Stephen Avenue Walk-9th Ave S, and 12th Ave S were also added to the system. Check the City of Calgary's cycle track map for details.

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 neighbourhood of East 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 any time from September to May. Some bike paths are cleared of snow in winter. 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). Folding bikes can be taken on C-Trains and buses at any time when folded and stored in a case that protects other travellers from dirt and grease. All buses on Route 20—Heritage/Northmount are equipped with bike racks on the front. Cycling is not allowed on 7th Avenue SE/SW in downtown Calgary, between 1st St SE and 8th St SW. This section of 7th Avenue is reserved for Calgary Transit vehicles and emergency vehicles; offenders risk a $350 ticket. Bicycles are also prohibited from using the Deerfoot Trail freeway (Hwy 2).

Cyclists must obey the same rules of the road as other vehicles. All cyclists must have a working bell on their bike, and cyclists under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet. Only cyclists under 14 may ride on sidewalks.

This bike trail along the Elbow River was washed away by the June 2013 floods

Each major body of water in the city (Bow River, Elbow River, Glenmore Reservoir) has city parks with bike paths. These bike paths are heavily used during the morning rush hour to work, but can provide hours of scenic pedalling. A scenic route starts in downtown and head along the Bow River pathway as it heads south to Fish Creek Provincial Park. Here, leave the banks of the Bow River and cycle though Fish Creek 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 (a 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.

See

The African Savannah Building at the Calgary Zoo
Stampede Grandstand

Landmarks

Museums & Educational Attractions

Calgary Zoo

Parks

Sports Complexes

Walk & Shop

Skyline

Many Calgarians are understandably proud of the city's collection of skyscrapers. What's more impressive are the clear views you can get of downtown from certain spots around the city, sometimes with the mountains in the background.

Architecture

While Calgary is no Rome, Tokyo, or Paris for architecture, Calgary does have some interesting highlights those interested in architecture. The Bow is a modern masterpiece of glass and steel and would be a shame to miss. (But really how could you? The crescent-shaped Bow building pierces through the skyline from pretty much any angle). Stephen Avenue(8th Ave S in downtown core) and Atlantic Avenue (9th Ave S in Inglewood) both have an abundance of tightly packed, small, old commercial buildings with great architectural details; follow the links for downloadable self-guided historic walking tours. Calgary's Peace Bridge, a pedestrian bridge crossing the Bow River from the downtown core, opened in 2012. It was designed by Santiago Calatrava and is a change from the cable-stayed bridges he is known for. The Calgary Tower is a beautiful early modern tower with a minimalist design. Even if you don't care for the design, you shouldn't miss the views from the top. Talisman Centre, a large sports complex opposite the Stampede grounds just south of the downtown core, has a unique arch-shaped roofline which is the suspension point for a fabric roof. One could also stroll the construction mazes of Macleod Trail and Scarth St/1 Street SE for many beautiful modern condominiums. Out in suburbia, the pyramid-shaped Fish Creek Library (near Southcentre Mall) is a local landmark.

City from Bow River cycle path

Do

Events and Festivals (in date order)

Stampede

Places to Visit

Spectator Sports

Performing Arts

Calgary has a very vibrant theatre scene. It seems that Calgary has live theatre for every taste: avante-garde (One Yellow Rabbit), traditional (Theatre Calgary, ATP), mystery (Vertigo), lunch breaks (Lunchbox), improv (Loose Moose), clown arts (Green Fools), and more. The two daily newspapers provide some theatre coverage, but the best coverage and listings are found in free weekly Fast Forward magazine.

Tours

Work

Calgary business district from Centre Rd. NW.

Buy

Urban shopping

Suburban shopping

Farmers' Markets

Downtown Calgary from Prince's Island Park

Farmers' Markets in Calgary Area

Specialist shops

Eat

Calgary offers a wide variety of dining options. While Calgary doesn't have a single signature dish, residents are very proud of Alberta beef, and Calgarians are discerning clients of steakhouses. Speaking of beef, the popular Chinese-Canadian dish of ginger beef was invented in Calgary in the 1970s. Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut (also called Cococo), winner of international awards for chocolate-making, is based in Calgary, with many stores in the city.

Calgary is also home to a very culturally diverse population, with a very wide selection of international restaurants, especially from East and Southeast Asia, and the Mediterranean from Italy through Lebanon. Calgary is, however, generally lacking in decent Mexican food (see exceptions below), and the inland location means that a good meal of seafood is sometimes hard to find.

Restaurants in the downtown area are very busy between noon and 1PM on weekdays due to the lunch crowd of office workers; if you can, try to stagger your lunch to start around 11:15 or 1:30. You'll face much shorter lineups. Buffets are often only prepared once for lunchtime, and visiting a buffet after 12:15 or so will typically be a depressing dining experience.

Calgary is also the city of founding for major Canadian restaurant chains Hy's, Original Joe's, and Moxies. (The original Calgary Hy's Steakhouse closed in 2006.)

Budget

Calgary's most abundant ethnic specialty is Vietnamese. Most neighbourhoods have at least one Vietnamese noodle shop or Vietnamese sub (banh mi) joint. See the "Take Out Only" section below for some more budget options.

Mid-range

Splurge

Traditional – Steak, seafood, and French cuisine

Eclectic – Great cuisine from around the world

Take-out Only Restaurants

These food outlets have no tables inside. You pick up your order and take it away to eat elsewhere: your hotel room, your car, a picnic table at a park.

Coffee and Tea

Starbucks and Tim Horton's are everywhere in Calgary. If you're looking for something different, try one of these.

Drink

Calgary is the original home of the Caesar cocktail, sometimes called Canada's national cocktail. There are many bars located throughout the city, although the core is where the trendiest clubs are located. There is also the ever-popular 17th Avenue SW, home to the Red Mile.

Sleep

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Bed & Breakfast

Campgrounds and RV Parks

There are several campgrounds near Calgary, but only Calgary West Campground and Symons Valley RV Park are inside the city limits.

Stay safe

Although Calgary is generally a very safe place, walking at night should be avoided in the East Village and Victoria Park areas of downtown (generally speaking, this is the area adjacent to the Stampede Grounds and north to the Bow River). Calgary's 2011 murder rate of 1.1 murders per 100,000 inhabitants was, for example, roughly one-tenth the murder rate of Minneapolis and one-twentieth that of Memphis. Always keep your wits about you when the bars close, regardless of the area of town.

Calgary drivers are typical drivers for a mid-sized western North American city. Culturally, Calgary is a mash-up of small town culture and big city living, and driving in Calgary is no exception. If you come from a small town in rural North America, the drivers would be considerably more aggressive than you are used to. If you are from a larger busier urban area, or are from Europe for instance, Calgary drivers can be considered quite timid and under-skilled. A driver from New York, London or even Montreal and Toronto would consider the Calgary driver to lack confidence more than anything. Calgarians are generally quite aware of pedestrians and usually give pedestrians right of way, as required by law. Calgarians are generally safe and cautious (some consider overly cautious) drivers, though. Note though that Calgarians are probably some of the best inclement weather drivers in the world. Blizzards, storms, floods, etc. are where Calgary drivers shine compared to the rest of the world's drivers and they can navigate them safely with the minimum of problems.

Calgary freeways are nowhere near as congested and confusing as L.A. freeways or the 401 in Toronto, but Deerfoot Trail (nicknamed the "Deerfoot 500" by locals) is to be avoided if you're not comfortable with 100 km/h freeway driving, and even by experts at rush hour (accidents occur on a daily basis). A second freeway, Stoney Trail, now exists on the northwest, north, and east sides of the city providing an alternate, less hectic route.

Be aware of lengthy wait times at the emergency rooms of the city's hospitals. It may take 1 to 2 hours or more to see an emergency doctor. (Note: this is a province-wide problem.) There is a web page where Alberta Health tracks the current wait times for Calgary emergency departments.

Panhandlers are a sight in Calgary's downtown core. The majority of them just need to be told 'No' but some can be persistent. A great number of agencies exist to assist the disadvantaged in Calgary and true charity cases receive assistance from them regularly; money is far better spent donating to these agencies as it ensures that those truly in need will receive it. For that reason, visitors are encouraged not to give money to strangers in the street. Panhandlers have also been found at signalized intersections, holding a cap or hand out to drivers stopped at red lights.

Take care when crossing LRT (tram) tracks, as the trains are quiet. There are no electrified rails. There are usually bells and barriers at pedestrian crossings; heed them.

Boaters on the Bow River should note the Calgary White Water Park (Harvie Passage) located just downstream of the Calgary Zoo; heed the warning signs. People have perished here, the strongest swimmers among them.

Winter driving always requires caution. The key to winter driving is to slow down, as the main hazard in winter is slippery roads due to snow, ice, or slush. Remember, your vehicle – whether it's a compact car or an SUV – relies on four surfaces, each the size of the palm of your hand, to grip the road. When you drive faster, or drive on a slippery surface, that means less traction. So the solution for slippery roads is to slow down to give your car a better grip on the road surface. (Winter tires help too: If renting a car in winter, request winter tires, because not all rental cars have winter tires equipped.) In the worst winter driving conditions, you may see drivers on 100 km/h roads drop down to 60 km/h for safety. By slowing down and significantly increasing your following distance, you can safely navigate through most winter road conditions. Winter road conditions are available online from Alberta Transportation and the Alberta Motor Association.

Although Calgary doesn't get a lot of heavy snow, temperatures below freezing can allow ice to form on many roads. The most dangerous condition is when the ice is a clear sheet which resembles the road, called "black ice". Black ice is most commonly seen on bridge decks and other elevated roadways such as on- and off-ramps, where the road surface cools more quickly and so is more prone to freezing. Black ice most dangerous times to drive in these conditions are the two or three days immediately following the first major snowfall of the year. Black ice can also form after a period of warmer weather, such as in late fall, early spring, or after a winter chinook, when melting snow can turn to ice overnight. Freezing rain is not often seen in the Calgary area, but sometimes happens in late fall or early spring, when an evening shower is followed by overnight lows that drop below freezing, covering the roads with ice.

Weather in Calgary is unpredictable from fall through spring. It is always best to dress in layers and come prepared for extremes, even within the same day.

Medical information

For emergencies, call 911

Hospitals

All hospitals operate 24-hour emergency departments.

Urgent Care Centres

Urgent care centres deal with issues which are not life-threatening but require attention within the same day or evening. For serious and life-threatening health concerns always go to your nearest emergency department, or call 911. Problems which urgent care centres typically deal with include broken bones, sprains, asthma, cuts, dehydration, infections, and pain.

Walk-in Clinics

There are many walk-in medical clinics across the city that deal with routine medical concerns. Medi-Centre is a chain of walk-in clinics with locations across the city, but there are also many independent walk-in clinics.

Connect

The area codes in Calgary are 403 and 587, however calling between the codes does not involve long distance charges so long as the phones are located within the local calling area.

Nearby

Turner Valley

Go next

Routes through Calgary

Banff Canmore  W  E  Strathmore Regina
Edmonton Airdrie  N  S  Okotoks Fort Macleod
Canmore Cochrane  W  E  Chestermere END


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, March 19, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.