Edmonton is the capital of Alberta, and is on the Saskatchewan River. This is the central hub to central Alberta, making it a cultural mecca and a busy metropolis. Edmonton’s city population is almost one million, and the urban and metropolitan areas have well over a million people in total. Edmonton is known for its culture and festivals, making it a popular spot for tourists to visit on trips to Canada.

Your Edmonton Airport Guide: Fly into Edmonton International

The Edmonton International Airport (YEG) is where you will fly if you’re traveling to Edmonton. This airport is a hub for Northern Canada, and is one of Canada’s busiest airports. The airport is located directly north of central Edmonton. You can reach it via the AB-2 N, and the trip by car takes about 40 minutes depending on traffic.

Airlines and Flights

Many familiar airlines fly nonstop into and out of Edmonton International Airport. These include: Air Canada, Air Canada Express, Air North, Air Transat, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Canadian North, Central Mountain Air, Delta, First Air, Icelandair, Integra Air, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, NewLeaf Travel Company, Northwestern Air Lease, Sunwing, United Airlines, and WestJet.

The Edmonton Airport offers nonstop flights to Iceland and Amsterdam overseas, and plenty of Canadian, US, and Mexican destinations. You can get nonstop flights to North American spots like Whitehorse, Yellowknife, Denver, Orlando, Cancun, Mazatlan, and much more.

Terminals and Amenities

Edmonton International is divided into two main terminals: the arrivals level and the departures level. For clear reasons, the departures level is more extensive than the arrivals level. This long terminal has international and domestic travel areas, and gates are arranged all along one side of the terminal. It’s divided into two areas: one for domestic and international travel, and one for US travel. You’ll find US Customs and other international services on the departures level.

Lots of shops and restaurants are available after security in the Edmonton International Airport. Wine shops and duty free shops are great spots to do a little shopping while you’re waiting for your flight. You’ll also find restaurants like Chili’s if you want more familiar fare. Bistros, bars, and sweets shops are also available within the airport.

Telus World of Science
The Telus World of Science in Edmonton.

Transportation to and From

The Route 747 Bus Service is one major way to get from the airport to central Edmonton. This bus is very affordable, with $5 paying for a one-way trip into the city. You’ll find the bus at Exit 8 on the arrivals level of the airport. Your other bus option is the Skyshuttle, an airport transportation service that will take you to South University, Kingsway, and other Edmonton locations. You can pre-book your spot on the skyshuttle either online or by calling.

If you want to travel straight to your hotel, a long list of hotel shuttles is available on the Edmonton International website. Make sure to book your seat on your hotel shuttle before you arrive. Some of the hotels the shuttles serve include the Comfort Inn, the Executive Hotel Alexandra, and the Ramada Inn. You have to contact your hotel directly to arrange a shuttle as the airport doesn’t arrange this transportation for you.

Sometimes it’s most convenient to have your own transportation, so consider renting a car when you land at Edmonton. The car rental companies you’ll find at the airport include: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Thrifty. Contact your preferred car rental company before you fly, or visit one of the kiosks on the Ground Level of the airport parkade.

One day in Edmonton certainly isn’t enough to see everything this stellar city has to offer, but you can get a lot done, especially if you visit during the spring, summer, or fall months. Because Edmonton is pretty far north, it can get chilly in winter, and night falls quickly. If you don’t mind tourists, then the warm months are definitely the best time to visit. Find out where to fly, where to stay, and where to go when you come to Edmonton.

Early Morning: Break Your Fast

Highlevel Diner starts serving breakfast at 7:30 a.m., so if you’re a family of early risers, this is your spot for your day’s first meal. This diner is known for having delicious breakfasts in Edmonton, so try the veggie omelette which features the chef’s choice of veggies each day. The blueberry pancakes are another option you shouldn’t miss. Try getting a cinnamon bun with caramel bourbon sauce for the table to share, too. Find these breakfast treats at 10912 88th Ave NW.

If you’re into traditional breakfasts and healthy options, the Sugar Bowl Cafe is a fantastic choice for your breakfast. The kitchen opens at 8 a.m., so head to 10922 88th Ave for huevos rancheros or a SugarBowl Benny, a delightful breakfast dish featuring grilled cornbread and bacon. Espresso beverages like lattes and brewed tea are available. For those who need something a little extra to get the day going, mimosas are also on the menu.

Muttart Conservatory
The Muttart Conservatory in Edmonton.

Mid-Morning: Experience the Majesty of Science and Nature

Start your day’s excursions with spectacular sights and fabulous learning opportunities. Three major spots in Edmonton make for a great morning, whether your choose to visit one or try to hit up a combination of them. All three are open in the early afternoon, too, so if you miss something you wanted to see, just bump your afternoon activities and do one of these!

The Telus World of Science is a famous science center with an IMAX theater and tons of great exhibits. Some of the permanent exhibits include an interactive robot called RoboThespian ™ and the Body Fantastic, featuring 3D models of the human body that show you in great detail how our inner human processes work. The theaters, of which there are several, show presentations and films about many scientific subjects, and you can even see major films that are playing on the big screen sometimes.

The Muttart Conservatory is a must-visit when you come to Edmonton. This conservatory is a network of glass pyramids like the pyramid outside the Louvre, which houses a sweeping botanical garden. Three of the pyramids are permanent biomes; a fourth rotates its exhibits to show you something different each time you visit Edmonton. The conservatory periodically offers shows featuring music, dance, and other cultural goodies that will enhance your experience even more.

If you’re visiting Edmonton between late May and late September, you must visit Fort Edmonton Park. This living history museum has four eras as distinct exhibits, each which features a different part of Canadian history. Visit 1846 and a replica of the Hudson Bay Company Trading Fort, or go to 1885 for the Settlement Era. In the 20th century, you can visit a post-railway 1905 world, or hit the roaring 20s in the Metropolitan Era. Actors walk around in costumes to give the park a historical feel. This is your chance to jump back in time!

Noonish: Pause for Eats

The Sequel Cafe is a spot for unexpected and delicious dishes. If you’re craving dishes like spanakopita or Quiche, then the Sequel Cafe should be your lunch destination. Salads, sandwiches, and soups are also available, but if you’re going to stop here, you really should try the ham and broccoli Quiche. Some of the soups change daily, so you’re in for a soup surprise when you visit. This restaurant is only open until 3 p.m., so you must make it your lunch visit. Save something else for dinner! The address is: 10011 102nd Ave NW.

At Juniper Cafe and Bistro, fresh food is the focus. The lunch options are limited, but that shouldn’t stop you from visiting because they’re all delicious. A soup of the day option is available, as well as a delicious burger, a pulled pork sandwich, and a grilled cheese. They also do a daily grilled cheese special, which you definitely will want to try. Visit Juniper with a few people so everyone can get something different, then swap plates so you can try everything! By the way, the coffee is delicious here, too, so get your midday pick-me-up with your lunch. Find this restaurant at 9514 87th St.

Art Gallery of Alberta
The Art of Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton

Early Afternoon: Get Your Culture On

If you’re visiting between May and September, then you absolutely must see the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village. You may not know that parts of Alberta were a haven for Ukrainian settlers between the 1890s and the 1930s. This open air historical live village has restored 35 Ukrainian settlement structures to recreate this magnificent cultural experience for you. Actors populate the village, giving you an idea of what it was like for these Slavic settlers when they arrived in Canada to make new lives. It’s a bit out of the way, about 25 miles to Edmonton’s east, but seriously, the trip is worth it. Rent a car or grab a taxi if you have to.

The Art Gallery of Alberta is as big as a museum, and has been around since 1924. This gallery has a 6,000 piece permanent collection which features visual art that’s both historical and contemporary. Along with the art, the gallery offers lots of information about art and educational opportunities that families will enjoy. They also consistently change exhibitions, so if you’ll be visiting the gallery in future, you’ll be sure to see something new when you return. By the way, the building itself is a work of architectural art. Skylights sweep and connect with a wave pattern that swirls through the building. You have to see it in person; descriptions don’t do the space justice!

West Edmonton Mall
West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton.

Late Afternoon: Go Shopping!

Many of Edmonton’s museums and cultural attractions close around 5 p.m. Between museum visits and your dinner plans, head to West Edmonton Mall. Normally visiting a mall during a vacation can feel a little hollow, but West Edmonton Mall is North America’s largest mall. It’s also quite beautiful inside, with vaulted ceilings and an almost overwhelming array of places to shop. Really, you should go there for the ice skating rink, the adventure golf course, and the underground aquarium. You don’t have to enter a single store if you don’t want to.

Dinner: Relax and Enjoy Dinner

Plan your dinner adventures in advance, just in case you need a reservation for the restaurant you choose. Plus, you can also choose a restaurant close to your hotel, or to any shows or bars you want to visit in the evening. Dressing up for a fancy dinner is always fun while you’re on vacation, but so is wearing your comfy clothes and hitting up a local pizza joint. Whatever you choose, Edmonton can deliver.

At 10220 103rd St, you’ll find Sabor, one of Edmonton’s fine dining establishments. Sabor’s extensive dinner menu offers a lot of options for your food, from tapas to family style plates. If you love wine, get a bottle and splurge on Sabor’s meat and cheese board, a fantastic array of charcuterie options that will delight your palette. The Piri Piri Chicken and the vegetarian Paella are options you should check out on the menu, though really, whatever you choose will be phenomenal.

Plan to stick around for dessert and drinks. Sabor has cognac and port offerings that’ll make your mouth water. Pair them with Tiramisu, Chocolate Cayenne Mousse, or Berries and Cream, which is berries, custard, and whipped cream.

For a casual dining experience, try Blaze Pizza at 15709 37 St NW. Before you scoff at the idea of eating pizza on vacation, trust us, this is really good pizza and it’s going to be very easy on your wallet. This affordable spot has delicious pies featuring all kinds of toppings, from pesto and chicken to zucchini and gorgonzola. Get one of the house signature pizzas, or build your own from an extensive array of toppings. Salads are available, too, and though Blaze calls them “simple”, they feature ingredients like quinoa and arugula. For dessert, you can’t beat the s’mores pie.

Get something a little different and head to Taqueria Tres Carnales for exciting Mexican street food. They specialize in tacos, quesadillas, and tortas. A variety of meats and fillings are available. You should probably try the beef short rib if you want something truly spectacular. A side of chips and guac won’t go amiss, either, because who doesn’t love guac? Your meal isn’t complete without an order of sangria. Taqueria Tres Carnales is located at 10119 100A St. They aren’t open on Sundays, but they are open until 10 p.m., so you can hang around for a while with some drinks when you’re done eating.

Edmonton at Night
Edmonton at Night.

Where to Stay in Edmonton, Alberta

Hotels

Grab a grandiose experience when you stay in Edmonton by choosing one of the city’s four-star hotels. The Fairmont Hotel MacDonald has palace-style decor, with high ceilings and gorgeous chandeliers. The Westin Edmonton and the Union Bank Inn also offer spectacular styling, amenities, and customer service.

For a valuable combination of good amenities and affordable prices, try the Hampton Inn and Suites by Hilton Edmonton/West, the Best Western Plus South Edmonton Inn and Suites, or the Chateau Lacombe Hotel. These mid-range hotels have high guest ratings and offer the amenities you need, like free Wi-Fi.

Maybe you’d rather save money on your hotel so you can splurge on food and experiences while in Edmonton. In that case, check out the Yellowhead Inn and the Howard Johnson Hotel Edmonton. Both are extremely affordable, but still have good guest reviews.

Hostels

Several great hostels exist in Edmonton, some with only shared dormitory-style rooms and others with private accommodations. Pick the HI Edmonton to be near downtown and to have amenities like laundry and a guest kitchen. The GO Backpackers Hostel Edmonton is another option with both shared and private rooms. It caters to backpackers, as the name suggests, and is a great place for you to stay if you’re traveling Canada via bike or partially on foot. By the way, for summer visitors, the University of Alberta also turns a few of their dormitories into hostels during the summer months.

Vacation Rentals

When you need extra space, are staying in Edmonton for longer than a week, or have small children, a vacation rental might be just the thing. Vacation rentals in Edmonton give you the advantage of choosing your accommodation styles more fully than what hotels and hostels offer, especially if you want access to a kitchen or to a specific number of bedrooms. Plus, vacation rentals are often nestled within neighborhoods, giving you a look at Edmonton that many tourists aren’t going to see.

Plan a trip to Edmonton and schedule the best activities this thriving Canadian city has to offer. Depending on when you go, be sure to check out the live music scene, because chances are a festival or two will be happening near your planned trip dates. Otherwise, Edmonton and the surrounding area offers plenty of stuff for you to do, from living museums to beautiful art galleries. Start planning your trip today.