Edmonton is the capital city of the Canadian province of Alberta - home to the Rockies! One of the sunniest places in Canada, Edmonton has a great mix of culture, food and a buzzy downtown, while being a safe city for travellers.
The gateway to the Canadian Rockies, Edmonton is situated in the heart of Alberta’s prairies and manages to balance city life with nature – there are many outdoor activities just outside the city. I have been calling Edmonton home since 2015 and here's what you need to know when visiting this vibrant city.
The best time to visit Edmonton is in the summer months, when the river valley is bustling with festivals, activities and seasonal markets. During this season you can enjoy long daylight hours, go hiking, ride the historic streetcar and more.
If you are okay with the cold, Edmonton is amazing in the winter as well - just ensure you are wearing warm clothing so you can make the most of your visit! There are a range of festive events in the winter and over the Christmas season.
When planning your trip, arrange to arrive at the Edmonton International Airport (located in Leduc). Although Edmonton has a decent public transportation network with buses and light rail trains, you do need a car to comfortably explore the city and head to different attractions.
Roads are well maintained in Edmonton, just be mindful to take more care driving in winter - drive slowly and always be prepared for the conditions.
In terms of accommodation, staying in the city centre is usually the best idea - there are many hotels to choose from, plus restaurants and attractions will be close by. The city centre also makes a good base for exploring the rest of the city, with public transport easily available. Many of the tours and day trips to the prairies and mountains leave from downtown, making the wider region very accessible.
If the idea of staying downtown doesn’t appeal to you, consider Gateway Boulevard instead. It’s a very convenient area, close to shopping centres and boutique shops as well as restaurants bars and cafes. Gateway Boulevard is also the starting point for the High Level Streetcar
There's a considerable amount to see and do in Edmonton, from urban activities to getting out in nature. Here are a few of our favourite things to do in the city.
Take the time to explore the downtown area - this is the heart of the city, and most of the primary attractions such as art galleries, museums and theatres are located here. Some of my favorites are the Royal Alberta Museum, Citadel Theatre, Muttart Conservatory, and the Walterdale Bridge.
Being the capital city, it's worth paying a visit to the Legislature Building, lovingly known as the Ledge (by locals). Visit the legislature grounds on a nice sunny afternoon and enjoy a picnic. You can also go on a tour of the building.
A little further away from downtown is Strathcona, one of my favourite areas to eat in Edmonton. From local to international diners, cafes and bakeries (plus quirky boutiques) you will have to catch the sunsets at Strathcona/Whyte Ave.
Fort Edmonton Park is another spot worth adding to your itinerary. This is a heritage park that will bring to mind images of colonial shops and trading. There are buildings, structures, forts and street cars from the late 19th century. I highly recommend visiting this park to learn about colonial history, and introduction of industrialisation at the turn of the century.
If you love to shop, you will be delighted to know that Edmonton is home to the West Edmonton Mall, the largest mall in the whole of North America!
Visit Rogers Place for a game of ice hockey - one of must do items on a Canadian bucket list. Rogers Centre is a multi-use indoor arena and home to the Edmonton Oilers hockey team. This stadium is located in the Ice District, close to Edmonton city centre.
And, if you want to escape from the busy city for a while, there are also a lot of hiking trails and parks that you can enjoy during your stay. Edmonton truly has the best of city and nature combination.
During your trip you must also add a visit to Elk Island National Park, this is where you can chase northern lights, and also check out bison. This is perfect for a day trip from Edmonton, located only 40 minutes away each way.