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Can I Leave Calgary Airport During a Long Layover?

When you have a long layover at an airport, it’s only natural to wonder if you can leave the airport and explore the surrounding area. Calgary Airport, also known as Calgary International Airport (YYC), is the primary airport serving the city of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. If you find yourself with a substantial layover at Calgary Airport, you may be interested in venturing out and experiencing what the city has to offer. In this article, we will explore the possibilities and considerations regarding leaving Calgary Airport during a long layover.

Factors to Consider

Before deciding to leave Calgary Airport during your layover, there are several factors you should consider:

1. Visa Requirements

The first and most crucial factor to consider is your visa requirements. If you are a citizen of a country that requires a visa to enter Canada, you will need to ensure that you have the appropriate visa before leaving the airport. It’s essential to check the visa policies and requirements of Canada and your country of citizenship to avoid any legal issues.

2. Layover Duration

The duration of your layover plays a significant role in determining whether it is feasible to leave the airport. If your layover is only a few hours, it may not be practical to venture into the city due to time constraints. However, if you have a long layover of several hours or more, it provides a better opportunity to explore Calgary.

3. Luggage Storage

Another factor to consider is your luggage. If you have checked baggage that needs to be collected and rechecked for your connecting flight, it may be inconvenient to leave the airport unless there are luggage storage facilities available. Calgary Airport does offer luggage storage services, allowing you to securely store your bags while you explore the city.

4. Transportation Options

Consider the transportation options available to you for getting to and from the airport. Calgary Airport is well-connected to the city by various means of transportation, including taxis, ride-sharing services, public buses, and the Calgary Transit Light Rail System (CTrain). Understanding the transportation options, their schedules, and approximate travel times will help you plan your time effectively.

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5. Time of Day and Safety

The time of day is an essential consideration, particularly if you plan to leave the airport during nighttime hours. It’s crucial to research the safety of the areas you intend to visit and be mindful of any potential risks associated with exploring a new city, especially if you are traveling alone. Exercise caution and ensure that you have a reliable means of communication and navigation.

6. Weather Conditions

Weather conditions can also impact your decision to leave the airport during a layover. Calgary experiences a range of weather patterns throughout the year, including cold winters and hot summers. It’s important to check the weather forecast for the day of your layover and dress accordingly. Inclement weather, such as heavy rain or snowstorms, may affect your ability to explore the city comfortably.

7. Local Currency and Payment Methods

Before leaving the airport, consider obtaining some local currency for your time in Calgary. While many establishments in the city accept credit cards, having cash on hand can be useful, especially for small purchases or situations where cards may not be accepted. Currency exchange services are available at Calgary Airport, allowing you to convert your money conveniently.

8. COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s essential to stay informed about any travel restrictions or guidelines in place at Calgary Airport and in the city itself. Check the latest updates from the Canadian government and local health authorities to ensure that you comply with any requirements, such as mask-wearing, social distancing, or proof of vaccination.

Exploring Calgary During Your Layover

If you have carefully considered the factors mentioned above and have determined that leaving Calgary Airport during your layover is feasible, you can look forward to experiencing some of the attractions and activities the city has to offer. Here are a few popular options:

1. Calgary Tower

The Calgary Tower is an iconic landmark and observation deck that offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city and the surrounding Rocky Mountains. It’s a great place to visit if you have limited time, as you can quickly get a sense of Calgary’s beauty from above.

2. Calgary Stampede

If your layover coincides with the annual Calgary Stampede, you’re in for a treat. Known as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth,” the Stampede is a world-renowned rodeo and festival that showcases western heritage, entertainment, and cuisine. It typically takes place in July and attracts visitors from around the globe.

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3. Glenbow Museum

For art and history enthusiasts, the Glenbow Museum is a must-visit destination. It houses an extensive collection of art, artifacts, and historical documents that highlight the culture and heritage of Western Canada. The museum offers a glimpse into the region’s rich history and diverse artistic expressions.

4. Calgary Zoo

If you’re a naturelover or traveling with family, consider a visit to the Calgary Zoo. Spanning over 100 acres, the zoo is home to a wide variety of animals from around the world. It offers educational exhibits, interactive experiences, and beautiful outdoor spaces to explore.

5. Heritage Park Historical Village

For a unique experience that takes you back in time, Heritage Park Historical Village is an excellent choice. This living history museum showcases the settlement and development of Western Canada, featuring over 180 exhibits, including historical buildings, costumed interpreters, and vintage rides.

6. Stephen Avenue Walk

Stephen Avenue Walk is a vibrant pedestrian mall in downtown Calgary. It is lined with shops, restaurants, cafes, and entertainment venues. Taking a stroll along this lively street allows you to soak in the atmosphere of the city and explore its diverse culinary offerings.

7. Prince’s Island Park

Located in the heart of downtown Calgary, Prince’s Island Park is a tranquil oasis along the Bow River. The park offers walking and cycling paths, picnic areas, and beautiful gardens. It’s a perfect spot to relax, enjoy a picnic, or simply take in the natural beauty of the surroundings.

8. Canada Olympic Park

If you’re interested in sports and adventure, Canada Olympic Park is worth a visit. Built for the 1988 Winter Olympics, this multi-purpose athletic facility offers activities such as skiing, snowboarding, bobsledding, and zip-lining. You can experience the thrill of winter sports or take a scenic chairlift ride to enjoy stunning views of the city.

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9. Calgary Central Library

For book lovers and architecture enthusiasts, the Calgary Central Library is a must-see. This award-winning architectural marvel features a stunning design and houses a vast collection of books, digital resources, and interactive spaces. Explore the library’s unique spaces, attend events, or simply find a cozy corner to read and relax.

10. Inglewood Neighborhood

Known for its eclectic charm, Inglewood is Calgary’s oldest neighborhood and offers a mix of trendy shops, art galleries, restaurants, and cafes. Take a leisurely stroll through its streets, browse unique boutiques, and savor delicious cuisine in this vibrant and artistic community.

Returning to the Airport

After your time exploring Calgary, it’s crucial to plan your return to the airport in advance to ensure you arrive in a timely manner for your connecting flight. Consider the travel time from your destination back to the airport and factor in potential traffic or transportation delays. It’s generally recommended to arrive at the airport well in advance of your next flight to allow for check-in, security procedures, and any unexpected circumstances.


Leaving Calgary Airport during a long layover can be an exciting way to make the most of your travel experience. However, it’s important to consider the factors mentioned above, such as visa requirements, layover duration, luggage storage, transportation options, safety, weather conditions, local currency, and COVID-19 travel restrictions. By carefully evaluating these factors and planning your time effectively, you can enjoy exploring Calgary and experiencing some of its attractions and activities. Just remember to allow sufficient time to return to the airport and complete all necessary procedures for your connecting flight. With proper planning and consideration, you can make your long layover at Calgary Airport a memorable and enjoyable part of your journey.

Can I Leave Calgary Airport During a Long Layover?
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