A Dual City Guide to Edmonton and Calgary

Allow me to put Edmonton and Calgary on the map. They’re the two largest cities in the Canadian province of Alberta and I had the pleasure of visiting both of them on my recent trip with Travel Alberta. Calgary and Edmonton were the starting and finishing points of my adventure through Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, but they’re so much more than just transit cities. In my Rocky Mountain road trip itinerary post, I shared my route from Edmonton to Calgary via Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff. Edmonton was my starting point, but you could just as easily do the route in reverse and start in Calgary. So whether you’re planning to explore both cities as part of a wider trip or you’re only interested in one, I’ve rounded up all of their highlights into one blog post. Here is my dual city guide to Edmonton and Calgary

City Highlights in 24 Hours

There’s enough to see and do in both cities to last 3-4 days, but if you only have a day to spare, here are the must-see highlights in 24 hours

24 Hours in Edmonton

Edmonton’s River Valley has 150 kilometres of trails scattered through the city. Start your day by walking, cycling, jogging or Segway-ing along the River Valley, through the pretty neighbourhood of Rossdale and along the North Saskatchewan River. If you’re visiting in winter, be sure to visit the Edmonton Ice Castles. A stroll round round the trendy neighbourhood of Old Strathcona is great at any time of year and whilst you’re there, be sure to visit to El Cortez for fantastic Mexican food.

Edmonton and Calgary Fat Biking

24 Hours in Calgary

Begin your morning with a trip up Calgary Tower for a 360 degree perspective on the city. Next, head to the up and coming area of East Village and explore its public art, boutique shops and eateries. Also within the East Village is Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre which is a destination in itself. Finally, head to the cool neighbourhood of 17th Ave to visit Ollia’s macaroon shop and rest tired feet at one of the many artisan coffee shops.

A Dual City Guide to Edmonton and Calgary
Where to Brunch

Both Edmontonians and Calgarians certainly know how to brunch, and you’ll never be too far from a cracking Eggs Benny. But to save you the leg work, here are my two top brunch spots from both cities.

Edmonton – Café Linnea
119 Street Northwest #10932, Edmonton, AB T5H 3P5

We visited Café Linnea on our very first morning in Alberta and were incredibly impressed. As we left, Scott claimed it was the ‘best brunch of his life’, which was quite a big statement for him. From the outside it looks like nothing special, but the Scandi interiors are flooded with natural light and the staff are incredibly friendly. Be sure to try the Ouefs-En-Cocotte (Scott’s favourite) or the Complete Galette crepe (my choice). Both were indulgent and delicious. Café Linnea ranked at No.6 in Air Canada’s Top 10 New Restaurants in Canada.

Calgary – Yellow Door Bistro
119 12 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2R 0G8, Canada

Located within Hotel Arts, the contemporary Yellow Door Bistro serves food all day from breakfast to dinner. The brunch option is particular popular with dishes such as Chef’s Seasonally Inspired Feature Pancakes and the Pork Belly Hash. A choice of fun brunch cocktails are also on the menu if you’re in the mood.

A Dual City Guide to Edmonton and Calgary
Where to Wine and Dine

I indulged in two incredible foodie experiences in both cities and whilst they were totally different in style, these two establishments are perfect if you want somewhere memorable to wine and dine.

Edmonton – Bar Clementine
11957 Jasper Ave, Edmonton, AB T5K 0P1, Canada

This intimate, dimly-lit establishment feels like a secret society and is strictly for those in-the-know. Bar Clementine ranked at No.5 in Air Canada’s Top 10 New Restaurants in Canada, and for good reason. Think fantastic craft cocktails, creative small plates and a lovingly curated wine list. With only 36 seats, booking (well) in advance is essential.

Calgary – Teatro
200 8 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0K7, Canada

As one of the few remaining white-table cloth restaurants in Calgary, Teatro has a great history and an even better reputation. This fine-dining Italian restaurant is housed within an old bank and its food is as fabulous as the building itself. We were treated to an incredible Italian feast at Teatro on our last night in Alberta and it was some of the best Italian food I’ve tasted outside of Italy.

A Dual City Guide to Edmonton and Calgary
Where to Find the Locals

If you’re looking to avoid the typical tourist trails of Edmonton and Calgary, do as the locals do and find refuge in their coolest neighbourhoods

Edmonton – Whyte Avenue

Whyte Ave is a long road that stretches through the area of Old Strathcona. Locals flock here for the boutique shops, vibrant restaurants and the many festivals that go on throughout the year (the Edmonton International Fringe Festival in Summer and Ice on Whyte in Winter). There’s also Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market which goes on all year round.

Calgary – Kensington

It’s only on the other side of the Bow River, but the neighbourhood of Kensington feels a world away from the high-rise streets of central Calgary. Similar to London, this Kensington has a well-to-do feel about it and is full of unique establishments such as the popular Regal Cat Café.

A Dual City Guide to Edmonton and Calgary
Where to Drink Great Coffee

Canadians seem to hold their coffee in high regards, but the biggest difference I found is that they only serve their filter coffee with cream instead of milk. Beyond their beloved filter coffee, they certainly know their flat whites from their cappuccino froth. For the coffee connoisseurs, here are my top picks from each city.

Edmonton – Block 1912
10361 82 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T6E 1Z9, Canada

It’s no surprise that this effortlessly cool coffee shop is located on Edmonton’s Whyte Ave. Block 1912 has every coffee under the sun, serving everything from Vietnamese coffee to ganache mocha and pistachio chai. It also serves desserts, gelato, soups and sandwiches.

Calgary – Analog Coffee
740 17 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2S 0B7, Canada

In the coffee district of 17th Ave you’ll find Analog Coffee, a family-run business with real spirit and an extraordinary passion for good coffee. Behind their coffee is an even better story that you can’t help buy into the minute you walk through the door.

A Dual City Guide to Edmonton and Calgary
Where to Drink the Best Local Brews

The craft beer scene has kicked off in both cities in a major way, and is a trend that seems to be sweeping the whole of Alberta. I’ve never seen so many ‘micro-breweries’ anywhere else in the world, so competition is high for these establishments. Whilst I’m not a beer drinker, the local experts at Travel Alberta recommend the following spots.

Edmonton – Situation Brewing
10308 81 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T6E 1X2, Canada

This place offers the full experience. Start with a tour of the microbrewery or sign up to a brewing workshop, then enjoy the ultimate taste test and sample all of their home brews. Situation Beer is a really popular place in Edmonton.

Calgary – Cold Garden
1100 11 St SE, Calgary, AB T2G 4T3, Canada

Cold Garden’s brews can be found on tap at over 15 of Calgary restaurants (including Yellow Door Bistro), but to really experience their creations head to their microbrewery tasting room in Inglewood, open daily excluding Mondays.

A Dual City Guide to Edmonton and Calgary
Where to Stay

For a friendly, boutique and central place to stay in both Edmonton and Calgary, I would definitely recommend both of the hotels I stayed at during my trip.

Edmonton – Union Bank Inn
10053 Jasper Ave, Edmonton, AB T5J 1S5, Canada

Whilst the lobby is in need of a makeover, the newly renovated rooms at the Union Bank Inn are beautifully designed, luxurious and very spacious. The hotel does a fantastic breakfast in Maddison’s Grill, which looked equally as popular in the evening. Located on Jasper Avenue, you’ll be staying right in the heart of the city. Read Reviews and Book.

Calgary – Kensington Riverside Inn
1126 Memorial Dr NW, Calgary, AB T2N 3E3, Canada

I fell in love with the boutique design of Kensington Riverside Inn. With only 19 rooms, it’s got a really personal and intimate feel. It’s located in the fashionable neighbourhood of Kensington, so you’ll have bars, restaurants and the city right on your doorstep. I didn’t really rate the Eggs Benedict but the rooms are very spacious and have great views of the city skyline. Read Reviews and Book.

For more information about Edmonton visit ExploreEdmonton.com and for more information about Calgary visit VisitCalgary.com.

Read about more things to do in Edmonton.

What did you think of my dual guide to Edmonton and Calgary? Do you have any extra tips you could add to this post, or are you planning a trip to one of these cities? If you enjoyed this post or found it useful, please leave me a comment in the box below. Jess x

This blog post has been written as part of a sponsored collaboration with Travel Alberta.  All views and words are my own.

Jessica Ruth Gibson is the Founder and Editor of Travelista and an award-winning travel content creator of 10 years. She lives in York, UK with her son and has travelled to over 50 countries; her favourites being Italy, Canada and Vietnam.


Leave a comment

Travelista is an online publication and community for the adventurous modern woman covering travel, style, family, home, career and wellbeing.