Here is an overview of the most beautiful places in Alberta that you can visit to plan your Canada travel wish list.
Twenty minutes later I was still jerking on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. My tires sprayed gravel as I crawled over another hill as carefully as I could. Heart in mouth, every muscle ready to jump on the brakes. But when I climbed the crest and another wonderful landscape appeared before me, joy replaced fear and I fell in love with Alberta again – maybe for the hundredth time this week.
Alberta feels like an embodied adventure! The province offers everything you can expect from a trip to Canada. The snow-capped and always magnificent Rocky Mountains extend across meadows and dramatic wasteland. The geographical diversity of the province is simply breathtaking.
During three visits to the Province of Princess, I explored many incredible destinations in Alberta. They are the most obvious – the famous national parks and the cosmopolitan Calgary – but what I love about this province goes far beyond the mainstream. It is the diversity, the richness of the different landscapes.
In a province that has so much to offer – and so much space! In addition to the most popular “Top 5,” I’ve put together a number of less-visited places and hidden gems for you to add to your wish list for Canada trips.
“Off the beaten path” travel destinations in Alberta
Top 5 places to visit in Alberta
How to get to Alberta
This guide to the best sights in Alberta was sponsored by Discover Canada as part of their # ForGlowingHearts campaign. But as always, all words and opinions are my own.
“Off the beaten path” travel destinations in Alberta
Edmonton is the capital of Alberta, but it’s all too often overlooked by tourists. Which is a shame because the city is really fun and is the perfect place to spend a few days before going to the national parks!
View of Edmonton across the river
I spent almost a week there a few years ago and had a great time. Edmonton is a really cool, modern city with many attractions that keep visitors busy. Quirky neighborhoods, Segway tours along the river, great food … even a roller coaster ride in a mall! There is so much to see and do For more information, see my Edmonton travel guide.
Elk Island National Park
Banff and Jasper are not the only national parks in Alberta. You will find just outside of Edmonton Elk Island National Park, a 194 km² area with prairies, meadows, aspen forests and lakes. It is much less visited than the more famous parks, but offers the perfect retreat in nature. Camping or glamping in such a tranquil setting is a great way to explore a different side of Alberta.
Despite the name, the park is actually not an island at all. There are also far fewer moose than bison. In fact, the park has been working on some really important conservation efforts, which are vital since the species was almost extinct by European settlers in the late 19th century. Be it bison, elk or even wolves – on a trip to Elk Island you will surely see many wild animals.
Smashed head in Buffalo Jump
Speaking of bison, There’s no better place to get to know Canada’s long and complicated history with these great creatures as Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump,
Before the Europeans came and almost wiped them out, there were about 30 million bison (also known as buffalo) in North America. For the indigenous Blackfoot peoples, these bison herds were vital for daily life and survival. There were several buffalo jumps in Alberta, Places on cliffs where the Blackfoot once carried out massive mass hunts. They would rush the buffalo and run the entire herd off the cliff edge before harvesting any part of the creature. The annual jumps would take the trunk through the harsh winter, and despite their size, they would have no effect on the number of species.
The Interpretation Center offers the opportunity to learn more about the hunts, the history of the buffalo in Canada and the culture of the Blackfoot people. It is a really interesting place and a must in Alberta.
RELATED POST: Discover Blackfoot culture at Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump
Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park
If you want to learn more about the Blackfoot people, Head closed Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, The park, dominated by the brooding Sweetgrass Mountains in neighboring Montana, owes its name to the petroglyphs that cover the vast valley.
Literal writing – and drawing – on stone can be found throughout the valley, which the Blackfoot people have left behind for millennia.
Hoodoos at writing on stone park
Petroglyphs that represent a battle
Dinosaur Provincial Park
Immerse yourself even further in the history of Canada. Dinosaur Provincial Park is perhaps one of the lesser known places to visit in Alberta. The park is in the heart of the Badlands, an impressive landscape of winding rock canyons, winding hoodoos and layered sandstone cliffs.
This is dinosaur land: About 35 species of dinosaurs once lived in Alberta’s wasteland. The 73 km² provincial park is one of the richest fossil deposits in the world. Visitors can take a guided hike or bus tour to explore the dramatic landscape and discover fossils and dinosaur bones on the ground.
In another part of the Badlands, The small town of Drumheller is home to the largest dinosaurs in the world, A 26 m high model of a T-Rex towers over the parking lot of the visitor center and welcomes visitors in a unique way.
It’s at the gates of the city Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology, Even if you have only a temporary interest in dinosaurs, the collection of fossils here is amazing. And with hiking trails that start at the museum’s front door, you can easily get into the spectacular landscape.
FIND OUT MORE: Watch my Alberta Badlands Road Trip video to learn more about these incredible dino-themed destinations in Alberta.
At the gates of the city of Lethbridge Fort whoop-up is a carefully reconstructed replica of a 19th century trading fortress. Officially a fur trading post, the fortress was also part of the illegal whiskey trade. This is a brilliant glimpse into Alberta’s recent history and shows what frontier life looked like for early settlers.
Waterton Lakes National Park
Last but not least on this list of beaten path places to visit in Alberta Waterton Lakes National Park, This was probably my personal favorite discovery in the province. In a quiet corner in southwest Alberta, right on the U.S. border, Waterton Lakes feel like Banffs and Jasper’s beautiful little sister.
Although the park is much smaller than its more famous cousins, it also feels a little more secluded. Only locals seem to know about it and Waterton is far off the beaten track compared to the more famous national parks. But the Rocky Mountains are the same, the breathtaking landscapes are the same, and the bright blue glacial lakes are the same.
The lack of crowds also means that there are more chances to spot wildlife. Deer just wander the city streets and I had to brake for a wolf that crossed the street when I pulled in! On a boat tour across Upper Waterton Lake we saw a mother and a baby moose. I even saw a black bear walking the Bertha Lake Trail!
Banff National Park
Banff is one of the two best known national parks in Alberta. Many visitors travel to the province here – and it is easy to understand why. Glittering glacial lakes, thick evergreen forests, snow-capped mountains … Banff feels like mother nature at its best.
The park stretches over 6,641 km² along the eastern slopes of the famous Rocky Mountains. In winter, tourists flock to the mountain resorts for skiing and snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains, while summer time attracts with sunny weather and spectacular weather.
But there is still a lot to attract visitors in spring and autumn. and this is also a somewhat remote time to visit You will share the park with far fewer tourists. In both seasons, you can enjoy a rich wildlife, impressive hiking trails and stunningly beautiful places like Lake Louise and Emerald Lake.
Jasper National Park
Another of the most popular attractions in Alberta is Jasper National Park, At 11,000 km² It is the largest national park in the Rocky Mountains. and covers some really breathtaking sights. Think dramatic canyons, thundering waterfalls and epic glaciers.
Like Banff, Jasper is particularly popular in summer and winter. But there are so many amazing adventures to experience all year round. Here, too, spring and autumn are much quieter and offer a lot on the path of adventure. From glacier hiking to canoeing and kayaking on the breathtaking lakes to climbing and canyoning. No matter where your limits are, adventures and incredible landscapes await you in Jasper National Park.
Highway 93 North connects the city of Jasper to Banff’s Lake Louise Icefields Parkway, This is easily one of the most scenic driving routes in the world. and almost certainly the most spectacular street I’ve ever seen!
The road goes past the Columbia Icefield, You can stop here to see the Athabasca Glacier. The Glacier Sky Walk offers an unbeatable view of the ice field from above, but you can also take a hike on the glacier yourself. It’s a pretty difficult hike, so you’ll need a guide and the right equipment.
Another unmissable stop on the Icefields Parkway is the viewpoint over Lake Peyto. Head to the Bow Summit to take a look at the wolf-shaped lake that is so vivid blue that it looks almost unnatural!
Calgary is the largest city in Alberta and is often the first port of call for visitors flying to the international airport. It is known for the famous Calgary Stampede, But the city has a lot more to offer than cowboy culture. Although it is a fairly well-frequented travel destination in Alberta, there is a lot to discover in Calgary and it is easy to have a somewhat remote experience.
Trendy little neighborhoods, colorful street art, award-winning contemporary architecture, artisan breweries, fantastic food and lots of green outdoor spaces – and that’s just for starters! Check out my summary of 14 Things To Do In Calgary to fill out a few days in the city.
How to get to Alberta
Getting to Alberta from the UK is so easy! There are non-stop flights from London to Calgary (9 hours, 15 minutes) and Edmonton (8 hours, 40 minutes).
There I recommend renting a car to explore the province in peace. There is so much to see that having your own car is very convenient. If you’re not sure whether to go abroad, Alberta is a great place to try – Read everything about my own experiences here!
Top tip: Be sure to apply for and purchase an official Canadian government ETA before booking your tickets. There are tons of websites that offer different versions of them. But all you need is the official government, which costs $ 7.50. Whoever requests more is not the official site! Find out more at www.canada.gc.ca/immigration,
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