From the moment travellers step off their cheap flights to Alberta, this province's majestic beauty is obvious. Endless prairies, rolling foothills, sky-scraping snow-capped mountains, sparkling lakes and untapped wilderness are what await. Alberta's undoubted jewel is the Rocky Mountains. There are six major ski and ride resorts - Lake Louise, Sunshine Village, Mount Norquay, Nakiska, Marmot Basin and Castle Mountain Resort. 

The province may have been named for a 19th-century princess, but Alberta predates her by millennia. The Drumheller Valley in Southern Alberta is the dinosaur capital of the world. The landscape has been carved and worn by time to almost a moonscape. It has the richest deposits of fossils and dinosaur bones in North America, home too to the world-famous Royal Tyrrell Museum. 

Edmonton is capital, a thriving petro-city located south of the centre of the province. Its largest attraction might just be the West Edmonton Mall, the largest shopping and entertainment complex in North America, which has more than 800 stores more than 110 eateries. 

Calgary, another city with a booming oil and gas industry, is gateway to the Rockies. Each summer it celebrates its Western heritage with rodeo, chuckwagon races, agricultural shows and grandstand shows. 

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Alberta climate

In general, the climate is cool and continental, but there is great variation. The north gets approximately 1,900 hours of sunshine each year, compared to 2,300 hours in the south. Average January temperatures range from -24 degrees Celsius (-11 degrees Fahrenheit) in the north to -8 degrees (17F) in the south. July has an average temperature of 16 degrees (60F) in the north to 20 degrees (68F) in the south. Sometimes summer temperatures can soar to 40 degrees (104F) but this is rare. Travellers taking cheap flights to Alberta, southern Alberta in particular, may be lucky enough to experience the chinook winds. Air funnelling through the mountains produces foehn winds that can warm up winter days dramatically.

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When to fly to Alberta

Peak Season:
The high season in Alberta really depends on what you intend to do there. Most travellers - bound for the cities - take cheap flights to Alberta during the summer months. The winter months are, unsurprisingly, peak season for skiers and snowboarders. 

Off Season:
In the cities, winter is generally off season, while the Rockies are at their busiest.

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Getting around Alberta

Given the size of Alberta, renting a car is the best option. Once travellers have disembarked their cheap flights to Albera, renting a car is quick and easy. In the cities, taxis and public transportation are readily available. 

Edmonton has the Edmonton Transit System, made up of buses and light rail. Calgary has buses and C-Trains (the LRT).

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Alberta insider information

  • A bonus for travellers taking cheap flights to Alberta is no Provincial Sales Tax. It's the only province without the sales tax. There is a 4 per cent Tourism Levy on hotel rooms and GST on most purchases is 5 per cent. 
  • Jasper National Park is a little wilder than Banff. Not only does it have the highest mountain in Alberta (Mount Columbia at 3,747 metres), it has the only sand-dune ecosystem (Jasper Lake dunes) in the Four Mountain Parks. It also has the last fully protected range in the Rocky Mountains for caribou and the most accessible glacier (the Athabasca) in North America. The town is smaller than Banff too, lending it a more intimate air. 
  • Calgary is known as the Heart of the New West. There are several festivals throughout the year including the International Jazz Festival, Greek Festival, Folk Music Festival, Dragonboat Festival, One Yellow Rabbit High Performance Rodeo and Global Fest. 
  • About a 25-minute drive from Brooks, the Dinosaur Provincial Park has been the site of dinosaur excavations for more than a century. Hoodoo landforms and desert ecosystem complete with cacti add to the appeal of this Unesco World Heritage Site. The visitor information centre serves as the field station for the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology. 
  • Kanananaskis Country is a stunning mountain park. It boasts a greater range of activities than in the national parks, such as skiing, hunting, golfing, dogsledding, horseback riding, and off-roading (ATVs, snowmobiles). 
  • Waterton Lakes National Park adjoins Glacier National Park in the U.S. Together they make Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, the world's oldest peace park.

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Alberta airports

Calgary International Airport (YYC) (website: www.calgaryairport.com) The airport is 20km northeast of downtown Calgary.

Edmonton International Airport (YEG) (website: www.flyeia.com) The airport is located 26km southwestof downtown Edmonton.

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Melisse Hinkle
A New England native but explorer at heart, Melisse has lived in four U.S. cities, spent a summer in Hawaii, made her way through wine-producing regions in Australia and New Zealand, and traveled around Europe while studying abroad in London. She is the Content Manager for the U.S. and Canada at Cheapflights.
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    Approx flight times

    Calgary International to Edmonton International:
    52 mins
    Calgary International to Fort McMurray:
    1 hr 21 mins
    Calgary International to Grande Prairie:
    1 hr 38 mins

    In-flight reading

    Boondoggles, Bonanzas and Other Alberta Stories

    Brian Brennan Brennan revisits the big events that made the news - the Frank Slide, the Leduc oil discovery - and gives them a fresh spin for a new generation.

    The Mounties: Tales of Adventure and Danger from the Early Days

    Elle Andra-WarnerAmazing stories about the amazing men who joined the force.

    The Day Niagara Falls Ran Dry!

    David PhillipsFascinating facts and trivia about Canada's weather.

    Obasan

    Joy Kogawa Kogawa's stirring novel tells the story of the internment of Japanese Canadians during World War II.