Canada's third largest city offers a colourful blend of pioneer history, contemporary culture and exciting winter sports.
Once a ranching and farming area, Calgary has seen huge expansion in recent times thanks to its plentiful oil resources. It has grown to be the third largest metropolitan area in the country while still embracing its pioneer past.
For first-time visitors, the city is surprisingly easy to navigate as it's arranged according to a grid system but, to get a literal overview of the city and how it's laid out, make Calgary Tower one of your first stops. This is the highest 360° observation tower in the world and will offer you a clear view of the city's structure.
If possible, try to time your visit to coincide with the Calgary Stampede, the most popular event of the year. Attracting about a million visitors over its 10 days, the festival includes everything from concerts to rodeos, with a bit of bareback bull riding thrown in for good measure!
If you're not in town for the Calgary Stampede, you can still meet the local animal life with a trip to Calgary Zoo. Here you'll find everything from contemporary Canadian wildlife to a recreated dinosaur park. And continuing in the dinosaur theme, Drumheller Valley is always worth a visit. Located around 135 kilometres from the city centre, this area is home to the Royal Tyrrell Museum, which is where you'll find the fossils that the zoo's models are based on.
During the winter, the Canada Olympic Park is an absolute must for active types. With everything from bobsledding to snowboarding, there's plenty here to keep everyone entertained. Alternatively, for those who prefer to stay warm and dry, there are a plethora of art galleries around the Stephen Avenue area, such as the Glenbow Museum, as well as the Jubilee Auditorium, where visitors can catch a Broadway musical or see a ballet.
When dinner time comes around, there's nowhere better to be in Calgary than 17th Avenue S.E., better known as International Avenue. With a diversity of cuisine ranging from Ethiopian and Portuguese to Vietnamese, there's something for every palate imaginable along this street.
As well as the many attractions scattered around the city itself, Calgary is also the gateway to the Canadian Rockies and ski resorts such as Banff and Canmore. The city is also adjacent to the Alberta Badlands, a treasure trove of unusual rock formations and eerie ghost towns.