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What to do in Downtown Banff

Banff is a quaint little town set in the heart of the Rockies, bursting with a sense of adventure, excitement and Canadian spirit.

The vibrant downtown streets are filled with unique restaurants, cafés, bars and stores that encapsulate the friendly, local vibe that makes it so hard to leave. Nestled deep in the rugged mountains, Banff is enveloped by dazzling snow-covered peaks and stunning natural phenomenon on all sides, offering a perfect mix of culture, nature and wildlife.

The list of things to do in Banff is both varied and endless. If you’re only there for a day or two—fear not—we’ve got you covered! These are our suggestions of what to explore in downtown Banff that will leave you feeling rejuvenated yet hungry for more.

A hiker takes a rest in a field at the base of a snowy mountain

1. Go for a walk!

Take advantage of your surroundings and seek out one of Banff’s many hiking trails, some of which start right in the town. For something short and sweet, the Bow River Loop and Tunnel Mountain trail are great options. For slightly longer options there’s Sundance Canyon, Hoodoos Trail, Spray River Loop and many more. Banff is teeming with wildlife at every corner—the Rockies are home to a diverse range of iconic Canadian mammals and birds. The best time for viewing wildlife is at dawn or dusk, and don’t forget to bring a camera (and bear spray )!

A vintage-style bus rounds a corner next to a small rocky outcropping.

2. Hop on a Retro Tour

Open Top Touring experiences are a unique way to explore all the highlights around Banff in style. You can see landmarks views and photo ops on a 90-minute tour with fun and engaging guides. The vintage-inspired automobiles were custom-made and are definitely "Insta-worthy!"

A guest sits by a fire pit with a hot beverage in hand

3. Grab a local beverage!

After enjoying a leisurely walk, it’s time to kick back and relax with a delicious cup of locally brewed coffee or tea. Banff has an assortment of independent coffee shops (in addition to the well-known chains), but our favourite is the Good Earth Coffeehouse at the Elk + Avenue Hotel . With ethically-sourced organic coffee, wholesome food and a view of Banff Ave and Mount Rundle, what’s not to love?

A small group of women stand in front of storefronts with shopping bags

4. Shop 'til you drop!

Shopping and people watching in downtown Banff is an easy and enjoyable way to while away the hours. Whether you’re just browsing or in the mood for an all-out shopping spree, head to Banff Avenue and Bear Street for a wide selection of stores selling everything from mountain gear and fashion to Canadian crafts and souvenirs. While you’re in town you can check out original Canadian art at one of the many galleries.

A group of people observe a piece of artwork hanging on the wall of a gallery

5. Local culture

If shopping isn’t your jam, why not learn more about the rich history of the town? Banff is lucky to have a multitude of museums in the downtown core with a collection of fascinating artifacts, depicting the cultural and natural history of the area going back thousands of years. Stop by the Whyte Museum , and take a timeout at the historic Mount Royal Hotel , which has a small museum inside and some great public art on the outside. 

a wide view of the interior of a restaurant full of people

6. Fine dining—mountain style!

The Banff Gondola is located just a ten minute drive from the town of Banff and is the perfect way to end your day. Perched on the top of Sulphur Mountain, glide to the summit (2,280 m or 7,486 ft. above sea level) with a breathtaking 360° view of the towering mountain ranges around them. The award-winning Sky Bistro offers fresh, locally-sourced menus inspired by Banff. It's the perfect dining experience as you watch the sun set behind the mountains.

Whether you have a day, a day off on a ski trip, a few days before a hiking trip or are getting away for the weekend, be sure to take time to explore and experience all that the town of Banff has to offer. Start planning your visit to Banff by booking in at one of town's best lodges. The Mount Royal Hotel is heritage cool with rooftop hot tubs while the Elk + Avenue is stylishly modern. Both are located right on Banff Ave—steps from all the top places to see and be seen. See you soon in Banff!

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Banff   Travel Guide

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banff downtown places to visit

16 Epic Things to Do in Banff, Alberta

If you make the trek to Banff, you may have an outdoor sport in mind. Take advantage of the rugged terrain in whatever manner you see fit. In the winter, skiing is king, but there are many full-day and half-day tours of the surrounding areas that

  • All Things To Do

banff downtown places to visit

Banff Sunshine Village Banff Sunshine Village

Located 11 miles west of Banff Town, Banff Sunshine Village offers 12 lifts, including Canada’s only heated lift, more than 3,300 skiable acres and a peak elevation of 7,200 feet. And thanks to its location straddling the Continental Divide, Sunshine sees more snow than its neighbors, meaning the ski season here is long – typically from early November to late May. The powdery terrain beckons skiers of all levels (another point of praise from recent travelers), and Sunshine Mountain Lodge offers the only ski-in, ski-out hotel in Banff.

If you're not in Banff for ski season, you should still make a point to visit Sunshine, according to reviewers. From mid-June to early autumn, the Sunshine Meadows are open for hiking, but be aware that there may be wildlife in the area, including bears. The Banff Sunshine Sightseeing Gondola (ticket required) takes you to the village, where you can board the Standish Chairlift to the Viewing Deck and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding peaks and alpine lakes. Hiking in the meadows is free and so is the shuttle from town, which runs from 7:20 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. during the summer.

banff downtown places to visit

Banff Gondola Banff Gondola

U.S. News Insider Tip: Download the free Agents of Discovery smartphone app so kids can complete the Banff Gondola Mission and get a reward pin at the Photo Centre. – Debra Smith

The Banff Gondola is a relaxing way to admire the town's natural beauty. The eight-minute ride to the summit of 7,486-foot Sulphur Mountain leads to breathtaking views of the Bow River Valley and Banff, not to mention a boardwalk, a gift shop, an interactive interpretive center, a multisensory theater, a 360-degree rooftop observation deck and several eateries, including Sky Bistro, a fine dining restaurant serving high-end Canadian cuisine.

banff downtown places to visit

Moraine Lake Moraine Lake free

Located about an hour's drive north of town, Moraine Lake is a visual highlight of any Banff trip and labeled an unforgettable experience by many recent visitors. Nestled in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, the lake mirrors the snowcapped mountains and is surrounded by backcountry hiking trails.

The easiest trail is the flat Moraine Lakeshore path, which starts near Moraine Lake Lodge and takes about 45 minutes to complete (round-trip). As you walk along the lakeshore, you'll spot stunning views of Mount Fay and the Fay Glacier. If you've got a bit more time on your hands, consider embarking on the nearly 2-mile Consolation Lakes trail, which takes about two hours to complete. You'll encounter some elevation gains with this one, but you'll be rewarded with views of the high alpine meadows, talus slopes and the Quadra Glacier. For a detailed list of all the available hikes in this area, visit the Parks Canada website .

banff downtown places to visit

Popular Tours

Banff Gondola Ride Admission

Banff Gondola Ride Admission

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Day Trip to Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Yoho from Calgary, Banff

Day Trip to Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Yoho from Calgary, Banff

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Lake Minnewanka Cruise

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banff downtown places to visit

Lake Louise Ski Resort Lake Louise Ski Resort

The Lake Louise Ski Resort is one of Banff's most popular ski locales and one of the largest ski areas in North America. It encompasses four mountains, 164 runs – including a 5-mile run – 11 lifts (one gondola, seven chairs and three carpets), and three terrain parks for snowboarders from beginner to expert. There are several top-notch eateries, a dozen are open during the winter and five stay open during the summer, including the stunning Lodge of Ten Peaks Cafe. Plus, Lake Louise boasts one of the longest ski seasons in North America: The first chair runs in early November and doesn't stop until the first Sunday in May. Though Lake Louise is a skier's paradise, it also provides plenty of other activities, such as snowshoeing, tubing and free mountain tours. And when the weather warms up, the resort offers guided hikes (for a fee), a free wildlife interpretive center and a sightseeing gondola.

According to recent visitors, this resort is home to some of the best skiing in the Rocky Mountains. Reviewers were quick to praise the free tours led by the Ski Friends, a group of enthusiastic volunteers who guide visitors to lesser-known ski runs. Summer visitors were a bit taken aback by the cost of the gondola ride, but wowed by the views and the number of wildlife to be seen in the area.

banff downtown places to visit

Mount Norquay Mount Norquay

Although it is the smallest of Banff's three ski areas, Mount Norquay is also the closest – it's about 4 miles northwest of Banff Town. Beyond its convenient location, the resort is also considered one of the area's best skiing locales for families because it offers ski and snowboard instruction for ages 3 and older. Mount Norquay is also home to the North American Chairlift, one of the earliest lifts in the area that opened in 1948; the ride to the summit offers a spectacular aerial view of Banff townsite in winter and summer. You can get your adrenaline pumping with some of Mount Norquay's 60 ski runs spread over 190 acres, or you can head off on one of the area's trails for a cross-country hike in the summer. The tube park has the longest and fastest runs in Alberta, with morning, afternoon and night tubing sessions. Complete an adventure-filled day with a hearty meal at one of the four lodges.

Recent visitors enjoyed the friendly staff, the instructors and the quality of the ski lessons. They also described the tubing as fun for all ages and a great family activity. 

banff downtown places to visit

Johnston Canyon Johnston Canyon

A favorite destination for locals and visitors alike, Johnston Canyon is located about 15 miles from Banff along Highway 1A (also called the Bow Valley Parkway ). The river-carved canyon is surrounded by a lush forest and popular for its waterfalls, which visitors can access via two trails.

The trail to the Lower Falls is an easy hourlong hike on a well-groomed path that follows the tree-lined canyon. Steel catwalks that crisscross Johnston Creek are perfect spots to snap a photo. From there, the path continues 1 ½ miles to the Upper Falls. Allow three hours to complete both trails. In winter, consider taking a guided ice walk to see the canyon from another perspective, including waterfalls of glittering ice. Discover Banff Tours is a popular operator that provides round-trip transportation, a certified guide, and equipment like hiking poles and ice cleats.

banff downtown places to visit

Columbia Icefield Columbia Icefield

U.S. News Insider Tip: If you plan to drive the Icefields Parkway, consider purchasing a one-year Discovery Pass, which covers entry to every national park in Canada, including Jasper National Park, and more than 80 historic sites and destinations across the country. – Debra Smith

Covering 89 square miles on the northern edge of Banff National Park, the Columbia Icefield is the largest body of ice in the Canadian Rockies. It's a bit of a drive from Banff Town (about two hours) to the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre across from the foot of the Athabasca Glacier, but you'll quickly find the views are well worth the trip.

banff downtown places to visit

Bow Valley Parkway Bow Valley Parkway free

The Bow Valley Parkway – 36 miles of road that originally connected Banff and Lake Louise – meanders through meadows and marshes, and provides many opportunities to spot elk, moose, mule deer, and the occasional wolf and bear on the mountainsides. (Morning and evening are prime viewing times to safely observe wildlife by keeping your distance.) A round-trip drive from Banff takes about two hours by car, without stops. But there are many places to pull off for a picnic like Corral Creek, which is fully accessible, and Muleshoe, and the hiking trails in Johnston Canyon are a must. Take a classic photo at Morant’s Curve, a beautiful spot made even better if a Canadian Pacific Railway train is rounding the tracks.

From May 1 to June 25 and Sept. 1 to Oct. 2, the first 10 ½ miles of road leading from Banff are closed to vehicles and cyclists take over. Rent a bicycle or an e-bike at Snowtips Bactrax  or Bear Street Outfitters and take to the road. Banff Cycle offers guided e-bike tours that include a hike to the Lower Falls at Johnston Canyon.

banff downtown places to visit

Columbia Icefield Tour with Glacier Skywalk from Banff

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Moraine Lake & Lake Louise Sunrise | Award-Winning Premium Tour

Moraine Lake & Lake Louise Sunrise | Award-Winning Premium Tour

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Athabasca Glacier Snow Trip from Banff

Athabasca Glacier Snow Trip from Banff

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banff downtown places to visit

Whitewater Rafting & Float Trips Whitewater Rafting & Float Trips

When you're not admiring Banff's stunning scenery from a hiking trail or in the comfort of your car, get out on one of its rivers. Whether you're craving the excitement of a whitewater rafting adventure or just want to peacefully glide through the water, you'll find Banff tour operators satisfy a variety of interests.

For a scenic, guided tour of the Bow River and the Hoodoos, consider Rocky Mountain Raft Tours . During these float tours, which last about one hour, you'll be seated in a raft as a guide paddles you calmly through the river along with about 20 other rafters. Not only is this a great tour for seniors and families with young children, but it's also ideal for anyone who isn't interested in getting wet (even your shoes are safe thanks to the rafts' elevated floorboards). Prices range from CA$75 (about $56) for adults and seniors to CA$35 (approximately $26) for children from 2 to 15 years old. These tours are also the closest to Banff; they depart from the Bow River near the golf course at the Fairmont Banff Springs , less than 2 miles from downtown.

banff downtown places to visit

Via Ferrata at Mount Norquay Via Ferrata at Mount Norquay

One advantage of visiting Banff in the summer is the unique opportunity to climb the Via Ferrata (Italian for "iron path") on Mount Norquay . Promising stunning views of Banff National Park, the Via Ferrata at Mount Norquay is a one-of-a-kind adventure. What's more, you don't have to be a climbing expert to do it.

Five different routes of increasing difficulty include ladders, suspension bridges and single-cable mountainside traverses on the way to the top. But never fear, climbers are tethered by strong cables, outfitted with helmets and led by professional guides. Explorer and Ridgewalker route climbers must be over the age of 12 and weigh a minimum of 88 pounds. Alpinist, Skyline and Summiteer climbers must be 14 and older with the same weight restriction.

banff downtown places to visit

Banff Upper Hot Springs Banff Upper Hot Springs

U.S. News Insider Tip: Night swims at the springs are extra special with the stars twinkling over the mountains, and even more magical when snowflakes are falling. – Debra Smith

These springs, which were first discovered by Canada's First Nations people thousands of years ago, were regarded as sacred waters that could cure illness and maintain health. Now, the springs are a popular tourist attraction thanks to their serene atmosphere and stunning alpine views. At 5,200 feet, this is the highest operating hot spring in Canada. The facility features all of the modern amenities you would expect from a public swimming pool (such as railings, ladders, lockers, changing areas, a cafe and a gift shop), but the water is kept at 98 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit and is infused with minerals like sulfate, calcium, bicarbonate, magnesium and sodium.

banff downtown places to visit

Go on a dog-sledding tour Go on a dog-sledding tour

Arguably the most fun you can have outdoors on a sled, dog-sledding is an action-packed way to weave your way through the woods. It’s hard to decide who is having the best time, you or the dogs, as they clearly love to pull their sleds through the snow. With an introduction and some instructions from the mushers (guides), you’ll be making furry friends while enjoying the thrill of dashing through fields of powder and taking in the exquisite views of the mountains around you. There are several dog-sledding tour companies in and around Banff; Kingmik and Snowy Owl are two popular operators.

Kingmik Dogsled Tours in Lake Louise offers two different tours during the winter season: a 3-mile, 30-minute tear through the meadows near Lake Louise, and a 10-mile, 90-minute tour that takes you to the Continental Divide. Get to know the dogs and drive the team on the way home with the help of your guide. The 90-minute ride costs CA$575 (about $425) for a maximum of two people per sled and a total load of 380 pounds. Kingmik is located about 40 miles northwest of Banff.

banff downtown places to visit

SnowDays Festival SnowDays Festival free

Every January, the streets of Banff and the shore of Lake Louise are transformed into outdoor sculpture galleries by international teams of ice and snow carvers. During the first week of the festival, you can watch huge blocks of snow being shaped into fantastical figures all around Banff, from the Whyte Museum to Bear Street and Banff Avenue Square. The sculptures will have varying completion dates, but they’ll all be on display the second week, with the best viewing at night when they are illuminated. At Lake Louise, the carvings are made of ice that sparkles against the backdrop of Lake Louise, one of Canada’s most photographed lakes.

Crowds line Banff Avenue to witness the thrilling and unique sport of Skijoring, where horses tow riders over ski jumps and cowboys and cowgirls perform trick riding and ski stunts as they gallop through town.

banff downtown places to visit

Small-Group Guided Via Ferrata Climbing with Banff's Best Views

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1 Hour Spray River Ride

1 Hour Spray River Ride

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Moraine Lake & Lake Louise Sunset & Wildlife Adventure

Moraine Lake & Lake Louise Sunset & Wildlife Adventure

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banff downtown places to visit

Cave and Basin National Historic Site Cave and Basin National Historic Site

This is a popular attraction among nature lovers and history buffs alike. Experts refer to this site as the birthplace of Banff National Park, and the natural hot springs lured travelers in search of solace for years. Although the original springs are no longer open to the public (the Banff Upper Hot Springs are the new hot spot for comfort-seekers), the Cave and Basin National Historic Site does feature interactive displays educating visitors on local wildlife and the history behind the park's establishment. A new display and a self-guided tour lets you walk into the original cave where the springs were discovered in 1883.

Recent travelers said this is a worthwhile stop in Banff, not only for its historical significance, but also for the stunning views. Others commend the informative displays about local flora and fauna and the friendly staff. If you have time, you should plan to tag along on the guided 30-minute Cave and Basics Tour, which is included in the cost of admission. The tour explains how railway workers first discovered the thermal pools and their uses, and allows participants to dip their hands in the steamy thermal waters. Be aware that the pools give off strong natural sulphur fumes.

banff downtown places to visit

Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

Located just a block back from Banff Avenue on Bear Street, the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies is the only museum of its kind. Named after its patrons, Peter and Catharine Whyte – who were determined to enhance Banff's cultural life – the museum is dedicated to portraying the art and culture of the Canadian Rockies while respecting the traditional values and history of Indigenous peoples. Here, you'll experience the art, history and local folklore of the region. If you're a fan of landscapes, you've come to the right place; the Whytes loved landscape paintings, both historic and contemporary.

Recent visitors said this is a small museum that packs a big punch with a mix of audio, visual and hands-on exhibits. Many reviewers praised the gift shop where they found the wide selection of mountain-related art, books and gifts was the best in town. The docent-led tours are highly rated.

banff downtown places to visit

Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum

Having opened in 1952, the Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum has dedicated more than 50 years to educating visitors about the contributions made by Indigenous people in the area. Brace yourself if you're a history buff or amateur anthropologist; there are numerous displays exhibiting domestic routines, hunting tactics and daily life of the region's inhabitants prior to their encounter with Europeans, and how they continue to adapt and preserve their culture.

Recent visitors praised the exhibitions and say the museum provides an educational introduction to the history of the First Nations people, informative displays and interesting artifacts. What's more, reviewers found the gift shop to be well stocked with unique handmade goods, including beadwork.

banff downtown places to visit

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25 AWESOME Things to Do in Banff, Canada

Picture of Alesha and Jarryd

  • Last Updated: April 2, 2024

From hikings trails and national parks, to the world famous Lake Louise and Lake Moraine, let our list of the best things to do in Banff, Canada help you plan your next visit.

The town of Banff, as well as the surrounding Banff National Park, is one of the most precious jewels in all of Canada, and North America for that matter.

The jagged peaks of the Canadian Rockies rise up in all directions, creating an awe-inspiring scene that beckons all who visit to get outdoors.

With Cascade Mountain rising above the town at one end, Mount Rundle drawing all eyes that land on it, and a number of quaint timber stores lining the streets, Banff is as close to a living fairy tale destination that you can find.

READ MORE: We’ve just published our complete Banff itinerary so you know which order to do things in. Make sure you check it out!

Things To Do In Banff Canada

Every year hundreds of thousands of tourists from the United States and Canada flock to Banff to bask in its natural beauty and to tackle the huge number of activities and attractions that have grown over the years.

Located right in the Banff National Park, its landscapes are phenomenal. The nearby Lake Louise is an iconic sight, the ski resorts are top-notch, and it’s little wonder Banff is now one of Canada’s best adventure destinations.

Table of Contents

1) Ride the Banff Gondola up Sulphur Mountain

2) go skiing or hiking at sunshine village, 3) head to moraine lake for sunrise, 4) tackle the via ferrata at mount norquay, 5) enjoy the views from mt norquay gondola, 6) go whitewater rafting on the kicking horse river, 7) drive the legendary icefields parkway, 8) go hiking on the athabasca glacier, 9) abseil into a crevasse on the glacier, 10) go ice climbing with yamnuska mountain adventures, 11) soak in the banff upper hot springs, 12) check out the cave and basin national historic site, 13) chase the milky way or northern lights, 14) enjoy s’mores and live music at the alpenglow festival, 15) hike around lake louise and the nearby teahouses, 16) explore the falls at johnston canyon, 17) ride an e-bike from johnston canyon to banff, 18) shred the slopes at lake louise ski resort, 19) sample the liquor at park distillery, 20) watch sunset at vermillion lakes, 21) rent some ice skates and hit the lakes, 22) hang out at lake minnewanka, 23) climb cascade mountain, 24) keep an eye out for banff’s epic wildlife, 25) brush up on your first nations history at buffalo nation luxton museum, best hostel in banff canada – samesun hostel, best boutique motel in banff canada – the dorothy motel, best mid-range hotel in banff canada – moose hotel and suites, best luxury hotel in banff canada – fairmont banff springs hotel, hello sunshine, farm & fire, nourish bistro banff, chuck’s steakhouse, three bear’s brewery, the eddie burger + bar, bluebird restaurant and lobby bar, the best things to do in banff.

There are a lot of things to do in Banff, as the natural landscapes are very accommodating for all sorts of activities, ranging from hiking to canoeing to skiing, and so much more.

While the town of Banff is quite small and can be explored in just a couple of days, the surrounding region is much more vibrant, and Banff National Park is where most of the magic happens.

Some of the sights in Banff National Park are world-famous, including the sapphire Lake Louise and other peaks in the Canadian Rockies.

READ MORE – Don’t miss out on our complete guide to the  best Banff hikes .

Here is our list of the best things to do in Banff, which will hopefully help you start exploring this wonderful region.

Banff Chasing Waterfalls

There’s a very unique and scenic beauty to be found in this part of the Rocky Mountains, and that gorgeousness is most accessible when looking at it from high atop the mountains.

The nearby Sulphur Mountain offers truly epic views from its summit. The gondola is a great way to get to the top where those vistas become accessible to almost anybody.

No wonder it’s become one of the top things to do in Banff!

Riding the gondola isn’t just about getting to the top of Sulphur Mountain. The views along the way provide a very unique perspective of the scale of Banff and its surrounding Canadian Rockies

Its 7,500-foot tall peak of Sulphur Mountain includes interactive exhibits, a gift shop, places to eat, and even a 360-degree observational deck with views of Banff and the Bow River Valley below.

Hiking out toward the summit of Sulphur Mountain has you follow a well-built boardwalk, that can get icy, so make sure you bring proper footwear.

The short walk is well worth it though, and on a clear day, you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous panoramic views of the Bow Valley and Canadian Rockies.

While the gondola trip to the top of Sulphur Mountain is a bit on the pricey side (CA$62 for adults 16 and up), it’s one of the most popular places to visit in Banff for good reason.

If you want to save some money you can also hike to the top of Sulphur Mountain. Allow 2 hours to climb if you have a reasonable level of fitness.

If you’re interested, the Bow Valley is also one of the top spot for horseback riding in Banff National Park. Visit one of the tourism offices in Banff town for tours and info.

Banff Gondola Views

No matter the season there’s always something incredible to do around Sunshine Village.

Just a 30-minute drive from the town of Banff, Sunshine Village is primarily a ski resort, and it’s often the first resort to open up in Canada every winter, and one of the last to close. The season lasts from November until May!

Sunshine Village boasts 3000 skiable acres and 12 chair lifts making it world-class. There’s terrain to suit skiers and snowboarders of all levels.

Families will have a great time, and the ski school is one of the best in the country.

While Sunshine Village is not a budget-friendly destination, doing some excellent skiing all day and relaxing in the lodge with a hot drink in the evening makes Sunshine Village one of the coolest attractions in Banff.

But once the ski season is over, and June rolls around, the snow melts and the terrain reveals splendid hiking trails around Sunshine Village.

The Sunshine Meadows pop into life, and are considered some of the best hiking trails in the entire wider region. There are also some great mountain biking trails.

Hiking is completely free, and the scenery is stunning, which is why Sunshine Meadows is one of the best things to see in Banff.

READ MORE: Going elsewhere in the Rockies? Check out this list of the best things to do in Jasper !

Hiking Sunshine Meadows

One of the most photographed places in all of Canada is the famous Moraine Lake, with its 10 peaks reflecting on the glistening, mirror-like water.

Moraine Lake is so famous that it was pictured on the old twenty dollar bill! So it’s little surprise that almost everyone visiting Banff makes an effort to see Moraine Lake with their own eyes.

Moraine lake itself is only an hour drive from the town of Banff, and once you’re there you’ll find some of the finest hiking trails in the region.

There are hiking trails of varying difficulty, so even beginners will have an easy time adjusting to the terrain that surrounds the lake.

While the easiest hike is the flat Lakeshore Path, which lasts about 45 minutes round trip, a much more popular hike is Consolation Lakes trails, which is quite long at about 2 hours.

No matter which way you pick, however, you’ll witness the magnificent alpine beauty of the Canadian Rocky Mountains and plenty of well-marked trails.

Due to the popularity of the lake though the government has made the decision to close the road to public vehicle traffic. The only way to get up there (without walking is to book a shuttle.

And until very recently, getting up there for sunrise was now just about impossible for anybody not able to put in the huge steps and crazy early mornings.

The guys at Moraine Lake Bus Company have become the only licensed transport operator to get permission to take people to the lake for sunrise.

If you want to get up there in time to witness this marvel (and trust us, you absolutely do), book your tickets with these guys asap.

Moraine Lake Banff Lake Louise

If you aren’t familiar with Via Ferrata, strap yourself in because we’re about to blow your mind.

Via Ferrata means ‘Iron Path’ in Italian, but is used to describe a hiking trail where you need to use a variety of man-made elements to climb a mountain or cliff face.

Things like chains, planks, ladders, suspension bridges and rebar to give you an idea.

It’s challenging, it’s fun, and it will get you up mountain peaks that are otherwise too dangerous for non-rock climbers.

Mount Norquay is home to some of the best Via Ferrata routes in North America, and you can now join a guided tour to try it out yourself.

Pick your length and challenge and then meet your guide at the bottom of the Mt Norquay Gondola before being shuttled to the base of the trails.

From here on out you scramble your way to the summit, wearing a harness and double-clipping your way into safety cables to ensure you don’t take a nasty fall.

There’s routes for all abilities, from short, easy trails right through to the all-day expedition that has you literally dangling off the edge of cliffs while hanging onto metal bars.

We’ve done Via Ferrata in a bunch of different countries, and this one on Mt Norquay was one of the best ever. Not to mention the views were out of this world!

Via Ferrata Mt Norquay

Would rather not strap yourself into a cable and scramble up a cliff face to enjoy Mt Norquay’s legendary views? You don’t have to!

Instead take the Mt Norquay Gondola to be ferried up in a matter of minutes and enjoy the sensational vista from the lookout over Banff.

You don’t need to book the gondola. Just drive on up (it’s only 5 minutes from downtown) and purchase your ticket at the lodge.

Mt Norquay Gondola Views

For those of you that love to do your sightseeing with adrenaline flowing through your veins, one of the most exciting things to do in Banff National Park is whitewater rafting!

The famous Kicking Horse River is a short distance from the town of Banff and is known to have the best rafting opportunities in the entire country.

Charging through class 5 rapids, over waterfalls and between narrow gorges is guaranteed to get your blood pumping. But if this sounds a bit too much for you there’s always an option to take it slow and simply soak in the views.

There are numerous tours that operate in the region, and some of the more mellow options are the Kananaskis River, or the intermediate Horseshoe Canyon.

Whether you’re an experienced rafter or a complete newbie, you’re bound to fall in love with rafting which is arguably one of the best ways to experience Banff’s stunning nature .

Rafting Bow River Banff &Amp; Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka Photography

An experience that no person visiting Banff will ever want to miss is driving the Icefields Parkway , known as one of the best road trips on the planet.

Stretching 230km from just outside the Lake Louise area all the way to Jasper, Icefields Parkway is an iconic highway that weaves its way through the best mountain scenery in all of Canada .

Starting in the south you traverse through Banff National Park, past some of the most picturesque landscapes imaginable, including the impossibly blue Peyto Lake. Peyto Lake is definitely worth a stop in itself.

Eventually you hit Jasper National Park, with the glorious Columbia Icefield and the Athabasca Glacier (more on that below), and the insanely impressive Athabasca Falls and Sunwapta Falls.

Jagged peaks surround you on all sides and you’ll pass by more mirror-like lakes and rivers than you can count with plenty of options to stop along the way.

You may also have the pleasure of seeing some of the Canadian Rockies’ most amazing wildlife, such as bears, moose, and caribou.

The drive along Icefields Parkway is seriously mind-blowing and can be done either with your own rental car (which we recommend) or by joining a tour from Banff .

Even though it’s only 230km long, you can easily spend 5 (or more) hours driving the Icefields Parkway, especially if you stop off at all the highlights along the way or do any hikes.

If you prefer to make the most of your time, you can book a one-way sightseeing tour of the Icefields Parkway, picking you up in Banff National Park, taking you to all the main spots along the drive, then dropping you off near Jasper National Park.

Peyto Lake Icefield Parkway

The most-visited glacier in all of North America, the Athabasca Glacier is a part of the majestic Columbia Icefield, which is the largest body of ice in the Canadian Rockies.

Located nearly halfway along the Icefields Parkway, this magnificent glacier can be explored in a number of ways. The most popular way is a tour on the Ice Explorer, a specially designed expedition bus that drives directly on the glacier.

This trip lasts just over an hour and can be a great way to experience the glacier if you’re short on time or have some mobility issues.

But if you want to really have an adventure, then you need to hike on the glacier itself!

Athabasca Glacier Icewalk has been leading hiking trips for years, and runs an epic tour called the Ice Cubed where you don crampons and walk for 5km on the huge frozen river.

It lasts for 3 hours, starts in either the morning or afternoon and you do need a standard amount of fitness to take part.

Have some more time? Check out their Icewalk Deluxe tour, which goes for 5 hours. Definitely one of the best things to do near Banff!

The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars , which has the largest range of vehicles for the best value on the market.

Hiking Athabasca Glacier

If you want to really take things up a notch with your Athabasca Glacier tour, why not do what we did and actually abseil into a crevasse!

This incredible experience is run by the experienced mountaineers at Rockaboo Mountain Adventures , who not only get you up onto the glacier, but inside it.

The 4-hour tour starts in the carpark, and after a short hike you reach the toe of the glacier and begin the ascent.

Throw on some crampons (these are supplied) and hike further than any other group by following the guides.

Walking on glaciers can be extremely dangerous, but these guys know the terrain like the backs of their hands and can navigate around safely.

If conditions allow they’ll also setup ice anchors and ropes to belay you into one of the large crevasses.

Being inside a crevasse (while secured to a rope of course) is such a surreal thing, and the deep blues are a colour you’ll never forget.

Abseil Crevasse Athabasca Glacier

If you love adrenaline and trying something new, then one of the best things to do in Banff in winter is to go on an ice climbing tour with local experts Yamnuska Mountain Adventures .

When the temperatures drop in the Rocky Mountains, the waterfalls freeze, creating a new world of possibilities for those who love being active.

Summer is for rock climbing in Banff, and winter is for ice climbing, which is one of the most fun (and most badass) activities you can do.

Armed with ice axes and crampons, you climb vertically up frozen falls, hammering your ‘tool’ into the ice and kicking the points of your crampons in, meaning with strength, technique and a little bit of trust, you can ascend to dizzying heights.

We had never done this before, so we signed up for an introductory course with Yamnuska. We met our guide Jesse in Johnston Canyon, and he gave us all of our gear before hiking out to the distant falls.

Once at the end of the boardwalk we climbed down the approved-climbers-only section and got kitted up.

Jessee ran up an easy route, drilling anchors into the ice and connecting the rope before heading back down and giving us some detailed instructions on how to ice climb.

Then it was time to put the theory into practice!

We climbed up and down the same route 4 times, getting better and faster each time, and Jesse would constantly monitor our technique and give advice on how to improve.

Slamming the tool into the ice and feeling it grab hold was immensely satisfying, and we quickly fell in love with this sport. It was tiring though, and once we’d burned all our strength up it was time to head back to the car park.

The guys at Yamnuska Mountain Adventures run a bunch of different tours, from small introductory ones for beginners like us right up to intensive courses. If you’re wondering what to do in Banff in winter, we highly recommend this!

Ice Climbing Banff

The Banff Upper Hot Springs was once considered a place of holy healing waters by the First Nations. Today it is a place for resting and relaxation.

The unique properties of these natural hot springs make them one of the finest tourist attractions in Banff National Park, and they’re a great spot to visit all year round.

Each natural hot spring is akin to a public swimming pool, in that they’re equipped with all of the latest modern amenities such as railings, ladders, lockers, and even a café.

What sets them apart is that the pools are fed by natural hot springs, and this is the main reason they’re so relaxing.

Coupled with the fact that the surrounding scenery is stunning, these hot springs can easily relax both the body and the soul.

All of this makes the hot springs one of best places to visit in Banff.

Banff Upper Hot Springs Banff &Amp; Lake Louise Tourism / Noel Hendrickson

Cave and Basin National Historic Site is of the most fascinating aspects of Banff’s history.

There’s evidence of humans occupying the area of Banff for around 10,000 years, which goes to show that there’s a lot more to this place than meets the eye.

Being able to interact within a historical setting and context is always amazing, which is exactly what the Cave and Basin National Historic site offers to visitors.

This is the place that first put Banff on the modern map, and the reason it was designated as Canada’s first national park.

Inside the cave is a natural thermal hot spring, which is now closed to public swimming, and nowadays it’s an educational spot.

There are plenty of interactive displays that teach travellers about the importance of this location, and there’s a Discovery Tour designed specifically to help you immerse yourself in this place.

The cavern is utterly stunning, and definitely one of the coolest places to visit in Banff.

If you’re not in the mood to go trekking around Cave and Basin National Historic site, you can also go on a 1-hour guided horseback ride!

Banff has incredibly clear skies thanks to its lack of light pollution, making it one of the most accessible and best places to see the Milky Way in the Canadian Rockies.

You don’t have to go too far to see it either. Two Jack Lake is just 10 minutes from Banff and is incredible at any time of day or night.

You need to make sure it’s a clear night, so check the forecast (or just look outside your hotel window.

Banff also gets spectacular Northern Lights displays if the conditions are right.

To see the Aurora Borealis you need to have a clear view facing north and no clouds.

It doesn’t happen often, and is never guaranteed, so check Aurora Watch to see if the forecast is looking good for your visit.

Milky Way Two Jack Lake Banff

During the winter months, the top of the mountain comes alive with the fun and vibrant Alpenglow Festival, and spending a few hours up here is a wonderful Banff winter activity.

The alpenglow refers to when the tops of the mountains turn red just after the sun sets, a phenomena that is truly beautiful (and makes for some awesome photos).

The Alpenglow Festival is a great event to check out in the late afternoon, as a variety of local musicians take the stage, delicious food is available and visitors are even given s’mores to cook up on the outdoor fires.

We went up on a cloudy day and weren’t blessed with the famous alpenglow, but that didn’t make the festival any less awesome. Definitely try some cocktails while you’re up there.

One of the true gems of the region, Lake Louise is almost as iconic as Banff itself.

Located an hour east from the town in Banff National Park, Lake Louise is an absolutely spellbinding location, surrounded by scenery that can barely be matched by any other place in the world.

Lake Louise is a turquoise jewel surrounded by jagged peaks in Banff National Park. While Lake Louise isn’t the best for swimming, it’s ideal for canoeing!

Canoeing in Lake Louise while Mount Victoria majestically looms to the west is one of the best things to do in Banff National Park.

Hiking and exploring are also amazing options, and something that shouldn’t be missed is walking up to the nearby teahouses.

A popular and fairly easy trek is to Lake Agnes, which only takes around an hour and is well worth it to admire the alpine scenery and have a cup of coffee on the trail.

If you have more time you can head out to the teahouse at the end of the Plain of the Six Glaciers trail from Lake Louise. It can take up to 7 hours, but the views are simply unreal.

Book a Lake Moraine and Lake Louise sightseeing tour from Banff if you don’t have your own car!

There are also mountain biking trails around Lake Louise that you can hit when you visit Banff!

With so much to see, you can easily spend a couple of days unearthing the nooks and crannies around Lake Louise.

Want an experience like no other? Consider staying a the Fairmont Lake Louise, one of the most famous hotels in Banff National Park and the entire world!

Lake Agnes Teahouse Lake Louise

By far the most popular day hike in Banff National Park is through the phenomenal Johnston Canyon, only 30 minutes from downtown Banff.

The easy 5km long jaunt to the Upper Falls and back will take you along the narrow gorge formed by Johnston Creek, part of the famous Bow River, and up to a collection of large cascades and pools.

Alternating between well-groomed trails and a boardwalk, it’s accessible for people of all ages and abilities. Don’t let the high number of visitors put you off though – its beauty is well worth dealing with the crowds.

If you happen to find yourself in town during the colder months you should definitely consider taking a mission out to Johnston Canyon, as seeing the place covered in fresh snow and ice is like stepping into a winter wonderland.

Strapping ice cleats and going on an evening icy hike to Johnston Canyon is a fantastic activity, as the entire region is one of the most beautiful things to see in Banff in winter.

The frozen waterfalls create a specific type of drama that makes them seem as if they’re straight out of a fairy tale.

Johnston Canyon Banff

Why not make a whole morning out of your Johnston Canyon experience by e-biking back to town after a guided hike?

On our most recent trip to Banff we teamed up with the guys at White Mountain Adventures to try out their new activity , and it was one of the coolest days out we’d done in ages!

Meeting at their downtown Banff office in the morning we got kitted up and jumped in a shuttle to the canyon.

At Johnston Canyon we hiked out to the Lower Falls, learning all about the geology and history of the area from our guide, then headed back to the carpark to grab our e-bikes.

Fitted out and matched to size, we then pedalled the 26km back to Banff along the stunning Bow Valley Parkway.

With the powerful e-bikes we barely broke a sweat. The views did take our breath away though, and to finish it off we joined the Legacy Trail next to Vermillion Lakes for the final stretch to Banff.

All up it took about 4 hours and we highly recommend this tour for not only a great way to see a lot of the area in a fun way, but also for the insights from the local guide too.

E-Bike Hike Tour Johnston Canyon

Towering mountains, high snowfall, long winters and amazing infrastructure makes Canada one of the world’s most famous skiing and snowboarding destinations.

Home to some of the best ski resorts on the planet, like Whistler Blackcomb and Revelstoke Mountain Resort, people travel from far and wide to carve turns on the legendary slopes.

Alberta has a number of world-class ski resorts, and the pinnacle of them all is Lake Louise Ski Resort in Banff National Park.

With 4200 skiable acres and 10 chair lifts servicing 145 runs, there’s little wonder that people flock to Lake Louise to shred the terrain.

The slopes of Lake Louise Ski Resort cater to skiers of all skill levels, and whether you’re learning on the bunny hill or hucking back 5’s off of cliffs, you’re guaranteed to find something to keep you satisfied.

If you’ve already fallen in love with Banff and want to extend your stay and explore the region, make sure to read our Canada Travel Guide .

Lake Louise Skiing Reuben Krabbe

If you love the taste of a fine gin or tasty rye, then you simply can’t miss Park Distillery when wondering what to do in Banff!

Located in downtown Banff on Banff Avenue, this awesome local distillery makes some of the best liquor in the country, and they’re not afraid to experiment either!

Chilli vodka? Hell yea. Maple rye? Of course! Want a gin infused with Canadian spruce? Why not?

Park Distillery has been experimenting with various liquors for the last few years and has proudly become one of the best Banff attractions around.

They have an excellent restaurant and a fully-functioning bar (boasting delectable cocktails), but if you really love their liquor make sure you sign up for the free distillery tour.

One of the best places to watch sunset in Banff is actually 5 minutes from downtown Banff at Vermillion Lakes.

This large wetlands has incredible views of Mount Rundle, which lights up spectacularly as the sun dips down.

It’s a popular spot for tourists and locals alike, so grab some drinks and head on down.

Vermillion Lakes Sunset

Once winter rolls around and the temperatures drop, many of Banff’s wonderful waters freeze over.

Those seeking true adventure amongst the mountain peaks might not find this favourite local past time of interest, but when it comes to Banff winter activities, ice-skating is hard to beat.

Ice skating on the frozen lakes of Two Jack Lake, Johnson Lake, Bow Lake, Lake Minnewaka, and even the legendary Lake Louise, while you’re surrounded by majestic alpine peaks is nothing to scoff about.

Lake Louise itself is considered the safest of the bunch to ice skate on, as it’s regularly maintained and cleared of snow.

You can bring your own gear with you, but if you want you can also rent decent equipment from local shops when you visit Banff.

Ice Skating Lake Minnewanka Paul Zizka Photography

It’s hard to write a list of the best Banff attractions without mentioning Lake Minnewanka, the 21km long spectacle just outside of town.

This is the kind of place where you could get lost for days. People who love being active will find solace in the kayak and canoe rentals down at the main pier, or you can take on any one of a number of gorgeous hikes in the area.

Rather relax with friends and family? Lake Minnewanka is the perfect place to come down for a picnic, or you can take a boat cruise, which is arguably one of the best things to do in Banff in summer. There is no better place to soak in the Banff sunshine than on the shores of a lake.

The fun doesn’t stop there. Lake Minnewanka is also a popular fishing destination, with large trout and whitefish waiting to be hooked by the keen angler.

One thing that few people know is that you can actually go scuba diving in Lake Minnewanka as well. Yes, the water is cold, but the underwater flora is quite amazing.

Lake Minnewanka What To Do In Banff

The overwhelming majesty of Cascade Mountain looms over the town of Banff like a guardian angel, and its presence has been wowing visitors for decades.

It’s hard to not stop and take thousands of pictures of the mountain from every angle of town, but if you’re feeling up to a challenge you can even consider climbing to its summit!

The top of Cascade Mountain sits at 2998m above sea level, and the trail to the top is definitely no walk in the park.

The 18km return hike to the summit climbs a total of 1325m in elevation. And while you don’t need mountaineering skills to conquer the peak, there is a fair amount of scrambling at times, and the trail can be sketchy.

The trailhead starts at the ski lodge on Mount Norquay. Start early and allow yourself a full day to reach the top and descend safely.

Do not attempt this hike if conditions are wet or snowy, and monitor the weather before you start and as you are climbing.

An alternative to hiking is a helicopter tour over the Canadian Rockies, one of the best Banff attractions.

Cascade Mountain

Banff is home to a lot more than just busloads of tourists and a sizeable working holiday crowd. The most famous residents of Banff are the wildlife!

Home to animals of all shapes and sizes , spotting a critter is a highlight of many people’s visit to town, and often it isn’t that hard.

Deer are commonly seen wandering around the village, and occasionally elk and caribou make an appearance.

If you head into Banff National Park, Canada’s first national park, your chance of seeing some wildlife goes up drastically. Here you may have the chance to cast your eyes on moose or even black bears.

Some of the most elusive creatures are grizzly bears, wolves, and cougars, and you should consider yourself lucky if you see one.

It’s very important to keep in mind that these are wild animals and can be extremely dangerous. If you see one in the wild do not approach it, and if you come across one when driving do not get out of your car.

Give them plenty of space and chances are they won’t be spooked, meaning you can observe them safely from a distance for quite a long time.

If you’re a nature enthusiast you can also consider booking a wildlife safari tour when you visit Banff. Exploring with a knowledgeable guide will increase your chances of seeing some animals!

If you enjoy photographing wildlife, check out our list of the  best travel cameras for all budgets.

Caribou Banff National Park

No trip to Canada is complete without learning about its fascinating First Nations culture, and this amazing museum in downtown Banff does a great job at it.

It’s been open since the 1950s, and since then the Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum has dedicated itself to teaching everyone about all of the contributions of the native people to the surrounding lands.

This museum is a great Banff attraction, especially for those interested in history and culture. It’s not a very large museum and can be explored in about an hour.

The museum is open every day of the week from 10 am to 7 pm, and the entry fee is CA$10.

Banff Travel Guide

Now that you know what to do in Banff and the surrounding Banff National Park, we wish to help you with another very important planning aspect of your Canadian adventure – finding the perfect accommodation!

Where to Stay in Banff, Canada

Being such a tourist hotspot, the town of Banff has a huge number of great accommodation options for all travellers.

As a complete disclaimer, hotels in downtown Banff are very expensive, so before you come make sure you have enough room in your budget to accommodate your stay here.

Luckily there’s a whole range of free things to do in Banff when you get here to help keep the rest of your costs down.

The Samesun Hostel has become a bit of an institution across western Canada, and if you’re looking to visit Banff on a budget then this is the spot to be.

Having moved to a new location closer to downtown Banff a couple of years ago, it has some of the best facilities of any hostel in the region.

Clean dorm rooms with lockers, an amazing common area, fast wifi, the famous Beaver Bar and discounts on all kinds of Banff activities make it the best cheap accommodation in town. The staff are super friendly and they’ll help you make arrangements for getting to the national parks and hikes.

Finding accommodation in Banff can be hard even in the shoulder season, so on our most recent visit we were running out of options and ended up booking the Dorothy Motel last minute.

It was a blessing, because it turns out the Dorothy Motel is Banff’s first boutique hotel and was actually superb.

Located on the edge of town it’s nice and quiet, and the rooms are modern and very clean.

The motel style exterior has been revamped, and the inside is beautiful. Huge, comfortable beds, coffee machines, massive showers and lots of storage space make this a perfect place to base yourself on a visit to Banff.

If you are staying here you also get a free transport pass to use on the buses around town.

If you have the money to splurge when you visit Banff we highly recommend the Moose Hotel and Suites .

We stayed here on one of our visits to Banff after taking the Rocky Mountaineer train journey from Vancouver, and loved our stay.

This traditional-style lodge has a great bar and restaurant, and the rooms are spacious and stylish.

The Fairmont Banff Springs is one of the most iconic luxury hotels in Canada, and if you can afford it, you won’t regret staying in this world-famous accommodation.

Located just outside of town near Bow Falls, this towering complex is over 125 years old and is a truly beautiful place to see.

The property can best be described as decadent, and the rooms are stately and tastefully decorated.

The bars and restaurants are some of the best in the country too, so even if you can’t afford to stay here, it’s worth coming out for a drink or a bite to eat.

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is another incredible luxury hotel located right on the lake. It’s not as close to downtown Banff as Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, but it’s a more secluded option.

So there are nice luxury options no matter where you want to stay in the Banff and Lake Louise area.

Banff Ave Cascade Mountain

Best Restaurants in Banff, Canada

We’ve eaten at a lot of the best restaurants in Banff, Canada, and here are our absolute favourites:

The best sushi in town is right here at Hello Sunshine. It also has an incredible bar and lounge area, and if you feel like doing karaoke there’s a spot just for you.

  • Website: https://www.hellosunshinebanff.com/

Farm-to-fork food and delicious cocktails. Make sure you book ahead if you want to eat at Farm & Fire.

  • Website: https://www.banffjaspercollection.com/dining/farm-fire/

If you are craving good vegetarian meals then Nourish Bistro is the place to go. They also do great coffee.

  • Website: https://www.nourishbistro.com/

Do you like steak? Sorry, do you love steak? Then you’ll need to grab yourself a table at Chuck’s for an experience like no other. It’s the best steakhouse in the town of Banff.

  • Website: https://www.chuckssteakhouse.ca/

Hearty pizzas, delicious burgers and excellent craft beer. What more do you need? Swing on by Three Bear’s for a fantastic Banff night out.

  • Website: https://threebearsbanff.com/

Our local friend took us here for dinner one night and the burgers were absolute diving. Massive, tasty and fresh ingredients, as well as great cocktails.

  • Website: https://www.eddieburgerbar.ca/

Arguably the best coffee in Banff Canada (and that’s coming from us as coffee snobs). They also do decent vegetarian pastries for breakfast.

  • Website: https://www.bluebirdbanff.com/

DISCLAIMER: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you book accommodation, tours or buy a product, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us keep creating more free travel content to help people plan their holidays and adventures. We only recommend the best accommodations, tours and products that ourselves or our fantastic editorial team have personally experienced, and regularly review these. Thanks for your support, kind friend!

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Alesha and Jarryd

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This is a great content, banf is really a must-see and must-visit place for nature lovers. The Banff trip was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I was completely captivated by exploring this magnificent part of nature. Walking amidst mountains, lakes, and waterfalls, breathing in the fresh air, and soaking in the breathtaking views was truly enchanting.

I love your blog! Lots of useful travel information and lots of inspiring photos.

Thank you so much. We appreciate it. 🙂

We’ve see all of the US as 70-year-old motorcyclists but this trip to Banff/Lake Louise we’re going to leave our Wrangler at home and rent a Jeep in Calgary. Because photography is our reason to travel, we’d like to know when you think the weather and the crowds would be most conducive to photos. BTW, we loved every word of your Banff blog!

Thank you for sharing.

From a fellow Aussie planning a few weeks in the area for 3 people all your info was really clear and helpful loved the point form and also what to see on the Icefields Parkway even accomm recommendations just perfect it has made my job so much easier. Only one problem think we will need a month instead of 2 weeks!

Glad the article was helpful. There is so much to see in the area so one day you will have to return. Definitely pick out what you definitely want to see and do so you do not miss out. It is a stunning area. Have a great trip

Love to be there! Amazing post…thanks for sharing

Great article! Just a note, that’s actually an elk in your picture, not a caribou.

hahaha thank you. Silly Australians we are. 🙂

What a useful and clear guide of handy hints and travel information. There are a lot of other travel information websites out there but yours is easy and simple and gets straight to the point. Great job !

Thank you so much Maureen. We are glad the article was helpful. Have a great time in Banff. It is a magical place.

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Must-see attractions in Banff Town

Whyte Museum of Canadian Rockies.

Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

Founded by local artists Catharine and Peter Whyte, the century-old Whyte Museum is more than just a rainy-day option. It boasts a beautiful, ever…

Details of the rock inside the Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Sulphur Mountain, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Cave & Basin National Historic Site

The Canadian National Park system was effectively born at these hot springs, discovered accidentally by three Canadian Pacific Railway employees on their…

banff downtown places to visit

Upper Hot Springs Pool

Banff quite literally wouldn’t be Banff if it weren’t for its hot springs, which gush out from 2.5km beneath Sulphur Mountain at a constant temperature of…

Fairmont Banff Springs

Looming up beside the Bow River, the Banff Springs is a local landmark in more ways than one. Originally built in 1888, and remodeled in 1928 to resemble…

Gondola, Sulphur Mountain, Banff, Alberta, Canada

Banff Gondola

In summer or winter, you can summit a peak near Banff thanks to the Banff Gondola, with four-person enclosed cars that glide up to the top of Sulphur…

Man watching the sunrise at Vermillion Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Vermilion Lakes

West of town, this trio of tranquil lakes is a great place for wildlife spotting: elk, beavers, owls, bald eagles and ospreys can often be seen around the…

Banff Avenue

A little over a century ago, Banff Ave was Banff. Initially, the central street was home to little more than a handful of hotels, homesteads and trail…

About 500m south of town, just before the junction with Spray River, the Bow River plunges into a churning melee of white water at Bow Falls. Though the…

This 2.3km loop trail begins near the Cave & Basin National Historic Site and meanders through one of Banff’s most important areas of natural marshland…

Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka (mini-won-ka) sits 13km east of Banff Town, making it a popular escape from downtown. The scenic recreational area has plenty of hiking,…

Banff Park Museum

Occupying the oldest surviving federal building in a Canadian National Park and dating from 1903, this museum is a national historic site. Its exhibits –…

Surprise Corner Viewpoint

About 1.2km east of Banff Town, the Surprise Corner viewpoint looks out over the rushing white water of Bow Falls.

Tunnel Mountain

It might be Banff’s smallest mountain at 1692m, but Tunnel Mountain is still one of the town’s most recognizable landmarks. The mountain’s distinctive…

Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum

The Luxton Museum recounts the story of Alberta's indigenous people, with a strong emphasis on the Cree, Blackfoot, Blood and Stoney nations. The displays…

Old Banff Cemetery

Banff’s shaded cemetery is worth a visit, especially if you’re interested in the town’s history. Some of the gravestones date back to the 1890s; among the…

Forty Mile Creek Picnic Area

This popular picnic area sits just outside Banff's city limits off Mt Norquay Rd and is a good spot to crack open a hamper if you're short on time or…

Norquay Chairlift

This open-air skiing chairlift remains open in the summer, taking you on a 15-minute ride to a viewing platform on Mt Norquay (2133m). You'll find a…

More destinations you need to see

Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Kirsten Wendlandt

50 Best Things to do in Banff National Park – Ultimate Banff Travel Guide

Posted on Last updated: February 3, 2023

Banff National Park is arguably the most famous place in all of Canada, and there’s no surprise why – it’s absolutely stunning!

From the iconic milky turquoise lakes to the incredible mountain peaks, charming log cabins and wildlife galore, there’s just so much to see and do in Banff National park.

banff downtown places to visit

I recently spent 8 days exploring this incredible part of Canada and I know how intimidating planning a trip here can be… there’s just so much to do in Banff National Park!

To help make things easier for you I’ve listed and organized the top 50 things to do in Banff National Park and organized them by area.

If you’re visiting the Canadian Rockies you might also want to check out this post:

  • 19 Best Hikes in Banff National Park
  • 28 Awesome Things to do in Banff in Winter
  • 20 Best Spots for Winter Photos in Banff National Park
  • Best Restaurants in Banff – 2021 Banff Dining Guide
  • The Ultimate Guide to Hiking Johnston Canyon in Winter
  • 23 Best Things to do in Jasper National Park
  • The Best Hikes in Jasper National Park

I hope this helps you plan your visit to this incredible part of Canada!

BTW – I’ll also be linking my outfit details throughout for the items that are still available in stores. Just in case you want to shop them!

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Canoeing on Moraine Lake

Table of Contents

Best time to visit Banff National Park

Depending on the goal of your trip there are a few different options for the best times to visit Banff.

Hiking & Nice Weather: For those looking to get in a lot of hiking and prefer nice weather, the best times to visit are June to August . However, it is important to note Banff National Park will be very busy during this time.

Avoiding Crowds & Still Decent Weather: My favourite time to visit Banff National Park is in September when the weather is still nice (light jacket only required) but kids have gone back to school. If you visit in the tail end of September you will also get to see incredible fall foliage.

Winter Sports: For those looking to fill their time with winter sports like skiing and snowboarding the best time to visit December to March . This is the peak season for skiing. There are tons of things to do in Banff in winter!

Where to stay in Banff National Park

There are a couple of options for staying in Banff National Park depending on which area you want to focus on. Most people plan most of their activities around the town of Banff and stay there.

I however choose to stay in Canmore most of the time and here’s why!

Staying in Canmore

Although it’s not technically in Banff National Park (it’s just outside of it) Canmore is just a short 20 minute drive from Banff and it’s much cheaper to stay in which is why it’s a favourite for Alberta locals.

Although it’s become much more touristy over the years it’s still a lot cheaper thank Banff and you will save a lot of money staying here and making day trips from Canmore.

Please keep in mind that because Canmore is not technically in Banff National Park this means it is not protected like Banff. It is important to be respectful when visiting not only to the environment, but to the locals and animals living in the area.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Staying at the Malcolm Hotel in Canmore will save you money

Top Canmore Hotel Recommendation: The Malcolm Hotel

My favourite hotel in Canmore is (by far) the Malcom Hotel .

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Staying at the Malcolm Hotel in Canmore will save you money

The Malcolm Hotel has a heated outdoor pool with an incredible view of the 3 Sister’s Mountains. The pool also stays open year round, only closing when temperatures drop below -30 celsius so no matter when you visit you’ll be able to go for a swim!

You can check the best available rates for the Malcolm Hotel in Canmore here

Staying in Banff

If you would prefer to stay in the town of Banff I don’t blame you!

The town of Banff is where most tourists like to stay and it’s definitely closest to all the attractions. There are still some great and fairly reasonable hotels in Banff.

Top Banff Hotel Recommendation: Mount Royal Hotel

My favourite reasonably priced hotel in Banff is the Mount Royal Hotel which has been in Banff since 1908!

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Stay at the Mount Royal in Banff

The Mount Royal has so much history in which makes it a unique spot to stay at. It also happens to be in the heart of downtown Banff right on Banff avenue and there are tons of great restaurants in the area.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Stay at the Mount Royal in Banff

Find the best available rates for Mount Royal Hotel here

Alternative Accommodation Option: Airbnb

Airbnb’s are always a great choice and there are lots of them available in Banff National Park of all different price ranges.

If you’ve never used Airbnb before sign up with my affiliate code here and you’ll get up to $95 off your first rental!

Getting Around Banff National Park

Because Banff National park is quite spread out and some places (like Lake Louise and Moraine Lake) are an hour each way from the town of Banff, I do recommend traveling by vehicle.

If you have your own car while exploring Banff it’s not only much easier to get around but you won’t have to deal with possibly crowded buses or shuttles.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Vermillion Lakes

I spent my time in Banff exploring in the Mazda CX-30 and it was the perfect vehicle for the mountains. It had no problems going over the rougher terrain up in the mountains but wasn’t a big bulky SUV. It was also really economical on gas which made it perfect for a road trip. I was shocked by how little we spent on gas!

If you don’t have your own car I recommend renting one for your visit to Banff National Park. Check out Economy Bookings for the cheapest car rentals from your departing city or the Banff area!

Weather in Banff National Park

Weather in the Canadian Rockies can be extremely erratic so it’s best to be prepared for anything! Random snow falls can happen even in summer (crazy right) but in general here is what to expect:

Summers: are generally quite comfortable and sometimes even hot. You will get random days where it is much cooler especially if you’re doing hikes up in the mountains.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Hiking in Kananaskis

Make sure you always hike with lots of layers. One moment I would be in a sports bra and the next I would need a fleece and a puffer jacket!

My best tip is to make sure to always have a light and packable puffer jacket with you just in case ( I love this one from Uniqlo ). Expect temperatures in the peak of summer to be anywhere between 10-22 degrees celsius.

Winters are freezing and snowy! Expect temperatures to be below 0 and be prepared for the cold. It’s best to head with plenty of layers and pack mitten and toe warmers. Temperatures tend to stick around in the -5 to -15 degrees celsius mark but can get both warmer and colder.

Best things to do in Banff National Park – Lake Louise

Now that you’re a little more familiar with what to expect temperature wise as well as the best times to visit Banff National park, it’s time to plan your activities! There are so many things to do in Banff for every kind of traveler. Whether you’re looking to do some serious hikes, visit the famous lakes, try your hand at fishing, or shop for some authentic Canadian souvenirs there is something in Banff for everyone. I’ve organized this list of things to do in Banff National Park by region to help make your planning process a little easier.

1. Visiting Lake Louise

There are two lakes in Banff National Park that are the most famous lakes in Canada, and one of them is Lake Louise. You’ll definitely want you make sure you visit Lake Louise at some point during your trip to Banff National Park.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Lake Louise

Lake Louise gets it’s famous milky blue color from rock flour in the water and it’s truly a sight to see. Besides visiting the lake itself there are some great hikes in the area so I recommend planning on spending a full day here.

Because Lake Louise is so famous and parking is limited, you’ll want to arrive at sunrise to secure yourself a spot. It’s also the best time for photos because of the neat reflection in the water!

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Lake Louise

Arriving later in the day once every one leaves is also an option but not ideal if you are planning on doing hikes. Sometimes parking stalls free up during the day and you may luck out arriving mid day but I would not plan for that.

Alternatively if you prefer to not drive there are shuttles available from Banff to take you to Lake Louise. Lake Louise is a 40 minute drive from Banff so make sure to plan ahead.

2. Lake Agnes Tea Hike

Lake Agnes Tea hike is one of the most popular hikes in Lake Louise and is at the top of most people’s list when visiting the area.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: The Lake Agnes Tea House Hike from Lake Louise

This hike is a 7.8km (round trip) heavily trafficked and moderate hiking trail that departs from the base of the lake. The trail is uphill the whole way till you reach Lake Agnes Tea House, and you will gain 400m in elevation.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: The Lake Agnes Tea House Hike from Lake Louise

Over the course of the hike you’ll see a waterfall, mirror lake, as well as great view points of Lake Louise below you before reaching Lake Agnes and the tea house!

3. Lake Agnes Tea House

When you reach Lake Agnes you will find the Lake Agnes Tea House which is the perfect place to sit down, rest, and really take in your surroundings and the beautiful Lake Agnes.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: The Lake Agnes Tea House Hike from Lake Louise

The Lake Agnes Tea House is open from early June until just after Thanksgiving weekend. Here you will be able to enjoy a large selection of teas, sandwiches on freshly baked bread, and other treats and light snacks.

Make sure to bring cash (Canadian or US dollars) or credit card for food and drink purchases.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: The Lake Agnes Tea House Hike from Lake Louise

If you would like to continue hiking after reaching the Lake Agnes Tea House you can continue on either the Little Beehive or the Big Beehive trails listed below.

4. Little Beehive Trail

Most people stop at Lake Agnes so if you decide to continue along you will be pleased to find the trails are less busy.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: The Little Beehive from Lake Louise hike

The trail from Lake Agnes to Little Beehive is a short one, coming in at only 1km each way. There is also a shortcut back down from Little Beehive to mirror lake that skips Lake Agnes and the Teahouse should you decide you want a quicker route back down.

5. Big Beehive Trail

The trail from Lake Agnes to Big Beehive is 1.6km long so it’s a little longer than Little Beehive but not too bad.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: The Big Beehive from Lake Louise hike

The view from Big Beehive is incredible and definitely worth the climb! The only reason we didn’t do it is we had other plans later that day and didn’t have the time. I would definitely like to go back and do the Big Beehive hike!

In case you’re wondering why it’s called Big Beehive, it’s because the mountain actually looks like a beehive! And Little Beehive Mountain looks like a little beehive.

6. Plain of Six Glaciers Trail

The Plain of Six Glaciers Trail also continues from Big Beehive and will take you to a second Tea House (the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House) as well as close to the field of glaciers which is so neat! It’s definitely a rare experience to be able to get this close to a glacier.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Plain of Six Glaciers Hike

Overall the Plain of Six Glaciers hike is 14.6 km round trip (from the base of Lake Louise) but is considered moderate. We didn’t get the chance to do this one but it’s definitely on my list for next time!

7. Canoeing on Lake Louise

Beyond hiking the next most popular thing to do while at Lake Louise is canoeing!

Canoeing is run by the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and costs $125 per hour for non guests, and $115 for half an hour. Obviously it makes a lot more sense to just pay the extra $10 and go for the full hour!

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Canoe on Lake Louise

Hotel guests of the Fairmont get canoeing for $45 per hour. I believe they also offer this price to guests staying at their sister hotel (the Fairmont Banff Springs).

Here are the Fairmont Lake Louise boathouse hours:

  • Monday to Friday – 10am – last boat leaves at 6pm
  • Weekends – 9:30am – last boat goes out at 7pm

Canoeing at Lake Louise is on a first come first serve basis and guests of the hotel do get priority. Make sure you arrive early to secure yourself a spot if you don’t want to wait too long!

8. Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

A visit to Lake Louise is not complete without a chance to explore the stunning Chateau Lake Louise. I’ve had the opportunity to stay at the Chateau once in my life and I can definitely say it is worth the hype.

You can check out the current best prices available for the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise here

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is a must visit

Doesn’t the Chateau look so magical at winter time? It definitely makes me want to go back then and spend a couple cozy nights here in winter.

Although the grounds are currently reserved for guests due to COVID, you can book a reservation for lunch or dinner at their restaurant which will allow you access into the Chateau. If you’ve never been it’s definitely worth dining here because the Chateau is truly incredible to see in person!

Best things to do in Banff National Park – Moraine Lake

Although Moraine Lake is just a 20 minute drive from Lake Louise, there’s so much to see and do there that it deserves it’s own section.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Moraine Lake

In my opinion, you’ll definitely want to plan for a full day at Moraine rather than trying to squeeze it and Lake Louise in the same day. Especially because it’s difficult to get parking at each.

9. Visiting Moraine Lake

Because parking is limited at Moraine it is imperative you arrive before sunrise. We arrived at 5:45 am (sunrise was at 7:15am) and the parking lot was quickly filling up.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Moraine Lake after sunrise

If you are visiting Moraine as a photographer with the purpose of photographing the lake you will definitely want to be here for sunrise as the waters are most calm in the morning and you are more likely to get the mirror effect on the lake.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Moraine Lake after sunrise

If you don’t really care much for photography you will be able to find parking later in the day once people have left, and I have also heard just before sunset is a great time to visit to easily find parking.

10. Canoeing on Moraine Lake

Canoeing at Moraine Lake is run by the Moraine Lake Lodge and is an experience you definitely don’t want to miss out on. I’ve never in my life seen a lake as stunning as Moraine, and it’s even more incredible when you see it from the water.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Canoeing on Moraine Lake

Canoeing at Moraine Lake runs from July 1st to mid-September and costs $95 per canoe for one hour.

Honestly I was shocked that it’s cheaper to canoe at Moraine Lake than at Lake Louise because it is definitely the more incredible of the two.

For more information on canoeing at Moraine Lake click here!

1 1 . Moraine Lake Rockpile Trail

The Moraine Lake Rockpile trail is a short 0.8 km heavily trafficked loop that’s good for all ages and skill levels.

The Rockpile trail will take you to the most breathtaking views of Moraine Lake.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Moraine Lake Rockpile Trail

The rock pile is where most Moraine Lake photos you’ve seen online are shot.

This is the trail you will take before sunrise and then you can wait on the rock pile for sunrise.

Since this spot is so famous and is one of the most photographed places in Canada, expect to arrive early to stake out your spot.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Moraine Lake Rockpile Trail

By the way can you believe the luck I got with the rainbow lens flare in the above photo? I couldn’t believe it!

12. Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail

The Moraine Lake Shoreline trail is a 3km hike that’s rated as easy. You won’t find any difficult uphill climbs on this one so enjoy – hikes like this are rare in the rockies!

The shoreline trail will take you along the shoreline of Moraine lake and it’s a great opportunity to see the lake from a different angle.

13. Consolation Lakes Hike

Consolation Lakes is a short hike from Moraine and it’s 100% worth visiting. I went there based on a recommendation from a friend and I’m so glad I did.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: The Consolation Lakes hike near Moraine is a perfect afternoon hike

The Consolation Lakes hike is a 5.8km (round trip) hike that’s easy enough for all ages and skill levels.

At the end of the trail you’ll arrive at a rock pile which you can climb over to get to the beautiful lake.

We saw some pretty stunning reflections in the lake and I love the contrast between the lake and all the rocks.

There is also a waterfall along the way so make sure you take the small detour to see that!

Best things to do in Banff National Park – in and around the town of Banff

The town of Banff in Banff National Park is a small resort town with a lot of charm.

You’ll find lots of Canadian settler style log cabin architecture here and tons of charming shops full of all Canadian goodies and souvenirs.

14. Do a Historic Style Tour with Open Top Touring

Open Top Touring is the newest excursion available in Banff and it’s so much fun!

You’ll climb aboard a vintage style open top vehicle and take in some of Banff’s greatest sights while learning all about the places, people, and moments in history that made Banff what it is today.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Try a vintage style tour of Banff with Open Top Touring

I loved this tour because I learned so much about Banff’s history that I didn’t know about before.

At only $45 per person (and $25 for kids) the Open Top Tour is a great way to learn about Banff and see some incredible sights without breaking the break.

15. Explore Banff by bike

Rather than driving to each destination why not rent a bike and explore Banff that way?

The Bow Valley parkway is closed to motor vehicles right now making it a paradise for bikers!

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Exploring Banff by bike

You can rent a bike for a full day for just $35-40 at Snowtips-Bactrax .

They also have e-bike rentals available if you want to preserve your energy.

16. The Banff Gondola

You can’t visit Banff without taking a trip up the Banff Gondola !

Take a ride up the gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain and you’ll get to experience breathtaking views at the top that include six mountain ranges, the Bow Valley, and the town of Banff below.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: The Banff gondola

When we visited it was a little smoky due to the fires in British Columbia, but even so the views were incredible.

I would love to go back again on a clear day.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: The Banff gondola

Once you reach the top of the Banff Gondola there’s lots to do.

You can take the short walk up to the very top of the boardwalk, have a seat and hang out by the fire on the rooftop, visit the discovery centre, and have a meal or cocktails at the incredible Sky Bistro.

17. Dine at the Sky Bistro

I’ll be honest, I used to think that restaurants at tourist attractions (like at the top of gondolas or the top of towers in cities) were a tourist trap that are overpriced and not worth what you pay.

The Sky Bistro blew me away and completely changed my mind on this.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Dining at the Sky Bistro at the top of the Banff gondola is truly an experience

The Sky Bistro was so reasonably priced (no different than the rest of the restaurants in Banff and our mains were $20 or below) and the food was SPECTACULAR.

What an incredible experience to get to enjoy such an amazing meal on top of a mountain.

18. Tunnel Mountain Hike

One of the most popular hikes near downtown Banff is the Tunnel Mountain trail.

Tunnel Mountain is located in the Bow River Valley and overlooks the hot springs of Sulphur Mountain.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Tunnel Mountain is a great family friendly hike with awesome views

The mountain itself has a lot of significance in Banff’s history and to the indigenous people that used to live on the land. The Stony People call the Tunnel Mountain “Sleeping Buffalo” because it looks like a sleeping buffalo!

The Tunnel Mountain Trail is a 4.5km (round trip) hike that’s considered moderate but is honestly easy enough for the whole family. We saw plenty of families on the way up.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Tunnel Mountain is a great family friendly hike with awesome views

This hike is probably the easiest summit hike in the area and is the perfect opportunity to get in some incredible views without having to put in too much work. Plus you can say you hiked a whole mountain!

19. Sundance Canyon Trail

Although I didn’t get the chance to do the Sundance Canyon trail myself this time, it was highly recommended to me by the Banff & Lake Louise Tourism board as another local favourite so I had to include it on the list.

banff downtown places to visit

Sundance Canyon is a 10km heavily trafficked loop near the town of Banff that’s rated as moderate.

You’ll get to see some cascading falls, as well as a canyon and river along this trail.

A large part of the trail is paved too so it’s a nice easy one to follow. You can also do most of it by bike!

20. Vermillion Lakes

The Vermillion Lakes are a series of lakes located just west of the town of Banff.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Vermillion Lakes

Here you will get stunning views of both Sulphur Mountain and Mount Rundle, and it’s the perfect place to watch for wildlife or witness the sunset.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Vermillion Lakes

The Vermillion Lakes are a popular spot for locals seeking a little solace from the busy town.

Head here and spend a few hours sunning yourself on one of the many docks, or walk the Vermillion Lakes trail in search of wildlife!

The Vermillion Lakes are only 2.4km from the town of Banff so you can easily walk, bike, or drive to them!

21. Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka is a man-made lake just outside of the town of Banff that has all sorts of things to do. It’s a very popular tourist destination.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Lake Minnewanka has lots to see and do!

Hikes: From Lake Minnewanka you can take the 1.5km Stewart Canyon trail that goes around the shoreline of the lake. If you’re a more experienced hiker you can take the Alymer’s Pass hike from there which is a 23.6km loop that’s incredibly scenic.

Lake Minnewanka Cruise: There’s no better way to enjoy your surroundings and learn a little more about the area than with a guided cruise! Pursuit offers two variations on their Lake Minnewanka Cruise. You can book the classic 1 hour cruise, or book the 1.5 hour craft beer cruise that includes a local craft beer tasting!

Check out the Lake Minnewanka Cruise options here

Lake Minnewanka Loop: Lake Minnewanka is the first stop on the Lake Minnewanka Loop which you can drive on Route 6. Along the loop you will hit Lake Minnewanka, Two Jack Lake and Cascade Ponds before heading back to the town of Banff.

22. Two Jack Lake

Two Jack Lake is a beautiful Emerald Green lake on the Lake Minnewanka loop that’s very popular on instagram.

Just like with the rest of the lakes in the rockies, Two Jack Lake is more calm in the mornings and your chance of getting a mirror effect on the lake is best then.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Two Jack Lake

Head to Two Jack Lake just before sunrise to stake out a spot (don’t worry it’s not as busy as Moraine or Lake Louise) and watch a beautiful sunrise there!

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Two Jack Lake

During the summer a lot of people partake in water sports at Two Jack Lake.

You’ll see people kayaking, paddle boarding, and some even swimming although the water is very cold.

There are picnic tables around the lake so it’s the perfect place to have a picnic lunch before heading out on the 3.2km hiking loop around the lake.

23. Cascade Ponds Picnic Area

The Cascade Ponds picnic area is a great place to stop for a picnic dinner with a campfire!

Here you’ll find lots of picnic tables and fire pits surrounding the lake.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Visit Cascade Ponds for a perfect picnic dinner

There is wood available in the communal lot so bring a small hatchet and something to start it up. (as recommended by Banff/Lake Louise Tourism)

24. Visit the local shops in downtown Banff

Downtown Banff is so incredibly charming and oh so Canadian!

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Explore charming downtown Banff

Banff Avenue is loaded with shops and restaurants.

You’ll find classic Canadian stores like the Hudsons Bay, as well as souvenir shops, candy shops where you can get classic Canadian fudge, and all sorts of places offering authentic Canadian goods.

25. Explore the local food scene

The town of Banff has an incredible culinary scene and I was blessed to get to try so many amazing restaurants when we visited.

From local staples like the Maple Leaf and Bear & Bison which have been around for years, to Banff’s latest and greatest like Farm and Fire and the Radiant.

Click here for my complete guide to the Best Restaurants in Banff!

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Dine at Farm and Fire for an incredible family style meal in Banff

26. Mount Norquay

No matter what time of year you visit Banff Mount Norquay has activities that will give you a thrill.

Summer: The Via Ferrata is an assisted climbing experience that’s sure to give you a rush and incredible views. There’s also the sightseeing chairlift and multiple hikes for you to check out during your visit.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Ski Mount Norquay

Winter: There’s no surprise Mount Norquay is a must visit in winter for skiing and snowboarding fanatics. There’s also tubing available on Mount Norquay which makes it the perfect spot for winter fun for the whole family.

27. Try Stand Up Paddleboarding

Stand up paddleboarding is not only a great workout but it’s tons of fun too. You can rent a SUP from Banff Canoe Club for $30 per hour or $79 for a whole day. Make sure you bring a life vest as these are required by Transport Canada!

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Try stand up paddle boarding on one of the lakes in Banff

Vermillion Lake & Two Jack Lake would both be great lakes to try SUP. I’ve also seen people do it on Moraine and Lake Louise but you’ll want to make sure you have a wet suit as the water at both those lakes is freezing.

28. Go Fishing

It should be no surprise that there’s a great fishing scene in Banff National Park. I remember going fishing there with my dad and brothers when I was just a kid!

It’s important to keep in mind that you will need a National Park Fishing License so make sure you get one before you head out. These licenses can be purchased at any fishing shops, Park Canada Visitors Centres, and tackle shops.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Try your hand at fishing in one of the local lakes

The best places to go out fishing are Lake Minnewanka and the Bow River.

Catch and release fishing is encouraged in Banff National Park, especially so if you catch an at risk species. It’s better to fish for fun in the mountains that to fish for food.

29. Visit the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

Did you know the Banff Springs Hotel is lovingly called the Castle of the Rockies? Well, it is! And that’s basically what it is, a giant castle that overlooks the town of Banff and is an incredible place to visit.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Visit the incredible Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

The Banff Springs Hotel opened in 1888 by the Canadian Pacific Railway and was one of Canada’s first grand railway hotels. To this day the Banff Springs Hotel remains an iconic and loved landmark for the area.

I’ve had the opportunity to stay at the Banff Springs Hotel a couple of times and it is such an incredible experience. The hotel itself is so grand and exquisite, it makes you feel like you’re in a castle!

Check out the best available rates for the Banff Springs Hotel here.

30. Golfing

Who wouldn’t want to go golfing surrounded by stunning mountain views?The Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course in Banff is the place to golf for those looking for an incredible course and stunning mountain views.

banff downtown places to visit

Beyond the Banff Springs Golf Course, here are a few golf courses nearby to the town of Banff:

  • Canmore Golf & Curling Club Course
  • Silvertip Resort Course
  • Stewart Creek Golf Club
  • Brewster’s Kananaskis Ranch Golf Course

31. Banff Upper Hot Springs

*Currently closed temporarily – Will update once they open!*

Open year round the Banff Upper Hot Springs are a great place to visit for a relaxing afternoon. After bathing in the hot springs which were first discovered in 1888 you’ll feel relaxed and rejuvenated.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Banff Upper Hot Springs

The hot pools of the Banff Upper Hot Springs are located outside and have a great view of Mount Rundle.

I especially love visiting the hot springs during the winter, it’s such a neat experience being in outdoor hot pools while it’s snowing out.

32. Cave and Basin

Cave and Basin is a natural hot spring source set in a cave that’s within walking distance from most hotels in Banff, and it was actually the birth place of Banff itself!

Although the hot springs here are not available for the public to bathe in, Cave and Basin is now a national historic site. At the small on site museum you will learn all about the birth and history of Banff and get to check out the cave itself.

banff downtown places to visit

It’s definitely neat to check out the cave and see the natural hot springs but be prepared the smell of sulphur can be quite strong!

33. Visit Surprise Corner

Surprise corner has such a fun name and really is a great viewpoint. It gets it’s name from the “surprise” incredible viewpoint you get along Tunnel Mountain Road of the Banff Springs Hotel.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Surprise corner has an amazing viewpoint of the Banff Springs Hotel

Surprise Corner is a very popular viewpoint to visit and there’s a parking lot right there so it’s easy to access.

Park your car and head across the street and up the staircase to access the viewpoint.

Once you’re done having a look at the Surprise Corner viewpoint you can head back down where you’ll find the trail heads for the Bow Falls Trail and the Hoodoos Trail.

34. Bow River Falls

Bow Falls are located just below the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and are a very easy waterfall to visit.

The trail for Bow Falls is just 2.7km long and is good for all skill levels so it’s an easy hike to do with the family.

banff downtown places to visit

The trail head for these is at the same parking lot as Surprise Corner so it’s easy to do them both in the same day!

35. Hoodoos Trail

The Hoodoos Trail is an extension of the Bow Falls trail and takes you on a 10km adventure to see the Hoodoos of Banff.

This hike is rated as moderate and you’ll get some breathtaking views of the Bow Valley along the way before getting to the Hoodoos which are natural sandstone structures.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Hoodoos Trail

Although I haven’t had the chance to do this trail myself I’ve heard it’s very scenic!

Best things to do in Banff National Park – Canmore

As I mentioned above, Canmore is not technically in Banff National Park but is just outside the perimeter and is just as beautiful so it had to be included!

Canmore is just a short 20 minute drive from Banff and is much more affordable which is why Alberta locals tend to choose to stay there. But beyond being a little less touristy than downtown Banff, Canmore also has a lot of things to see and do!

Please be extra conscious when visiting Canmore as it’s not protected like Banff. It is important to respect the land, environment, animals and locals living here when visiting.

36. Visit Downtown Canmore

Downtown Canmore, like downtown Banff, is super charming in a very Canadian way.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Check out downtown Canmore

Here you’ll find tons of locally owned and operated shops to browse, restaurants to visit, and cafes to stop and have a maple latte.

37. Grassi Lakes Hike

The Grassi Lakes trail loop is a super popular 4.3km loop in Canmore.

Although the trail itself is rated as good for all skill levels on All Trails, there is a moderate/more difficult route or easier route that you can take.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: The Grassi Lakes hike in Canmore gives you amazing views!

Personally I do not recommend the easier route as it has zero views.

It is a gradual incline through a forest up to the top but is very easy so it’s great for people with mobility issues.

The more difficult trail however has tons of viewpoints along the way and is a very scenic hike!

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: The Grassi Lakes hike in Canmore gives you amazing views!

With the more difficult trail you’ll get incredible views of Canmore and the Bow Valley, as well as a great waterfall along the way.

It’s a really fun hike and the only challenge really is that it’s a constant uphill until you reach the lakes.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: The Grassi Lakes hike in Canmore gives you amazing views!

The Grassi Lakes themselves are two lakes (the upper and lower Grassi lakes) that lie at an elevation of 1512m above the town of Canmore.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: The Grassi Lakes hike in Canmore gives you amazing views!

The lakes themselves are absolutely stunning and have a green & turquoise jewel tone to them that’s pretty incredible to see in person.

38. Check out Rundle Forebay

Rundle Forebay Reservoir is lesser known stunning lake in Canmore near the Nordic Center.

If you want a super unique experience that’s a little different than just visiting the lake and walking around you can actually book a stand up paddleboard (SUP) tour on it.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Visit Rundle Forebay

Click here for more information on the Rundle Forebay SUP tours.

At Rundle Forebay you’ll experience a stunning turquoisee lake and incredible views of Mount Rundle, Ha Ling Peak, and the Lady Macdonald Mountains.

39. Bow River Loop Hike

The Bow River Loop trail is a relaxing and scenic walk through the woods that’s perfect for all skill levels.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Stroll the Bow River Loop

At only 2.1km long it’s an easy afternoon activity that doesn’t take much of a commitment. Along the way you’ll get some great views of the surrounding mountains as well as the Bow River.

40. Endulge your Tastebuds at The Sensory

The Sensory is a culinary experience unlike no other in the Rockies and I highly recommend booking dinner here.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: The Sensory in Canmore is an incredible culinary experience

Although The Sensory does have a regular A-La-Carte menu, we chose to go with the “Trust Us” 3 Course dinner which is their most popular offering.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: The Sensory in Canmore is an incredible culinary experience

The Trust Us 3 course dinner changes every day and includes unbelievably mouthwatering and super creative courses created by the chef that day using fresh local ingredients. Every course surprised us more than the next and we were so incredibly impressed by the chef Corey Fraser.

From fresh wild caught pickerel with a sweet corn pudding, to bison tenderloin with wild mushrooms, and a chocolate mousse log with local haskap berry frozen yoghurt gelato, we were in food HEAVEN.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: The Sensory in Canmore is an incredible culinary experience

Do yourself a favour and book yourself in for The Sensory ‘s 3 Course Trust Me dinner while you’re in the area – it’s only $69 for 3 courses!

41. Explore the Canmore Caves

For a super unique experience while you’re in Banff National Park why not book a tour to explore the Canmore caves?

Canmore Cave Tours has a wide selection of different tours and experiences that will take you on a journey deep inside the caves of Canmore.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Visit the Canmore Caves

Whether you’re looking for more of an adventure expedition and want to climb and crawl in the caves, or prefer a more calming experience like listening to live music – there’s a Canmore caves experience for you.

42. Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk

Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk is a scenic trail just steps from downtown Canmore that’s perfect for all ages and skill levels.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Stroll along Policeman's Creek Boardwalk in Canmore

The trail itself is 3.9km long and includes a boardwalk through an open grassy area along the creek and a gravel trail in the woods.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Stroll along Policeman's Creek Boardwalk in Canmore

It’s a nice, easy, and relaxing stroll that’s perfect to see a little more of Canmore without having to do a strenuous hike.

43. Taste local beers at Grizzly Paw Brewing Co

*Grizzly Paw Brewing Co is currently not running their brewery tours due to COVID. I will update this when they are running again*

Want to try some local beers? The Grizzly Paw is the perfect place to pop by and try a flight of local Canmore brews.

banff downtown places to visit

From Powder Hound Blonde Ale to Rutting Elk Red, and Grumpy Bear Honey Wheat to Beavertale Raspberry Ale… Grizzly Paw has a beer that will quench and satisfy every brew lovers palettes.

If beer isn’t your thing not to worry – Grizzy Paw also makes an incredible line of fresh sodas like black cherry cola, cream soda, and root beer.

Best things to do in Banff National Park – Kananaskis

Kananaskis Country is 4000 square km of mountain parks and foothills right next to Canmore and not far from the town of Banff.

Like Canmore, Kananaskis is on the perimeter of Banff National Park and is not actually a part of the park. This means you don’t have to pay to visit, but it also means you need to be extra conscious when visiting.

There is a ton to explore in this area beyond Kananaskis village, including a nordic spa, white water rafting, and some pretty incredible hikes.

44. East End of Rundle Hike

East End of Rundle is an incredibly scenic scramble of a hike that takes you to the top of Mount Rundle. There are some seriously incredible viewpoints both along the way and at the summit.

This hike is rated as difficult and is a pretty steep and strenuous hike, but if you’re up to it you will be rewarded with these incredible views.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Hike the East End of Rundle hike for incredible views

This hike requires proper equipment in terms of hiking boots (and I highly recommend poles as well).

Although the hike itself is only 5.6km, it is uphill the whole time and takes a good 5-6 hours.

Most of the hike is a scramble with some parts being quite steep and slippery.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Hike the East End of Rundle hike for incredible views

For this hike I highly recommend downloading the All Trails app as the trail is not well marked and it’s easier to find your way with the in-app map.

This app is great to have especially when doing hikes in no service areas as you can download the maps in advance and follow along!

45. Ha Ling Peak

Ha Ling Peak is the pointy mountain you can see from the first viewpoint on East End of Rundle I shared above and it’s pretty incredible!

banff downtown places to visit

The Ha Link Peak hike is a 7.9km heavily trafficked trail that’s rated as difficult.

I am told it’s not as difficult as East End of Rundle though.

Although this trail is difficult it’s mainly because it’s a steady climb.

You will not encounter scrambles here.

46. Kananaskis Nordic Spa

Now that we’ve discussed the difficult (but incredibly scenic) hikes in Kananaskis it’s time to talk about something a little more relaxing.

The Kananaskis Nordic Spa is an incredible alpine oasis where you can soak your stresses (and some of that post-hiking muscle pain!) away.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Visit the Kananaskis Nordic Spa

Imagine soaking in hydro-therapy pools surrounded by the most calming and relaxing alpine scenery – sounds great doesn’t it?

Please note the Kananaskis Nordic Spa offers two separate hydro-theraphy sessions per day and you have to book in advance. You can make your booking here!

47. White Water Rafting

White water rafting is such a fun activity that’s great for the whole family, and Kananaskis White Water Rafting offers excellent expeditions that will thrill all – even those as young as 5.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Go White Water Rafting in Kananaskis

With Kananaskis White Water Rafting a guide will take you and your group down the river through class 2-3 rapids. You’ll get splashed and have the ride of your life!

Best things to do in Banff National Park – Johnston Canyon

Johnston Canyon makes for a great half day trip from the town of Banff. It will take you about an hour by car each way which is why I included it in its own section.

At Johnston Canyon you’ll get to wander through wooded areas, canyon walls, by waterfalls and deep pools.

There is so much to see here at Johnston Canyon and there are three main trails with different sights so you can choose how far you want to go!

It’s even more magical in winter and you can check out my guide to visiting Johnston Canyon in winter her e!

48. Lower Falls Trail

Most of the trails for the lower and upper falls consist of catwalks built into the sides of the canyons which makes it a super unique hike.

The trail to the lower falls is a fairly easy trail that’s good for the whole family.

It will take about 30 mins and you’ll get to see a pretty incredible views of the lower falls.

You’ll even get to walk through a misty rock tunnel before hitting the base of the falls.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting the area! Pictured here: Visit Johnston Canyon

If you are traveling with very small children, seniors, or people with low mobility you will probably want to stick to this trail alone.

49. Upper Falls Trail

The Upper Falls Trail at Johnston Canyon is about 2.5km each way and will take you uphill through the forest and out of the lower canyon to the top of the falls.

banff downtown places to visit

There are a couple different viewpoints along the Upper Falls Trail, the first being a long catwalk at the middl of the creek just about at water level. There’s another viewpoint at the top of the falls too looking down which is incredible.

This trail is fairly easy although it is a constant incline. It will take you about 1 hour to get to the top if traveling with children.

50. Ink Pots Trail

If you want to get away from the crowds and see more of what Johnston Canyon has to offer then you have to do the Ink Pots trail! The Ink Pots trail continues on for another 3km after the Upper Falls and will take you to some pretty incredible natural sights.

banff downtown places to visit

Along the Ink Pots trail you’ll get to see seven pools of emerald green mineral spring pools in a meadow that are absolutely stunning. If you have the time I definitely recommend doing this trail, the color of these spring pools are incredible!

Enjoy your visit to Banff National Park!

I hope you enjoyed this guide on 50 incredible things to do in Banff National Park!

As you can see there is just so much to see and do in this area and it definitely takes more than one trip to get it all done.

Whether you’re looking to get in some serious hikes, visit iconic lakes, see some glaciers, or try your hand at some water sports, there’s definitely something for everyone in Banff National Park.

Visiting Banff National Park soon? Don't miss this guide of the 50 best things to in Banff for every kind of traveler! I recently spent 8 days exploring the area and took notes along the way so I could write you the most comprehensive guide possible. This guide includes all the top attractions, hikes, restaurants, and sights you definitely won't want to miss when you visit Banff National Park. I also include any tips you might need when visiting. Click for the full guide!

Let me know if you have any Banff related questions or if you found this guide useful in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!

Visiting the Canadian Rockies soon? Check out these posts:

  • Best Restaurants in Banff

Or if you’re just looking for some more Canadian travel inspiration you might enjoy these posts:

  • 25 Awesome things to do in Kelowna
  • Best Wineries in Lake Country
  • 6 of Most Instagrammable places in Kelowna

banff downtown places to visit

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Thursday 25th of February 2021

Amazing! I know nothing about traveling all over the country, what a wonderful looking place to explore.

Mikaela Musa

Thursday 8th of October 2020

Everything looks serene and wonderful!! I’ve been seeing Banff National Park as a great destination in Canada. Hopefully I could travel here and try most of the things on your list!!

Wednesday 7th of October 2020

Wow! That was an extensive list! So much good stuff! We only went for 5 days and 4 nights to Banff last year and didn't make it out to Jasper. So next time we're out that way again, we're going to be for sure doing the Jasper area.

Oh my gosh I LOVE Banff. I’ve only been once and barely scratched the surface. I would love to visit some of these spots you listed. What a stunning place. Thanks for sharing this list!!

This is such a great and comprehensive guide to Banff! I have only been there 3 times despite living in BC my whole life and all just short trips so I can't wait to go back again one day and see everything I've missed :)

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Hi Kelly! I think when we live closer to these places we don't think of making long trips out of visiting them, so we don't get as much done! I lived in Alberta for 15 years and only ever came to this area for a quick weekend (and you definitely can't do a lot in a weekend). I'm lucky I managed to make this long trip work this time - I definitely can recommend trying to visit for longer next time!

best things to do in banff national park canada

25 Best Things to Do in Banff National Park, Canada + MAP

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There are so many things to do in Banff , the oldest national park in Canada, that I can’t wait to come back to it. It’s my favorite place on earth!

We visited Banff National Park during our 15-day Canadian Rockies trip , and fell completely in love with its rugged mountains, its turquoise lakes, and wildlife. This park, covering over 2,500 square miles within the province of Alberta, is full of hiking trails and breathtaking views that you won’t easily forget.

Back in the 1880s, rumors of hot springs in Banff led the Prime Minister to designate about 10 miles of land as the Banff Hot Springs Reserve. Over the years, the Canadian Pacific Railway company took advantage of the potential increase in business by building accommodations in Banff, helping it become one of the most exclusive holiday destinations in Canada.

The best way to  visit this still wild national park is by renting a car in Calgary, which has the closest international airport to Banff. From there, it takes a little over an hour to get to Banff.

If you don’t want to drive, you can also take  this shuttle  from the airport that leaves you in downtown Banff, and use this  hop-on hop-off tourist bus to visit the most popular attractions in Banff National Park.

To help you plan your trip, I’ll share the top 25  activities in Banff, Canada , that you can’t miss. Are you ready to explore the Canadian Rockies?

1. Walk around downtown, a fun thing to do in Banff

Downtown Banff, Canada  is the first place you’ll see when you get to the national park. It’s a small area with a charming atmosphere, and the locals are warm and friendly.

Along with hotels and shops, there are several museums and historical sites. Go to the  Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies  to learn more about the history of the mountains or stop by the  Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum , which focuses on the indigenous First Nations people.

Walk around downtown in Banff, activities in Banff

There are other  cool things to do in Banff , such as visiting  Central Park  along the Bow River. Across the river is the  Banff Indian Trading Post , where you can find unique gifts and indigenous products.

If you’re here during the summer, the  Cascade of Time Garden  is a tranquil place to go in Banff. It’s a small place, but it’s worth seeing, and it can be a romantic place to go as a couple. The garden has beautifully manicured lawns, flower beds, and butterflies that you can watch from a shady bench.

For dinner and drinks, head to  Park Distillery  or  Rose and Crown , the oldest pub in Banff. Then, get a good night’s sleep so you can explore the national park!

2. Ride the Banff Gondola, an exciting thing to do in Banff National Park

Just 5 minutes from downtown Banff, you’ll find the  sightseeing gondola . Riding the gondola is one of the  best things to do in Banff , especially if it’s your first time here.

Banff Gondola, attractions in Banff

The gondola is a can’t miss  attraction in Banff , but you should book a  ticket  in advance. During your ride, you’ll get 360° views of the area. Once you get to the top, spend some time on the observation deck or the Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk. To get the best views, walk an extra half-mile or so along the Parks Canada Vista Trail to Sanson’s Peak Meteorological Observatory.

If you visit between January and April, you can see the Alpenglow Festival, a celebration of the winter sunset on the mountain peaks. This unique  Banff activity  takes place every Friday and Saturday evening during the festival, and it’s a great chance to enjoy rooftop fire pits, stargazing, ice sculptures, and refreshments.

3. Upper Hot Springs, a relaxing attraction to visit in Banff, Canada

While you’re riding the sightseeing gondola, you’ll see the  Upper Hot Springs , one of the top  attractions in Banff . This is the site of the original hot springs that were discovered in 1883.

The Upper Hot Springs is just one of the nine natural thermal baths in Banff. These pools are 5,200 feet above sea level, but the mineral water ranges from 98° to 104° F, so it’s always cozy. Plus, while you soak, you’ll have great views of Mount Rundle, so this is a  must-do in Banff .

Upper Hot Springs, things to do in Banff

There is an admission fee to get in, but the facilities are modern and comfortable, and there’s even a cafe on-site. As we mentioned in our guide to the  best hotels in Banff , the  Fairmont Banff Springs   is a beautiful castle-like accommodation less than 10 minutes from the Upper Hot Springs, and was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway company back in 1888.

Even if you aren’t staying overnight, relaxing in these thermal baths is one of the most enjoyable  things to do in Banff , so consider adding it to your itinerary. Just be aware that the water flow is the lowest in the winter, and may cause the springs to close, so plan accordingly.

4. Lake Minnewanka, a beautiful place to see in Banff

Lake Minnewanka  is a huge glacial lake and a good place to do some  sightseeing in Banff National Park . At 460 feet, it’s the 2nd-longest lake in the Canadian Rockies.

Indigenous people in the area refer to the lake as the “Water of the Spirits,” and there have long been myths of a merman in the lake. If you go to the Banff Indian Trading Post, you can see a skeleton display of the creature.

Visit Lake Minnewanka, things to do Banff, Canada

Since the lake is so large, it offers some of the  best activities in Banff , such as lake cruises, hiking, and biking. We followed the trails to Aylmer Lookout, and took the path past Stewart Canyon. However, be mindful that grizzly bears frequent this area at certain times of the year, and the trails can be closed or otherwise require you to hike in a group.

At the southwestern tip of Lake Minnewanka, it narrows to create the much smaller Two Jack Lake. We stayed at the lakeside campground and had beautiful views of the Milky Way with Mount Rundle in the background. I recommend planning some time to explore this area, as it’s a great  thing to do in Banff in the summer .

5. Cave and Basin National Historic Site, a can’t-miss attraction in Banff

Cave and Basin National Historic Site  is one of the coolest  places to visit in downtown Banff, Canada . It’s a historic site because it’s near the hot springs where the national park was established. Cave and Basin is also the only cavern large enough to accommodate several groups of people.

The site is near the Marsh Loop Trailhead, a beautiful scenic spot. From there, you have to walk through a manmade tunnel to the natural grotto. You’ll pass a restored 1916 swimming pool along the way.

Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Banff National Park things to do

Visiting this area is a good  thing to do in Banff  as a family, and you can go on your own or take a guided tour. As you get closer to the hot springs, you start to smell the minerals and feel the temperature change.

The odor of Sulphur may throw you off, but the place is worth seeing. This is one of the best kid-friendly  activities in Banff , as there are interpretive displays about the geology of the area. It’s also a pretty place to see, and something unique to do in Banff National Park.

6. Vermilion Lakes, the best place to see the sunset in Banff

The  Vermilion Lakes  are one of the best  places to visit in Banff National Park , especially for photographers. The three lakes originate from the Bow River valley, and one of them has a hot spring.

If you travel along the Vermilion Lakes road, you’ll find the Vermilion Lakes Viewpoint. Here, you’ll have stunning photo opportunities of the mountain backdrop and placid waters. It’s a  must-see in Banff  at any time of day.

Vermilion Lakes, attractions in Banff Alberta Canada

That said, I suggest you visit at sunset because the views at this time are incredible. It’s one of the most popular places to photograph in Banff since the colors and ambiance are so magical. If you stay there after the sun goes down, you’ll get another treat, as the area is a beautiful spot for night photography, too. So if you’re into photography, check out our guide to learn how to photograph the Milky Way.

During the day, the Vermilion Lakes provide plenty of recreational opportunities. You can bike or hike, enjoy some canoeing, or look for wildlife. The area has lots of moose and bears, so keep your eyes peeled.

7. Lake Louise, a breathtaking place to visit in Banff National Park, Canada

Lake Louise  is one of the most famous  attractions in Banff,  and while it’s touristy, I recommend checking it out. This glacial lake is known for its striking turquoise color, which you have to see to believe.

Just overlooking the lake and the Victoria glacier, you will find the massive  Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise that was also built by the Canadian Pacific Railway company, in 1890. If you want to stay at this hotel, you will have to book months in advance since it’s one of the best luxury resorts in the national park.

Lake Louise, Banff National Park tourist attractions

The surrounding area is also a gorgeous place to explore, so I suggest spending a day or two here. That said, this area is frequented by grizzly bears, so, before your trip, check out our guide on  how to survive a bear attack , especially if you’re going to do some hikes to more secluded areas.

One of the most popular hikes goes to  Lake Agnes Teahouse , a fun  thing to do in Banff in the summer, which I’ll mention in the next section.

There are other hikes in the Lake Louise area, so I suggest checking out the Lake Louise visitor center, just a couple of miles away, to get a hiking map.

8. Hike to Lake Agnes Teahouse, one of the best things to in Banff

As I mentioned earlier, you can take a hike from Lake Louise to  Lake Agnes . The journey takes about an hour, and on the way, you’ll pass  Mirror Lake , another  attraction in Banff  worth visiting.

During the hike, you’ll come to the Lake Agnes Trail View Point. This scenic spot is well worth the effort and looks like an idyllic postcard. Carry on for a few more minutes, and you’ll arrive at the  Lake Agnes Tea House .

Hike to Lake Agnes Teahouse, Banff activities

8. Hike to Lake Agnes Teahouse, one of the best places to hike in Banff

This little rustic tea house overlooks Lake Agnes and is the  best place in Banff  to refresh and recharge. The tea house is unique in that it has no running water or electricity. The staff sends supplies to the little house via horse or helicopter.

It’s over 100 years old, one of the oldest in Canada, and it has the homiest atmosphere. Inside, there is a stone fireplace, and you can sit outside and peruse the extensive tea menu. The tea house is open from June to Canadian Thanksgiving, and it’s cash-only.

If you’re wondering  what else to do at Banff National Park , take a hike along the  Plain of Six Glaciers  trail. After a little over an hour, you’ll get to another quaint tea house that overlooks the incredible Victoria glacier. It’s a moderate back trail with lovely mountain views along the way.

9. Visit Moraine Lake, the best thing to do in Banff with kids

Lake Moraine  is another  must-see in Banff . This huge glacier-fed lake, a 20-minute drive from Lake Louise, is quite a treat for your eyes.

The lake has an electric blue color and is surrounded by the Valley of Ten Peaks. The scene is a favorite  tourist attraction in Banff, Canada , among photographers. You’ll get the most magnificent views of the area at sunrise when the sun paints the peaks in an orange glow.

Visit Moraine Lake, activities at Banff National Park

You can go canoeing on the lake or explore the nearby hiking trails. Some of the most popular routes are the Rockpile Trail  and  Sentinel Pass , which does a loop through a larch pine forest and passes by the Ten Peaks and Paradise Valley. The  Consolation Lakes Trail  is another easier option that takes about 2 hours roundtrip and gives you nice views of the area.

Hiking around Lake Moraine is a great  thing to do in Banff , but be sure to go in the warmer months, as the area is closed off in the winter. Also, if you plan to stay overnight, the  Moraine Lake Lodge   is one of the nicest accommodations with private balconies overlooking the lake.

10. Go skiing or tubing at a ski resort, a must-do in Banff National Park

A  ski trip  is one of the best  things to do in Banff in winter . Plus, this area has several great options if you want to hit the slopes.

One of the most popular places is the  Lake Louise Ski Resort . The area has been a popular skiing destination for nearly 100 years, and today there are 145 runs, an all-terrain park, and full-service lodges. Plus, the sightseeing gondola is open year-round and offers panoramic views of the surrounding glaciers.

Go skiing or tubing at a ski resort, Banff top things to do

A visit to  Banff Sunshine Village  is another fun  thing to do in Banff for families . It gets the most snow out of all the ski resorts in Banff. You can also visit this resort during the summer and follow the walking trails through alpine meadows.

The last of the three major ski resorts in Banff is  Mount Norquay Ski Resort . It’s a good  place to go in Banff  if you like snowboarding. Along with the snowboard park, there are 60 runs and a sightseeing lift that operates during the summer months.

11. Bow Valley Parkway, a stunning place to go in Banff National Park

The  Bow Valley Parkway  is the old scenic route between Banff and Lake Louise. Most tourists go to Lake Louise using the Trans-Canada Highway because it’s faster, but the Bow Valley Parkway is much more fun.

The route snakes along the Bow River, so follow it to find some picnic areas and access points to several trails and other  stuff to do in Banff .

Bow Valley Parkway, places to see in Banff National Park

It’s also a great spot for wildlife viewing, especially if you stop by the  Hillsdale Meadow Viewpoint , which is gorgeous in the fall and a good place to see elk. We even saw grizzly bears and many deer here. Check out our guide all about  how to spot wildlife in the Canadian Rockies if you want some tips.

If you keep going northwest, you’ll get to Johnston Canyon , another popular area I’ll mention in a bit. Before arriving to Lake Louise, you will also pass through  Castle Cliff Viewpoint and Morant’s Curve , another important landmark in Banff National Park.

12. Johnston Canyon and the Ink Pots, the best hike in Banff National Park

As I mentioned, the Bow Valley Parkway leads to the  Johnston Canyon , an incredible  thing to see in Banff, Canada .

This is a prime hiking area that leads to beautiful waterfalls and hot springs. The Johnston Creek begins in a glacial valley at Castle Mountain and flows through Johnston Canyon. Thousands of years of erosion and water flowing through the limestone has created a gorgeous backdrop of pools, falls, and canyon tunnels.

Johnston Canyon and the Ink Pots, things to do at Banff National Park

Walking through the canyon is one of the  best things to do in Banff  if you want to get to know this area up close. It takes just 10 minutes to walk from the Johnston Canyon Trailhead to the Lower Falls. From there, it’s about a mile to the Upper Falls, which cascade 130 feet into a large pool.

If you’re up for it, you can hike another two miles or so to the  Ink Pots . Not many people make it to this beautiful  attraction in Banff , but it’s worth the extra energy. For me, it’s one of the most stunning views you will find in this national park.

The Ink Pots are six spring-fed pools, each with a pretty blue-green color. They vary from clear to milky and are quite cold, so don’t jump in!

There are other hiking trails in the area, so I recommend checking the hiking map on the official  Parks Canada website .

13. Castle Mountain Viewpoint, another amazing place to go in Banff

One of the most unique  sights in Banff  is  Castle Mountain . It is appropriately named because the mountainous peaks make it look like a castle or fortress. The distinct shape is the result of years of erosive layers of shale, limestone, dolomite, and quartzite.

If you’re looking for one of the best viewpoints to  visit in Banff National Park , head from the Bow Valley Parkway to the Trans-Canada Highway, using the Banff-Windermere Highway.

Castle Mountain Viewpoint, Banff Alberta things to do

After crossing the Bow River, you will find an animal fence at your right that you can open and sneak through. Siting at the Bow Rivershore to enjoy the stunning views of Castle Mountain is one of the most romantic things to do in Banff National Park.

This is a spot that not many tourists know, but if you’re into photography, you should check it out.

14. Photograph Morant’s Curve, another must-see in Banff

Another iconic  attraction in Banff  is  Morant’s Curve . This viewpoint became famous after Nicholas Morant, a photographer for the Canadian Pacific Railway, shared his beautiful panoramas of the mountain scenery and Bow River. To this day, photos of this emblematic place promote tourism to the Canadian Rockies via the train company.

Photograph Morant’s Curve, best places in Banff National Park

Morant’s Curve is a popular place to  visit in Banff National Park  among tourists and landscape photographers. The area looks great at all times of the year, so you can get wonderful views no matter when you go. Sometimes, you can catch a train winding around the curve, creating a picturesque scene that you won’t find anywhere else.

This spot isn’t exactly a designated tourist attraction, so it’s not always easy to find. To get there, follow the Bow Valley Parkway and you should come across Morant’s Curve before you reach the town of Lake Louise. You can also check the map at the end of this guide to help you find it!

15. Bow Lake, a spectacular place to see in Banff National Park

Bow Lake  is not as popular as Moraine Lake or Lake Louise, but it should still be on your  Banff to-do list . You will pass through this gorgeous turquoise lake when driving the Icefields Parkway north, and you can take in some incredible sights during your time here.

A few of the best views include the Crowfoot Glacier, the Crowfoot and Bow Mountains, and Mount Thompson, whose reflection you can see in Bow Lake on a clear day.

Bow Lake, must see places in Banff

One of the best things you can do here is to stay at the  Num-Ti-Jah Lodge , which was built before the Icefields Parkway even existed. This historic lodge is also  one of the best hotels in Banff , but has less than 15 rooms, so you should book in advance if you want to stay here.

From Bow Lake, it takes a few hours to hike to the  Bow Glacier Falls , another must-see  attraction at Banff National Park . Also, if you’re up for it, I recommend visiting the  Wapta Icefield , which is spread out between Banff and Yoho National Parks. The icefield is easy to access both during the summer and winter and includes the Bow Glacier and Peyto Glacier.

16. Peyto Lake, a tranquil place to go in Banff, Canada

Not far from Bow Lake is  Peyto Lake , another beautiful glacier-fed lake I recommend visiting. A hike to this lake is a good  thing to do in Banff in the summer , as the water takes on a bright turquoise color. The iconic shade of blue is a result of glacial rock flour flowing into the lake.

Peyto Lake, relaxing things to do in Banff

Peyto Lake is along the Icefields Parkway. If you park at the Bow Pass and Peyto Lake Viewpoint, it’s about a 20-minute walk to the lake deck, where you will have the most beautiful views of the lake.

This is my favorite lake in the Canadian Rockies, so I consider it a  must-see in Banff National Park . Actually, we visited on three different days in May, so we were able to see the lake melt in the late spring. All the natural elements come together and create a stunning scene, especially when the bright blue lake contrasts with the green alpine forest.

17. Visit Mistaya Canyon, something fun to do in Banff

While you’re traversing the Icefields Parkway, stop by the  Mistaya Canyon . It’s quite easy to access, and it’s another iconic  tourist attraction in Banff .

After turning into the parking area, it’s about a third of a mile to the canyon, and there is a short trail you can follow. This is definitely  something to do in Banff during the summer  because the path is too icy and dangerous in the winter.

Visit Mistaya Canyon, must do things in Banff

Also, I suggest getting to Mistaya early in the morning so you can avoid the crowds that come here in the afternoon. This canyon is beautiful, so it’s one of the many  places to go in Banff  that are worth getting up early for!

When you get near the canyon, you’ll hear the roaring waters as they flow over huge rocks. This foamy water originates from the glacier and has a mesmerizing milky-blue color. Just be careful while you’re here, as it can get quite slippery.

18. Hike around Tunnel Mountain, a free thing to do in Banff

Tunnel Mountain  is unique in that the town of Banff encircles nearly the entire mountain. So, during your stay in  downtown Banff , you’ll get used to seeing Tunnel Mountain.

That said, the beauty and majesty of this mountain never get old. The area offers numerous hiking trails through the wooded landscape. Many visitors take the  Tunnel Mountain Trail , an easy route to the mountain peak.

Hike around Tunnel Mountain, Banff must see

You can also hike the trails encircling Tunnel Mountain. To do so, park at the  Surprise Corner Viewpoint further south, where you will get nice views of the Bow Falls . From there, follow the  Hoodoos Trail , where you will have partial views of the Bow River.

It takes about 3 miles to reach the  Hoodoos Viewpoint , and along the way, you’ll pass the Tunnel Mountain Campground. Then, you can come back to downtown Banff by following the path that continues parallel to the Tunnel Mountain Road.

19. Climb Mount Cory, something interesting to do in Banff

Mount Cory  is another mountain near the Trans-Canada Highway. With its highest elevation at almost 9,200 feet above sea level, it’s one of the  best spots in Banff  that overlooks the Bow River Valley.

beautiful places and things to do in Banff

This area is a prime spot for hikers and mountaineers, and there are some different trails to take around the mountain. They’re quite challenging, but if you’re an experienced hiker, it could be a  cool thing to do in Banff . The Mount Cory back trail is a little over 5.5 miles, while the Edith-Cory Pass circuit hike is almost nine miles long.

Another distinct feature of this mountain is the  “Hole in the Wall” cave . It’s a gaping hole in the western side of the mountain. This is a natural cave, and it’s about 100 feet deep, but not the easiest to get to. However, you can see this Banff attraction  from the Trans-Canada Highway.

20. Go rafting at Kicking Horse River

Taking a journey along the  Kicking Horse River  is one of the best  things to do in Banff with kids . The river runs through the Canadian Rockies and passes through Banff and Yoho National Parks. If you’re in Banff, you can find the river 10 minutes north of Lake Louise Ski Resort.

Go rafting at Kicking Horse River, places to see in Banff

20. Go rafting at Kicking Horse River, the most extraordinary thing to do in Banff

The river gets its name from a Scottish explorer who reportedly got kicked by a packhorse while crossing the river. His name stuck, and while you won’t see any horses along the river, its electric blue waters are worth checking out. Besides, three waterfalls originate from the river, although they are at the Yoho Park.

The river is also a popular spot for white-water rafting , one of the top  activities around Banff  that I recommend. This  3-hour rafting tour  includes a guided rafting ride along class-2 rapids as well as all the rafting gear. It’s an exhilarating experience that will get your adrenaline up!

21. Mount Assiniboine, a fun thing to do in Banff

I’ve shared my  top places to visit in Banff , but I want to add  Mount Assiniboine , which is in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, but borders Kootenay and Banff National Parks.

This mountain is known for its distinct pyramid shape, and it’s also one of the tallest mountains in the Canadian Rockies, hovering over 11,800 feet.

The lakes surrounding Mount Assiniboine set a lovely backdrop for this magnificent summit. Lake Magog, Sunburst Lake, Cerulean Lake, and Og Lake are to the north, while Lake Gloria and Marvel Lake are to the east. There are a few campgrounds around the lakes but the most popular one is the Lake Magog Campground .

Mount Assiniboine, where to go in Banff National Park

No roads lead to this park, so the only way to get to Mount Assiniboine is to hike or take a helicopter ride. The most common hikes are from Sunshine Village Resort in Banff National Park and from the Mount Shark Trailhead. Both hikes are around 18 miles, so it makes it for a great multi-day trip.

If you opt in for the helicopter flight, you will get to  Assiniboine Lodge in just 10 minutes, but it costs around CAD 200$. Flights depart from the Canmore Alpine Heliport, about a 10-minute drive from Banff.

Given the tricky accessibility of this mountain, and the stunning views you get from there (especially from the Niblet point ), I think visiting it is a good  thing to do in Banff in the summer .

22. Drive the Icefields Parkway to Jasper National Park

After doing all the best  activities around Banff , hop on the  Icefields Parkway  (Highway 93) and drive to  Jasper National Park . The scenic Parkway runs for 140 miles, giving you sweeping views of the Canadian Rockies.

Jasper National Park, things to do near Banff

22. Drive the Icefields Parkway to Jasper National Park, the best place to go near Banff

Some of the top stops at the Icefields Parkway are the  Columbia Icefield , the  Athabasca Glacier,  the  Glacier Skywalk , and Athabasca Falls. The glacier forms the  Sunwapta Falls , which many consider the most photogenic falls in the area.

Driving along the Icefields Parkway is an awesome  free thing to do in Banff , but check out our guide on things to do in Jasper National Park if you want to know what else you can do once you get to Jasper.

If you want to spot wildlife, drive from  Medicine Lake  to  Maligne Lake  across  Maligne Road . You’re sure to see different species.

Moreover, check out the Valley of the Five Lakes , a good hiking spot if you want to stretch your legs and see these five green water lakes. I also suggest checking out Pyramid Lake and Island, another scenic area where you can rent a canoe. Also, you can enjoy some relaxation at the Miette Hot Spring , another beautiful spot.

If you’re looking for  things to do near Banff , spending a couple of days in Jasper National Park is the best option!

23. Yoho National Park, another place to visit around Banff

Yoho National Park is just 15 minutes from Lake Louise and offers some of the highest peaks and gorgeous ice fields in the Canadian Rockies, so you should visit it too!

Yoho has some of the best  things to do near Banff , so don’t pass it by. First, check out  Wapta Falls , which originate from the Kicking Horse River. I highly recommend  Takakkaw Falls , which are an astounding 990 feet tall.

Yoho National Park, Banff National Park activities

23. Yoho National Park, another great place to visit around Banff

If you’re not sure  what to do around Banff ,  Emerald Lake  is a must-see. It is the largest of the 61 lakes in Yoho, and this is where we spent a night we’ll never forget. We rented a cabin at the Emerald Lake Lodge and saw the  Northern Lights in Canada for the first time, so for us, it’s the best thing to do in Yoho National Park.

Another incredible lake is  Lake O’Hara , but it’s only accessible by bus or hike, and only during the summer months. This beautiful body of water is a striking sight and a favorite climbing spot for many people. It was inaccessible when we went to the Canadian Rockies in May, but I hope to come back soon.

24. Kootenay National Park, another place to go near Banff

On the other side of the Continental Divide in Banff, you’ll find  Kootenay National Park . A few  Banff attractions  bleed into Kootenay, although Kootenay National Park has plenty of unique sights to see.

The northwestern area of the park is where you’ll find the  Vermilion River  and all kinds of natural wonders. You can hike to  Numa Falls  and continue north for another hour or so to see the ochre-colored  Paint Pots . From there, it’s just 35 minutes to  Marble Canyon , an intriguing natural gorge near Tokumm Creek.

Kootenay National Park, what to do around Banff

I also suggest seeing  Helmet Falls , the 11th-tallest waterfall in the Canadian Rockies at over 1,150 feet. The falls descend over several cliffs and create a striking sight known as  tiered horsetails .

Another fun  thing to do around Banff  is visiting the  Radium Hot Springs  in East Kootenay via the Sinclair Canyon Trail. The hot springs complex has two pools, one at about 100° F and the other at 84° F. As you can guess, the name comes from the radioactive element in the mineral water. The radium levels aren’t harmful to most visitors, and the odorless water is higher in elements like calcium and magnesium.

25. Canadian Rockies helicopter tour, the best thing to do in Banff

Of all the  things to do in Banff, Canada , one of the most unforgettable experiences is a  helicopter ride over the Canadian Rockies . Seeing these majestic mountain cliffs and serene lakes from a birds-eye view is a one-of-a-kind trip you won’t regret.

Canadian Rockies helicopter tour, best spots in Banff

25. Canadian Rockies helicopter tour, the best thing to do in Banff for couples

I recommend  this helicopter tour , which will give you panoramic views of icefields, waterfalls, and lakes. You can choose a 20-minute or half-hour ride, and the excursion includes a 1-hour snowshoeing trek through the alpine forest along the Cline River. The tour provides all the necessary gear as well as complimentary hot chocolate for all your hard work.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, so it’s one of those  Banff activities  that you’ll want to invest in.

Now that you know all the best  things to do in Banff , you can start planning your perfect trip. I’ve included this map of  Banff National Park tourist attractions  to make it easier to organize your itinerary.

I know you’ll love the  attractions in Banff  and the surrounding national parks, but don’t hesitate to ask me your questions. Leave a comment, and I’ll help as much as I can.

Safe travels!

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15 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Banff National Park

Written by Lana Law Updated May 11, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Author Lana Law travels to Banff National Park on a regular basis to hit the slopes in the winter and to hike the high alpine walking trails in the summer .

Banff National Park is one of Canada's great national treasures, attracting millions of visitors every year. Encompassing a portion of the Rocky Mountains, the park is home to beautiful turquoise lakes mirroring the snow-covered peaks, along with glaciers and forests. Since 1985, it has been included in UNESCO's list of protected natural and cultural monuments.

Canoes and paddleboards on Lake Louise

The picturesque little town of Banff is the only township in the park and is the main hub of activity. The Icefields Parkway , which winds for 230 kilometers through the 3,000-meter-high mountains, connects Banff and Jasper National Park to the north.

The main highlights of this impressive journey along the Parkway are the world-famous Lake Louise , the aristocratic-looking Canadian Pacific hotel Château Lake Louise , and the huge Columbia Icefield . You also have a good chance of seeing some of Canada's wildlife. The park is home to a large number of black bears, elk, caribou, wolves, beaver, and grizzly bears.

Get a head start planning which places to visit by reviewing our list of attractions and things to do in Banff National Park.

1. Explore the Town of Banff

2. paddle, hike, or relax at lake louise, 3. drive the icefields parkway, 4. hike the best trails in banff national park, 5. hit the slopes at lake louise ski resort, 6. gaze across moraine lake, 7. ski and board at sunshine village ski resort, 8. make a stop at bow lake, 9. enjoy the view over peyto lake, 10. sightsee along the bow valley parkway, 11. walk through johnston canyon, 12. lake minnewanka, 13. spot wildlife in banff national park, 14. soak in banff upper hot springs, 15. cave and basin national historic site, best time to visit banff national park, map of attractions & things to do in banff national park.

The Town of Banff

Highlights : Historic hotel, scenic main street, Sulphur Mountain Gondola, Bow River Falls

Located in the south end of Banff National Park, this little town, surrounded by mountains, is one of the main tourist destinations in Alberta . It is devoted to the tourism industry with all kinds of accommodation options, interesting shops, and restaurants that range from casual to high-end.

In the summer, the streets are packed with tourists from all over the world who come to see the Canadian Rockies, and in winter, the town maintains its lively atmosphere as skiers descend on Banff to enjoy the nearby slopes.

Banff Springs Hotel

Banff Springs Hotel : One of the main highlights in Banff is the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel . This historic hotel was built in 1888 and is today the emblem of Banff. Once planned to be the largest hotel complex in the world, this traditionally-designed, castle-like grand hotel still preserves much of the glamour of the early days of railway tourism. In those days, only well-to-do travelers could afford to make the journey into the then-still remote region of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

The hotel is set off on its own in a wooded area with lovely views of the surroundings. Below the Banff Springs Hotel, easily reached on foot from downtown Banff, the Bow River tumbles over a cliff-like rise.

Sulphur Mountain

Sulphur Mountain : For fabulous views of the town of Banff and the entire valley, one of the best places to visit in Banff is Sulphur Mountain. Taking a ride on the Sulphur Mountain Gondola is one of the most popular things to do in summer. The parking area is just four kilometers outside Banff.

On a clear day, there is a splendid view from the three terrace decks and the mountain-top restaurant. At the top are a number of walking options, including the Banff Skywalk (Vista Trail), an easy one-kilometer trail that leads to the Cosmic Ray Station National Historic Site of Canada and the Sanson's Peak Meteorological Station.

Canoes on Lake Louise

Highlights : Stunning views, glaciers, easy walks along the shoreline of Lake Louise

The jewel of Banff National Park is Lake Louise with its shimmering turquoise green water and surrounding snow-capped mountains rising up to 3,000 meters high. Although the water is too cold for swimming, it is ideal for canoeing. At the western end of Lake Louise, Mount Victoria (3,469 meters), rises in majestic splendor.

A breathtaking view can be had from the famous Fairmont Château Lake Louise or the shoreline in front of the hotel. This is one of the top resorts in Alberta. Even if you don't stay here, it's one of the best places for a meal. From the resort, a paved trail runs along the water's edge with beautiful views of the lake, mountains, glaciers, and the Château.

If you are staying in Banff and looking for an easy way to see some of the beautiful surrounding lakes, including Lake Louise a great option is the Lake Louise and Moraine Lake Tour . This four-hour-and-15-minute, small group guided tour takes you to all the major highlights of both areas. It also allows you to avoid all the hassles of trying to find parking and booking shuttle buses.

A very important note about parking: If the parking lots fill up, the park service closes the road, and you will be forced to use the buses. Only limited parking is available at Lake Louise and the park has recently instituted shuttle buses to alleviate congestion. These buses leave from the Lake Louise Park and Ride center, located off the Trans Canada Highway six kilometers from the Lake Louise town site, and depart every 15 minutes from 8am to 6:30pm. Reservations are required and can be booked starting April 1st of each year.

Your ticket to Lake Louise also includes a ride on the connector shuttle to Moraine Lake.

Château Lake Louise

Château Lake Louise: This iconic hotel is part of the scene at Lake Louise and a nice place to have lunch overlooking the lake. In 1890, the Canadian Pacific Railway built the first Château Lake Louise on the moraine at the end of the lake. Easily accessible by rail, Lake Louise and the surrounding countryside soon developed into a tourist center. From here, expeditions started out to explore the rocky region on horseback. Mountaineers from England and the United States scaled the as-yet-unknown peaks.

The present-day Fairmont Château Lake Louise was built in 1924 after a fire destroyed its smaller wooden predecessor. In the early days, horse-driven coaches — later to be superseded by trams — transported guests from the rail station down in the valley to the hotel six kilometers away.

In the 1920s, a road was built from Banff to Lake Louise. In the Bow River Valley, the holiday village of Lake Louise developed with nearly 400 permanent inhabitants.

Hiking trail and Lake Agnes above Lake Louise

Hikes at Lake Louise: Well-known from many pictures and postcards, Lake Louise is a starting point for some rewarding hiking trails , the best of which is perhaps to the Plain of Six Glaciers .

Another very popular walk leads to Lake Agnes (difference in altitude 365 meters), which lies in a picturesque location between the two round hills known as the Beehives. The strenuous climb to the top of one of the Beehives is rewarded by a superb view over the entire area. In summer, the Lake Agnes Teahouse supplies food and drinks for hikers.

Glaciers along the Icefields Parkway

Highlights : Glaciers, turquoise-colored lakes, fantastic hiking trails, and abundant wildlife

The Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) is one of the most scenic highways in Canada. It crosses the northern part of Banff National Park and the southern part of Jasper National Park and forms a link between Trans-Canada Highway 1 and Yellowhead Highway 16. Unlike the busy Trans-Canada Highway, the Icefields Parkway is purely and simply a sightseeing route through magnificent high mountain scenery.

From Lake Louise to Jasper , the road follows a narrow valley running north-south for 230 kilometers between the glaciated peaks of the main range of the Rocky Mountains. Frequent overlooks with parking places provide opportunities to enjoy the breathtaking views, and interpretive plaques fill in the background on the landscape and local history.

Bow Lake along the Icefields Parkway

One of the major highlights along the Icefields Parkway is the Columbia Icefield . It's at this point where the Athabasca Glacier extends down from the heights above allowing for you to walk right up to the toe.

Bighorn sheep and mountain goats - at the roadside or on the mountain tops - romantic waterfalls, the shimmering turquoise waters of mountain lakes, looming icefields, and snow-clad mountain peaks all make for a journey of infinite variety.

You can drive your own vehicle or, if you'd rather have someone else do all the driving and provide insight as to the surroundings, consider taking the Athabasca Glacier Snow Trip from Banff . This tour covers the major highlights along the way and includes a trip out onto the surface of the glacier on an Ice Explorer tour, and the Glacier Skywalk.

The Big Beehive Trail above Lake Louise

Highlights : A mix of easy and challenging hikes to wonderful overlooks, waterfalls, and lakes

Hiking in Banff National Park allows you to get to some of the most spectacular locations in the park. Count on seeing one or all of the following on your hike: turquoise lakes, soaring mountain peaks, massive glaciers, wildlife, tumbling waterfalls, and deep valleys with rushing rivers.

Some of the most popular hikes in Banff National Park are Lake Agnes , the Big Beehive Trail , and Plain of Six Glaciers , all found in the Lake Louise area. Along the Icefields Parkway are Wilcox Pass and Parker Ridge , both of which offer beautiful glacier views. If you're up for a longer hike you want to consider Bow Falls or Sentinel Pass .

You can choose your own trail, or take a tour such as the classic hike from Banff trip. A knowledgeable guide will take you on one of four legendary hikes in the area and provide insight into the history, flora, and fauna that you'll see. Hotel pickup and drop off are included, as is a packed lunch.

Lake Louise Ski Resort

Highlights : Great skiing with long groomed runs, a sightseeing gondola in the summer

Lake Louise Ski Resort is the most well-known ski resort in Alberta, and also one of the best ski resorts in Canada . It offers skiing for all levels of ability with terrain that includes open bowls, groomed runs, and tree skiing. The runs on the mountainside are visible from the lake and Chateau Lake Louise.

Lake Louise Ski Resort has recently added a new chairlift, the Summit Quad, which makes accessing over 480 acres of new terrain easy. Skiers will rejoice at all this new terrain, which was formerly only accessible via an old (and brutal-to-ride) Poma lift.

Lake Louise Ski Resort

During the summer months, the Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola offers an easy way to get up into the alpine landscape. The gondola ascends to 2,088 meters, where there are opportunities to tackle some day hikes or short walks, or simply enjoy a meal.

The Whitehorn Bistro, at more than 2,000 meters, is open for lunch and breakfast at the top of the Sightseeing Lift. This restaurant has both indoor and outdoor dining and great views over the surrounding forest and beyond, the turquoise waters of Lake Louise.

Moraine Lake

Highlights : A stunning alpine lake ringed by towering peaks, great hikes nearby

Pictured on the reverse of the old Canadian twenty-dollar bill, Moraine Lake in the Valley of the Ten Peaks is arguably as impressive as Lake Louise, but attracts fewer visitors. The picturesque turquoise-colored water is surrounded by ten peaks, each more than 3,000 meters high, and the Wenkchemna Glacier. The lake is located beyond Lake Louise, and the 13-kilometer road leading from Lake Louise up to Moraine Lake reveals one great view after another.

From near the parking area, a 1.5-kilometer-long walking trail runs along the northwest shore. This is a flat and easy walk. The most scenic walk involves a short climb up the Rockpile Trail to the best view of the lake, and the view most often seen on posters and postcards. This takes only about 20 minutes, but most people linger at the viewpoint. A popular, although strenuous, day hike leads from the lake to Sentinel Pass , one of the highest mountain passes in Banff National Park.

Accommodation, dining, and canoe rentals are available at the quaint Moraine Lake Lodge along the lakeshore.

The road to Moraine Lake is now closed to private vehicles. The only access is via shuttle bus from the Lake Louise Park and Ride Center, located off the Trans Canada Highway six kilometers from Lake Louise. Reservations for the shuttle bus are required and can be booked starting April 1st of each year.

Your ticket to Moraine Lake also includes a ride on the connector shuttle to Lake Louise.

Sunshine Village Ski Resort

Highlights : The best snow in the park, wide open skiing, high-altitude summer hiking trails

Sunshine Village Ski Resort is just a short drive outside the town of Banff and is one of the top two ski resorts in Alberta, along with Lake Louise. The resort offers a variety of terrain and runs for beginners to advanced skiers.

Sunshine Village now runs its gondola in the summertime. Gone are long rides in old-school buses via the twisty, dusty access road. Now, you can easily step onto the gondola and gaze out at the scenery as you're whisked to the top.

From the base area, multiple hikes fan out to spectacular viewpoints. Highlights of these hikes are wide-open meadows filled with spring and summer flowers, wildlife encounters, and some of the best views in the park. A less taxing alternative is to ride to the very top of the Continental Divide on the Standish Express high-speed quad chairlift.

Getting to Sunshine is easy. Either drive to the parking area on your own or catch a free shuttle from the Banff town site.

Bow Lake

Highlights : A huge aquamarine glacier-fed lake perfect for photography and swimming, if you dare

Bow Lake, 34 kilometers north of Lake Louise, lies below the Crowfoot Glacier (shaped like a crow's foot and clearly visible from the road) and Bow Glacier. The lake's still and clear waters mirror the towering, snow-covered peaks of the continental divide.

These glaciers form part of the great Waputik Icefield . There are lovely walks along the lake to a waterfall at the foot of the Bow Glacier (half a day) or to Helen Lake and Catherine Lake at the Dolomite Pass to the east (whole day).

Peyto Lake

Highlight : Easily accessible viewpoint over an impressively blue lake framed by mountains and forests

At 2,068 meters, Bow Pass is the highest pass in Banff National Park and the watershed between the river systems of the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers. A short branch road leads to the magnificent Peyto Lake viewpoint, and another superb lookout point can be reached on foot about a kilometer from the parking area.

Peyto Lake is the unique turquoise color of many of the glacier-fed lakes in this area, and is especially lovely in mid to late summer, when Bow Summit's mountain meadows are carpeted with wildflowers.

A long, steep path from Bow Pass leads down for 2.5 kilometers to Peyto Lake, named after the mountain guide Bill Peyto, who began exploring the area in 1894 and took pack horses of supplies north over Bow Summit.

Castle Mountain

Highlights : Frequent animal sightings, Johnston Canyon, views to Castle Mountain

The 48-kilometer-long Bow Valley Parkway, which runs between Banff and Lake Louise , offers an alternative route to the busy Trans-Canada Highway. This route has numerous viewpoints as well as camping and picnic sites. Towering above it all is Castle Mountain , whose Eisenhower Peak is 2,728 meters high.

The Bow Valley Parkway also offers a great chance to see some of the park's wildlife. One of the most popular stops along the parkway is Johnston Canyon . When planning your trip, note that the Bow Valley Parkway is closed from March 1st to June 25th from 8pm to 8am. The route has a posted speed limit of 60 kilometers an hour, and this is strictly enforced.

Johnston Canyon

Highlights : An easy hiking trail, two waterfalls, and the blue-green Ink Pot springs

About 26 kilometers along the Bow Valley Parkway is the entrance to Johnston Canyon with its two waterfalls. A trail leads through the canyon, with bridges along the steep cliff walls. The path continues for six kilometers on the far side of the canyon, leading up to the Ink Pots , a group of springs. Two of these are particularly striking because of the bluish-green color of the water.

Most visitors just stick to the lower level, while those with more time and energy take on the more strenuous walk to the Ink Pots. Johnston Canyon is an impressive site in both summer and winter, although it sees very few visitors outside of the summer season.

Lake Minnewanka in summer

Highlights : Boat tours, pleasant hikes, challenging mountain biking, and a good place to spot wildlife

Lake Minnewanka, 11 kilometers northeast of Banff, is the largest lake within the national park and a scenic spot often frequented by bighorn sheep. A popular walking trail leads along the shore and up into the surrounding mountainside.

Lake Minnewanka is the only lake in the park on which motorboats are allowed. In summer, boat tours are offered.

Lake Minnewanka

It is also worthwhile going on to Two Jack Lake — where canoes can be rented — and Johnson Lake .

Lake Minnewanka is also a fantastic place for mountain biking. The trail running along the shoreline has heart-pumping ascents and technical sections, but the scenery makes the effort extended seem inconsequential.

Moose in Banff National Park

Highlights : Grizzly bears, black bears, big horn sheep, pikas, marmots, deer, and elk

Wildlife is one of the great tourist attractions of Banff National Park. More than fifty species of mammals are found in the national parks of this region.

Large animals are most likely to be spotted in the early morning and the evening. Some of the most commonly seen animals in the park are elk, bighorn sheep, moose, deer, woodland caribou, mountain goats, and black bears.

The park is also home to grizzly bears . Hiking trails are sometimes closed due to grizzlies in the area. Normally, they do not come near roads and towns. When walking in the "backcountry," it is wise to keep an eye open for them, as well as black bears.

The latter prefer wooded areas and thick undergrowth on the flat valley floors and sunny south-facing slopes, while grizzlies keep to the alpine regions in summer but seek food lower down in spring and autumn.

Grizzly bear in Banff National Park

While it's rare, grizzlies have been known to come right down to Moraine Lake, on one of the busiest walking paths in the middle of the day, with large groups of people around. These animals have poor sight but can smell or hear approaching humans long before they see them. Bears can be surprisingly quick, so hikers should never approach one.

Bighorn sheep in Banff National Park

A great way to increase your chances of seeing some of these marvelous animals is on a Wildlife Tour , available during the summer months. This half-day tour is led by a professional guide and takes you to some of the best wildlife viewing areas around Banff.

Another option is to take an Evening Wildlife Safari. This tour leaves at dusk each evening, when the wildlife comes out to feed prior to dark. The tour claims a 95 percent success rate in spotting wildlife, which includes bighorn sheep, bears, deer, and elk.

Banff Upper Hot Springs

Highlights : Historic springs from the turn of the 20th century, fantastic views

Banff has long been known for its fantastic hot springs. Located just a short distance from downtown, the springs have been soothing visitors since 1893.

The water you'll enjoy is hundreds of years old and comes up from a source three kilometers underground. The view from the hot springs pools across to Rundle Mountain is spectacular.

The hot springs are open early and stay open late; bring your swimsuit and towel. If you don't have your own, rentals are available on-site for a nominal fee.

Cave and Basin National Historic Site

Highlights : Informative and interactive displays, hikes, and a 4-D movie

Cave and Basin National Historic Site is the birthplace of Banff National Park. It was here that the national park system was created to protect Canada's special places.

A self-guided trail leads past the original 1914 bathing structure and the site of the former hotel. Included with the admission is a 4D movie showcasing Banff and other national parks.

Cave and Basin Natural Historic Site has several delightful hikes. The 2.8-kilometer Marsh Trail showcases exotic flowers, while the Sundance Trail/Sundance Canyon Trail provides wonderful views across the Bow River valley.

The best time to visit Banff National Park is in the summer months of July and August. The weather is at its warmest, with daytime temperatures comfortable in the low 20s Celsius. Nights are generally cool to cold, even in the peak of summer, owing to the mountain environment and the elevation of the park.

That said, if you can time it, the ultimate time to visit the park is during the three weeks running from mid-July to the first week of August. At this time all the high-elevation hikes will be accessible, the lakes will be at their most colorful, and all the alpine wildflowers will be in full bloom.

September is also a good time to visit — the crowds will have dispersed, and you'll get sunny skies along with color changes on the deciduous and tamarack trees. June has the longest days, but the weather is very changeable and some lakes may still be frozen.

Give the months of October, November, April, and May a pass. All the trails are closed or very muddy and the weather is cold and wet.

The winter months of December, January, February, and March are good options if you want to go downhill skiing. However, try and time your ski trip for March — January and early February can be bone-numbingly cold with short days.

Banff National Park - Floor plan map

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Banff Bucket List: 15 Epic Things to Do in Banff, Alberta

Explore a plethora of activities in Banff, Canada, with my comprehensive list of things to do in Banff. From hiking trails to the renowned Lake Louise and Lake Moraine, discover the best attractions to enhance your visit to this captivating destination.

Nestled within Banff National Park, the town of Banff stands as a priceless gem, not only in Canada but across North America. The majestic Canadian Rockies dominate the horizon, creating a breathtaking panorama that inspires all to venture outdoors.

With Cascade Mountain and Mount Rundle framing the town, complemented by charming timber storefronts, Banff exudes the essence of a fairy tale setting. Tourists flock from the United States and Canada each year to immerse themselves in the natural splendor and diverse array of activities that Banff offers.

Situated within Banff National Park, Banff boasts extraordinary landscapes. The iconic Lake Louise, exceptional ski resorts, and a wealth of activities have solidified Banff as one of Canada’s premier adventure destinations. In this post, learn about the best things to do in Banff, Alberta.

How to Get to Banff

Traveling to Banff from Calgary offers several transportation options, all originating from the closest city to the park.

The most convenient airport to access Banff is Calgary International Airport, situated 144 km (89 miles) away. Offering domestic and international flights, it serves as a gateway to the region.

To reach Banff effortlessly, hop on a shuttle bus from the airport to the town. This mode of transport is ideal if you do not have your vehicle and are arriving in Calgary.

Key shuttle service providers include Banff Airporter, Brewster Express, Discover Banff Tours, and Mountain Park Transportation.

For a more budget-friendly option, consider taking a bus to Banff instead of a shuttle.

While it requires reaching Calgary city center first, it’s a cost-effective alternative. Two primary operators offer services on the Calgary-Banff route:

  • On-It Regional Transit (operating in the summer only);
  • The Banff Express.

On-It Regional Transit departs from downtown Calgary, while The Banff Express is accessible from Eau Claire Market and other select locations.

Traveling by bus presents an economical way to reach Banff while experiencing the scenic journey from Calgary.

While train services to Banff are limited, the Rocky Mountaineer includes Banff on some of its routes.

It’s important to note that these trains operate only between April and October, so plan accordingly if you opt for this mode of transport.

A popular way to reach Banff is by renting a car from the airport or Calgary city center.

Numerous rental companies are available at the airport, but it’s advisable to check Rentalcars.com for competitive pricing. The journey typically takes about 90 minutes along the scenic TransCanada Highway.

Getting around Banff

For navigating Banff, consider renting a car or a small campervan. While public transport links are decent, having a vehicle offers unparalleled flexibility, especially for exploring sites outside the town center.

Although wild camping isn’t permitted in Banff National Park, there are various campgrounds in the vicinity. Opting for a campervan can significantly reduce accommodation expenses. However, be cautious of parking availability and associated fees at certain locations.

For car rentals, Rentalcars.com is recommended, while Motorhome Republic is an excellent choice for campervan rentals. Explore fantastic RV rental options in Calgary and Edmonton, the nearest cities to Banff, through Motorhome Republic’s website.

The Best Things to Do in Banff, Alberta

There is no shortage of things to do in Banff due to its accommodating natural landscapes, catering to a wide range of interests such as hiking, canoeing, skiing, and more.

While the town of Banff is relatively small and can be easily explored in a couple of days, the surrounding region, particularly Banff National Park, teems with vibrancy and natural beauty.

Within Banff National Park lie world-renowned sights like the stunning Lake Louise and the majestic peaks of the Canadian Rockies.

My curated list of the top things to do in Banff is designed to kickstart your exploration of this marvelous region, ensuring you make the most of your visit.

1. Catch a Gondola Ride to the Top of Sulphur Mountain

The Rocky Mountains in this region boast a uniquely captivating and picturesque beauty, best admired from the elevated vantage points of the mountains.

Epic Things to Do in Banff, Alberta

The journey up Sulphur Mountain via the gondola not only leads to the summit but also provides unparalleled perspectives of Banff and the surrounding Canadian Rockies.

At the mountain’s 7,500-foot peak, visitors can explore interactive exhibits, a gift shop, dining options, and a 360-degree observation deck overlooking Banff and the Bow River Valley below.

Traversing the well-constructed boardwalk toward Sulphur Mountain’s summit, hikers are treated to spectacular views of the Bow Valley and the Canadian Rockies, especially on clear days.

While the gondola ride to the top comes at a cost (CA$62 for adults 16 and up), it remains one of the top things to do in Banff for its undeniable allure.

Alternatively, those seeking a more budget-friendly option can hike to the summit, requiring approximately 2 hours for those with a moderate level of fitness.

Additionally, the Bow Valley stands out as a prime location for horseback riding in Banff National Park, with tourism offices in Banff town offering tours and further information on this exciting activity.

2. Catch the Sunrise at Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake is one of Canada’s most iconic and photographed locations.

Moraine Lake’s fame is so enduring that it was even featured on the old twenty dollar bill, drawing a multitude of visitors to witness the Valley of Ten Peaks.

After marveling at the sunrise spectacle, set out to explore the area further! Numerous fantastic hikes await, each offering awe-inspiring views of the lake and its surrounding majestic peaks.

Cool Things to Do in Banff

Among the trails, the Rockpile Trail stands out as the ultimate choice, providing panoramic vistas from its summit. This 3km (1.9 miles) round trip hike is relatively easy, making it accessible to hikers of varying fitness levels.

These trails cater to hikers of all levels, ensuring a seamless exploration of the surrounding terrain.

Among the trail options, the straightforward Lakeshore Path provides a gentle 45-minute round trip hike, while the more popular Consolation Lakes trails, lasting approximately 2 hours, offer a more immersive experience.

Regardless of the chosen trail, adventurers are treated to the splendid alpine vistas of the Canadian Rockies, guided by well-marked paths.

3. Soak in the Banff Upper Hot Springs

Indulge in a rejuvenating experience by soaking in the Banff Upper Hot Springs, an essential activity for those seeking relaxation.

These natural hot springs possess distinct qualities that elevate them to one of the best things to do in Banff today, welcoming visitors throughout the year.

Resembling public swimming pools, the hot springs are thoughtfully equipped with modern amenities like railings, ladders, lockers, and a quaint café. However, their standout feature lies in being fed by natural hot springs, offering a truly soothing experience.

Enhanced by the breathtaking surrounding scenery, these hot springs offer visitors a unique geothermal heating experience with water temperatures that fluctuate depending on the season. Throughout winter, temperatures can spike to 116°F (47°C), while in spring, they can dip to a refreshing 81°F (27°C).

Another notable attraction is the Cave and Basin National Historic Site, an integral part of Banff’s rich history. Evidence suggests human presence in the area for over 10,000 years, highlighting the deep-rooted significance of this land.

4. Marvel at Downtown Banff From Above at Mount Norquay

For those seeking the best things to do in Banff, a trip to Mount Norquay is a must.

Via Ferrata, meaning ‘Iron Road,’ presents an assisted climbing adventure along the cliffside. Navigate the mountainside, cross ladders, and traverse suspension bridges for an adrenaline-pumping experience tailored for daredevils.

For a more tranquil escape, consider wildlife spotting or indulging in a meal at the Cliffhouse Bistro. Whether you’re seeking exhilarating heights or serene moments, Mount Norquay offers a thrilling and unforgettable adventure amidst the stunning backdrop of Banff’s natural beauty.

5. Drive the Icefields Parkway

Driving along the renowned Icefields Parkway is undoubtedly one of the top things to do in Banff!

Spanning 230km from the outskirts of the Lake Louise area to Jasper, the Icefields Parkway winds through some of the most breathtaking mountain landscapes in Canada.

Beginning from the south, the journey traverses Banff National Park, offering stunning vistas of picturesque landscapes, including the mesmerizing Peyto Lake, a must-see stop on the route.

As you progress, Jasper National Park unfolds, revealing incredible sights like the majestic Columbia Icefield, the Athabasca Glacier, the awe-inspiring Athabasca Falls, and the captivating Sunwapta Falls.

Free Things to Do in Banff

Driving along the Icefields Parkway is a truly mind-blowing experience, achievable either with a rental car (preferred) or by joining a tour from Banff. Despite its length, the journey can easily consume around 5 hours or more, factoring in stops at key highlights and optional hikes.

To optimize your time, consider booking a one-way sightseeing tour of the Icefields Parkway. It starts from Banff National Park, guiding you through the main attractions en route, and concluding near Jasper National Park. Immerse yourself in the unparalleled beauty of the Canadian Rockies on this unforgettable road trip adventure.

6. Tea House Hikes

A visit to this true treasure of the region is without a doubt one of the best things to do in Banff and Lake Louise.

Situated an hour east of town within Banff National Park, Lake Louise captivates with its mesmerizing beauty, encompassed by scenery unparalleled by most places in the world.

This turquoise gem, offers a breathtaking setting ideal for canoeing, with the striking presence of Mount Victoria to the west adding to the allure.

Exploring Lake Louise presents an array of activities, including invigorating hikes and visits to nearby teahouses.

A notable excursion leads to Lake Agnes, a popular and relatively easy trek rewarding hikers with alpine vistas and a chance to savor coffee along the trail.

For those with ample time to spare, the journey to the teahouse at the conclusion of the Plain of the Six Glaciers trail from Lake Louise promises an unforgettable experience, albeit a lengthier one lasting up to 7 hours, with views that are simply awe-inspiring.

Mountain biking trails encompassing Lake Louise offer additional opportunities for adventure during your Banff visit.

With an abundance of attractions to explore, dedicating a couple of days to unraveling the enchanting surroundings of Lake Louise is well worth it.

7. Hike to the Toe of the Athabasca Glacier

The Athabasca Glacier, the popular glacier in North America , forms a part of the grand Columbia Icefield, the largest ice expanse in the Canadian Rockies.

Situated approximately halfway along the Icefields Parkway, this impressive glacier offers various exploration options.

The favored choice is a tour aboard the Ice Explorer, a specialized expedition bus that ventures directly onto the glacier.

This tour, lasting just over an hour, provides a fantastic way to encounter the glacier, especially ideal for those with time constraints or limited mobility.

For an even more exhilarating experience, consider hiking on the glacier itself!

Lasting 3 hours, with morning and afternoon start times, this adventure requires a standard level of fitness. Undoubtedly, one of the best things to do in Banff during summer!

8. Pay Sunshine Village a Visit

No matter the time of year, Sunshine Village offers a plethora of exciting activities.

Situated just a 30-minute drive from Banff, Sunshine Village primarily operates as a renowned ski resort. It often kickstarts the winter season in Canada and remains operational until May. Sunshine Village boasts an impressive 3000 skiable acres and 12 chair lifts, catering to skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels.

Families can enjoy a memorable experience, thanks to the exceptional ski school. While the destination may not be the most budget-friendly, indulging in a full day of skiing followed by evenings spent in the lodge with a warm drink elevates the charm of Sunshine Village, making it another great thing to do in Banff.

Once the ski season concludes and summer arrives in June, Sunshine Village unveils its stunning hiking trails as the snow melts away.

The Sunshine Meadows spring to life, offering some of the finest hiking trails in the broader region, along with excellent mountain biking trails.

Exploring these trails comes at no cost, if you’re looking for free things to do in Banff, don’t miss out on those.

Trails allow visitors to immerse themselves in the breathtaking scenery, making Sunshine Meadows a must-visit destination in Banff for outdoor enthusiasts.

9. Explore the Cave and Basin National Historic Site

A truly distinctive gem in Banff, and the best part? Entry is complimentary with your Parks Canada pass.

Epic Things to Do in Banff

Once a popular swimming pool destination, the waters were deemed unsuitable for swimming, resulting in the pool’s closure. However, the site’s historical significance traces back to its discovery and its enduring importance to Indigenous Peoples spanning over ten millennia. The cavern’s striking beauty solidifies its status as a fun thing to do in Banff national park.

Operating daily from 9:30 am to 5 pm, the site offers ample on-site parking for visitors to explore and delve into the rich history encapsulated within its grounds.

10. Chase the Northern Lights in Banff’s Night Sky

Banff boasts exceptionally clear skies owing to minimal light pollution, rendering it one of the prime and most accessible locations to witness the Milky Way in the Canadian Rockies.

Remarkably, you won’t need to venture far to enjoy this celestial marvel. Just a brief 10-minute drive from Banff lies Two Jack Lake, offering an awe-inspiring view of the Milky Way throughout the day and night.

To catch a glimpse of this stunning sight, ensure the night is clear by checking the weather forecast or simply peering out from your hotel window.

Moreover, when conditions align, Banff showcases spectacular displays of the Northern Lights. For a chance to witness the Aurora Borealis, position yourself with an unobstructed northern view under cloudless skies.

While these displays are infrequent and never assured, you can monitor the forecast using tools like Aurora Watch to determine the likelihood of experiencing this breathtaking phenomenon.

11. Photograph Wildlife in Banff National Park

Beyond the bustling crowds of tourists, Banff is renowned for its diverse wildlife population.

Encountering these creatures, large and small, often becomes a highlight of visitors’ experiences in town, and the sightings are surprisingly common.

Strolling through the village, it’s not uncommon to spot deer leisurely meandering, while occasional appearances by elk and caribou add to the wildlife charm of Banff.

Among the more elusive inhabitants are grizzly bears, wolves, and cougars, sighting which can be a rare privilege.

It’s crucial to remember that these animals are wild and potentially dangerous. Should you encounter one in the wild, maintaining a safe distance is paramount. Refrain from approaching them or exiting your vehicle if you spot them while driving.

Respecting their space typically ensures they remain undisturbed, allowing for safe observation from afar for an extended period.

For nature enthusiasts seeking a more guided experience, considering a wildlife safari tour during your Banff visit is a valuable option. Accompanied by a knowledgeable guide, your chances of encountering various animals are significantly enhanced, enriching your wildlife exploration in the Banff region.

12. Explore the Falls at Johnston Canyon

Situated along the scenic Bow Valley Parkway, Johnston Canyon stands out as one of the region’s most breathtaking natural marvels. Awe-inspiring Johnston Canyon awaits just a short 30-minute drive from downtown Banff and it is one of the top things to do in Banff and Jasper.

To fully immerse yourself in the splendor of Johnston Canyon, embark on a hike to the Lower Falls, continuing onward to the Upper Falls.

Things to Do in Banff in September

Navigating between well-maintained trails and a wooden boardwalk, this hike caters to individuals of all ages and abilities. Despite the bustling crowds, don’t be deterred; the canyon’s splendor makes the experience truly worthwhile.

During the winter season, a visit to Johnston Canyon unveils a magical spectacle draped in fresh snow and ice, transforming the landscape into a winter wonderland.

Equipping ice cleats and embarking on an evening icy hike in Johnston Canyon presents an extraordinary activity, offering a glimpse of one of the most captivating winter scenes in Banff.

The frozen waterfalls exude a mystical charm, evoking a sense of enchantment straight out of a fairy tale.

13. Swim or scuba dive at Lake Minnewanka

It’s challenging to compile a list of top romantic things to do in Banff, Alberta without highlighting Lake Minnewanka. This 21km-long marvel situated a mere 5 km (3.1 miles) from Banff’s town center.

This destination beckons visitors to immerse themselves in its vast expanse, offering opportunities for endless exploration. Adventure enthusiasts will discover respite through kayak and canoe rentals at the main pier or by embarking on a selection of picturesque hikes in the vicinity.

For those seeking a more laid-back experience with loved ones, Lake Minnewanka provides an ideal setting for picnics or leisurely boat cruises. Basking in the Banff sunshine along the lakeshore imparts a sense of tranquility like no other.

14. Go on a Picnic at Vermillion Lakes

This expansive wetland area affords breathtaking views of Sulphur Mountain and Mount Rundle, which transforms magnificently as the sun descends.

Embraced by both tourists and locals, Vermilion Lakes serves as an ideal location to savor the moment with a refreshing beverage in hand.

Exploring the surrounding landscapes, I highly recommend hiking the Fenland Trail, a 2km (1.2 miles) loop guiding you through adjacent marshlands. Keep your eyes peeled for elk, beavers, moose, and the occasional bear along the way.

For those seeking free thing to do in Banff, consider packing a picnic and heading to Vermilion Lakes. Indulge in your favorite treats against a backdrop of awe-inspiring views, with the added allure of witnessing a captivating sunset.

During the winter season, a trip to this lake may reward you with a glimpse of the enchanting aurora borealis and the mesmerizing bubble layers within the frozen ice, adding an extra touch of magic.

15. Hike To The Summit Of Cascade Mountain

The majestic Cascade Mountain watches over the town of Banff like a protective sentinel, captivating visitors with its awe-inspiring presence over the years.

It’s nearly impossible not to pause and capture numerous photos of this mountain from various vantage points around town. For those seeking an adventurous challenge, ascending to its summit is a thrilling option.

Things to Do in Banff in Summer

While mountaineering expertise isn’t necessary, the trail involves some scrambling sections and can be precarious at times.

Embarking on this journey commences at the ski lodge on Mount Norquay. Begin early in the day, allocating ample time for the ascent and descent to ensure a safe hiking experience.

It’s crucial to avoid attempting this hike in wet or snowy conditions and to keep a close eye on the weather forecast before and during the climb for safety precautions.

Banff travel tips & FAQ

When is the best time to visit banff.

While Banff welcomes visitors year-round, the optimal time to explore this enchanting destination typically spans from June to August.

During this time, the weather is most favorable, characterized by clear skies, making it an ideal time to visit for outdoor adventures and wildlife sightings.

There are also plenty of things to do in Banff National Park in winter. For those keen on skiing in Banff, the winter season becomes the prime time to plan a visit to partake in this popular activity.

How Long Should you Spend in Banff?

Banff boasts an array of breathtaking destinations that could easily occupy a full week of exploration.

However, recognizing time constraints, I suggest allocating a minimum of 4-5 days for your visit to fully appreciate the most renowned sites, indulge in wildlife observation, and avoid feeling rushed.

While some opt for a 3-day stay in Banff, I would consider this the absolute minimum to truly savor what this remarkable region has to offer.

What is a Good Budget for Banff?

Visiting Banff can undoubtedly be costly, especially during the peak season, given the plethora of exciting activities, enticing tours, and relatively expensive accommodations.

For those aiming to indulge in a full range of experiences and enjoy a comfortable hotel stay, budgeting around CA$160 per day might be necessary.

However, it’s feasible to spend less, as I managed to keep expenses closer to CA$100 by saving on transportation, dining expenses, and opting for the more budget-friendly local campsite for accommodation. This allowed me to relish dining out and exploring the charming local shops in Banff without breaking the bank.  

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14 Incredible Things To Do In Banff, Canada

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Banff Avenue, Banff Canada

For a small town, there sure are a lot of things to do in Banff. As one of my favorite towns in Canada, Banff is probably the most well known place in the Canadian Rockies.

This picturesque little mountain town is nestled between some of the largest and jaw-droppingly awesome mountains and lakes Canada has to offer. But there’s a lot more to it than that.

Banff is especially popular because it’s such a short drive from nearby big city Calgary . It’s about 2 hours whether you take a bus transfer from Calgary downtown (or airport) or if you have access to a car.

There is so much to do in the entire National Park. But for those without access to a car you can still see mountains, do scenic hikes and visit lakes, all without leaving Banff .

So what are some of the top things to do in Banff ? If you’re staying for a day, a week or even longer, this guide will give you plenty of great ideas.

Where to stay in Banff

Banff is intensely popular, and is therefore often very busy. You’ll want to plan your trip well in advance to avoid the disappointment of not having a place to stay. The Fairmont Banff Springs hotel or the Rimrock Resort are both the top choices for those looking for a little luxury on their Rockies trip, but they come with the appropriately matched price tags.

Banff accommodation

If that’s not your style I recommend a number of mid-range hotels located throughout the main town area. The bonus is that they are also closer to everything. The Moose Hotel is a great place to stay, as is the Mount Royal . Although Mount Royal is a little more central so could be a little livelier on a weekend or in the summer.

For somewhere a little quieter try the Banff Park Lodge , one street over. Looking for more economical accommodation? Banff has a hostel, the Samesun . That’s about as cheap as you’ll find, because fair warning: Banff isn’t that cheap.

The best things to do in Banff

Now you know where to stay let’s get to the good stuff. What can you see and do in Banff? If you’ve chosen to come to the Canadian Rockies then you might be an outdoors fan. That’s great news as there are a lot of fun activities, both soft and more adventurous.

But even if you just want to gaze at the scenery without getting too dirty, there’s also plenty of other great things to do in Banff .

Here are my top picks for your first trip to Banff. You can find them all on this handy map too, to make it easier to plan your trip.

Fun fact: All of downtown Banff’s streets (with the exception of Banff Avenue, Railway Avenue and Bow Avenue) are named after animals. Different animals that are commonly found in the National Park, in fact. Everything from Bear Street and Elk Street, to Wolverine Street and Buffalo Street. That should keep you amused for hours as you walk about the town.

1 – Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

I first made the mistake of going into the Banff Park Museum which (in my opinion) was a taxidermy nightmare full of faded, aging stuffed and mounted animals. But luckily, I then realized Banff had a bigger and better museum just a block away.

The Whyte Museum is a cultural museum focused around the history of the national park and its inhabitants, before and after gaining National Park status . There’s a great amount of First Nations history as well as information on the growth of the town of Banff, and the railway that still services the Canadian Rockies today. Skip the other one and visit here instead.

Money Saving Tip:  Staying at the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel as an Accor member? Complimentary access to the museum is offered – just ask your concierge at the hotel.

2 – Hike Tunnel Mountain

Views from Tunnel Mountain, Banff

Tunnel Mountain is the popular hike to do in Banff. It’s one that you don’t need a car to get to. Therefore it’s perfect if you aren’t driving, or even if you want to have a car free day .

The hike itself will take you no more than two hours. Probably less. But it’s a great workout for the legs and although it doesn’t seem like the most fun while you’re climbing it, the views are pretty incredible.

Check out my Tunnel Mountain hike post here including everything you need to know to do the hike.

3 – Cave & Basin

The Cave & Basin National Historic Site is just a short drive, or a 20-25 minute walk from the town center of Banff. But if you want to know how Canada’s National Park history began, then make sure you visit the Cave & Basin.

Like the name suggests there is a cave. You can go in it and see some of the amazing mineral springs that are naturally heated. The Sulphur smell can be a little overpowering at first in a more confined space, but it’s a cool place to visit.

Outside there’s another natural thermal springs and if you get higher up on the building there are some good views of the area too.

4 – Banff Gondola

Banff National Park Alberta

Ultimate tourist activity number one in Banff has to be the Banff Gondola . The cable car ride up Sulphur Mountain is busy and popular, but for good reason. The views at the top are incredible.

The cable car ride is about 8 minutes and individual gondolas seat up to 4 people. So you don’t have to worry about being in an enclosed space with a bunch of strangers .

That said if you really don’t like the idea, you can always hike up the mountain and just take the cable car down at the end for a smaller fee.

The discovery center at the top tells you about the fauna and flora of the region as well as some more Banff history. But it’s the outdoor boardwalk and viewpoints that you’ll really love.

5 – Banff Upper Hot Springs

Also at Sulphur Mountain are the Banff Upper Hot Springs. You don’t need to get on a cable car to enjoy them though, instead follow the signs from the parking lot to the springs, a short trail that takes you part way up the mountain.

The natural springs are a popular destination but make sure to bring your bathing suit and a relaxed state of mind as you melt (not literally) into the warm waters of the natural springs .

Top Tip: The thermal springs are really easy to access if you’re staying at the Rimrock Resort hotel . They are located right at the base of Sulphur Mountain opposite the hotel .

6 – Cycle around Vermillion Lakes

Vermillion Lakes, Canada

Not getting enough of the outdoors on your Canadian Rockies trip? I very much doubt that’s the case! But you can’t go wrong with a fun, relaxing evening cycle ride around Vermillion Lakes.

They are located at the edge of town, just before you get to the highway. You will no doubt have come into Banff on this highway from Calgary or Lake Louise .

The lakes are quiet and while not as impressively blue as many in the Banff area, this natural ecosystem is ripe with wildlife and a great place to relax without the crowds.

Rent a bike and cycle out there. Make plenty of stops along the trail. Again, if you are staying at the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel, check in with the concierge. They offer bike rentals or guided cycle tours of Vermillion Lakes which are often on their seasonal activity lists.

7 – Shop ‘til you drop

Banff is a bustling town with a fair number of tourist shops. But don’t worry they’re not all filled with the same tired souvenirs. There are some great hidden gems in here too.

Foodie fans will love the Evoolution oil and vinegar shop with every flavor olive oil and balsamic vinegar you can imagine. There’s also a delicious popcorn shop and a number of old sweet shops .

Another great shop is the Rocky Mountain Soap Co. which has delicious sounding (and smelling) locally made craft soaps. The lavender is my favorite but you’ll be spoiled for choice with soaps and other beauty products.

8 – Visit the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

Fairmont Banff Springs hotel, Canada

I know I keep talking about this place, but it really is all that. I promise. Even if you don’t have the funds to be able to stay at such a renowned hotel, that doesn’t mean you can’t go visit the Castle in the Rockies as it is affectionately known.

A short 15-20 minute walk from Banff town center, the Banff Springs has a wealth of activities even non-residents can enjoy. Have a fancy afternoon tea, go ghost hunting in the castle or enjoy a fancy cocktail with a view. Read more on the hotel here .

9 – Visit Bow Falls

Bow Falls is a short walk from the town center of Banff. The falls are behind the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel. Although they aren’t very tall and majestic falls, they are impressively powerful.

For another lovely view of Banff and its natural beauty, this is a great trail to check out. And the great thing is it doesn’t involve a lot of ability to get there. The trail to get there is really nice (see below).

10 – Walk along the Bow River

Banff pedestrian bridge

The walk from Banff town center to the falls follows the Bow River. As the name suggests this then flows through to create Bow Falls.

The river walk can be accessed by either the large stone traffic bridge from Banff Avenue, or from the smaller pedestrian bridge from Muskrat street .

Why not check out both and get some gorgeous photos of the river with the looming mountains in the background. Keep an eye out for wildlife on your river walk. Bears, beavers and lots of birds can be seen along the banks of the river and sometimes in the wooded areas around.

11 – Take to the water

I just mentioned that Banff is located on the Bow River. But the bow river travels quite far in either direction, and you don’t have to just enjoy the beauty of the river from dry land.

There are some great opportunities to do white water rafting from nearby locations and tours departing from Banff.

If that isn’t your style but you still want to get on the water, how about a float trip on a more calm section of the river? This hour long tour takes you past nearby geological rock formations called Hoodoos and is a relaxing way to take in the scenery.

12 – Try some local craft beer

Canadian Rockies craft beer

Everyone’s jumping on the craft beer bandwagon, and Banff is no exception. There are a lot of locally sourced brews you can try on your trip including those coming from nearby Canmore .

For something really local try the Banff Avenue Brewing Co. They have a number of delicious signature beers and a revolving set list of seasonal taps .

I love their fruity beers like the one I had last summer which was a strawberry rhubarb wheat. Also, try their pretzels. They are so good! Stop by the gift shop on the street level for some take out beer and merchandise.

13 – Play a round of golf

Banff has a famous golf course. I mean, why wouldn’t it? The town is named after a place in Scotland so it makes sense that Scotland’s favorite sport would be prolific in this scenic town.

Save up your pennies and play a round at the famed Fairmont Banff Springs course. You’ll get to golf with the most impressive backdrop you’re likely to get this side of the Atlantic.

14 – Search for some local wildlife

wildlife spotting in the Canadian Rockies

Banff is a mountain town and therefore surrounded by wilderness. That comes with a lot of wildlife viewing options. You will find ground squirrels and chipmunks everywhere, they are cute and fun to spot. Wild birds like bald eagles and other birds of prey can often be seen flying around.

Elk are also plentiful in Banff. Just keep an eye on the front lawns of homes in the town as you’ll often see the elk grazing .

If you’re really lucky you will see a bear on your trip to Canada, as there are plenty in Banff National Park. They don’t venture into the town too much, but it isn’t unheard of.

If you’re interested in learning more about the wildlife and where to find it, I recommend tour led by a local. You can take a grizzly bear tour or for a cheaper options, a wildlife discovery tour .

So many things to do in Banff

There are no shortage of things to do in Banff. You can’t be bored in this magical Canadian Rockies town. I know I never am, and I’ve been there a lot.

Make sure to do your research in advance, plan at least some of the most important activities to you. I say this because like I’ve mentioned more than once, Banff is a popular place. And the last thing I’d want is for you to have your heart set on a fun activity and then it be booked up by the time you get there.

Although exploring Banff can be done without a vehicle, I do recommend renting a car for your trip. That said the town of Banff is really walkable, and everything I’ve talked about here can be done without a car .

The town of Banff has its own public transport system, Roam Transit . The tickets are inexpensive and the buses will not only get you to any of the main tourist sites in Banff, but they travel as far as nearby town Canmore also. That widens your options for tours and hiking trails.

Pro Tip: Some hotels offer complimentary Roam Transit rides with your hotel room key. Ask your hotel concierge for more details.

If you’ve enjoyed this post leave a comment or share using the social media buttons below. Have you been to the Canadian Rockies? What are your favorite things to do in Banff and the surrounding area?

14 best activities in Banff, Canada

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44 thoughts on “14 Incredible Things To Do In Banff, Canada”

I literally cannot get enough of Banff. I just visited last Summer and I simply fell in love! Your post is great! Covered a few things I didn’t get a chance to check out.

Would love to visit one day!

I’m dying to go to Banff. Almost went years ago with a group of friends but we decided to go to Alaska instead. Banff is still on my bucket list. Someday I’ll get there.

I love Banff so much! I used to go with family as a kid, and I’ve gone once as an adult. I need to spend more time hiking in Banff. I love walking up the Main Street and peeking into the shops!

Ah I am so excited to go to Banff one day! We were supposed to go two summers ago, and two summers before that, but both times our trips fell through. It looks so beautiful! Bow River is stunning and I’d love to ride the gondola.

I would do them all except for maybe #1 and 13. Great list! I visited here when I was just a kid, do you think I can remember or appreciate how beautiful it is? Time for a return visit this I know.

I am dying to go to Banff! This place looks so magical and come on craft beer, I am sold!

Thanks for sharing, looks lots of things to do and a great place to visit 🙂

Looks amazing! Hope to visit it one day 🙂

I really only saw Lake Louise when I was in the Banff area, so I definitely want to go back and see more of the area! I really want to do the Bow River walk now!

Love your post and all beautiful places you recommend to visit in Banff! I am waiting for the US-Canadian border to be opened again and I’m heading for a few weeks road trip to Canada,including a few days stop in Calgary and Banff.

We’re moving to Philadelphia in a few years and I cannot wait to explore Canada. These photos look so 😍 Banff is definitely on my bucket list now!

I’ve never been to Canada or Banff, but I think I’d be most excited for the outdoor adventures (hiking, seeing wildlife)! I’m intrigued by that waterfall too. I’m really looking forward to when travel is possible again, to say the least.

Banff is so high on my list right now! I want to see the Vermillion Lakes and Bow Falls. The local brews look amazing as well.

I love Banff, but each time I’ve gone, I fail to allow enough time to explore the town and the immediate surrounding area. Next time I go back, I definitely want to hike Tunnel Mountain. I figure if I can hike up Sulphur Mountain, I can do Tunnel!

I haven’t heard of the Whyte Museum before, that sound super interesting to learn about First Nations history and the history of Banff. Banff is so beautiful, I need to explore it more, especially the hikes you mentioned!

BANFF IS LEGIT MY FAVOURITE PLACE ON THE PLANET! I have been there twice and would seriously go back every single day if I could. I feel like when you’re there, it is as though your inside a post card! I also loved that there is so many Aussie’s there so I felt right at home. From your list, I have done most things except for the Hot Springs! LOVE LOVE LOVE this place!

Great guide since there is something here for everyone. Also good to know that some of the hotels provide you with public transit. Great tips!

You make Canada and Banff sound like an amazing place to visit! I’d love to see the wildlife and some of those hikes look spectacular!

I loved that the streets are name after different animals! Banff looks like an incredible place! I’ve only ever visited the original Banff (in Scotland 😆).

Banff looks seriously incredible! I’d love to visit the Fairmont hotel and cycle along the lake 🙂

I need to visit Banff! The charming hotel and nature looks like a fairytale! Great guide!

It’s been so high on my bucket list for so long! Gorgeous photos, thanks for sharing!

Banff looks amazing – the mountains are so beautiful! I would love to visit one day (we don’t have mountains like that in Australia) 🙂 Saving this post for the day I get to visit!

Banff is stunning!! I went a few years ago, but wildfires took over our trip, unfortunately. I would love to go back and experience its true beauty and hike! Tunnell Mountain looks like an incredible hike that I am adding to my bucket list as we speak. 🙂

I want to go to Banff sooooooo badly! All I really knew about it before reading this post was “pretty mountains” which, while true, is clearly only scratching the surface! Thanks for this guide!

What a really researched and informative post. I have pinned it for my future travel reference. Visiting Canada and Banff has long been a dream for me. I would love to soak into the wilderness these Canadian national parks offer!

Holy cow it’s so beautiful in Banff! I visited when I was a kid, but hardly remember it. I definitely want to make another trip up there to explore it properly!

I visited Banff last summer and your post brought back memories. I have to go back again. There are still so many things to see and do. Thanks for sharing.

Elk are unbelievably gorgeous creatures. Lovely photo!

Visiting the Canadian Rockies is something I’ve been talk9ng about for years! Banff sound like a great place to start!

That Tunnel Mountain hike sounds amazing!

Banff really is at the top of my list of things to do in Canada. Of course it’s all about the outdoors, but I would be up for some ghost hunting too of course. Excellent guide.

Ooh I’m excited to learn about the caves – I love caves! It’s also great to know how walkable it is since I can’t drive.

I’m not a big beer fan, but I love fruity beers and so that strawberry rhubarb one sounds fantastic, will definitely have to add that to my list!

Banff is a place plenty of my friends have visited and talked fondly about. I would love to cycle around Vermillion Lakes and try the local beer. Two of my favourite things to do in a new location 😁

I love Banff. It impresses with its variety of attractions and amazing views. I especially remember warming up in hot springs when the temperature outside was minus 5 degrees Celsius. And indeed, the area and the town are full of wildlife; the moose walking around the streets was amazing. You have compiled a very inspiring list of Banff’s best things to do.

I never knew that the city was named after Banff in Scotland. I had noticed that connection but didn’t check it out to see if it was true …. and now I know it is. I had always thought of Banff as just a massive ski resort so was surprised to find it has a golf course! There is so much more to do here than I imagined and this is a great guide to use to explore not only the city but the surrounding area. I do love that pseudo-French Chateau building style of the Fairmont – a style repeated for the hotel market, in the early century times, in other cities

I visited Banff when I was 8 years old and have very happy memories but I am itching to return, especially that I’m now old enough to drink craft beer! This is a great post highlighting so many things to do in this wonderful area. It’s good to know that the Banff Gondola comprises individual gondolas rather than being squished with strangers, and the views look spectacular. It was also good to know about how many activities are within walking distance of the town centre – great for a car-free day. We would love to see the wildlife in the area as well. We really need to book that trip to Canada!

I am currently obsessing over Banff as I’m watching a travel series on the BBC that’s filmed in Canada and the Rockies in particular. Soaking up in hot springs would be my number one activity but I would also love to see Lake Louise and the Bow Falls. Good to know you can walk to pretty much everywhere and that the public transport is reliable.

I love that the streets are named after animals found in the area, I don’t think I noticed that detail before. Love that most if not all of this list is possible without car. I’d love to go back and do some hiking and relaxin in the hot springs.

Another lovely Canadian town that has a lot to offer. The architecture is charming and I’m also drawn to the many hiking opportunities, nature and wildlife. I also like that Banff is a place that can engage you more than once and doesn’t necessarily require a car to move around.

Lucky you getting to go back to Banff. It’s my favourite part of canada. I stayed at the Rimrock and loved it! I didn’t get to see Bows falls though. I didn’t realize they were in town. Next time. Have a great trip!

Ah Banff has been on my list for so long! Just the views and hiking made me want to visit. Now I have so many more reasons to go! Your pictures are stunning. I would love to ride the Banff Gondola.

These landscapes are breathtaking! Indeed Canada can be unbeatable when it comes to amazing landscapes. Hiking Tunnel Mountain and a hike on the Bow River would definitely be a must for me. Being able to enjoy nature and see wildlife would be factors that would drive me to visit Banff, plus of course it’s a lovely town.

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banff downtown places to visit

27 Breathtaking Things To Do In Banff National Park [Itinerary included]

Banff National Park is such a cool place to visit in North America! It includes the town of Banff, Lake Louise, and all the way up to the Columbia Icefield . There really are a lot of amazing things to do in Banff National Park.

banff downtown places to visit

We have explored the park multiple times and always find something amazing to do. In this post we share our favorite things we have done in the park!

Quick list of our top picks in Banff National Park:

  • Banff Gondola Ride .
  • Rafting trip on the gorgeous Kananaskis river in Banff .
  • Hour long horseback riding adventure with Banff Trail Riders .
  • Golden Skybridge .
  • Lake Minnewanka Cruise .
  • Columbia Icefield Adventure .

At the bottom of the post we also share our recommended 5 night 4 day itinerary for Banff National Park! You can purchase a digital copy of the itinerary for $3.99 and download it immediately!

Table of Contents

Banff Gondola Ride

Banff Gondola

The ride itself is so much fun and then once you get to the top the views are amazing. We weren’t expecting to spend so much time up there, but that is exactly what we did and recommend planning on at least 2 hours.

There is a hike you can take to the top of Sulphur Mountain and it is a pretty easy hike since it is a boardwalk until you get to the very top, then just a short area where you are climbing on a rock pile.

@crazyfamilyadventure When we arrived in Banff National Park we couldn’t wait to head out on the Banff Gondola! The views are amazing and there are so many fun things to do when you get to the top. We headed out on the Sulphur Mountain boardwalk trail, played around in the interactive center and took in these amazing views!!! When in Banff don’t miss the Pursuit Collection Banff Gondola!! hosted pursuitlife banff travelwithkids ♬ original sound – CrazyFamilyAdventure

There is a small museum in the Gondola building where you can learn more about the mountain and area. And of course a gift shop.

There are a couple of eating options with a nice sit down restaurant and also a buffet style restaurant. The floor to ceiling windows that surround the restaurant area makes it a great place to eat and soak in the panoramic views of Banff.

They also have a coffee shop where you can grab some snacks and eat them on one of the lookout platforms. This is one of many attractions you will want to visit in Banff.

Book your tickets for the Banff Gondola Ride here!

Banff Trail Riders

Melia on a horse with Banff Trail Riders

We headed out on an hour long horseback riding adventure with Banff Trail Riders ! It took us by the Cave Basin hot springs and along the Bow River.

Our guide talked about the area and shared a variety of information as we meandered down the trail on our beautiful horses.

When in Banff doing a horseback ride is a must. They also over a wagon ride or horseback ride to a cowboy cookout that looks really fun.

@crazyfamilyadventure Things To Do In Banff National Park: Banff Trail Riders We started our 2nd full day in Banff with an hour long horseback riding adventure with Banff Trail Riders. It was a beautiful morning and we all had a great time getting to know our horses and going on a hike through the trees, past the natural sulphur hot springs flowing from the historic Cave & Basin site and along the Bow River with views of the surrounding mountains. Don’t miss this when you are in Banff! They also do a wagon ride to a cowboy cookout that looked like a lot of fun! Follow @crazyfamilyadventure on our adventure from Wisconsin To Alaska in our RV! Follow @crazyfamilyadventure on our adventure from Wisconsin To Alaska in our RV! #hosted #mybanff #horsebackbanff @Banff & Lake Louise #familytravel #familyvacation #explorecanada #travelwithkids ♬ original sound – CrazyFamilyAdventure

Chinook Rafting

Us on the Chinook Rafting Adventure

Going on a rafting trip on the gorgeous Kananaskis river in Banff was so much fun!! They fitted us with wet suits, booties, a windbreaker jacket and helmets and off we went onto the river.

It was a level 2/3 rapids and was a perfect level of rapids for our group (kids age 10-15). We all paddled a lot to get us through the river and rapids and our guide did a great job making the trip fun!

We were on the water for about 2 hours and at the end Carson, Cannon and Ivan jumped into the water!! It was freezing but they loved it.

@crazyfamilyadventure Things To Do In Banff National Park: Chinook Rafting Going on a rafting trip on the gorgeous Kananaskis river in Banff was so much fun!! They fitted us with wet suits, booties, a windbreaker jacket and helmets and off we went onto the river. It was a level 2/3 rapids and was a perfect level of rapids for our group (kids age 10-15). We all paddeled a lot to get us through the river and rapids and our guide did a great job making the trip fun! We were on the water for about 2 hours and at the end Carson, Cannon and Ivan jumped into the water!! It was freezing but they loved it! They didn’t allow phones on the raft – for good reason since we were rowing for a lot of it and the rapids were crazy! However they have a photographer that takes pictures so that is what you see on this post. We had a great afternoon rafting!! Follow @crazyfamilyadventure on our adventure from Wisconsin To Alaska in our RV! Follow @crazyfamilyadventure on our adventure from Wisconsin To Alaska in our RV! #hosted #mybanff #chinookrafting @Banff & Lake Louise #familytravel #familyvacation #explorecanada #travelwithkids ♬ original sound – CrazyFamilyAdventure

Golden Skybridge

Knox on the Golden Skybridge

Ok the Golden Skybridge isn’t technically in Banff National Park but is a scenic 2 hour drive to the town of Golden. It is worth it and once you get here plan to spend at least 3-4 hours if you want to participate in all of the activities.

If you don’t want to do all of the activities you can just pick and choose the ones you want to do and it would be a much shorter stay.

@crazyfamilyadventure Things To Do In Banff National Park: Golden Skybridge Ok this one isn’t techincally in Banff National Park but is a scenic 2 hour drive to the town of Golden. It is worth it and once you get here plan to spend at least 3-4 hours if you want to participate in all of the activities. If you don’t want to do all of the activities you can just pick and choose the ones you want to do and it would be a much shorter stay. We did the following: Treetop Play Park – a few things our teens could do but a weight limit of 120 on the zipline so be aware of that. Upper Sky Bridge – a crazy walk on a sky bridge across a 500 foot deep canyon! We said we all felt like Indian Jones 🙂 Ropes Course – a fun ropes course with some easier courses and a more challenging one. It also includes a zipline course. Mountain Coaster – a fun mountain roller coaster where you control your speed. You can go together if you weight under 310 pounds combined or else you can go on your own. Touch The Sky Seat – a great place to grab a picture. Sky Zipline Launch – take a zipline across the 500 foot canyon!! The Village – in the village you can do axe throwing, a rock wall (for younger kids), grab lunch or dinner and get a beer or soda. We had an awesome day here and really enjoyed everything that we did! We highly recommend adding this to your list of things you do in Banff National Park! Follow @crazyfamilyadventure on our adventure from Wisconsin To Alaska in our RV! Follow @crazyfamilyadventure on our adventure from Wisconsin To Alaska in our RV! @pursuitbanffjasper @pursuitcollection #pursuitlife #banff #travelwithkids #familytravel #familyvacation #explorecanada #travelwithkids #hikingwithkids ♬ original sound – CrazyFamilyAdventure

We did the following:

Treetop Play Park – a few things our teens could do but a weight limit of 120 on the zipline so be aware of that.

Upper Sky Bridge – a crazy walk on a sky bridge across a 500 foot deep canyon! We said we all felt like Indian Jones 🙂

Ropes Course – a fun ropes course with some easier courses and a more challenging one. It also includes a zipline course.

Mountain Coaster – a fun mountain roller coaster where you control your speed. You can go together if you weight under 310 pounds combined or else you can go on your own.

Touch The Sky Seat – a great place to grab a picture.

Sky Zipline Launch – take a zipline across the 500 foot canyon!!

The Village – in the village you can do axe throwing, a rock wall (for younger kids), grab lunch or dinner and get a beer or soda.

Get your tickets for the Golden Skybridge here.

Banff National Park Itinerary

Cave and Basin Historical Site

Cave and Basin Historical Site

This is the location of where and why Parks Canada began. It is a hot spring was previously open to the public, but now they don’t even want you touching the water due to invasive bacteria in the water.

There used to be a pool at the site were locals and tourists alike would take in a good soak, which now has been covered and closed. There is a nice museum to learn more about the Cave and Basin and the history of it. Along with the cave that you can walk into. And the Basin with all those amazing colors!

They have rangers around to share information. As well as a gift shop at the bottom of the hill when you are walking up from the parking lot.

Picture of downtown Banff.

The town of Banff is such a cool mountain town. Yes, it is touristy and busy, but it doesn’t take away from the experience and I loved how you could see the mountains all around you. Plus the shopping was good and there were a ton of restaurants to pick from.

You can also check out the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies to learn more about the area.

This is also where the visitor center is and they were very helpful in making recommendations on things that we could do in the area. The Bow River cuts through the western end of town where there are some public parks and playgrounds. The water level was a bit high due to winter snow melt and summer rains, but we would have loved to rent kayaks to go out on the river.

Eat on the rooftop

Cannon and Craig on a rooftop restaurant.

Looking to grab a bite to eat? Check out The Elk and Oarsman on Banff Avenue where you can eat on the rooftop and look out over the mountains! The food was good and so was the service.

Play at the park

Knox playing at the Park in Banff

There is a nice park area located in downtown by the Bow River that had public restrooms. This is a great stop to make with kids who just want to run around and play.

Cascade Of Time Garden

Kids standing in the Cascade of Time Garden in Banff National Park.

Take a walk through the Cascade of Time Garden which is free and located right in downtown. The flowers weren’t quite blooming yet when we were there but you could tell it was going to be gorgeous!

Lake Minnewanka

You know those iconic lake pictures you see of Banff? Lake Minnewanka is one of them. It is a beautiful lake that we were able to catch a glimpse of when we were on the C-Level Cirque hike – once you pass an old mineshaft on the trail you take a right off of the trail and come out to a clearing where you can see the lake.

You can also rent kayaks and boats here to take out on the lake.

Lake Minnewanka Cruise

Banff Lake Cruise

Lake Minnewanka Cruise is a great way to get out on the beautiful waters of Lake Minnewanka. The boat is completely covered so you can choose to stay inside and listen to the tour guide give you amazing facts about the lake (there is a whole town underwater there!) or you can open the windows or go sit out on the back deck to take in the views.

@crazyfamilyadventure Things To Do In Banff National Park: Lake Minnewanka Boat Cruise We headed out on the 10am 1 hour long boat ride on Lake Minnewanka with Pursuit Collection. The water color is amazing and the scenery is gorgeous! Plus our tour guide did a great job giving us an overview of the Lake and sharing a lot of history about the lake and the area. It is a great way to start your morning in Banff National Park! Follow @crazyfamilyadventure on our adventure from Wisconsin To Alaska in our RV! Follow @crazyfamilyadventure on our adventure from Wisconsin To Alaska in our RV! #hosted @pursuitbanffjasper #pursuitlife #banff #travelwithkids #lakeminnewanka #explorecanada #familyvacation #familytravel #familyroadtrip ♬ original sound – CrazyFamilyAdventure

Book your Lake Minnewanka Cruise here!

Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake is located up in Lake Louise and you won’t believe the color of the water. Is simply breathtaking. You could sit and just take in the views or go for a hike around the lake area.

Things have changed and you can no longer drive a car on the bow valley parkway to get there so you would have to hike in or get a ticket to take the bus in. You can learn more about getting there here.

Lake Louise

Our family in front of Lake Louise.

We stopped at Lake Louise on our way back to Banff from the Golden Skybridge. It actually worked out well since it can be really hard to park up by Lake Louise. but guess what at 8pm at night it is still light up for a couple more hours in the summer and it is super easy to get a parking spot!

We made our way to Lake Louise and got out to walk around and take some pictures and just take in the beauty that is Lake Louise!!

@crazyfamilyadventure Things To Do In Banff National Park: Lake Louise Lake Louise was on our way back to Banff from the Golden Skybridge and I knew we needed to stop! It actually worked out well since it can be really hard to park up by Lake Louise. but guess what at 8pm at night it is still light up for a couple more hours in the summer and it is super easy to get a parking spot! We made our way to Lake Louise and got out to walk around and take some pictures and just take in the beauty that is Lake Louise!! When in Banff don’t miss coming to see Lake Louise and when they are open do the 6 Plains Glacier Tea House hike and the Lake Anges Tea house. The teahouses are still closed for the season but the 6 Plains Glacier Tea House is one of our favorite hikes ever!! Follow @crazyfamilyadventure on our adventure from Wisconsin To Alaska in our RV! Follow @crazyfamilyadventure on our adventure from Wisconsin To Alaska in our RV! #visitbanff #lakelouise #travelwithkids #familytravel #familyvacation #explorecanada #travelwithkids #hikingwithkids ♬ Just Can’t Get Enough – The Black Eyed Peas

When in Banff don’t miss coming to see Lake Louise and when they are open do the 6 Plains Glacier Tea House hike and the Lake Agnes Tea house. The teahouses were still closed for the season when we were recently there but the 6 Plains Glacier Tea House is one of our favorite hikes ever!!

Banff Upper Hot Springs

The hot springs were OK. I love the idea of a huge hot tub with natural hot spring water. BUT there were a LOT of people in the pool. . . plus we found out it is part natural hot spring and part water they bring in to make the temperature right.

Would much rather prefer a totally natural hot spring than one that has been so altered by humans. But nevertheless it is one of those things you should do when in Banff.

Columbia Icefield Adventure

Our family on the Glacier.

Want to walk on a Glacier? You can do that with a 90 minute drive from Banff to the Columbia Icefields on the Icefields Parkway. From the Icefields Parkway Visitor Centre you take a bus to an Ice Explorer then to the Glacier.

@crazyfamilyadventure It’s time to walk on a glacier, drink glacier water and head out on a glass platform over a canyon! This is the Columbia Icefield Adventure in Canada! The Icefields Parkway is a gorgeous drive and the Athabasca Glacier is an amazing place to stop to take in the views and to get out on a Glacier! To visit the Glacier you take a bus to a point about half way up the Glacier. From here you get on to the Ice Explorer and the Ice Explorer takes you up to the Glacier. This is a bit of a scary ride with a road that has a 32% incline that you go down to see the Glacier and up it when you leave. But also fun and with amazing views! Once you get to the Glacier you have 30 minutes to get out and explore and take pictures. They do have a roped off area – never go past that!! Glaciers are very dangerous. They recommend bringing a water bottle so you can fill it with Glacier water! We did and the water was delicious. After the 30 minutes you head back down on the Ice Explorer and get back on a bus that takes you to the skywalk. At the skywalk you get off and go walk on the semi circle glass walkway that takes you out and over a canyon! When you are walking to the skywalk there are a variety of signs you can stop to look at and read if you would like. Once you are done with the skywalk you make your way back to the bus and they bring you back to the main parking lot and building. It took about 2 1/2 hours to do everything and it was an awesome time!! If you are heading from Banff to Jasper don’t miss the Columbia Icefield Adventure!! #hosted #pursuitlife #banff #travelwithkids #familytravel #familyvacation #explorecanada #travelwithkids #hikingwithkids ♬ original sound – CrazyFamilyAdventure

It is an amazing feeling to stand on the Athabasca Glacier and to touch the fresh and freezing cold glacier water. The trip on the gigantic Ice Explorer to get there is pretty fun too. You go up and down a 32% grade!

Glacier Skywalk

After the glacier, the bus takes you to the Glacier Skywalk which is a glass walkway that hangs out over the edge of the mountain. . . Yes a little scary but also really cool!

Book the Icefield Tour and Glacier Skywalk here!

Chasing Aurora Borealis

Here is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the incredible Aurora Borealis. Check out this guide to seeing the Northern Lights while you are in Banff to see if you can make it work!

Check out these lakes near Banff National Park .

Hiking In Banff

Hiking

There are a variety of hiking trails around the downtown Banff area. You can either drive and park your car or RV at the trailheads or take the free buses – learn more about the free buses and schedule at the Visitor Center.

Tunnel Mountain

The trailhead for Tunnel Mountain is located on the outskirts of town and you could walk to it from downtown. This hike is popular and we saw a lot of non-hikers on the trail, but don’t be fooled. It isn’t an easy hike.

You hike up the whole way . . . but once you get to the top the views are amazing and it was worth the effort. Also if you are concerned about bears or not use to hiking this is a great hike since it is so busy.

The way down is a whole lot easier than the way up!

Hike by Cave and Basin

After you are done visiting the Cave and Basin National Historic Site you can go on a nice flat walk by the river. The trailhead is located right behind the historical site. Please note this is where we saw a big black bear on the trail.

Being flatter and surrounded by trees and with the river there I think it lends itself to being an area where bears may frequent. Be sure to have your bear spray with you.

We saw the bear when were about 100 yards away from it and watched it hang out and eat at the shrubbery before a set of bicyclers came down and scared it away. At that point we turned around and went back. We didn’t want to take a chance that the bear would come back and block us from returning to our RV.

Hike to C-Level Cirque (Upper Bankhead)

As soon as Carson heard from the people at the visitor center that there was snow at the top of this hike he was sold. It was our first day in Banff and we were not prepared for a hike, but we decided to do it and were so glad we did!

As most hikes in the area are, it was up a mountain for about 2 1/2 miles but then we reached the area where the snow was! It was so cool to be able to play in the snow and turn around and see the amazing views. Due to Avalanche concerns they don’t recommend running around and playing in the snow . . .

Lower Bankhead

There are remnants of an old town here and you can walk around to check out the building and old mining cars. It is a short hiking/nature trail. So if you aren’t up for the 5 mile Upper Bankhead hike, then this one is for you.

Johnston Canyon Lower Falls Hike

Knox on the Johnston Canyon hike

One of the most popular hikes in Banff. There are a variety of different hikes you can do. Some will be a quick 40 minute hike or you can opt for the longer 4 hour option. We did the shorter Lower Falls hike and it was gorgeous!

@crazyfamilyadventure Things To Do In Banff National Park: Johnson Canyon Trail We did the Johnson Canyon Trail to the lower falls and it was gorgeous!! It is a 1 mile round trip hike and we sure to go into the cave when you reach the waterfall to get a closer look at the waterfall. It was busy but with the second parking lot we had no problem finding parking. Follow @crazyfamilyadventure on our adventure from Wisconsin To Alaska in our RV! Follow @crazyfamilyadventure on our adventure from Wisconsin To Alaska in our RV! #visitbanff #banffnationalpark #johnsoncanyontrail #familytravel #familyvacation #explorecanada #travelwithkids #hikingwithkids ♬ Cruel Summer – Taylor Swift

Bow Falls Viewpoint

This 1.7 mile there and back hike is another great hike in Banff! Plus it is open year round.

YOHO National Park

Yoho National Park is over an hour drive from Banff, but just a short 30 minute drive from Lake Louise if you end up staying there. It is a cool National Park and has the tallest waterfall in Canada (which the road wasn’t open to yet when we were there). I definitely wish we would have spent more time here.

Wapta Falls Hike in Yoho

This was a great hike to an amazing waterfall and place to stay and play for a while. The hike was mostly flat through the forest and then you start to hear the waterfall. You can stop and look down at the waterfall or make the climb to the bottom where you can get your feet wet and play around for a while.

We of course recommend going down to the water. It is so cool to feel the spray from the waterfall and just to play around in the water, build with the rocks, and take it all in.

Radium Hot Springs

Radium Hot Springs is a bit over a 90 minute drive from Banff, but there are a few places you can stop on the way and it is a pretty drive. Once you get there they have a small visitor center and a little town. But the main attraction is the natural hot springs.

What we liked about these hot springs is there is a cold pool and a hot pool and the cold pool has a diving board and slide! We also liked how it was much less busy then the Banff Hot Springs.

Marble Canyon

This is a must do while on your way to Radium Hot Springs or else just for a quick day trip from Banff. The Canyon is huge and the water crashing through it is a site to see. There are lots of great picture spots and bridges to walk over. It really is spectacular.

Visit the Continental Divide

You can’t drive by the Continental Divide and not stop right?! Not much to look at but be sure to grab a picture and remember you were here.

Our family in front of Peyto Lake

If you go to do the Glacier Adventure or the Icefields Parkway there are a lot of stops along the way. This is the one we recommend NOT missing. Peyto Lake. The colors of this lake seem totally fake. It really is surreal to see in person.

There are so many great things to do in Banff Canada!

4 night 4 Day Itinerary For Banff

Arrival day.

Banff Gondola: Last ride up at 7:30pm or 8:30pm be sure to check the time. It will close on top at 9pm or 10pm. I recommend going at around 6/6:30 so you have time to explore at the top without being rushed.

Cascade Of Time Gardens: closes at 11pm. It is free so you can go in to walk around.

Downtown Banff for dinner and/or drinks. Be sure to check the restaurant hours to know when to get there if you want food.

With it being light out later it can get confusing what time of day it is!

10am: Lake Minnewanka Boat Cruise: 15 minute drive from Banff – prepare for time to park – but with a 10am time slot you shouldn’t have a problem. But give yourself time to park and walk down to the boat launch. We recommend getting there at 9:15/9:30 at the very latest.

12pm: Johnston Canyon Lower Falls Hike: 45 minute drive from Lake Minnewanka. There is a 2nd parking lot with a lot of parking but will take some extra time to walk to the trailhead. The hike is 1.4 miles roundtrip.

3pm: Golden Skybridge: 1hour 20 minute drive from Johnston Canyon Lower Falls.

8pm: Lake Louise: 1 hour drive to Lake Louise from Golden Skybridge. Coming in this late you should have no problem parking in the lot up by Lake Louise. It is a 45 minute drive to get back to the town of Banff from here.

10am: Banff Trail Riders: 1 hour ride with the stables being a 10 minute drive from the town of Banff. However they will send you a bunch of emails before you show up telling you if you are not there 30 minutes before your time you will not be allowed to go. So be sure to plan to get there 45 minutes early incase there is traffic in Banff.

11:15am: Cave and Basin Historic Site: You have to pay to get in and once in you can check out the hot spring in a cave and learn more about Banff and how it became a National Park. (be sure to leave by 12:30 to give yourself time to get to the rafting).

1:30pm: Chinook Rafting: this is a 4 hour experience and is a 45-60 minute drive to get to the Riverbase from Banff. You should wear your bathing suit as they will give you a wetsuit and other equipment to wear on the trip. No phones allowed so bring a go pro if you want footage. They do have equipment you can use to attach your go pro to your helmet.

6:30pm: Stop In Canmore for the Brewery (you can order pizza or other food and bring it to the brewery) and Dinner.

Drive the Icefields Parkway stopping at Peyto Lake: if you plan to make other stops in the pull offs plan on this taking you 3-4 hours. Plan your time for doing the Columbia Icefields Adventure accordingly. You do have timed entry and must be there 15 minutes early or you may miss your timeslot.

Do the Columbia Icefields Adventure – this will take 2 1/2 hours to complete the whole thing. Take note there are no bathrooms on the trip.

Drive back to Banff

If you have extra time add on:

  • A day trip to Radium Hot Springs
  • More hiking in Banff
  • A full day in Lake Louise to do the 6 Plains Glacier Tea House Hike
  • The Wagon Ride with Cowboy Cookout

A digital copy of the Itinerary is available for $3.99! Click here and you can purchase it and download it instantly!

banff downtown places to visit

Where To Stay

There are a variety of different accommodations in Banff . Below we share our recommendations.

We stayed at the Trailer Court campground in Banff National Park and it worked out great! It is about a 30 minute walk down into Banff – or you can take the bus down for free. If you want to take the bus back you do have to pay per person. We chose to walk back up. It isn’t an easy walk since you are going up hill, but it is totally doable.

The campground has full hookups and a picnic table at each site. The sites are small but most people aren’t there to hang out. They are there just to sleep and head out to the park to explore.

The sites were pretty flat and well maintained. We really enjoyed staying there and highly recommend it.

Some other options if you don’t mind driving include Mountain Aire Resort located in Water Valley (about a 90 minute drive to Banff) and Millarvile Campground located in Millarville (about a 90 minute drive to Banff).

Banff is a perfect place to take an extended RV road trip. Don’t have an RV? Learn more about renting one here! Check out our post on Tips For Renting An RV and How To Plan An RV Trip . Plus this one on RVing to Banff National Park .

There are a variety of hotels in Banff.

With 1- and 2-bedroom suites, an indoor pool and on-site Italian restaurant, you might not want to leave the Moose Hotel and Suites just 1 minute from Downtown Banff. Take a look!

If you are a skier and it is winter you will want to check out the Lake Louise Ski Resort.

Take a look at this absolutely cozy looking house for a family. Includes a BBQ and Hot Tub as well as those amazing Banff views.

If you are looking to stay in Banff for an extended period, this Cozy Riverside Cabin with Expansive Mountain Views may be for you. Located in nearby Canmore, this stay requires a minimum booking of 28 nights, and includes 4 bedrooms, a balcony overlooking the river and mountains, bbq and patio and two kitchens! Perfect for an extended stay with family or friends.

When you are in Banff there are a couple of places you don’t want to miss and Lake Louise is definitely one of them! We did one of our all time favorite hikes here (Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse hike) and absolutely fell in love with the amazing blue water and the scenery.

The other place not to miss is the Spectacular Jasper National Park ! We recommend spending at least a couple nights there too explore the city and also do some great hikes and to take the gondola up to get an amazing view of the city. There are so many great places to visit in Jasper !

We have also heard that the Sunshine Village is a great place to stay too. And be sure to check out all the great mountain retreats in the area!

Learn more about Alberta, Canada on this post: The Best Things To Do In Alberta, Canada For Families .

And if you want to plan a whole Rocky Mountain trip check out this great Canadian Rockies vacation itinerary .

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Things To Do In Banff National Park! Here are 21 unbelievable things to do in Banff National Park. Stand on a Glacier, ride a gondola and take in the breathtaking scenery to name a few!

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31 thoughts on “27 Breathtaking Things To Do In Banff National Park [Itinerary included]”

As I’ve always imagined, it looks beautiful. Always wanted to go to Jasper and Banff and now we’re planning for 2019/2020. Can’t wait!!

It really is beautiful. You’ll have a great trip.

Bookmarking this post! Our family of five hopes to make Banff a destination in the next year or two. We started dreaming of visiting Canada after seeing the breathtaking scenery in Expedition Happiness!

Thanks Caleb. Banff is one of our favorite places we’ve ever been. We may even make another trip there this summer.

Excellent tips on what to see and do in Banff. Do you know if there are restrictions on dogs in the parks? We have two labs were travelling with this summer.

You’ll have to do a little research on this one because we brought our lab Indy with us, but she mostly stayed in the RV when we were out hiking. She’s good with relaxing while were out for a few hours and that’s what we’re used to when visiting National Parks. In Banff, however, we did see a couple dogs out on the hiking trails, so I’m not quite sure what the actual park rules are.

Dogs are welcome to our National and Provincial Parks, unless there is an environmental reason of course. I can’t think of any park that doesn’t let them come with you. The only two real restrictions are that you keep your pets on a leash…a physical leash and clean up their crap 💩 and put the do-do bag in the bear proof garbage bins. Oh, and don’t let them ‘play’ with the wildlife, the larger wildlife don’t play nice…they play to kill. And that inludes humans. Stay well away, like in your vehicle when you see them on the road! Hubs & I brought our 95lber mutt to Rampart Creek Campground up the Icefields Parkway (0 services-outhouses only) last summer and it was a wonderful weekend. We also brought him on the Johnston Canyon hike when he was a ‘carryable’ puppy. I may be prejudiced, but Canada is beautiful! Even southern Saskatchewan! (I actually think North America is great to travel around).

Canada is definitely beautiful and we loved that dogs were welcome, we’re not used to that being from the States!

Great post! I’m planning my trip to Banff and your article definitely came in handy. I’ve added Cave and Basin Historical site and Peyto Lake to my itinerary!

Very cool, enjoy!

We are headed there to visit this summer. It looks beautiful! Would you suggest more time spent at Jasper or at Banff? We plan on camping in the parks. Trying to figure which area has the most to see and do.

Hmm..that’s a hard one. Banff has more to do since the town is a bit bigger. Also from Banff you can visit Lake Louise which is a must see. So, I’d say spend more time in Banff. That said, you can’t go wrong either way! 🙂

Hello! I am really enjoying exploring your blog that I found as I am researching our family roadtrip for this summer. We are traveling from Minnesota to Jasper to Banff to Glacier and back to Minnesota. Can’t wait. My question here is whether the Glacier Adventure is really worth the price? Did you walk across the road on the Toe of the Glacier hike? We will be traveling the Icefields Parkway to travel from Jasper to Banff so just trying to figure out our timing! I like the bundling idea on the attractions to save money but we are planning to do the Jasper Tram instead of the Banff one.. so many decision!

The Glacier Adventure was awesome and a once in a lifetime opportunity. You meet at the Ice Fields Parkway Visitor Centre then take a bus across the street where you then board one of the Ice Explorer vehicles to go down a huge hill to the glacier. Once there you have about a 10 minutes or so to hang out on the glacier – take pictures, grab some snow, drink some glacier water, etc. While the bundle helps with the cost, it still is a bit pricey, however, glaciers are disappearing, so you may not have another chance. Hopefully that helps! Enjoy your trip!

I read both of your Jasper & Banff Adventures. We are going in August 2019. I see that you went to a glacier on both trips on the Brewster Ice Explorer. Was that the same glacier or did you do two different glaciers? I love your blog. It is very informative. Thank you.

That was the same glacier – the Athabasca Glacier. We included it on both the Jasper and Banff posts because it was right in the middle of those 2 places on the Icefields Parkway.

What month(s) would you recommend? And are there places you’d suggest we go or avoid since our hiking skills and fitness levels are very limited?

We went in June which was really nice. Warm days and cool nights. In Banff, there is plenty to do in town that wouldn’t require too much walking and you can also do some of the excursions we wrote about here – http://www.crazyfamilyadventure.com/banff-attractions/

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You have an amazing family and thanks for wonderful post. We were planning of travelling to Canada with our 4 yr old twins early June. About Trailer Court campground in Banff National Park, how do we book it? Ther are so many options to choose from like Frontcountry camping, backcountry camping, park canada accomodations etc.. What do we choose? This would be our first trailer experience so not sure.

Thanks for all your help.

Parks Canada is what you’ll want, it should be on their website. Front and back country are a bit more for the experienced backpacker/tent campers.

We are planning to visit the same places you visited… Your blog is a guide to us. Written very attractively with beautiful videos. Thanks for the broad information.

If you can, Can you recommend accommodations suitable with kids, toddlers, 2-7 years

Thanks you Puli

I would look on TripAdvisor for hotels in the area and see what appeals to you. Enjoy!

Thank You for all of your tips. Would you recommend this trip if traveling with a 8, 6, and 2 year old?

Is there stroller accessibility on most things?

For sure! If you want to do some of the hiking we did – most of it is not stroller accessible. Instead I recommend a backpack carrier for the 2 year old. I used a cloth Ergo carrier until the kids were 4. They were over the weight limit but it worked out well to give a little bit more support while they were on my back.

We want to travel to Banff this summer. Is it child friendly for a 10 month old? We were hoping to visit Lake Louise. I’m hoping it’s not overcrowded and not hard to rent a vehicle during August.

Yes it is! However be prepared for it to be busy! Summer is prime season there. But it is worth it!

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I enjoyed reading all about your adventures. Can you please tell me what month you were there? I’m considering an April trip, but I know the weather might be limiting that time of the year.

We were there in June. The weather was fantastic then, but not sure how it would be in April.

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17 Banff Hidden Gems (that locals don’t even know about)

By: Author Aly Smalls

Posted on Published: July 11, 2022  - Last updated: March 22, 2023

17 Banff Hidden Gems (that locals don’t even know about)

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Being 6,641 square kilometers in size, you can bet there are some hidden gems in Banff ready for you to discover.

Explore Banff National Park and surrounding area off the beaten path with this insider’s guide to Canada’s most beautiful region. 

This travel guide includes non hiking things to do in Banff, secret swimming spots, cool and unique experiences and hidden gems in Banff in winter. 

Beyond the main touristy attractions, here are the best secret spots and hidden gems in Banff. 

This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click through and make a purchase I may make a small commission. I only share information about things I know, love and trust!

Tunnel Mountain Reservoir

banff downtown places to visit

Along Tunnel Mountain Drive, you’ll come across an open field known as the Tunnel Mountain Reservoir.

This is an insanely gorgeous and peaceful spot for a picnic, photography or to just chill.

Enjoy sweeping mountain views in a quiet area. It’s also a popular place for outdoor weddings in Banff, so you know it’s picturesque.

Mt. Norquay Lookout

banff downtown places to visit

Take the curvy road up to the Mt. Norquay ski area, but stop halfway at the lookout viewpoint.

Park your car and hang out in the grassy area, which gives you views of the town of Banff and the entire valley.

This is also an epic spot to watch the sunset in Banff. 

Tip – you get almost the same view from here as you do at the top of the Banff Gondola – and this spot is free!

Bow Valley Parkway 

banff downtown places to visit

The Bow Valley Parkway is one of the best roads in Banff to spot wildlife.

It’s a quiet, scenic road that’s popular for cycling, hiking trailheads and picnic areas.

If you’re driving from Banff to Lake Louise, this road is much more scenic compared to Highway 1.

Morant’s Curve

banff downtown places to visit

Along the Bow Valley Parkway is Morant’s Curve, arguably one of the most photographed spots in all of Banff National Park.

Many people have seen photos from this spot, but don’t know where it is.

There’s a small parking lot and if you time it right, you could catch a train pass by. 

Wildlife Safari Tour

banff downtown places to visit

A wildlife safari is one of the coolest experiences you can have in Banff!

Wildlife viewing is one of the most popular activities in Banff National Park, but you have to know when and where to go for the best chance to see wild animals.

On this small group tour , you’ll start at sunset in search of bear, elk, moose and deer!

Book your wildlife safari tour here . 

Bankhead Ghost Town

banff downtown places to visit

The Lower Bankhead is a super interesting hike just outside of the town of Banff.

It’s an easy, well-marked trail with little elevation gain/loss, and you not only get mountain views, but pass by abandoned mining building and machinery.

Hoodoos Viewpoint

banff downtown places to visit

Many visitors miss out on leaving the main downtown area of Banff and not heading up Tunnel Mountain Road.

The Hoodoos Viewpoint & trail is a beautiful pullover area and walking path to get sweeping views of the surrounding mountains.

The first part of the path is paved and is stroller and wheelchair accessible, but it’s also the starting point to many trails to explore. 

Rundle Forebay Reservoir

banff downtown places to visit

Along the Three Sister Parkway in Canmore (only 20 minutes from Banff) you will find the Rundle Forebay Reservoir, which is a calm, turquoise body of water where you can float, kayak or SUP in front of stunning mountain peaks.

This is definitely one of my favorite secret swimming holes near Banff. If you kayak/SUP to the south end, look for the secret waterfall. 

Silverton Falls

banff downtown places to visit

This is a great short hike to a nice waterfall viewpoint. It’s halfway from Banff to Lake Louise and a great alternative to Johnston Canyon that’s much less busy.

This hike will take you 30 minutes or less, round trip, and is easy enough for kids.

There are some steeper sections closer to the top, but the trail is well marked. 

Inside tip – stop off at the Castle Mountain Viewpoint, just down from the trailhead along the Banff-Windermere Highway.

  • It’s a hidden parking lot that perfectly faces Castle Mountain, one of the most iconic rock faces in Banff National Park. 

Cascade of Time Garden

banff downtown places to visit

The Cascade of Time Garden is located in the town of Banff, at the south end of the Banff Ave bridge.

It’s free to enter and is a beautifully lush and perfectly manicured garden with trails and walking paths.

The large black gates might seem like it’s closed to the public, but it’s open for visitors to enjoy. 

Johnson Lake Swing

banff downtown places to visit

Johnson Lake is a popular swimming spot in Banff with a great beach area.

But if you take the trail around the perimeter of the lake, not only will you find a more quiet and secret swimming spot, there’s also a rope swing!

Secret Cave at Johnston Canyon

banff downtown places to visit

To find the secret cave at Johnston Canyon, continue past the lower falls towards the upper falls.

Shortly before you arrive at the Upper Falls, turn right down hill along a dirt trail through the forest for a little over 5 minutes.

You’ll have to then scramble down a much steeper section, so this trail is only for experienced hikers with the correct equipment.

Also note that access to the hidden cave at Johnston Canyon is restricted, and not accessible from May 1 to November 15 each year. 

Radium Hot Springs

banff downtown places to visit

The drive from Banff to Radium Hot Springs is 1.5 hours, but it’s along Highway 93, which is a beautiful drive, and you’ll escape the crowds of Banff National Park. 

You could do a day trip by leaving early, hitting some viewpoints along the way.

The most popular places to stop and hike at are the Paint Pots, Numa Falls, Kootenay Valley Viewpoint and Olive Lake.

End your adventurous day with a soak in the Radium Hot Springs pool – which is larger and more scenic than the Banff Upper Hot Springs. 

I love the Austrian/Bavarian alpine village theme in Radium Hot Springs, and you can even dine at the Old Salzburg, which serves authentic Austrian dishes. 

Read more about things to do in Radium Hot Springs here .

Golden Skybridge

If you love the Banff Gondola and the Glacier Skywalk, you won’t want to miss the Golden Skybridge.

It’s 1.5 hours west of Banff, but definitely worth the views and adrenaline rush!

This is Canada’s highest suspension bridge which straddles a mountain gorge over 400 feet in the air. 

Aardvark Pizza

banff downtown places to visit

Aardvark Pizza is a staple in Banff! A pizza joint open late (usually until 3am) that serves pizza by the slice.

It’s perfect if you’re getting into town late and need something to eat, or when you’ve left the bars & pubs.

Tip – they also have really cheap breakfast sandwiches and wraps (many around $5 or $6). 

Hidden Gems in Banff in Winter

banff downtown places to visit

Ice Skating at Carrot Creek

When the conditions are just right, sometimes the lakes in Banff freeze over before the snow falls, and this is when you can go wild skating!

Many people head to Vermilion Lakes and Two Jack Lake, but Carrot Creek is a local secret spot for wild ice skating in Banff National Park.

Less than 3 kms from the Banff park gates (east entrance) is a small pullover area for Carrot Creek (the Carrot Creek Trailhead is marked on Google maps).

You’ll have to hike down about 10 minutes – down a hill and through the wildlife fence, but the views are majestic. 

Gap Lake is south of Canmore and a scenic spot for skating with no park pass required. Find it along the Bow Valley Trail.

If you’re planning to visit during the colder months, here are my top tips and hacks for visiting Banff in winter .

Read More About Banff:

  • 9 Best Cheap Places to Stay in Banff (that are actually nice)
  • The Best Time to Visit Banff: the Pros and Cons of Each Season
  • Pet Friendly Banff: Where to Eat, Stay & Play with Your Dog
  • Your Ultimate Guide to Best Things To Do in Banff in Summer
  • Banff vs Jasper: Which One Is Best For You? (Tips From a Local)

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If you want to stay up to date, get behind the scenes content, or connect with me directly – you can follow my YouTube channel , Facebook Page , Instagram or Twitch channel !

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banff downtown places to visit

An Ideal 5 Day Banff Itinerary You Can Copy

Helen Lake Trail

We often get asked what the ideal time is for a vacation in Banff. Most visitors spend about a week here on their first trip. Some spend as little as three days, but many fall right in the middle.

Five days in Banff is a great amount to give you a little taster of what the Canadian Rockies have to offer. You’ll see many of the main sights, like Moraine Lake, the Banff Gondola, and Johnston Canyon, but you will 100% leave wanting to return. If this is you, we’ve put together an ideal 5 day Banff itinerary for you that makes sense! This itinerary packs a lot in, but also ensures you’re not wasting any time in the area.

Stroll Downtown Banff

Natasha on Banff-Avenue

You have made it to Downtown Banff, and it’s highly likely that if you’re looking at how to plan a five-day Banff itinerary, you are staying there. If you checked into your hotel last night or in the morning, it’s time to tackle the day.

First, we recommend first-time visitors to Banff get acquainted with Downtown Banff. Strolling down Banff Avenue is well worth a few hours of time. Grab a coffee at Whitebark, and take time to stroll into all the stores on Banff Avenue. Don’t miss Rocky Mountain Soap Company or any of the many art galleries. You can also hop on over to Bear Street for a few more shop and restaurant options !

Walk to Cascade Gardens

Cascade-Gardens-Banff

Continue walking all the way to the end of Banff Avenue, where you will see a beautiful brick building. The building you see was built in 1937 and is the first administration building of Parks Canada. It is the largest structure of its type within Canada’s national parks and symbolizes the development and progress of Canada’s first national park.

From the Administration Building, you can get a great photo off Banff Avenue with Cascade Mountain looming above it. If it’s summer, you’ll also notice beautiful flowers everywhere. That’s because this stop is the Cascade of Time Garden. These Gardens are a great free thing to do in Banff , and as you walk through the gardens, you will notice the different groupings of plants. On top of the stunning flora and fauna displayed at the gardens, you will also notice ponds, a waterfall, and winding paths leading to postcard-worthy views. Those who are into gardening will absolutely love wandering through here.

Continue Walking to Bow Falls

cameron at bow falls

Continue walking from Cascade Gardens to Bow Falls via the Bow Falls Trail. In just 20 minutes, you will reach one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Banff . Bow Falls drops just 9 meters down, so it’s not a huge waterfall in Alberta by any means, but it is still one of the best sights to see near the townsite. It is right outside of town on the Bow River near the Banff Springs Hotel. Read more about visiting Bow Falls .

Local tip: Parking at Bow Falls is extremely limited so we recommend either walking or taking the Roam Bus 2

Have Lunch Downtown

Touloulous

Walk back to Downtown Banff via the Bow Falls Trail. Pass over the Banff Pedestrian Bridge and make your way towards Banff Avenue. It’s time for lunch! There are plenty of places to grab lunch in Downtown Banff, and no matter what kind of cuisine you are craving, you can find it here. Two of our favorite cheap eats are Hankki (Korean Street Food) and Ramen Arashi (Japanese Ramen).

If it’s a nice day, we recommend sitting out on a patio. Some of the best Banff patios are at Three Bears Brewery, Touloulous, and Anejo!

Vermilion Lakes

Vermilion Lakes Sunset Landscape

If you have a car, jump in it and head to Vermilion Lakes . These are the closest lakes to Downtown Banff, and sit right below iconic Mount Rundle. We love to come here with a coffee or a beer (depending on the time) as there are some great docks to relax on. Keep your eyes open; there are always curious ducks and geese on the water, and if you’re lucky, you might even spot a beaver. It’s a pretty shallow spot to canoe, making it great for beginners who want to canoe in Banff .

Drive Lake Minnewanka Scenic Road

two jack lake - driving from vancouver to banff

After Vermilion Lakes, continue in the car and hop on Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive just outside Banff. This is one of the most scenic drives in the Rockies ! Along this 24 km route, you’ll hit four lakes. The first is Cascade Ponds , sitting right under Cascade Mountain. Continue on to Johnson Lake , where you can enjoy a nice, gentle walk around the lake if you want to stretch your legs.

The next point of interest is Two Jack Lake , where you’ll get a different view of Mount Rundle. It’s a wonderful place to stand-up paddleboard (if you have your own—there are no rentals). The last lake you’ll reach is the massive Lake Minnewanka.

Lake Minnewanka is a man-made lake that is 21 km long and 142 meters deep and helps power Banff with hydroelectric power. In the summer, you can walk the lakeshore and enjoy the sights, but what we really recommend doing here is…

Cruise on Lake Minnewanka

heading back to devil's gap on lake minnewanka

If you’ve followed our itinerary, it’s been a long day already, so this is totally optional . However, it’s a fun evening activity if you have the time.

The Lake Minnewanka Cruise is an hour-long panoramic that cruises the lake. These cruises head to Devil’s Gap at the end of Lake Minnewanka and then make a return. It’s a stunning new way to take in the surroundings. If you’re on an adult adventure and love beer, then you can only enjoy the Lake Minnewanka Beer Voyage Cruise in the summer. This 90-minute cruise runs daily at 5pm and allows guests to enjoy local craft brews while enjoying the views.

Local tip: If you don’t have a car look into Roam Route 6 to visit Lake Minnewanka. Bus tickets are free with a cruise ticket.

Dinner Downtown

hello-sunshine-banff

It’s been a busy day, and we bet you are tired. So you can either grab a laid-back dinner at Una Pizza, Magpie and Stump, or Banff Sushi House or make reservations for a nicer meal at places like Hello Sunshine or Brazen.

Go For a Hike

johnston canyon - banff

Start your day early and go for a nice, easy hike in Banff. If you had Johnston Canyon on your list, now is the time to do it. But get to the trailhead early (before 8 a.m.). Johnston Canyon gets crazy busy in the summer, and you’ll want to be one of the first on the trail if you really want to hike it. The hike to the Upper Falls should take you between 3 and 4 hours. Other great hikes are Tunnel Mountain , the Sundance Canyon Trail, and Surprise Corner To Hoodoos.

Lunch Downtown

Nourish-Bistro

After your hike, head back to Downtown Banff for another great lunch. Some nice patios include Nourish Bistro and Coyotes Southwestern Grille!

Banff Gondola

banff-gondola

After lunch, relax a bit before making your way to the Banff Gondola (reservations are recommended in the summer). The Banff Gondola is this region’s most renowned gondola and takes visitors 2,292 ft up Sulphur Mountain in just 8 minutes. On your journey up, you will experience breathtaking views of the Spray and Bow Valley. Once at the top, you can admire the Town of Banff and Cascade Mountain from a completely different view.

Keep your eye open for other landmarks you may have seen in Banff, like the Cascade Gardens, the Banff Springs Hotel, and Banff Avenue. There is an elevated boardwalk where you can walk to Sanson’s Peak. If you’re feeling chilly, there are nice interactive displays inside, ideal for entertaining the kids.

You can book your Banff Gondola tickets here . If you don’t have a vehicle, look into Roam Transit Route 1. If you want to combine tickets you can book a Banff Gondola + Lake Minnewanka Cruise ticket here.

Dinner at Sky Bistro

This one will require reservations and advanced planning because it’s one of the most popular ad scenic places to eat in Banff . The Sky Bistro is fine dining in the sky and is located at the top of the Banff Gondola.

They serve up delicious cocktails and even better appetizers, entrees, and desserts. It’s one of the nicest restaurants in Banff so it books up 30 days in advance. They save about 10% of their tables for walk-ins, but it’s not a large restaurant, so I wouldn’t plan on walking in and eating without a reservation.

*Optional Hotel Move*

Paradise-Lodge-and-Bungalows

Now is your chance to split up your 5-day Banff itinerary with a hotel move to Lake Louise. Plenty of visitors like to split their time between the two towns. That’s because Lake Louise is not only closer to… well, Lake Louise, but it’s also closer to the start of the Icefields Parkway, Jasper, and Yoho National Park.

Lake Louise and Moraine Lake Day

How to Get to From Lake Louise to Moraine Lake 

Nearly every first time visitor to Banff has Moraine Lake and Lake Louise on their itinerary, and rightfully so! They are some of the most beautiful lakes in the entire world.

However, because they are so busy and popular, accessing them requires a bit of advance planning. If you’re reading this itinerary well before your Banff trip, it’s time to start thinking about how to get to Moraine Lake and Lake Louise. You are not able to park at Moraine Lake anymore, and parking is extremely limited at Lake Louise.

For that reason, we recommend people start looking into alternative ways to get to Moraine Lake and Lake Louise. The most popular options are the Parks Canada shuttle buses, but there are also plenty of private tour operators who will take you to the iconic lakes. We cover these topics extensively on the blog, so please check out these articles for further reading.

  • How to Get to Moraine Lake
  • How to Get to Lake Louise
  • All About the Parking at Lake Louise
  • All About the Moraine Lake Shuttle

Moraine Lake

sunrise at moraine lake

Many visitors have seeing Moraine Lake at sunrise high on their list. To do this, you can either book the Parks Canada Alpine Start Shuttle in advance, look into a private full-day tour, like this one offered by Radventures , or book the private Moraine Lake Bus Company Shuttle Bus.

Whether or not you catch Moraine Lake at sunrise, there are many things to do in the area. Keep in mind that Moraine Lake is a natural area, and there is no town or village here. At Moraine Lake, it’s all about hiking or canoeing on the lake . One of our favorite easy hikes is to Consolation Lakes, or for a more difficult experience, you can check out Sentinel Pass .

Lake Louise

canoeing-on-lake-louise-

You should take the day to see Moraine Lake AND Lake Louise, since they are in the same area. You can easily connect the two via the Parks Canada Lake Connector Bus (must have a reservation). Nearly all private tours include both Moraine Lake and Lake Louise on their schedule.

Many visitors to Lake Louise simply walk the lakeshore, but you can enjoy plenty of hiking in the area. The most popular is the Lake Agnes Teahouse Trail , but you can get great views from the Beehives , Mount Saint Piran , as well as the Plain of Six Glaciers.

If you’re not up for a hike the other popular thing to do is rent a canoe from the Boathouse and enjoy the lake from the water.

If you cannot get shuttle reservations or don’t want to deal with shuttles, we recommend booking the Moraine Lake Bus Company to get you to the lakes.

Marble Canyon on the Way Back

marble canyon in the summer

If you didn’t opt to stay in Lake Louise, you’d have to travel back to Banff after your epic Lake Louise and Moraine Lake day. If you have the energy, hopping on the Banff Windermere Highway and driving into Kootenay National Park is a great detour. Far from the madding crowds of Johnston Canyon, it’s here you can find Marble Canyon . This is an excellent alternative for those wanting a quieter yet still accessible experience that can be completed quickly.

I love to take the family to Marble Canyon when they visit, and it’s a great addition to a day spent at Lake Louise for those who want a little extra adventure for the day. It’s a super easy hike here, where you’ll walk across nice and stable bridges over the roaring canyon below.

Drive the Icefields Parkway

Jasper-to-Lake-Louise-Icefields-Parkway

Wake up early – and I mean early. Today is the day you’re going to drive one of the most beautiful drives in the world. If you’re staying in Lake Louise, you’ll be able to get an earlier start to your day, as the start of the Parkway is just a few km from Lake Louise. If you’re staying in Banff, you’ll have about an hour extra of driving.

The  Icefields Parkway , or Hwy 93 North, is a scenic drive between  Banff and Jasper  that attracts visitors from around the world. One can enjoy drive-in nature, surrounded by waterfalls, rock spires, ancient glaciers, and turquoise lakes on this entire drive.

This 232 km double-lane highway runs along the Continental Divide. It will take the entire day to drive the entire thing, and you definitely won’t see everything. We’ve driven this route many times and still always see new things along the drive.

natasha on the iceields parkway

A few of our favorite stops include Herbert Lake,  Bow Lake , Peyto Lake, Mistaya Canyon,  Athabasca Falls , and Sunwapta Falls. If you want to hike, there are plenty of opportunities like the Helen Lake hike, Parker Ridge  and Wilcox Pass.

Parker Ridge Hike

About halfway between Banff and Jasper, you’ll reach Athabasca Glacier, and it’s here you can enjoy a walk on the Glacier or book the Columbia Icefields Adventure Tour. The Athabasca Glacier is a really great turnaround point for heading back to Banff. Sure, you’ll miss some sights in Jasper, but you will just have to return on another trip.

Your other option is to book a few extra nights in Jasper and drive the entire Icefields Parkway. For this 5 day itinerary, we’ll stick to you turning around and heading back to Banff. If you want to spend time in Jasper follow this Banff itinerary .

Spend the Day in Canmore

summer day in downtown canmore

You’ve spent a lot of time in Banff, and although you’ll never be able to check everything off, we recommend you head elsewhere for a change of pace. Today is a really great day to check out Canmore. Canmore is the town neighboring Banff, and we recommend everyone visit on their trip to the Canadian Rockies. There are many things to do in Canmore , and you’ll likely want more time here, but even with one day, you can get a pretty good idea of the mountain town.

canmore engine bridge

The first thing to do in town is venture around Downtown Canmore. You’ll probably find that it has stunning views, just like Banff and that it’s also pedestrian-only in the summer – just like Banff! However you’ll probably notice that Canmore isn’t near as busy at Banff, with many visitors saying they even prefer it to Banff!

Grab a coffee at Eclipse and venture into Stonewaters to do some nice shopping. You can easily enjoy a nice walking trail such as the Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk or walk all the way to the famous Canmore Engine Bridge over the Bow River. You’ll get different views of what you’ve seen in Banff, but they are just as staggering.

Grassi Lakes Natasha

If you have a car and want to hike, we recommend venturing to Grassi Lakes or Grotto Canyon. Some beautiful lakes near town are the Canmore Reservoir or Quarry Lake .

If you want to stay in Canmore, our favorite hotel is The Malcolm!

Other Option – Venture into Yoho

Cilantro Cafe at emerald lake

Your other option besides Canmore is to spend the day in Yoho National Park. Yoho National Park is just over an hour from Downtown Banff and is where you can find incredible sights like Emerald Lake , the Natural Bridge, and Takakkaw Falls . If you want to do any hiking in the area, you can hike the Iceline Trail (a long full day) or make a short hike to Laughing Falls. At lunchtime, we recommend heading into the small BC town of Field for lunch at Truffle Pigs.

Things to Keep in Mind

roam transit on downtown banff

You Need a Parks Pass

You need a National Park Pass to visit Banff, Yoho, Kootenay, and Jasper National Park. You can read more about getting one here.

A Car is Ideal for This Itinerary

Although you can easily get around Downtown Banff (Day 1) without a vehicle, you’ll be best served by renting a car for most of this itinerary. That being said, it’s possible to get to many hot spots using Roam Transit, though you will be subject to their bus schedule and times, meaning you may not be able to make the most of your time here.

Book a Hotel in Advance

In the summer, booking hotels in advance is imperative. Between June and September, it’s extremely busy here, and hotels do book out. The sooner you book, the better, and the better rates you will get! We have a great article if you’re curious where to stay in Banff .

This is a Summer Focused Itinerary

This itinerary is focused on visiting Banff in the summer , between May and October. This is when attractions like the Athabasca Glacier Tour and Columbia Icefield Skywalk are running, as well as when you’ll find unfrozen blue lakes, sunny days, and patios to enjoy. That being said you can still complete this itinerary in the winter, just manage your expectations regarding the weather.

Other Areas

This itinerary mainly focuses on visiting Banff. If you’d like a more detailed Canmore itinerary , we have that for you, as well as a detailed Jasper itinerary .

Make Restaurant Reservations

Just like hotels, the restaurants are very busy during the summer months. It’s best to make reservations for dinner, especially at some of the higher end restaurants.

Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies

  • Recommended Experiences: There are so many things to do in the Rockies, but our top recommended experiences include the Banff Gondola , taking a cruise on Lake Minnewanka , and enjoying a cruise on Maligne Lake out to Spirit Island in Jasper. If you are looking for a stress free way to get to Moraine Lake, we highly recommend looking into Moraine Lake Bus Company.
  • Hotels in the Rockies: There are many places to stay, from luxury hotels to wilderness cabins. See all our favorites here.
  • Get to Banff or Canmore Without a Car : The Banff Airporter provides fantastic service connecting you from the Calgary International Airport (YYC) to Banff or Canmore.
  • Get Around : We suggest renting a car to get around. You can search for rental cars on Rentalcars.com . Or embark on an epic campervan trip, we like to compare camper prices on Outdoorsy .
  • Cheaper Airfare: We also use Going to watch for cheap airfare deals and like to use travel credit cards to hack our way into free flights and hotels! Our favorite cards are the Capital One Venture X and Chase Sapphire , which both work well in Canada and have no foreign transaction fees.
  • Hop On, Hop Off : This tour is taking Banff by storm. It’s exactly what it sounds like, hop on and off a bus bound for all the best attractions at your own pace!

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About Natasha

Natasha calls Canmore, Alberta home. After traveling across seven continents and 90 countries with Cameron, she settled down in the stunning Canadian Rockies. She loves to help others travel and make their planning easier. She is a winter enthusiast and loves to snowboard, ice skate, and snowshoe and enjoy all the fantastic summer opportunities in Banff like hiking, scrambling, and biking. You can find her in the mountains or enjoying a coffee by the river. Learn more on the about us page! If you have found the content on this site helpful to your trip planning please consider supporting The Banff Blog. You can say thanks directly by buying us a coffee . All support is much appreciated!

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18 Beautiful Towns In Alberta That Give Banff A Run For Its Money

Booking banff: the ultimate travel guide to its park & town center, visit banff on a budget (with points & rewards you already have).

  • Banff National Park is Canada's first and most visited national park, spanning over 2,560 square miles. It offers a range of activities including hiking, visiting museums, and soaking in hot springs.
  • The Banff Park Museum National Historic Site is Western Canada's oldest natural history museum and houses over 5,000 specimens of animals and plants. It is a must-visit for history and nature enthusiasts.
  • Take a soak in Banff Upper Hot Springs, the only hot spring in Banff National Park that visitors can access. The mineral-rich waters offer stunning views and a relaxing experience. Don't forget to check out the gift shop and café while you're there.

If there's one thing Canada is known for, it's breathtaking natural landscapes. (Oh, and perhaps maple syrup and freezing winters, too.) Tucked away in Banff National Park in the Canadian province of Alberta, Banff is one area that is no exception. The resort town offers access to Rocky Mountain peaks, beautiful glacial lakes, and unparalleled wilderness just waiting to be explored.

Established in 1887 , Banff National Park is Canada's first — and most visited — national park. And, spanning more than 2,560 square miles, the park certainly has something to offer everyone. From fascinating museums and myriad hiking trails to steamy hot springs and romantic gondola rides, here are some of the best bucket-list things to do for one of the best vacations to Banff .

Scenic Views: 10 Mountain Vacations In The U.S. That Are Worth Every Penny

Soak up some of the most beautiful views in America when enjoying these stunning mountain vacation spots in the US.

10 Tour The Banff Park Museum National Historic Site

Nestled in the heart of downtown Banff, this fascinating gem is Western Canada's oldest natural history museum .

In addition to learning about the area's incredible past, visitors can see more than 5,000 botanical and zoological specimens, including animals like bears, bighorn sheep, and various plant species.

  • Address: 91 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1K2, Canada
  • Hours: Open Thursdays to Mondays from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. from May 15 to October 15; open weekends and holiday Mondays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. from October 16 to May 14
  • Price: $4.25 for adults, $3.75 for seniors, free for youths

Museum-goers can also find riveting exhibits at other nearby museums, including the Historic Luxton Home Museum , the Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum , and the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies .

9 Take A Soak In Banff Upper Hot Springs

Soak away the cold in the Upper Hot Springs in Banff , which is the only hot spring Banff National Park visitors can access in the park itself. Situated on Sulphur Mountain, the waters — which are rich in minerals like sulfate, calcium, and magnesium — offer stunning panoramic views of the lush surroundings.

After a nice relaxing soak, head over to the Banff Upper Hot Springs Café for a nourishing snack or shop for souvenirs at the gift shop.

  • Address: 1 Mountain Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1K2, Canada
  • Hours: Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (last entry is at 9:30 p.m.)
  • Price: $16.50 for adults, $14.25 for seniors, and $14.25 for children ages 3 to 17

There are additional pricing options available, including three-, four-, and five-visit punch cards, a family entry rate, and rentals for swimsuits and towels. Visit the website for more information .

8 Visit The Stunning Moraine Lake

Banff's Moraine Lake is undoubtedly the jewel of the Canadian Rockies . Located in the Valley of the Ten Peaks , the glacially-fed lake is surrounded by mammoth mountains and luscious green trees.

Take a leisurely stroll along the lakeshore, get out on the waters via a canoe, or find a spot to take in the view during golden hour.

  • Address: Moraine Lake, Improvement District No. 9, AB, Canada

Moraine Lake Road, the road that accesses the lake, is closed to personal vehicles. It is only open from June to October and can only be traversed via shuttles, public transportation, or guided tours. Reservations for Parks Canada shuttle service can be made online .

Banff may be a slice of Canadian heaven, but that doesn't mean Alberta doesn't have plenty more to offer. Discover these pretty towns in Alberta!

7 Hit The Trails For An Epic Banff Hike

There are a variety of bucket list things to do in Banff, especially when it comes to hikes. Some of the easiest trails in Banff National Park include the 0.5-mile out-and-back Rockpile Trail , which will take hikers up to the Rockpile Lookout for incredible views of Moraine Lake and beyond.

Moderately challenging treks include the 3.8-mile out-and-back Tunnel Mountain Trail and the 6.6-mile Sunshine Meadows loop trail . And for a tougher challenge, hikers can opt for the 6.9-mile out-and-back Sentinel Pass trail or the 11.1-mile out-and-back Healy Pass Trail .

6 Explore The Cave And Basin National Historic Site

There's much to see and do at this National Historic Site, including tours, exhibits, observation decks, walking trails, and more.

Visitors can also watch a variety of engaging short informational films to learn more about the area.

  • Address: 311 Cave Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1K2, Canada
  • Hours: Open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. from May 15 to October 15; open Thursdays to Mondays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. from October 16 to May 14
  • Price: $8.50 for adults, $7 for seniors, and free for youths (combined admission for Banff Upper Hot Springs is also available; visit the website for more information )

5 Go Skiing On Mount Norquay

Hit the slopes of the Mt. Norquay Ski Resort during the winter season. From tubing and skiing, the resort offers a thrilling day of fun in the snow.

For those visiting in the summer, there's still much to do, including hiking and seeing the incredible views from the sightseeing chairlift. The Cliffhouse Bistro also offers guests awe-inspiring views as well as delectable fare.

  • Address: Improvement District No. 9, AB, Canada
  • Hours: Visit the website for a complete list of seasonal hours .

Sunshine Village (located at 1 Sunshine Access Rd, Banff, AB T1L 1J5, Canada) is another terrific Banff ski resort for those keen on tackling the Canadian snow.

The town of Banff is the gateway to some of Alberta, Canada's most spectacular nature and hiking trails, plus so much more.

4 See The Rushing Bow Falls

While in Banff, go chasing waterfalls. The nearly 30-foot-wide river waterfall is a popular attraction for its exceptional postcard-worthy views of the winding Bow River.

  • Address: Bow Falls, Banff, AB, Canada

For the best views of the rushing water, head to Bow Falls Viewpoint, which can be accessed via an easy 1.7-mile out-and-back trail .

3 Have Tea At The Lake Agnes Tea House

Hiking the rugged trails and seeing the incredible mountain views are truly one-of-a-kind activities. But for unusual experiences that can only be had at Banff National Park , a visit to the historic Lake Agnes Tea House is a must.

Perched along Lake Agnes near Lake Louise, the café offers guests extraordinary lake views and a delicious-looking menu of sandwiches, soups, desserts, and, of course, tea, among other things.

  • Address: Lake Agnes, Lake Louise, AB T0L 1E0, Canada
  • Hours: Open seasonally from June 4 to October 10 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The historic teahouse can be accessed via the Lake Agnes trail. Visit the website for more detailed directions .

2 Stroll Through The Cascade Of Time Garden

Located just minutes away from downtown Banff, Cascade of Time Garden is a vibrant oasis that's truly deserving of a visit.

Nestled along the hillside, the gardens offer picture-perfect sights around every corner.

  • Address: Cave Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1K2, Canada
  • Hours: Open year-round from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Price: Free

For the best views, be sure to visit during the peak blooming season, which runs from about late May to early September.

This is how travelers can best take advantage of points and rewards while planning a flight to Banff saving money.

1 See Panoramic Views On The Banff Gondola

Soar 2,292 feet above the ground on a thrilling eight-minute ride to the summit of Sulphur Mountain via the Banff Gondola.

Once at the top, stroll along the ridgetop boardwalk and catch panoramic views from the observation deck.

  • Address: 100 Mountain Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1B2, Canada
  • Hours: Visit the website for seasonal hours .
  • Price: Rates may vary; visit the website for more information .

There is a variety of dining options at the summit , too, including the Sky Bistro, the Northern Lights Alpine Kitchen, Peak Patio, and Castle Mountain Coffee Co.

  • Destinations

Our product picks are editor-tested, expert-approved. We may earn a commission through links on our site. Why Trust Us?

mens health travel awards 2024

The 2024 Men’s Health Travel Awards

The absolute best places for adventure, recovery, and relaxation.

THERE'S A WHOLE big world out there. With only so much time to explore it—even less if we're talking just vacation time—where do you go? Maybe you're into meditative retreats with morning yoga sessions, plant-based dining, and nightly aura cleanses. Or maybe snowboarding, mountain-biking, or free-climbing is more your thing. Or, perhaps, you're looking for something more vacation vacation—toes in the sand; a cold drink in hand. Whatever you're into, we got you.

Our expert team of editors and Men's Health advisors spent the last twelve months researching dozens of destinations, accommodations, and tours. We visited every one and narrowed our favorites into three categories— Active, Recovery, and Relax —so you can find the experiences that work for you.

Pack up. Ship out. This is the 2024 Men's Health Travel Awards.

active

Sheraton Waikiki Beach Resort

This hotel doubles as a base camp for aquatic adventures. Book lessons in heenalu , the Hawaiian technique of board sliding. Or sign up for SUP or outrigger-canoe excursions. Your cooldown is nearby Hanauma Bay for a snorkel or swim.

Tetherow Hotel

Tetherow Hotel

Set in the high desert, this resort gives off Good Life vibes. Lap-swim in a heated outdoor pool onsite, or mountain bike, rock climb, and river raft nearby. Can’t drive ten minutes to downtown Bend? Tetherow also has three restaurants.

Montage Big Sky

Montage Big Sky

At this resort just 50 miles from Yellowstone, winter brings skiing, naturally, but also fat-tire biking and a private tubing hill. Summer is whitewater rafting, a 72-par golf course 7,000 feet above sea level, and fly-tying workshops that lead to hauls of rainbow trout.

Conservatorium Hotel

Conservatorium Hotel

First a 19th bank, then a music school, it's since been converted into a sharp designer hotel. The luxe, glass-enclosed lobby hints at the long list of high-brow amenities you'll find here—including gourmet room service and a stunning spa—all within steps of the city's best sites. However, its main attraction is the 1,615 square feet gym (one of the biggest in the city) that's loaded with Technogym equipment and Therabody recovery gear.

The Ranch Hudson Valley

The Ranch Hudson Valley

Surrounded by 200 private acres less than an hour from NYC, this ultra-luxe retreat focuses on rebooting your health with an ass-kicking fitness regimen and a structured, plant-based diet. Morning hikes, afternoon strength training, yoga, and professional massage are all on the daily agenda.

Signia By Hilton Atlanta

Signia By Hilton Atlanta

Newly opened in January of 2024, this towering, 900-plus-room hotel sits directly across from Atlanta's State Farm Arena. Active guests have access to a massive, tech-forward gym and almost a dozen "wellness" rooms loaded with MH -approved fitness gear.

AutoCamp Zion

AutoCamp Zion

The latest outpost in AutoCamp's catalog of Airstream "hotels" offers immediate access to the iconic Zion National Park with loads of best-in-the-US hiking trails nearby. Bonus: The on-site pool offers a welcome respite from Utah's scorching summer heat.

Gravity Haus Jackson Hole

Gravity Haus Jackson Hole

Located at the foot of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, this adventure-minded hotel offers direct access to some of the country's best skiing. With on-site gear rentals, a swanky restaurant, a heated outdoor pool, and a fitness and recovery center, it's also the perfect base for exploring Grand Teton National Park too.

Hotel Hartness

Hotel Hartness

Situated on 180 acres of preserved green space, this stunning French Revival-style mansion is one of South Carolina's newest and most elegant boutique hotels. Steps from the front door are 15 miles of private hiking trails and easy access to the Blue Ridge Mountains beyond. Pro tip: Check out the swanky on-site bar with a solid mocktail menu.

Loge Camps

More than "just a place to crash," every hotel in this series of adventure-minded outposts with locations across the U.S. serves as the perfect base camp for hiking, skiing, surfing, mountain biking, and more. Think: On-site rentals, gear lockers, roaring campfires, and local craft beers—all in a dog-friendly atmosphere.

Viking

Our go-to expedition cruise line just keeps getting better. Its two all-new polar-class ships explore the world's most remote destinations (think Antarctica and the Arctic Circle) in a category of comfort, luxury, and elegance that no other adventure cruise can touch.

Tauck

Tauck's all-new Small Group Tours are purpose-built for anyone who hates typical travel tours. These boutique trips guide adventure-minded travelers to Switzerland, Africa, Yellowstone, and everywhere in between—all with no more than 15 guests.

Wilderness Travel

Wilderness Travel

No matter how hardcore you like your adventures, this boutique tour outfit has you covered. Explore the most epic, bucket-list-worthy destinations: Walking safaris in Zambia, tracking snow leopards through the mountains of India, trekking the best of Patagonia, and more.

Windstar Cruises

Windstar Cruises

Ditch the "floating city" vibe of most mega-cruise ships for a more intimate and boutique sailing. From Canada to Latin America to the South Pacific, Windstar's powered yachts and sailing ships travel pretty much anywhere you can dream of.

Dornoch Station

Dornoch Station

Amid the country's sandy coastline and rolling, castle-dotted hills, Marine & Lawn's Dornoch Station is a picture-perfect Scottish Highlands golf getaway. From the stately, elegant interior fit for gentlemen, guests are just steps from world-class rounds at the Royal Dornoch Golf Club.

The Virginian Lodge

The Virginian Lodge

This sister property to Outbound Hotels' Mammoth Lakes outpost is a renovated retro-mod motel with a campy, Wes Anderson film vibe that just works . Amid Jackson's sky-high accommodations, this is a surprisingly affordable, vintage alternative minutes from everything the area is known for.

Highland Base Kerlingarfjöll

Highland Base Kerlingarfjöll

Located in Iceland's rugged and remote central Highlands, this sister property to the iconic Blue Lagoon Retreat looks, feels, and is worlds away from the country's well-worn tourist trail. For hearty travelers who appreciate solitude, adventure, and austere beauty, it offers all three in spades.

Moxy Banff

True to the brand's trademark vibe, Moxy Banff is bold, artsy, and playful with a midcentury modern aesthetic that pulls heavy inspiration from the area's well-known ski culture. Don't miss: All-day eats from a restored 1966 VW Kombi food truck.

recovery

Blackberry Mountain

This 5,200-acre retreat’s on-site Recovery Lab offers weightless compression, assisted stretching, and Therabody sessions. Its spa features CBD massage and clay wraps. Or you can just find a chair, watch the mist roll by, and breathe deep.

Mii Amo

The colossal spa here has treatments that run from deep tissue to a Thai massage combining compression with yoga-like moves. It also offers sound baths, breath work, and sleep sessions with an in-house mindfulness team (yes, that's a real thing).

Six Senses Kyoto

Six Senses Kyoto

Six Senses combines Zen gardens and Shodo calligraphy workshops with next-gen spa treatments that use smart tech to ease pain and release tension. There’s also aerial yoga, meditation, and guided runs around the city.

Thompson Houston, by Hyatt

Thompson Houston, by Hyatt

With a sleek, shimmering façade, this new 36-story highrise offers panoramic views of the Houston skyline. Step outside for a stroll through the adjacent 160-acre park, or hit up the rooftop infinity pool or whole-floor spa for some daytime Zen without leaving the property.

La Coralina Island House

La Coralina Island House

Tucked between a private, adults-only beach and Panama's wildlife-rich jungle, La Coralina is a welcome respite for relaxation-seeking travelers. The location alone is reason to come, but the all-new series of yoga, meditation, and wellness retreats is reason to stay a while.

The Westin Washington, DC Downtown

The Westin Washington, DC Downtown

Centrally located near DC's best tourist sites, the newly renovated Westin feels worlds away. With a 10,000-square-foot fitness center and Root & Vine restaurant, there are plenty of ways to unwind after a full day of exploring the capital city.

Zel Mallorca

Zel Mallorca

This all-new hotel was designed in partnership with tennis legend Rafael Nadal to bring a modern beach aesthetic and breezy Mediterranean vibe to Mallorca. Earth tones, palm-lined common areas, and soft linen furnishings abound, and every room is designed for maximum ocean viewing.

Waldorf Astoria Chicago

Waldorf Astoria Chicago

True to the iconic WA brand, this Chicago outpost stands out even amid the city's equally iconic architecture. From the marble-heavy lobby to the sprawling French-style courtyard to the over-the-top suites, it's a posh, luxe respite from the hustle of the Windy City.

Hoshinoya Bali

Hoshinoya Bali

The brand's first retreat outside of Japan is an absolute stunner with just 30 private villas, interconnected by a patchwork of Zen-like gardens and swimming pool "hallways." Every inch of this exclusive luxe resort exudes pure ahhhhh ...

Hotel Arts Barcelona

Hotel Arts Barcelona

With massive flower displays, beautiful guests, and luxurious furnishings dotting every common area, this Barcelona hotel oozes relaxed, cosmopolitan luxury. Everything from the designer toiletries to the two-Michelin-Star restaurant to the stunning views makes the sky-high nightly rates here worth the price of admission.

The Riviera Maya Edition at Kanai

The Riviera Maya Edition at Kanai

The first Edition hotel in Latin America is a study in sexy, modern luxury—all set on a 620-acre nature preserve. Inside, the vibe is like "posh Euro disco" meets "relaxed Mexican retreat," and it somehow all just works . Plus, its tranquil spa—replete with a sauna, three pools, and detached massage rooms—is one of the best in Quintana Roo.

Virgin Hotels New York City

Virgin Hotels New York City

Virgin brings its unique brand of bold, rock-n-roll hotel design to NYC's trendy NoMad neighborhood. The whole-floor gym and new Exhale Spa might make you never want to leave. If you do, the 40-story high-rise is centrally located to Penn Station, the Empire State Building, and much, much more.

relax

Lido Beach Resort

Head inland for laid-back shopping or flamingo spotting at Sarasota Jungle Gardens. Or don’t and hop between the hotel’s two gulf-front pools, the seafood-heavy Drift Kitchen & Bar, and cocktails at the tiki lounge.

The Resort at Pelican Hill

The Resort at Pelican Hill

If golf/pool/dinner sounds right, this spot has all of that. Thirty-six holes skirting the Pacific. One massive, 380,000-gallon coliseum-shaped pool. Two sit-down dining options. This is the life well lived.

Holland America Line

Holland America Line

Basketball courts, 24-hour room service, pickleball , a fitness studio—and that’s just the onboard fun. With more than ten itineraries dropping in 2024, Holland America Line now spans the Caribbean, the South Pacific, and Japan.

Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina

Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina

With world-class hiking, sailing, kayaking, snorkeling, and spa'ing, Scrub Island might be the best Caribbean Island you've never heard of. Its namesake resort offers it all in ultra-relaxed, private surroundings worthy of a luxurious honeymoon getaway.

The Vintages Trailer Resort

The Vintages Trailer Resort

Tucked into Oregon's famed Willamette Valley is this funky "neighborhood" of 36 renovated Airstream trailers. It's equal parts "vintage adult campground" and "oh-to-be-a-kid-again" getaway, complete with an on-site pool, lawn games, and easy access to the area's best vineyards.

Wynn Las Vegas

Wynn Las Vegas

Even amid the absurd opulence of Sin City, the 2,700-plus-room Wynn stands out. With more than 15 restaurants, high-end boutique shops, a sprawling esplanade, and the world-class XS Nightclub, there's a whole lot more to do here than just slots and sportsbook betting.

Hotel Distil, Autograph Collection

Hotel Distil, Autograph Collection

Tucked into Downtown Louisville's famed Whiskey Row, this handsome, five-star hotel pays homage to the city's roots with a healthy dash of modernity. It's a quick walk to the Ohio River, or stay in and relax at the glass-topped rooftop bar, Repeal Oak-Fired Steakhouse, or your own riverview suite.

Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel

Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel

Following a massive renovation, this oceanfront hotel offers a unique blend of luxury and character—a rarity in South Beach, especially at this price point. The combination makes it the perfect basecamp for hard-partying "guy trips" to Southern Florida's most famous destination.

Wequassett Resort and Golf Club

Wequassett Resort and Golf Club

Bright, breezy, and just the right amount of classic New England charm, this five-star resort offers everything you'd ever want in a picture-perfect Cape Cod escape. You'll find on-site tennis courts, world-class beaches, and cozy cottages, many with gas fireplaces, marble bathrooms, and stunning ocean views.

Big Cedar Lodge

Big Cedar Lodge

This all-American resort offers rustic luxury in the heart of the Ozarks. You'll find everything you need for a textbook "guy's getaway," including bowling alleys, arcades, tons of dining options, and a brand-new outdoor concert venue.

Wyndham Grand Krakow Old Town

Wyndham Grand Krakow Old Town

On a bustling strip just steps from Krakow's town center, this upscale hotel blends old and new. It offers sleek rooms, a glass-enclosed cafe, an on-site spa, and an indoor pool.

Four Seasons Baltimore

Four Seasons Baltimore

Baltimore's Four Seasons is an easy standout among the city's myriad accommodations. The 256-room tower houses posh guestrooms, a luxurious restaurant, and an infinity pool with a sundeck and outdoor grill. Pro tip: The harbor-view balcony rooms are worth the upgrade.

The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa

The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa

One of HHI's largest resorts, this upscale, 416-room retreat boasts a tennis club, tons of oceanview rooms, world-famous golfing, and is steps from some of the country's best beaches. Golf, swim, rinse, repeat ...

The Ritz-Carlton New York, NoMad

The Ritz-Carlton New York, NoMad

Somehow this R-C outpost manages to stand out, even amid NYC's red-hot NoMad district. It's within walking distance of the city's most famous attractions and locals-only neighborhoods, all while maintaining the brand's signature, cool-as-a-cucumber flavor of relaxed luxury inside.

Hotel Norman Paris

Hotel Norman Paris

With easy access to the Champs-Élysées and guest suites with Eiffel Tower views, this swanky boutique hotel is about as sexy as it gets for travelers to the City of Light. Inside, the vibe is all "cozy Parisian escape" with velvet curtains, vintage sofas, and a library lounge that supplants the typical hotel reception desk.

Nobu Hotel Los Cabos

Nobu Hotel Los Cabos

With a deft blend of Japanese minimalism and elegant, Pacific-inspired accents, there's beauty in the simplicity of Nobu's Los Cabos outpost. Palm trees, private plunge pools, and floating daybeds abound here, with a clear focus on rest, relaxation, and restoration.

JW Marriott Hotel Mexico City Polanco

JW Marriott Hotel Mexico City Polanco

After undergoing a massive renovation, JW Marriott's MC property delivers an expected class of branded luxury in the city's swanky Polanco District. The interior is replete with luxury accommodations, including a rooftop pool, pillowtop mattresses, 24-hour room service, and a warm, tasteful design that's heavy on dark wood, plush carpeting, and floor-to-ceiling windows.

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  1. 50 Best Things To Do in Banff National Park: Ultimate Banff Guide

    banff downtown places to visit

  2. 50 Things To Do in Banff National Park: ULTIMATE Travel Guide

    banff downtown places to visit

  3. The Complete Guide of Things to do in Banff, Canada for 2021

    banff downtown places to visit

  4. Downtown Banff, Alberta, Canada

    banff downtown places to visit

  5. Banff Town & Lake Louise Village

    banff downtown places to visit

  6. 50 Best Things to do in Banff National Park

    banff downtown places to visit

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  1. Banff Downtown in Alberta, Canada|Amazing place|PinayinUSA

  2. Downtown Banff Canada 🇨🇦

  3. Downtown Banff

  4. Banff Downtown (Souvenirs)

  5. BANFF DOWNTOWN, Banff, AB, Canada

  6. Banff # Banff downtown # Banff national park # canada # Alberta # summer # shorts# viral # Trending

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  1. 21 BEST Things to do in Downtown Banff (+COMPLETE Guide in 2024)

    Here are our top 5 things to do in downtown Banff! Enjoy a ride on the Banff Gondola. Soak in the Banff Upper Hot Springs. Walk to Bow Falls Lookout. Discover a darker side to the town on a ghost tour. Do some sightseeing on an e-bike adventure. Table Of Contents.

  2. What to do in Downtown Banff

    6. Fine dining—mountain style! The Banff Gondola is located just a ten minute drive from the town of Banff and is the perfect way to end your day. Perched on the top of Sulphur Mountain, glide to the summit (2,280 m or 7,486 ft. above sea level) with a breathtaking 360° view of the towering mountain ranges around them.

  3. 15 Can't Miss Things to Do in Downtown Banff

    Unique Things to Do in Downtown Banff. If you want to take your visit to Banff to the next level (literally or figuratively), book one of these unique things to do in downtown Banff. ... so downtown Banff makes a great place to fuel up before heading out on the Icefields Parkway, one of the best scenic drives in the world.

  4. 60+ BEST Things To Do In Banff (June 2024)

    One of the best places to see in Banff that not many visitors think about are the Waterfowl Lakes. Waterfowl Lakes sit along the west side of the Icefields Parkway about 57kms north of Lake Louise. ... Walking: Downtown Banff is extremely walkable as it is only 4-square-kilometers in area, with plenty of pedestrian sidewalks. This is the ...

  5. The ULTIMATE Banff Itinerary You Should Follow (2024)

    Here is the best Banff itinerary, including things to do, Banff travel tips, a packing list, car rental tips, and the best time to visit Banff. This itinerary is primarily summer-focused, but you can also use it for winter trips and just exclude any summer activities like canoeing and paddleboarding from your travel plans.

  6. 16 Epic Things to Do in Banff, Alberta

    Hiking in the meadows is free and so is the shuttle from town, which runs from 7:20 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. during the summer. Located 11 miles west of Banff Town, Banff Sunshine Village offers 12 lifts ...

  7. 25 AWESOME Things to Do in Banff, Canada

    Table of Contents. The Best Things to Do in Banff. 1) Ride the Banff Gondola up Sulphur Mountain. 2) Go Skiing or Hiking at Sunshine Village. 3) Head to Moraine Lake for Sunrise. 4) Tackle the Via Ferrata at Mount Norquay. 5) Enjoy the Views from Mt Norquay Gondola.

  8. Must-see attractions Banff Town, Banff National Park

    Lake Minnewanka (mini-won-ka) sits 13km east of Banff Town, making it a popular escape from downtown. The scenic recreational area has plenty of hiking,… Banff Park Museum

  9. 50 Best Things to do in Banff National Park

    The best places to go out fishing are Lake Minnewanka and the Bow River. Catch and release fishing is encouraged in Banff National Park, especially so if you catch an at risk species. It's better to fish for fun in the mountains that to fish for food. 29. Visit the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.

  10. THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Banff (Updated 2024)

    3. Sunshine Meadows. 579. Nature & Wildlife Areas. Located only a short distance, 16km/10m, from the Town of Banff, the pristine beauty of Sunshine Meadows is easily accessible for everyone, and can be best experienced and enjoyed through the relaxed…. See ways to experience (6) 2024. 4.

  11. 21 BEST Things to do in Banff (Ranked in Our Favorite Order!)

    With outstanding views and a chance to visit the wildlife interpretive center at the summit, it's a super fun activity that's only a 40-minute drive from downtown Banff. While there are four other gondolas in the Banff area, Lake Louise is THE place to go to see wildlife - specifically grizzlies!

  12. 25 Best Things to Do in Banff National Park, Canada + MAP

    11. Bow Valley Parkway, a stunning place to go in Banff National Park. The Bow Valley Parkway is the old scenic route between Banff and Lake Louise. Most tourists go to Lake Louise using the Trans-Canada Highway because it's faster, but the Bow Valley Parkway is much more fun.

  13. 15 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Banff National Park

    1. Explore the Town of Banff The Town of Banff . Highlights: Historic hotel, scenic main street, Sulphur Mountain Gondola, Bow River Falls. Located in the south end of Banff National Park, this little town, surrounded by mountains, is one of the main tourist destinations in Alberta.It is devoted to the tourism industry with all kinds of accommodation options, interesting shops, and restaurants ...

  14. Banff Bucket List: 15 Epic Things to Do in Banff, Alberta

    13. Swim or scuba dive at Lake Minnewanka. It's challenging to compile a list of top romantic things to do in Banff, Alberta without highlighting Lake Minnewanka. This 21km-long marvel situated a mere 5 km (3.1 miles) from Banff's town center.

  15. A 2 Day Banff Itinerary That Actually Makes Sense

    One of the first things to do in Banff is get a sense of the place, ... If you visit Banff in the summer, you'll enjoy the pedestrian-only Banff Avenue. ... especially in the afternoon. The trailhead is also located about 30 minutes from downtown Banff. The hike will take about 2-3 hours to complete. It's a wonderful hike on elevated ...

  16. 14 Incredible Things To Do In Banff, Canada

    4 - Banff Gondola. Ultimate tourist activity number one in Banff has to be the Banff Gondola. The cable car ride up Sulphur Mountain is busy and popular, but for good reason. The views at the top are incredible. The cable car ride is about 8 minutes and individual gondolas seat up to 4 people.

  17. 3 Days in Banff: The Ultimate Itinerary for Your First Visit!

    After completing your exploration of the Lake Minnewanka Scenic Loop, make the 24-minute drive over to the base of Sulphur Mountain. Here, you can choose to take the Banff Gondola up to 7,486 feet for absolutely incredible views of Banff National Park. A view from the top of Sulphur Mountain.

  18. The 23 best things to do in Banff for an unforgettable trip

    Read next: 13 Instagrammable places in Banff you have to see. 5. Taking in the stunning Peyto Lake. There are few views in the world like Peyto Lake from the upper viewpoint, and it was Cat's favourite lake in the whole of The Rockies. This stunning blue lake shines like a mirror amongst alpine mountains.

  19. 27 Breathtaking Things To Do In Banff National Park [Itinerary included]

    There are a variety of hiking trails around the downtown Banff area. You can either drive and park your car or RV at the trailheads or take the free buses - learn more about the free buses and schedule at the Visitor Center. ... We are planning to visit the same places you visited… Your blog is a guide to us. Written very attractively with ...

  20. A Perfect Banff and Jasper Itinerary: Exploring the Canadian Rockies in

    A wide and powerful waterfall, the amazing Bow Falls are a must-see natural attraction near downtown Banff. ... Here are some of Banff and Jasper's top accommodations, for every budget and travel style. Best Places to Stay in Banff. Banff offers a diverse range of accommodations. From luxury hotels to budget-friendly hotel options, here are ...

  21. 17 Banff Hidden Gems (that locals don't even know about)

    The Cascade of Time Garden is located in the town of Banff, at the south end of the Banff Ave bridge. It's free to enter and is a beautifully lush and perfectly manicured garden with trails and walking paths. The large black gates might seem like it's closed to the public, but it's open for visitors to enjoy.

  22. An Ideal 5 Day Banff Itinerary You Can Copy

    Some spend as little as three days, but many fall right in the middle. Five days in Banff is a great amount to give you a little taster of what the Canadian Rockies have to offer. You'll see many of the main sights, like Moraine Lake, the Banff Gondola, and Johnston Canyon, but you will 100% leave wanting to return.

  23. 10 Bucket-List Things To Do On Your First Time In Banff (Inside

    Located just minutes away from downtown Banff, Cascade of Time Garden is a vibrant oasis that's truly deserving of a visit. Nestled along the hillside, the gardens offer picture-perfect sights around every corner. Address: Cave Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1K2, Canada Hours: Open year-round from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

  24. Banff Gondola Parking & Lake Louise Shuttle Question

    1. It's strongly recommended to take Roam transit to the gondola, or else the shuttle that Pursuit operates from downtown Banff, not only because the parking lot gets ful, but because of gridlock traffic to and from the gondola, over the bridge.. 2. The park and ride parking lots are VAST - they hold many thousands of cars.I would arrive before 5, maybe as early as 4:30; you may have a few ...

  25. The 2024 Men's Health Travel Awards

    The absolute best places for adventure, recovery, and relaxation. ... Ship out. This is the 2024 Men's Health Travel Awards. Columbus, Ohio. ... Moxy Banff is bold, artsy, and playful with a ...