Approaching Calgary by air
you're rewarded (in the right weather) with a magnificent view of the Rockies stretching across the western horizon. Calgary International Airport
(YYC), a modern, often half-deserted strip, is within the city limits about 10km northeast of downtown - a $30 taxi ride. The widely advertised free hotel coaches tend to be elusive, but the reliable Airporter Bus
(tel 531-3909) shuttle into the city departs every thirty minutes and drops at nine downtown hotels: the Delta Bow, International, Westin, Sheraton Suites, Prince Royal, Ramada, Sandman, Palliser
(first bus 6.30am, last bus 11.30pm; $8.50 one-way, $15 return). If you're headed for the city bus terminal
, the nearest drop-off is the Sandman
: from here, walk south a block to 9th Avenue and turn right (west) and the terminal's a fifteen-minute walk. Buy Airporter tickets
from one of a bank of bus-ticket desks lined up in Arrivals (Level 1) by the exit doors: buses depart from Bay 3 immediately outside the terminal.
Over the last few years, direct services to Banff and Lake Louise have proliferated, allowing you to jump off the plane, leap into a bus and be in Banff National Park in a couple of hours. Services currently include Laidlaw (1 daily May-Nov, 2 daily Dec-April; $30 to Banff, $38 to Lake Louise; tel 762-9102 or 1-800/661-4946; Calgary Ski Bus to Lake Louise tel 256-8473, www.laidlawbanff.com ); the Banff Airporter, 8 daily; $36 to Banff; tel 762-3330 or 1-888/449-2901, www.banffairporter.com ); Brewster Transportation (3 daily to Banff and Lake Louise, 1 daily to Jasper in summer; $36 to Banff, $41 to Lake Louise, $71 to Jasper; tel 403/762-6767 in Banff, tel 403/221-8242 in Calgary, tel 780/852-3332 in Jasper). Tickets are available from separate desks adjacent to the Airporter desk in Arrivals. Services leave from Bay 4 or (close by) outside the Arrivals terminal.
There's a small information centre disguised as a stagecoach (daily 10am-10pm) in Arrivals and another in Departures (6am-midnight). The Arrivals level also offers courtesy phones to hotels and car-rental agencies, though most of the hotels are well away from the centre.
Calgary's Greyhound bus terminal (tel 265-9111 or 1-800/661-8747, www.greyhound.ca ) is comfortable but not terribly convenient. It's located west of downtown at 8th Avenue SW and 850-16th St, a somewhat uninspiring thirty-minute walk to the city centre. Fortunately free tranit buses operate to the C-Train at 7th Avenue SW and 10th Street, the key to the city's central transport system (free from this point through the downtown area). The shuttles leave from Gate 4 within 20 minutes of every bus arrival to the terminal and are announced over the tannoy: keep your ears open. Shuttles return from the same point more or less hourly on the half hour. Alternatively, six-dollar taxis for the short run to downtown are plentiful outside the terminal. Left-luggage lockers inside the terminal cost $2 for 24hr, $4 for larger lockers.
If you're arriving by car , the Trans-Canada (Hwy 1) passes through the city to the north of downtown. During its spell in the city limits it becomes 16th Avenue. The major north to south road through the city, Hwy 2, is rechristened the Deerfoot Trail, while the main route south from the US and Waterton Lakes is known as the Macleod Trail, much of which is a fairly grim strip of malls, motels and fast-food joints.