Why Calgary should be on your bucket list

Calgary in Canada is one of the most underrated cities I know of. Although a lot of the city comprises of skyscrapers, the actual beauty lies once you move away from the centre of the city towards one of the most dream-like National Parks you'll ever visit (Banff National Park). Here, the landscapes are as dramatic as those in New Zealand, with rugged wilderness, gorgeous lakes, snow-capped peaks, breathtaking drives and natural wonders that are bound to leave you speechless.

The best time to visit is summer i.e. June - August. Be prepared, however, for sudden changes in the weather. It might be sunny at one moment and rainy in the next, leading to an excessive drop in the temperature. Consider renting a convertible to enjoy the brilliant weather but book in advance as the local Canadian population flocks to the city to make the most of the summer, which hardly lasts a few months.

Click here to book your car.

Here are 10 things that will convince you to add Calgary on your bucket list this year:

#1 The brilliant natural mirror - Bow Lake

Brilliant reflections of the surrounding mountains in the extremely calm and crystal clear waters of Bow Lake is undoubtedly one of the prettiest sights you'll ever see. The lake is located on the Icefields Parkway, about an hour's drive from Banff town.

Bow Lake, Calgary

#2 The laidback town of Banff

Located within the Banff National Park, the little town is set in the backdrop of tall snow capped mountains and has a bunch of cafes, restaurants, boutique shops, souvenirs and chateaux-style hotels. Step out of the town and you will be in the middle of a protected forest with grizzly bears and elks. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the most beautiful lakes. The little town is laid back, not too crowded and extremely picturesque.

Banff Town

#3 Wildlife roaming the streets

It is such a lovely sight to see such wildlife roaming about freely, chewing on the grass from a house in Banff town. You can actually walk quite close to the undaunted and calm animals, who seem to be used to the people around.

An elk on the streets, Banff

#4 The gorgeously blue Peyto Lake

This uniquely shaped lake is best viewed from the Bow Summit lookout point. Once you have parked your car, you need to hike about 3kms to the viewpoint. The path and the viewpoint are usually very crowded but the view once you get to the top is totally worth it.

Peyto Lake

#5 Secluded and romantic spots

The best thing about Calgary, especially Banff National Park, was that although it was peak summer, there were ample spots which were secluded. Just go exploring and you'll find some amazing romantic places to just sit back, connect with nature and introspect.

Simpson's Lodge near Bow Lake

Read here about the Best places to eat in Banff.

#6 Sailing along the calm waters of Minnewanka

A cruise along the mighty lake provides a postcard-perfect experience. The glacial blue waters of the lake situated between tall mountains prove to have a very calming and fulfilling effect.

Lake Minnewanka

#7 Glacier Walking on Columbian Icefields

Ride on a massive, special-purpose build Ice Explorer towards the Athabasca Glacier. Sip on some fresh glacial waters and walk on the ice while your driver/guide explains the history and importance of these glaciers.

Columbian Icefields

Suggested budget hotel stay in Banff: Bumpers Inn

#8 Breathtaking drive from Banff to Jasper

This 3.5-hour drive on the Icefields Parkway is nothing less than breathtaking, from the start until the end. Amidst snow-capped mountains, thousands of pine cones, blue-green lakes and rugged wilderness, this drive is bound to leave you speechless.

#9 Surrounded by snowcapped peaks all year round - Lake Louise & Moraine

In my opinion, these are two of the prettiest lakes that exist in the region. Moraine Lake is smaller in size but much more scenic. You can choose to enjoy kayaking on this extremely gorgeous but calm lake. It is only a 40-minute drive from Banff town and between the two lakes, there is hardly a distance of 15 minutes. Lake Louise is characterised by the beautiful chateaux-style hotel that stands at the edge of the lake.

Moraine Lake

Lake Louise

#10 Glacier Skywalk over the Canadian Rockies

A part of Jasper National Park, the Glacier Skywalk is a glass floor suspended platform that offers stunning alpine and glacial vistas. Look below, if you dare, and you will see the beautiful valley formed by the glacier and gorgeous waterfalls.

Glacier Skywalk

Have you been to Calgary? If there is something you would like to add to this list, please feel free to leave a comment below.

51 thoughts on “Why Calgary should be on your bucket list”

  1. I love this area of Canada! I have good friends who live in Calgary, so a few years ago we went and visited Banff National Park, Lake Minnewanka, and the Columbian Icefields. I’d love to return there during winter and maybe do some skiing. I hear Calgary has some great ski slopes.

  2. I live in Vancouver so I really appreciate your post about Calgary and Alberta. What amazing photos you took and what an incredible adventure you had. I haven’t even been to a few of these places.

  3. I was in Banff last year and drove part of the icefield parkway but not all the way to jasper. I have to say that this part of Canada is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen. I want to go back to go to jasper.

  4. Great pics. I would love to explore more of Canada sometime. The closest I’ve been to Calgary is Glacier National Park in Montana!

  5. I had my first maple and bacon cupcake in Calgary. It was soooo good! I didn’t make it as far as the icefields or Jasper but I was there for Stampede and that was a great time!

  6. Banff and Jasper are always on my list. The mirror-looking Bow lake looks like it just came from the dream. Lake Loiuse and Moraine look spellbindingly beautiful. Too many beautiful pictures in one post. Great to check the bucket list. They are something I would love to visit too.

  7. Calgary is such a cool Canadian city and as you have laid it out in your post there are so many stunning places close by. I love the Icefields Parkway and Banff is fantastic too.

  8. Banff National Park is so beautiful. I didn’t make it to Peyto Lake and I’m super jealous you saw an elk roaming the streets!!

  9. These photos look stunning! Banff and the Canadian Rockies are definitely on our family’s short list of places to see. I missed out on a high school trip to Calgary by one year, and I am still sad about it. (I got to go to Phoenix, which is great, but I had already been there.)

  10. Banff national park has alway been on my bucket list and I hope to tick it off in near future! I would love to visit all these incredible beautiful lakes, especially the Bow lake but each lake has its own beauty. Living in Switzerland I am spoiled with similar landscape but what Switzerland lack is the real feeling of wilderness that Canada has. I have heard that one can drive hours of hours and never come across a car or a village which I really love. The feeling of being the only human in the world.

    1. That’s true, it is not as ‘commercialized’ so to say, as Switzerland is. You will find huge stretches of land without anything or anyone 🙂

  11. I defo say get to Calgary asap, its a great city but for me, its using Canmore or Banff as a base and checking out the nature and mountains (plus those lakes) So many hiking options. I love this area and cant wait to get back there soon.

  12. I have never been to Canada let alone Calgary. I can very easily see from your post and pics , why it is a must visit place. I particularly like the reflection photos.

    1. Canada is so big, it has so many cities and places to visit that choosing where to go becomes tough. But if you do plan a trip, I’d suggest not to miss Banff National Park. It is magical!

  13. I’m so glad you made it to my hometown! <3 You are so right about it being so underrated but so happy that we made it to the top most liveable cities in the world! We tied with Adelaide in #5 spot. Our mountains, the Rockies, are breathtaking and I just love hiking our mountains on the weekends and still enjoy the city during the week! I am so going to miss Calgary when I move to Australia next month.

    1. I did visit a lot of other cities in Canada but I absolutely loved my experience in Banff. It is, till date, one of the most picturesque places I’ve been to in my life. It’ll always hold a special place in my heart x

  14. We’re off to Canada next year and Calgary is def on the list. The nature is breath taking out there. Can’t wait to see it in person

  15. I live in Alberta and have still yet to have done so of these — haven’t seen most of the Lakes in summer, only winter. I can’t wait to see them all. The photos are stunning! I love the wildlife roaming too but they’re actually so scary! Haha I only moved to Canada two years ago from South Africa so it’s a bit of an adjustment with different wild animals!

    1. I wonder how these lakes look in the winter, are they frozen? I’m sure they must be gorgeous in an entirely different way even in the winter, would love to see your pics!

  16. Calgary is on our bucket list, but it might have just moved up on the list as places we want to visit soon! Those lakes are absolutely breathtaking. I am so ready to book my flight and hike to every single one of them!

  17. Those lakes look amazing and I can’t believe those mountains are snow-capped all year long. i’m surprised how the moose roam freely, i think it’s awesome Canada has done so well to preserve it’s natural environment and live so peacefully with both urban and nature. amazing photos and looks like it was a fun trip

  18. Peyto and Bow Lake are incredible! I’ve never been to Calgary but will remember it for when I next visit Canada. You don’t look so cold walking on the ice, inspires me even more to go.

    1. It was a warm day, despite the ice 🙂 Peyto and Bow lake are truly mesmerizing. I don’t think the pictures do justice to how beautiful they are in reality.

    1. Yes Shaun, agreed! It is more of Banff National Park and the Canadian Rockies than Calgary.

  19. I do agree with the comments above: i want to pack and leave right away. The pictures are stunning !!!

  20. Canada is very high on my list of Countries to visit, and these stunning pics is making me want to go right now. I have a good friend from Canada and she’s always telling me about how moose will just walk up to front doors like that 😀 – Thanks for this, Can’t wait to go.

    1. Haha yes, I was so happy and amazed to see that moose walking around freely.

  21. Wow all that scenery is so gorgeous! I know a couple of people who have done working vacations in Banff and adored it. I can’t wait to get to Canada and experience the wilderness some day soon.

    1. I spent about 4 days there and felt like it was too less to enjoy the beauty and wilderness. Would certainly love to go back one day and maybe find some interesting hiking trails too.

  22. I’ve seen so many amazing photos from this area! We are so desperate to go to Canada especially this part and see some of this beautiful scenery!

  23. Traveling to Canada next year. My first holiday in that country. Thanks Medha for this post. Your post on 5 days in Tokyo was very informative too, sent to me by my friend Deeak Verma. You write very well, indeed! Compliments. Continue the good work.

  24. Calgary is already on my bucket list but your photos are making me want to pack up and go right now. Gorgeous!

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