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Things to do in Alberta

Things to do in  Alberta

Welcome to Alberta

Home to shimmering lakes, soaring peaks, dense pine forests, and some of Canada's most impressive unspoiled wilderness, the western province of Alberta is an outdoor explorer's paradise, with spots such as Banff and Jasper drawing nature lovers from across the globe. A helicopter sightseeing flight provides an unconventional look at the Rocky Mountains, as does a via ferrata mountain tour, in which fixed iron ropes assist climbers of all abilities. Paddle through the swirling currents of Kicking Horse River on a white-water rafting trip or, for something a little more sedate, spot native Canadian wildlife on a dusk safari in Banff National Park. Don't miss Alberta's top sights, which include Columbia Icefield in both Banff National Park and Jasper National Park, as well as Banff's UNESCO-listed Lake Louise, where the crystal-clear waters reflect the mighty Rockies. Edmonton, the capital, and Calgary have plenty to offer travelers looking for a more cosmopolitan experience, too. Urban explorers can spin through diverse Edmonton neighborhoods such as Glenora and Old Strathcona by Segway, and take in top landmarks such as Whitemud Park and 124th Street with ease on a tour led by a local. To get to know Calgary, take a culinary walking tour, a brewery tour, or use the city as a base for alfresco trips to Bow River, Fort Calgary, Inglewood, St. Patrick's Island, or the Trans Canada Trail and get back to the nature for which Alberta is so well known.

Top 15 attractions in Alberta

Calgary Stampede

The Calgary Stampede is a grand celebration of Canada’s Western heritage that has been attracting visitors every year since 1923. Visit to experience small-town fun in a big way. The Stampede includes rodeo events, chuckwagon races, blacksmithing competitions, a midway, 300 performers on five stages, and First Nations cultural events.More

Bow Falls

Dropping off a 30-foot (9-meter ledge, Bow Falls is not particularly high though it is powerful, with the strong flow creating a dramatic frothy torrent. Easy trails along the Bow River lead to scenic viewpoints from where the falls can be observed, with the glacier-carved valley and the Canadian Rockies visible in the background.More

Maligne Canyon

Carved out of the limestone bedrock by a rushing river, this narrow and steep canyon—which reaches depths of up to 160 feet (50 meters)—is one of the most striking geological features of Jasper National Park. In summer, hikers flock here to follow trails that span the gorge, while in winter, the canyon freezes into an icy wonderland.More

Calgary Tower

Standing sentinel over the city’s downtown since 1968, Calgary Tower features an observation deck with a glass floor and a revolving restaurant 627 feet (191 meters) above ground. Both afford 360-degree views across the city to the snow-capped Rocky Mountains in the distance.More

Moraine Lake

Hemmed in by the dramatic Valley of the Ten Peaks, Banff National Park’s glacier-fed Moraine Lake is renowned for its bright blue-green waters. The surreally vivid color results from light refracting off of tiny glacial rock particles. Stunning Lake Moraine was famously featured on the back of Canada’s $20 bill between 1969 and 1979.More

Fort Calgary

Visit the spot where Calgary was born at Fort Calgary, and explore the city’s formative years from 1875 to 1914. A wooden fort was built here by the North West Mounted Police in 1875, and today, the legacy of those times is recreated with interactive exhibits, replica barracks, guided tours, and an interpretive center.More

Yoho National Park

The unofficial slogan for UNESCO World Heritage–listed Yoho National Park, “rock walls and waterfalls,” aptly describes the stunning Canadian Rockies scenery here. Yoho in the indigenous Cree language may not be as descriptive, but it’s more fitting—as an expression of wonder and awe, it can roughly be translated as, “Wow!”More

Maligne Lake

With its vivid aquamarine waters and impressive backdrop of jagged, glacier-studded peaks, Maligne Lake has visitors to the Canadian Rockies reaching for their cameras. The glacier-fed lake is the largest in Jasper National Park. Tiny tree-topped Spirit Island stands in the middle of the lake and is the subject of countless postcards.More

Medicine Lake

An alpine lake surrounded by the rugged mountains of Jasper National Park, Medicine Lake is not only a wildlife watching and recreation destination, it is also a geological anomaly. In summer, the pristine lake is brimming with glacial water. Come fall, sinkholes at the bottom of the lake drain the water, leaving nothing but mudflats.More

Banff National Park

Within the boundaries of Banff National Park lie some of the world’s most spectacular landscapes. The park, which showcases Canada’s Rocky Mountains in all their glory, offers world-class skiing, hiking, biking, and outdoor attractions. It’s a year-round haven for day-trippers from nearby Calgary and for international visitors galore.More

Lake Minnewanka

Just outside of Banff, Lake Minnewanka is everything a mountain lake should be: crystal clear, glacier fed, and surrounded by alpine forests and imposing peaks. A visit to Lake Minnewanka is a perfect introduction to the beautiful Canadian Rockies. It’s also the only lake in Banff National Park that allows privately operated motorboats.More

Johnston Canyon

The jewel-blue water of Johnston Creek streams through the sheer-sided canyon, foaming white as it careens down waterfalls into pools below. A well-maintained trail—including a cliff-affixed walkway with incredible views—makes Johnston Canyon one of Banff National Park’s most accessible and beloved day hikes.More

Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology

Canada’s Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology is home to an extensive collections of dinosaur fossils. The museum’s 10 galleries are devoted to paleontology and feature 40 complete dinosaur skeletons and a collection of 130,000 fossils. The Preparation Lab shows how paleontology technicians prepare locally found fossils for research and exhibition.More

Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre

Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, is a state-of-the-art cultural center in Calgary. Spanning 160,000 square feet (14,865 square meters), the architecturally notable center includes a museum, performance hall, live music venue, recording studios, radio station, classrooms, and media center.More

Bow Lake

Bow Lake in the Canadian Rockies is one of the smaller lakes in Banff National Park. It is the source of the Bow River and lies along part of the Great Continental Divide, which creates the border between Alberta and British Columbia. As with all of the lakes lining the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park and Jasper National Park, Bow Lake boasts spectacularly colored water and top-notch mountain scenery. One of the most interesting features of these Rocky Mountain Lakes is their differences in color. Some are green, some are bright blue, and sometimes (after a major rain) some of them are brownish. The lake’s colors might even change with the weather. As you continue north along the Icefields Parkway, you will have several different views of the bright-blue waters of Bow Lake, as it lies quite close to the highway. The lake is a great place for a picnic and a stroll, and is especially beautiful at sunrise when the sun shines off of the water and Crowfoot Mountain.More
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All about Alberta

When to visit

Alberta is 1.5 times larger than California, spanning the high peaks of the Rockies to stark badlands, prairies, canyons, and forests. Given its size, there’s no one time to visit. Hikers headed to the province’s high-elevation national parks—like Banff—find great weather (and crowds) from late June to mid-September, and snowshoers and skiers show up December through March. The province’s two biggest cities, Edmonton and Calgary, pop with year-long energy, though Calgary’s epic winter festival, Chinook Blast is noteworthy.

Getting around

Once in Calgary or Edmonton, most visitors find that renting a car is the simplest way to get around, no matter the destination. But for something a bit more memorable, consider the train: VIA Rail service from Edmonton to Jasper (at the edge of Jasper National Park) runs regularly, and the ultra-luxurious Rocky Mountaineer runs from several cities—including Vancouver—to Jasper and Banff/Lake Louise. Tours, from chauffeured scenic drives to guided hiking adventures, also abound out of Edmonton and Calgary.

Traveler tips

Often Canada’s provincial parks are as worthy of your time as their “national” counterparts, and that stands true for Alberta. Kananaskis Country used to be a part of Banff National Park, but its designation change has given it far fewer crowds. For an effort-to-reward ratio you just can’t beat, the 2.1-mile Grassi Lakes Trail gets you a Lake Louise-esque experience but with serenity and a lack of crowds, something you won’t find at Lake Louise.

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People Also Ask

What is Alberta, Canada, known for?

Canada’s western prairie province, Alberta is known for the presence of the rugged Rocky Mountains and as a host of the Calgary Stampede. It’s not all hikers and cowboys—famous fossils have been found at Dinosaur Provincial Park, while one of the largest malls in North America is in Edmonton.

How many days do I need in Alberta, Canada?

Four days gives you time to see the highlights. Stay in a lodge in one of the national parks to explore the outdoors, or spend your time discovering Calgary’s blend of urban comfort and Western chill. Just remember—it’s a big province, and distances feel a lot longer when you’re driving.

What is the number 1 tourist attraction in Alberta?

Banff National Park is the most popular tourist destination in Alberta—the park is home to soaring, craggy mountains, turquoise lakes, and peaceful resorts. Whether you’re planning to hike every mountain in the park, or you prefer soaking in the outdoor hot springs, the park is picture-perfect in every way.

How are the popular things to do in Alberta?

Alberta is a land of renowned natural beauty, making outdoor activities a natural choice. Whether you hike, mountain bike, ski, or go horseback riding, you’ll find that Alberta brings out the adventurer in you. Five of Canada’s 37 national parks are in Alberta, so there are numerous exploration options.

What is the prettiest place in Alberta?

Lake Louise in Banff National Park is the perfect spot to take in Alberta’s natural scenery. The glacial-blue lake and the tall mountains are idyllic in every way. Hiking trails wrap around the lake so you can explore to get the best view and photographs.

Is Alberta, Canada, always cold?

No, it’s not always cold in Alberta—in fact, the city of Calgary is the sunniest in Canada. Alberta’s warm season starts in mid-May and ends in mid-September, with summer temperatures hovering in the 68°F–77°F (20°C–25°C) range.


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