How To Make The Most of Your Layover in Calgary

By Christina Valenziano,

Do you have a ridiculously long layover in Calgary, AB?  Well then, this is for you. While I had a total of 24 hours in Calgary, these are great options for anyone with a day or less in the city who’s looking to slap a few new experiences, tastes, and views onto their travel resume.

How To Get There

Layover in Calgary

The glorious downtown Calgary as seen from one of its many park. Photo by the author.

First of all, let’s talk about how you’re going to get downtown. The Calgary International Airport, YYC, is around 10 miles from downtown. These are your two easiest and cheapest options:

  • Canada recently introduced Uber as one of their newest forms of transportation. Simply download the Uber app on your smartphone and request a ride from the airport to your destination. This is the cheapest option and gets you exactly where you want to go.
  • A taxi will cost you about $40-45 CAD and takes about 25-30 minutes. Airport cab services are provided by Associated Cabs and are very reliable.

For more information on public transit, click here.

If you’re spending the night, here’s where to stay

Calgary guide

Skies for miles. Photo by the author.

I had the pleasure of staying at the Calgary Downtown Marriott Hotel. This hotel was bustling with businessmen and women; it contains a Starbucks, a restaurant and bar, a computer lab complete with beautiful Mac desktop computers, a fireplace (it was really cool, okay?), friendly staff, and beautiful rooms. I highly recommend staying there if you can.

Book Your Stay!

If you’re looking for more affordable accommodations, you’ll likely end up closer to the airport. Check here for a range of options, including some that won’t hurt your wallet.

 What To Do

parks in Calgary

Walk through at least one of the downtown area parks. Photo by the author.

Once you’ve arrived downtown, take a walk to the many beautiful public parks along the Bow River. Staying on 9th Ave., one of the main streets containing a number of hotels and restaurants, it was easy to walk all the way down Centre St. to arrive at Sien Lok Park, which then takes you across the river to Rotary Park. I also recommend walking up the boardwalk stairs to get a gander at the beautiful homes that overlook the Calgary skyline. I promise, the view is unlike anything you’ve seen from your average suburban neighborhood. Find a bench, take a seat, enjoy the sounds and smells of nature. If the sounds of nature evolve into the sounds of your stomach growling, I’ve got a few solutions to this problem.

Calgary layover

Those famous wide Alberta skies. Photo by the author.

But first, coffee…

Deville Coffee Calgary

Grab your jolt at Deville Coffee. Photo by the author.

Head to 6th Ave. for a hot cup of caffeine at Deville Coffee. A modern coffee shop with a vintage coffee truck to match – if you’re lucky, you’ll find the Deville latte truck quicker than your coffee withdrawals kick in. Follow @devillecoffee on Twitter for the know-where on their latte truck.

Good Earth Coffeehouse Calgary

Good Earth Coffeehouse is also a good bet for delicious lattes. Photo by the author.

A more ubiquitous option, similar to the Dunkin’ Donuts of Canada, Good Earth Coffeehouse seems to be on every street corner, waiting for your addiction needs. Give in to your basic necessity and try their pumpkin latte – your Ugg boots will thank you.

Best coffeeshops in Calgary

Grab something sweet to go! Photo by the author.

A Market Lunch

Bao in Calgary

Get your Bao on at Eats of Asia. Photo by the author.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing – stop, call an Uber, and head to the Crossroads Market for lunch. With over 150 market vendors in a 100,000 square foot facility, you will no doubt find something you like. My recommendation? Get your bao on at Eats of Asia.

Crossroads Market

Lunch at the Crossroads Market is a must. Photo by the author.

Indulgent Dinner

Italian restaurants Calgary

Indulge in the best Italian in Calgary. Photo by the author

You might not be in Rome, but you can surely enjoy some classic Italian food while in Calgary. Murrieta’s is my top pick for dinner. A bit pricey, but completely and utterly worth it. You’re on vacation, remember? Enjoy the interior of the restaurant with giant brick walls and a sun roof overhead, displaying the beautiful night sky. Or, get the best view of the Calgary night life with their upstairs deck and seating area.

Italian Food in Calgary

More offerings from Murrieta’s. Photo by the author.

Take A Walk On The Wild Side

Walking in Calgary

The best way to explore and waste time is walking! Photo by the author.

Simply using your time and energy to walk around the city streets is a perfectly acceptable and encouraged use of your time. The architecture, smells of Chinatown, visibility of cultural differences along Stephen Ave. and plentiful shops and cafe’s are worth bringing your clunky walking shoes in your carry-on

Calgary layover

Inspiring architecture in downtown Calgary. Photo by the author.


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