You’ll get a warm welcome to Canada in Calgary, a traditional cowboy town that’s a sprawling mass of malls and skyscrapers with the Rockies right on your doorstep. Every August sees thousands of cowboys and enthusiasts descend on the city, kitted out in their finest chaps and hats for the famous Calgary Stampede. The best way to see the city is by bike using the 500 miles of city cycle paths. Take a bike tour of Stanley Park and you’ll quickly get a feel for Calgary. No visit is complete without a trip up the Calgary Tower and breakfast at Tim Hortons – it’s vital that you discover their coffee and doughnuts at the start of the trip as they’ll become a dietary staple.
The road out of Calgary is flat, but you’ll see snow-capped mountains peek into view as you near the National Park
When the sun sets, head to Stephen Avenue, which has a lively buzz from the dozens of pavement cafés and restaurants. Charcut is a hip steakhouse and serves up cuts of meat fit for the cowboy collective – try the bison brisket, beech mushrooms, boar bacon and sour cream with polenta. For something a bit more refined, River Café in Prince’s Island Park is a chic eatery in a leafy setting serving up moreish seasonal Canadian.
The Fairmont Palliser is a former railway hotel that oozes luxury. The grand entrance hall is a perfect welcome to the city, and downtown restaurants are within lassoing distance cuisine.