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It is the eastern gateway to the Rocky Mountains and an important centre of trade and tourism for the western prairies. It is your most likely point of access for Banff and Jasper, and a worthwhile destination in its own right.
Calgary has a fairly dense downtown, ringed by inner city neighborhoods laid out on a grid pattern for roughly 30-40 blocks. These inner city districts often have unique characteristics and are worth wandering through, for the visitor with some time to spend in the city. The outer suburbs are a typical sprawl of uniform housing and, except for major shopping, parks and other facilities scattered around, have little interest for the typical visitor.
Despite the fact that Calgary technically covers a larger land area than cities of many times its population (such as New York), barring rush hour, weather or construction-related delays, it is relatively quick to travel from one end of the city to the other.
American Airlines, multiple daily flights to/from Dallas/Ft. Worth and Phoenix.
Alaska Airlines, daily flights to Seattle.
British Airways, aily flights to/from London Heathrow.
Delta, multiple daily flights to Seattle, Minneapolis, and Salt Lake City.
KLM, daily flights to/from Amsterdam.
United, multiple daily flights to/from San Francisco, Denver, Houston, and Chicago.
Thomas Cook Airlines, weekly flights to London-Gatwick.
Hainan Airlines, 3 weekly flights to/from Beijing.
From Europe there are non-stop charter flights from London, Glasgow, Manchester, Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt. Edelweiss offers seasonal twice weekly flights to Zurich.
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. The four closest U.S. airports that currently have service to Calgary are Seattle, Salt Lake City, Denver, and Minneapolis.
Calgary is about 200 miles (320 km) north of the border. The Trans-Canada also enters from the east, bringing motorists coming from Saskatchewan, Manitoba and points east.
Red Arrow. Provides service to several Alberta cities, including Edmonton, with a somewhat more accessible bus stop on 9th Ave at 1st St SE.
By transit (train / bus)
Trains are marked with the end station they are traveling to; a 'Somerset' train leaves Tuscany Station, travels south into the downtown, then south to Somerset station (where it turns around to become a 'Tuscany' train). Be sure to go by the destination declared in the FRONT of the train, as the rear of the train often displays where the train came from, not where it is going. Starting in 2016 the train signs will also have red or blue LED lights on the front signage to indicate which line but not all trains have been retrofitted with this feature. Check the website to see schedules and if the C-Train is down for maintenance. Unfortunately, the C-Train does not serve the Calgary International Airport, although bus connections exist.
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.
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 neighborhood of East Side Village), which is a rougher end of town.
What to see
Chinatown: Canada's third largest Chinatown is in the northeast portion of downtown Calgary. It is the heart of Calgary's Asian diaspora, although much of north and east Calgary has a Pacific Rim influence. The area of about a half-dozen blocks is located along Centre Street S, from 4 Ave S (on the south) to the Bow River (on the north). Calgary's Chinatown packs in a dense network of Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese and other Asian restaurants, shops, housing and cultural facilities. The area along Centre Street on the north side of the river almost functions as a loosely organized "second Chinatown" with Chinese-oriented businesses stretching for 20 or more blocks.
Olympic Plaza, 800 block of Macleod Trail SE (corner of 8th Ave SE and Macleod Trail). This public square was built as the site of medal presentations during the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. During the summer, waders can enjoy the water-filled plaza, while winter visitors can go skating.
Baitun-Nur Mosque: The last thing you should go see is Baitun-Nur Mosque in the north-east area of Calgary. Currently owned by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community,this Mosque is the biggest in all of North America. This Mosque is located at 4353 54th AVE NE CALGARY, AB. This $16,000,000 Mosque is a whopping 48,000 sq ft. Over 1,600 worshipers worship there on Friday Prayers,(Jumuah).
Harvie Passage. The former weir (known as "the drowning machine") has been remade into a White Water park for paddlers. It is located downtown near the Calgary Zoo on the Bow River.
Inexperienced paddlers should not attempt Harvie Passage alone. The passage is split into two streams, one rated as a Class 2 rapid, the other as a Class 3 rapid.
Calgary Roughnecks. Yearly, January to May. Calgary's National Lacrosse League team were Champions Cup winners in 2004 and 2009. The sport is fast, rough and tough. Features loud music throughout and a great experience.
Calgary Vipers. Yearly, May to September. Independent minor league professional baseball in the Golden League. Formerly of the Northern League.