Calgary is an incredible city to visit. It’s undeniable beauty, cool restaurant and bar scene, welcoming people, and fascinating points of interest mean there is plenty to see and do. Getting to Calgary is now easier than ever with the eTA visa waiver, as many nationalities no longer need to visit an embassy to apply for a visa.
Calgary is probably most famous for holding the 1988 Winter Olympics. At the time, they were the most expensive Olympics ever held, but the games were such a success that record levels of TV revenue were also reached.
The legacy of the games lives on through the world-class winter sports facilities which visitors can enjoy. It is one of the best places in the world to go skiing and its resorts have won multiple awards.
The city has a population of roughly 1.2 million, making it the largest city in the Alberta region. Impressively it was ranked as the most livable city in North America in 2018 and 2019 by The Economist Intelligence Unit.
This article will explain the best things to do in the city, how you can get there, and how you can get a Canada eTA to visit Calgary.
The Best Things to Do in Calgary
Calgary is full of surprises and everyone’s favorite experiences will differ slightly. However, we have chosen 5 of the best things to do in Calgary (aside from skiing!) which all visitors should not miss.
National Music Centre
This entertaining new museum takes you on a journey through Canada’s musical history. Interactive displays, rotating exhibitions, and even a recording room where you can try playing drums and guitars, mean that there is never a dull moment in this museum!
Heritage Park Historical Village
The historical village is a large 10-hectare area where all the buildings are from 1915 or earlier. When you are there, you feel like you have traveled 100 years into the past. The original structures include a church, school, grain mill, and even a fort. There are plenty of activities to enjoy including a working steam train, an antique midway, and a hay ride.
The museum has an extensive permanent collection as well as rotating temporary exhibitions. If you are a fan of history or art, this is the best place to visit in Calgary. The displays bring to life famous personalities and scenes from history and the multimedia displays include voice recordings and other elements..
Although there are now much higher buildings, the 1968 Calgary Tower remains the most iconic feature of the city’s skyline. The panoramic views from the top of the tower are fantastic and there’s an incredible revolving restaurant at the top. A new theatre room has also recently opened in tower, visitors can watch a short-film which includes breathtaking fly-through footage of Alberta.
Inglewood Bird Sanctuary
The sanctuary is home to over 260 species of birds. It’s a breathtaking, peaceful place with myriad paths which allow visitors to wander around freely and observe the wildlife. There are also 21 species of mammals and 347 plant species. There is also an information center which provides information about the birds which is very popular with children.
How Can You Get to Calgary?
The city is very accessible and there are numerous ways to travel to Calgary. It has one of the world’s most modern airports and visitors can also reach the city by train or by road.
Flying to Calgary
Calgary Airport is located in the northwest of the city, approximately 20 minutes from the center. Visitors can take taxis, rental cars, and airport shuttles from the airport to downtown Calgary or straight to their accomodation. The airport is one of Canada’s largest and it welcomes millions of visitors each year.
Calgary by train
Traveling to Calgary by train is a popular option for visitors to travel in style. Rocky Mountaineer provides a rail service which is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and offers breathtaking views. There are numerous routes and you can easily get to Calgary from anywhere by train, however, visitors should always keep in mind that Canada’s vast distances can make train travel relatively slow.
See more train travel information.
Driving to Calgary
Getting to Calgary by car is simple. The city is well-connected to numerous major highway systems including the Trans-Canada Highway and the Alberta Highway 2. These highways link Calgary to Banff, Edmonton, Red Deer, the US border, and a multitude of other locations.
What Documents do You Need to Go to Calgary?
All visitors coming from other countries need a passport to enter Canada as well as a visa, unless they are from a visa-exempt country. There are numerous visa-exempt countries, who just need to obtain a Canada eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization) instead of getting a conventional visa. All visitors either need an eTA for Calgary or a visa for Calgary.
Visa-exempt countries, eligible for the eTA, include all European Union member countries, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. The online eTA application only takes a matter of minutes to complete, applicants just need to provide a range of basic information including their name, address, date of birth, nationality, and passport details.
Most applications are approved within 20 minutes of submission though sometime the process can take up to 24 hours. Approved Canada eTAs are sent to travelers by email, visitors can enter by just presenting their eTA along with their passports. The maximum stay with an eTA is 6 months.
If you are planning to enter Canada, find out more about the Canadian customs requirements.