Downtown Calgary has it all. With top-rated restaurants, live entertainment, galleries & museums, shopping, boutique hotels, and architectural icons like the Calgary Tower, it is easy to plan a whole trip around all the things to see and do right in the heart of the city and along Calgary’s Stephen Avenue.
Things to Do in Downtown Calgary
Things to Do in Downtown Calgary
Bars & Restaurants in Downtown Calgary
Start your day with a cup of joe from local roasters Monogram Coffee Coor Rosso Coffee Roasters. For something more substantial, treat yourself to brunch at Alforno Bakery & Café, steps away from the iconic Peace Bridge and Bow River.
Patio season brings the downtown core to life with prime people-watching at Local on 8th Ave or trendy happy hour cocktails at The Guild. Enjoy pints and ping-pong on one of Calgary’s best rooftop patios, National on 8th Ave, or get a taste of the tropics at The Rooftop. For three floors of pub vibes, check out a long-standing favourite for locals, The Unicorn. Book a table at The Derrick Gin Mill & Kitchen to sample clever cocktails and a locally sourced menu.
Escape to the Amalfi coast for dinner at Barbarella, or try Cucina, where Italian classics are meant to be shared. Flower & Wolf is an upscale but casual restaurant with globally inspired dishes and a cocktail list to match. Take your dining experience to the sky at The Wilde, a top-floor restaurant at The Dorian Hotel with an Oscar Wilde inspired menu. For next level views, reserve a table at Major Tom. Voted Canada’s Best New Restaurant in 2022 and sitting 40 floors above Stephen Avenue, Major Tom’s menu is a contemporary play on steakhouse favourites.
Check out more great restaurants in Downtown Calgary.
Live Music & Entertainment in Downtown Calgary
Concerts, film, music, and theatre make downtown Calgary a hub for entertainment and are key to the city’s core throughout all seasons. Discover indie artists at the Calgary Folk Music Festival in the summer or at Block Heater during winter. The Palace Theatre hosts a diverse lineup of pop, country, hip hop, rock, punk, and DJ sets in a historic live music venue. Moviegoers love the vintage vibes of the Globe Cinema, a favourite screening space for retro classics and the annual Calgary International Film Festival.
Festivals & Events in Downtown Calgary
Downtown is the best place to experience the Calgary Stampede, with the bulk of the Stampede Parade winding through the city streets to kick off The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. Following the parade, grab a free flapjack at Rope Square in Olympic Plaza.
The Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo usually kicks off with the POW! Parade of Wonders along Stephen Avenue, later followed by Calgary’s anime festival, Otafest. Comic book heroes, anime enthusiasts, cosplay creators, and celebrity guests celebrate all things pop culture throughout the spring season in Calgary.
Chinook Blast is Calgary’s mid-winter festival with light installations, outdoor art parks, and interactive activations throughout the downtown core.
Check out more great events in Downtown Calgary.
Arts & Culture in Downtown Calgary
Arts Commons brings live theatre to life with companies like Alberta Theatre Projects, Downstage, One Yellow Rabbit, Theatre Calgary, and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. You can experience more intimate theatre performances with companies like The GRAND, Lunchbox Theatre, and Vertigo Theatre.
Downtown is also home to some of the most compelling visual arts galleries in the city. Contemporary Calgary presents a rotating collection of international art shows and installations along with an open-studio residency program and speaker series.
The Glenbow Museum, closed for major renovations until 2024, is one of western Canada’s largest museum collections with over 250,000 artifacts. Until the museum reopens, you can visit the satellite gallery, Glenbow at The Edison, a free pop-up hosting touring exhibitions.
Get a great view of it all from the iconic Calgary Tower. With 360 degree views at 191 metres above the downtown core, it’s the best view of the city by far. Enjoy a free multimedia tour that will take you through all the major landmarks in the city and beyond.
Shopping in Downtown Calgary
Explore four floors of shops, services, and food vendors at The CORE Shopping Centre. This downtown shopping complex spans 3 city blocks and houses over 160 shops from upscale retail to local crafters. Make sure to spend some tranquil time at Devonian Gardens, an urban oasis with over 500 trees, a 900 square foot living wall, fish ponds, and a playground. Visit Bankers Hall for the finest in fashion, accessories, perfume, wine, and chocolate, or seek out unique handmade goods from occasional local vendor pop-ups.
Calgary’s downtown core is also home to the Alberta Boot Company where you can buy a pair of handcrafted western boots. Other specialty apparel shops like Patagonia and Lammle’s Western Wear can be found on Calgary's Stephen Avenue.
Looking for the perfect souvenir of your time in Calgary? The Calgary Tower Gift Shop or Kanata Trading Post both boast all kinds of Calgary memorabilia and Canadian apparel.
Public Art in Downtown Calgary
Downtown Calgary is home to iconic pieces of public art that bring the neighbourhood to life and share the city’s history. ‘Women are Persons!’ in Olympic Plaza invites you into the 1929 tea party of Alberta’s Famous Five, while ’The Conversation’ on Stephen Avenue gives you a glimpse of two businessmen chatting. Look up to The Galleria Trees between The CORE Shopping Centre and Bankers Hall, planting a modern forest over twenty metres in the air. Wander into Wonderland - a sculpture of a young girl’s head that is an impressive 12-metres high - for a whole new perspective on Calgary.
Hotels in Downtown Calgary
Downtown Calgary is home to historic hotels, affordable accommodations, and modern takes on classic architecture. The Fairmont Palliser is an iconic downtown institution, built in 1914, with all the historic charms you would expect. Across the street is Le Germain Hotel an elegant property known for its flexible checkout times.
Enjoy a classic Canadian cocktail at the original home of the Caesar, The Westin. Find affordable accommodations in the heart of downtown at the Sandman Signature Downtown. For a boutique experience, book a room where vintage meets modern at two of Calgary’s newest hotels, The Westley Hotel and The Dorian.
Travelling with pets? The Petropolitan, near the Calgary Tower, offers pet boarding and daycare along with grooming and spa treatments for your furry family members.
Check out more great hotels in Downtown Calgary.
Getting Around Downtown Calgary
Exploring downtown Calgary is easy by foot, bike, and transit, with plenty of options for parking. The Calgary Transit C-Train line is free to ride within the downtown core between the Downtown West/Kerby platform and City Hall platform.
Calgary's Plus 15 skywalk network stretches over 16 kilometres of interconnected sheltered pedestrian walkways that includes 86 bridges from building to building. It’s a great way to get around downtown, especially in the colder months.
Affordable and easy to find parking is available throughout the downtown core. Free street parking is available after 6:00 p.m. daily and all day on Sundays and holidays. Parking is free at The CORE Shopping Centre after 3:00 p.m. for the first three hours and costs just $2.00 after that. You can even download the My-Parking app to find available parking spaces and pay for your session right from your phone.