The city of Calgary lies in southern Alberta, and is perhaps best known as the home of a world-famous rodeo and as a gateway to some of Canada's spectacular scenic areas. Despite this potentially rural-sounding reputation, Calgary is a bustling city (Alberta's largest) with plenty of cosmopolitan pursuits as well. The city makes an excellent holiday destination for families or groups with diverse interests, as there's something for everyone.
Calgary's annual Stampede takes over the city each July, and even if you don't fancy yourself the cowboy type it's worth checking out. Of course, the Calgary Stampede draws people from all over the world, so finding cheap Calgary hotels during the rodeo is a challenge. Book in advance or risk being unable to find a decent place to stay. Otherwise, you can skip the rodeo and visit during another time in summer (for hiking) or during the winter (for skiing). The city itself also has several museums and attractions that can be enjoyed in any season.
One of the most popular attractions for visitors to Calgary is Banff National Park, the oldest in Canada and a stunning wilderness area. The park's entrance is a short 110km from Calgary, but chances are good you'll want to spend more than just a day exploring Banff. You can easily spend a few days in Calgary before using that as the springboard for your Banff National Park adventure, however, combining the best of city and country in one trip.
The Calgary International Airport is the third busiest in Canada, so getting to Calgary is fairly easy. What's more, Canadian budget carrier WestJet is headquartered in Calgary, so you may find some good deals on flights from elsewhere in North America. There are also regular flights from London, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam. Once in Calgary, you can visit most destinations in the city by using public transportation, saving your car rental for when you want to explore the surrounding area.