From hikings trails and nationwide parks, to the world well-known Lake Louise and Lake Moraine, let our checklist of the perfect issues to do in Banff, Canada enable you plan your subsequent go to.
The city of Banff, in addition to the encompassing Banff Nationwide Park, is without doubt one of the most treasured jewels in all of Canada, and North America for that matter.
The jagged peaks of the Canadian Rockies stand up in all instructions, creating an awe-inspiring scene that beckons all who go to to get outside.
With Cascade Mountain rising above the city at one finish, Mount Rundle drawing all eyes that land on it, and various quaint timber shops lining the streets, Banff is as near a residing fairy story vacation spot that yow will discover.
READ MORE: We’ve simply revealed our full Banff itinerary so you recognize which order to do issues in. Be sure you test it out!
Yearly a whole bunch of hundreds of vacationers from the USA and Canada flock to Banff to delight in its pure magnificence and to sort out the large variety of actions and points of interest which have grown through the years.
Positioned proper within the Banff Nationwide Park, its landscapes are phenomenal. The close by Lake Louise is an iconic sight, the ski resorts are top-notch, and it’s little marvel Banff is now considered one of Canada’s greatest journey locations.
The Finest Issues to Do in Banff
There are a number of issues to do in Banff, because the pure landscapes are very accommodating for all kinds of actions, starting from mountain climbing to canoeing to snowboarding, and a lot extra.
Whereas the city of Banff is sort of small and will be explored in simply a few days, the encompassing area is far more vibrant, and Banff Nationwide Park is the place a lot of the magic occurs.
A number of the sights in Banff Nationwide Park are world-famous, together with the sapphire Lake Louise and different peaks within the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
READ MORE – Don’t miss out on our full information to the best Banff hikes.
Right here is our checklist of the perfect issues to do in Banff, which can hopefully enable you begin exploring this glorious area.
1) Trip the Banff Gondola up Sulphur Mountain
There’s a really distinctive and scenic magnificence to be discovered on this a part of the Rocky Mountains, and that gorgeousness is most accessible when it from excessive atop the mountains.
The close by Sulphur Mountain affords actually epic views from its summit. The gondola is an effective way to get to the highest the place these vistas develop into accessible to virtually anyone.
No marvel it’s develop into one of many prime issues to do in Banff!
Driving the gondola isn’t nearly attending to the highest of Sulphur Mountain. The views alongside the best way present a really distinctive perspective of the size of Banff and its surrounding area.
Its 7,500-foot tall peak of Sulphur Mountain consists of interactive displays, a present store, locations to eat, and even a 360-degree observational deck with views of Banff and the Bow River Valley under.
Mountain climbing out towards the summit of Sulphur Mountain has you observe a well-built boardwalk, that may get icy, so ensure you deliver correct footwear.
The quick stroll is nicely value it although, and on a transparent day, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful panoramic views of the Bow Valley punctuated with hovering peaks.
Whereas the gondola journey to the highest of Sulphur Mountain is a bit on the dear aspect (CA$62 for adults 16 and up), it’s one of the crucial fashionable locations to go to in Banff for good motive.
If you wish to avoid wasting cash you may as well hike to the highest of Sulphur Mountain. Permit 2 hours to climb when you have an affordable degree of health.
For those who’re , the Bow Valley can also be one of many prime spot for horseback driving in Banff Nationwide Park. Go to one of many tourism workplaces in Banff city for excursions and information.
2) Go Snowboarding or Mountain climbing at Sunshine Village
Regardless of the season there’s all the time one thing unbelievable to do round Sunshine Village.
Only a 30-minute drive from the city of Banff, Sunshine Village is primarily a ski resort, and it’s typically the primary resort to open up in Canada each winter, and one of many final to shut. The season lasts from November till Might!
Sunshine Village boasts 3000 skiable acres and 12 chair lifts making it world-class. There’s terrain to go well with skiers and snowboarders of all ranges.
Households can have a good time, and the ski faculty is without doubt one of the greatest within the nation.
Whereas Sunshine Village shouldn’t be a budget-friendly vacation spot, performing some wonderful snowboarding all day and enjoyable within the lodge with a scorching drink within the night makes Sunshine Village one of many coolest points of interest in Banff.
However as soon as the ski season is over, and June rolls round, the snow melts and the terrain reveals splendid mountain climbing trails round Sunshine Village.
The Sunshine Meadows pop into life, and are thought of a few of the greatest mountain climbing trails in your entire wider area. There are additionally some nice mountain biking trails.
Mountain climbing is totally free, and the surroundings is gorgeous, which is why Sunshine Meadows is without doubt one of the greatest issues to see in Banff.
READ MORE: Going elsewhere within the Rockies? Try this checklist of the best things to do in Jasper!
3) Head to Moraine Lake for Dawn
One of the crucial photographed locations in all of Canada is the well-known Moraine Lake, with its 10 peaks reflecting on the glistening, mirror-like water.
Moraine Lake is so well-known that it was pictured on the previous twenty greenback invoice! So it’s little shock that nearly everybody visiting Banff makes an effort to see Moraine Lake with their very own two eyes.
Moraine lake itself is simply an hour drive from the city of Banff, and when you’re there you’ll discover a few of the most interesting mountain climbing trails within the area.
There are mountain climbing trails of various issue, so even newcomers can have a simple time adjusting to the terrain that surrounds the lake.
Whereas the simplest hike is the flat Lakeshore Path, which lasts about 45 minutes spherical journey, a way more fashionable hike is Comfort Lakes trails, which is sort of lengthy at about 2 hours.
Regardless of which manner you choose, nonetheless, you’ll witness the magnificent alpine great thing about the Canadian Rocky Mountains and loads of well-marked trails.
Simply be certain to reach earlier within the morning to catch a parking spot.
E book a Lake Moraine and Lake Louise sightseeing tour from Banff in case you don’t have your individual automotive!
4) Go Whitewater Rafting on the Kicking Horse River
For these of you that like to do your sightseeing with adrenaline flowing by your veins, one of the crucial thrilling issues to do in Banff Nationwide Park is whitewater rafting!
The well-known Kicking Horse River is a brief distance from the city of Banff and is understood to have the perfect rafting alternatives in your entire nation.
Charging by class 5 rapids, over waterfalls and between slender gorges is assured to get your blood pumping. But when this sounds a bit an excessive amount of for you there’s all the time an choice to take it sluggish and easily soak within the views.
There are quite a few excursions that function within the area, and a few of the extra mellow choices are the Kananaskis River, or the intermediate Horseshoe Canyon.
Whether or not you’re an skilled rafter or an entire beginner, you’re certain to fall in love with rafting which is arguably one of many best ways to experience Banff’s stunning nature.
5) Drive the Legendary Icefields Parkway
An expertise that no individual visiting Banff will ever wish to miss is driving the Icefields Parkway, generally known as among the finest street journeys on the planet.
Stretching 230km from simply outdoors the Lake Louise space all the best way to Jasper, Icefields Parkway is an iconic freeway that weaves its manner by the perfect mountain surroundings in all of Canada.
Beginning within the south you traverse by Banff Nationwide Park, previous a few of the most picturesque landscapes possible, together with the impossibly blue Peyto Lake. Peyto Lake is certainly value a cease in itself.
Ultimately you hit Jasper Nationwide Park, with the wonderful Columbia Icefield and the Athabasca Glacier (extra on that under), and the insanely spectacular Athabasca Falls and Sunwapta Falls.
Jagged peaks encompass you on all sides and also you’ll cross by extra mirror-like lakes and rivers than you possibly can rely with loads of choices to cease alongside the best way.
You might also have the pleasure of seeing a few of the Canadian Rockies’ most wonderful wildlife, similar to bears, moose, and caribou.
The drive alongside Icefields Parkway is significantly mind-blowing and will be accomplished both with your individual rental automotive (which we advocate) or by joining a tour from Banff.
Despite the fact that it’s solely 230km lengthy, you possibly can simply spend 5 (or extra) hours driving the Icefields Parkway, particularly in case you cease off in any respect the highlights alongside the best way or do any hikes.
For those who favor to take advantage of your time, you possibly can ebook a one-way sightseeing tour of the Icefields Parkway, choosing you up in Banff Nationwide Park, taking you to all the primary spots alongside the drive, then dropping you off close to Jasper Nationwide Park.
6) Go Mountain climbing on the Athabasca Glacier
Essentially the most-visited glacier in all of North America, the Athabasca Glacier is part of the majestic Columbia Icefield, which is the biggest physique of ice within the Canadian Rockies.
Positioned practically midway alongside the Icefields Parkway, this magnificent glacier will be explored in various methods. The most well-liked manner is a tour on the Ice Explorer, a specifically designed expedition bus that drives instantly on the glacier.
This journey lasts simply over an hour and will be an effective way to expertise the glacier in case you’re quick on time or have some mobility points.
However if you wish to actually have an journey, then it is advisable to hike on the glacier itself!
Athabasca Glacier Icewalk has been main mountain climbing journeys for years, and runs an epic tour known as the Ice Cubed the place you don crampons and stroll for 5km on the large frozen river.
It lasts for Three hours, begins in both the morning or afternoon and also you do want a regular quantity of health to participate.
Have some extra time? Try their Icewalk Deluxe tour, which works for five hours. Positively among the finest issues to do close to Banff!
One of the best ways to get round is to hire a automotive and discover by yourself! We advocate Rental Cars, which has the biggest vary of automobiles for the perfect worth available on the market.
7) Go Ice Climbing with Yamnuska Mountain Adventures
For those who love adrenaline and making an attempt one thing new, then among the finest issues to do in Banff in winter is to go on an mountaineering tour with native specialists Yamnuska Mountain Adventures.
When the temperatures drop within the Rocky Mountains, the waterfalls freeze, creating a brand new world of potentialities for individuals who love being lively.
Summer time is for mountain climbing in Banff, and winter is for mountaineering, which is without doubt one of the most enjoyable (and most badass) actions you are able to do.
Armed with ice axes and crampons, you climb vertically up frozen falls, hammering your ‘device’ into the ice and kicking the factors of your crampons in, that means with power, approach and a little bit little bit of belief, you possibly can ascend to dizzying heights.
We had by no means accomplished this earlier than, so we signed up for an introductory course with Yamnuska. We met our information Jesse in Johnston Canyon, and he gave us all of our gear earlier than mountain climbing out to the distant falls.
As soon as on the finish of the boardwalk we climbed down the approved-climbers-only part and obtained kitted up.
Jessee ran up a simple route, drilling anchors into the ice and connecting the rope earlier than heading again down and giving us some detailed directions on easy methods to ice climb.
Then it was time to place the speculation into observe!
We climbed up and down the identical route Four instances, getting higher and sooner every time, and Jesse would continually monitor our approach and provides recommendation on easy methods to enhance.
Slamming the device into the ice and feeling it seize maintain was immensely satisfying, and we rapidly fell in love with this sport. It was tiring although, and as soon as we’d burned all our power up it was time to go again to the automotive park.
The fellows at Yamnuska Mountain Adventures run a bunch of various excursions, from small introductory ones for newcomers like us proper as much as intensive programs. For those who’re questioning what to do in Banff in winter, we extremely advocate this!
8) Soak within the Banff Higher Scorching Springs
The Banff Higher Scorching Springs was as soon as thought of a spot of holy therapeutic waters by the First Nations. As we speak it’s a place for resting and leisure.
The distinctive properties of those pure scorching springs make them one of many most interesting vacationer points of interest in Banff Nationwide Park, they usually’re an awesome spot to go to all yr spherical.
Every pure scorching spring is akin to a public swimming pool, in that they’re outfitted with the entire newest fashionable facilities similar to railings, ladders, lockers, and even a café.
What units them aside is that the swimming pools are fed by pure scorching springs, and that is the primary motive they’re so enjoyable.
Coupled with the truth that the encompassing surroundings is gorgeous, these scorching springs can simply loosen up each the physique and the soul.
All of this makes the recent springs considered one of greatest locations to go to in Banff.
9) Test Out the Cave and Basin Nationwide Historic Website
Cave and Basin Nationwide Historic Website is of essentially the most fascinating points of Banff’s historical past.
There’s proof of people occupying the world of Banff for round 10,000 years, which works to indicate that there’s much more to this place than meets the attention.
With the ability to work together inside a historic setting and context is all the time wonderful, which is strictly what the Cave and Basin Nationwide Historic website affords to guests.
That is the place that first put Banff on the fashionable map, and the explanation it was designated as Canada’s first nationwide park.
Contained in the cave is a pure thermal scorching spring, which is now closed to public swimming, and these days it’s an academic spot.
There are many interactive shows that train travellers in regards to the significance of this location, and there’s a Discovery Tour designed particularly that will help you immerse your self on this place.
The cavern is completely gorgeous, and positively one of many coolest locations to go to in Banff.
For those who’re not within the temper to go trekking round Cave and Basin Nationwide Historic website, you may as well go on a 1-hour guided ride!
10) Take pleasure in S’Mores and Dwell Music on the Alpenglow Competition
Through the winter months, the highest of the mountain comes alive with the enjoyable and vibrant Alpenglow Competition, and spending a number of hours up right here is a superb Banff winter exercise.
The alpenglow refers to when the tops of the mountains flip crimson simply after the solar units, a phenomena that’s actually lovely (and makes for some superior images).
The Alpenglow Competition is a superb occasion to take a look at within the late afternoon, as quite a lot of native musicians take the stage, scrumptious meals is on the market and guests are even given s’mores to prepare dinner up on the outside fires.
We went up on a cloudy day and weren’t blessed with the well-known alpenglow, however that didn’t make the competition any much less superior. Positively attempt some cocktails whilst you’re up there.
11) Hike Round Lake Louise and the Close by Teahouses
One of many true gems of the area, Lake Louise is sort of as iconic as Banff itself.
Positioned an hour east from the city in Banff Nationwide Park, Lake Louise is a completely spellbinding location, surrounded by surroundings that may barely be matched by another place on the earth.
Lake Louise is a turquoise jewel surrounded by jagged peaks in Banff Nationwide Park. Whereas Lake Louise isn’t the perfect for swimming, it’s ultimate for canoeing!
Canoeing in Lake Louise whereas Mount Victoria majestically looms to the west is without doubt one of the greatest issues to do in Banff Nationwide Park.
Mountain climbing and exploring are additionally wonderful choices, and one thing that shouldn’t be missed is strolling as much as the close by teahouses.
A well-liked and pretty straightforward trek is to Lake Agnes, which solely takes round an hour and is nicely value it to admire the alpine surroundings and have a cup of espresso on the path.
When you have extra time you possibly can head out to the teahouse on the finish of the Plain of the Six Glaciers path from Lake Louise. It will possibly take as much as 7 hours, however the views are merely unreal.
There are additionally mountain biking trails round Lake Louise that you may hit if you go to Banff!
With a lot to see, you possibly can simply spend a few days unearthing the nooks and crannies round Lake Louise.
Need an expertise like no different? Take into account staying a the Fairmont Lake Louise, one of the crucial well-known motels in Banff Nationwide Park and your entire world!
12) Discover the Falls at Johnston Canyon
By far the preferred day hike in Banff Nationwide Park is thru the outstanding Johnston Canyon, solely 30 minutes from downtown Banff.
The straightforward 5km lengthy jaunt to the Higher Falls and again will take you alongside the slender gorge fashioned by Johnston Creek, a part of the well-known Bow River, and as much as a group of huge cascades and swimming pools.
Alternating between well-groomed trails and a boardwalk, it’s accessible for individuals of all ages and skills. Don’t let the excessive variety of guests put you off although – its magnificence is nicely value coping with the crowds.
For those who occur to seek out your self on the town through the colder months it is best to positively contemplate taking a mission out to Johnston Canyon, as seeing the place lined in contemporary snow and ice is like stepping right into a winter wonderland.
Strapping ice cleats and going on an evening icy hike to Johnston Canyon is a incredible exercise, as your entire area is without doubt one of the most lovely issues to see in Banff in winter.
The frozen waterfalls create a particular sort of drama that makes them appear as in the event that they’re straight out of a fairy story.
13) Shred the Slopes at Lake Louise Ski Resort
Towering mountains, excessive snowfall, lengthy winters and wonderful infrastructure makes Canada one of many world’s most well-known snowboarding and snowboarding locations.
House to a few of the greatest ski resorts on the planet, like Whistler Blackcomb and Revelstoke Mountain Resort, individuals journey from far and extensive to carve activates the legendary slopes.
Alberta has various world-class ski resorts, and the top of all of them is Lake Louise Ski Resort in Banff Nationwide Park.
With 4200 skiable acres and 10 chair lifts servicing 145 runs, there’s little marvel that folks flock to Lake Louise to shred the terrain.
The slopes of Lake Louise Ski Resort cater to skiers of all ability ranges, and whether or not you’re studying on the bunny hill or hucking again 5’s off of cliffs, you’re assured to seek out one thing to maintain you happy.
For those who’ve already fallen in love with Banff and wish to prolong your keep and discover the area, be certain to learn our Canada Travel Guide.
14) Pattern the Liquor at Park Distillery
For those who love the style of a fantastic gin or tasty rye, then you definitely merely can’t miss Park Distillery when questioning what to do in Banff!
Positioned in downtown Banff on Banff Avenue, this superior native distillery makes a few of the greatest liquor within the nation, they usually’re not afraid to experiment both!
Chilli vodka? Hell yea. Maple rye? In fact! Desire a gin infused with Canadian spruce? Why not?
Park Distillery has been experimenting with numerous liquors for the previous couple of years and has proudly develop into among the finest Banff points of interest round.
They’ve a wonderful restaurant and a fully-functioning bar (boasting delectable cocktails), however in case you actually love their liquor ensure you join the free distillery tour.
15) Hire Some Ice Skates and Hit the Lakes
As soon as winter rolls round and the temperatures drop, a lot of Banff’s fantastic waters freeze over.
These looking for true journey amongst the mountain peaks may not discover this favorite native previous time of curiosity, however on the subject of Banff winter actions, ice-skating is tough to beat.
Ice skating on the frozen lakes of Two Jack Lake, Johnson Lake, Bow Lake, Lake Minnewaka, and even the legendary Lake Louise, whilst you’re surrounded by majestic alpine peaks is nothing to scoff about.
Lake Louise itself is taken into account the most secure of the bunch to ice skate on, because it’s repeatedly maintained and cleared of snow.
You may deliver your individual gear with you, however if you would like you may as well hire respectable gear from native outlets if you go to Banff.
16) Hold Out at Lake Minnewanka
It’s laborious to put in writing a listing of the perfect Banff points of interest with out mentioning Lake Minnewanka, the 21km lengthy spectacle simply outdoors of city.
That is the sort of place the place you might get misplaced for days. Individuals who love being lively will discover solace within the kayak and canoe leases down on the fundamental pier, or you possibly can tackle any considered one of various beautiful hikes within the space.
Relatively loosen up with family and friends? Lake Minnewanka is the proper place to return down for a picnic, or you possibly can take a ship cruise, which is arguably among the finest issues to do in Banff in summer time. There isn’t a higher place to soak within the Banff sunshine than on the shores of a lake.
The enjoyable doesn’t cease there. It’s additionally a preferred fishing vacation spot, with massive trout and whitefish ready to be hooked by the eager angler.
One factor that few individuals know is that you may truly go scuba diving in Lake Minnewanka as nicely. Sure, the water is chilly, however the underwater flora is sort of wonderful.
17) Climb Cascade Mountain
The overwhelming majesty of Cascade Mountain looms over the city of Banff like a guardian angel, and its presence has been wowing guests for many years.
It’s laborious to not cease and take hundreds of images of the mountain from each angle of city, however in case you’re feeling as much as a problem you possibly can even contemplate climbing to its summit!
The highest of Cascade Mountain sits at 2998m above sea degree, and the path to the highest is certainly no stroll within the park.
The 18km return hike to the summit climbs a complete of 1325m in elevation. And whilst you don’t want mountaineering expertise to beat the height, there’s a truthful quantity of scrambling at instances, and the path will be sketchy.
The trailhead begins on the ski lodge on Mount Norquay. Begin early and permit your self a full day to achieve the highest and descend safely.
Don’t try this hike if circumstances are moist or snowy, and monitor the climate earlier than you begin and as you’re climbing.
A substitute for mountain climbing is a helicopter tour over the Canadian Rockies, among the finest Banff points of interest.
18) Preserve an Eye Out for Banff’s Epic Wildlife
Banff is house to much more than simply busloads of vacationers and a sizeable working vacation crowd. Essentially the most well-known residents of Banff are the wildlife!
House to animals of all shapes and sizes, recognizing a critter is a spotlight of many individuals’s go to to city, and infrequently it isn’t that onerous.
Deer are generally seen wandering across the village, and infrequently elk and caribou make an look.
For those who head into Banff Nationwide Park, Canada’s first nationwide park, your likelihood of seeing some wildlife goes up drastically. Right here you could have the prospect to forged your eyes on moose and even black bears.
A number of the most elusive creatures are grizzly bears, wolves, and cougars, and it is best to contemplate your self fortunate in case you see one.
It’s essential to needless to say these are wild animals and will be extraordinarily harmful. For those who see one within the wild don’t strategy it, and in case you come throughout one when driving don’t get out of your automotive.
Give them loads of area and chances are high they gained’t be spooked, that means you possibly can observe them safely from a distance for fairly a very long time.
For those who’re a nature fanatic you may as well contemplate reserving a wildlife safari tour if you go to Banff. Exploring with a educated information will improve your possibilities of seeing some animals!
For those who get pleasure from photographing wildlife, take a look at our checklist of the best travel cameras for all budgets.
19) Brush Up on Your First Nations Historical past at Buffalo Nation Luxton Museum
No journey to Canada is full with out studying about its fascinating First Nations tradition, and this wonderful museum in downtown Banff does an awesome job at it.
It’s been open for the reason that 1950s, and since then the Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum has devoted itself to instructing everybody about the entire contributions of the native individuals to the encompassing lands.
This museum is a superb Banff attraction, particularly for these fascinated by historical past and tradition. It’s not a really massive museum and will be explored in about an hour.
The museum is open every single day of the week from 10 am to 7 pm, and the entry price is CA$10.
Banff Journey Information
Now that you recognize what to do in Banff and the encompassing Banff Nationwide Park, we want to enable you with one other essential planning facet of your Canadian journey – discovering the proper lodging!
The place to Keep in Banff
Being such a vacationer hotspot, the city of Banff has an enormous variety of nice lodging choices for all travellers.
As an entire disclaimer, motels in downtown Banff are very costly, so earlier than you come ensure you have sufficient room in your finances to accommodate your keep right here.
Fortunately there’s a complete vary of free issues to do in Banff if you get right here to assist hold the remainder of your prices down.
Finest Hostel in Banff – Samesun Hostel
The Samesun Hostel has develop into a little bit of an establishment throughout western Canada, and in case you’re trying to go to Banff on a finances then that is the spot to be.
Having moved to a brand new location nearer to downtown Banff a few years in the past, it has a few of the greatest amenities of any hostel within the area.
Clear dorm rooms with lockers, an incredible widespread space, quick wifi, the well-known Beaver Bar and reductions on all types of Banff actions make it the perfect low cost lodging on the town. The workers are tremendous pleasant they usually’ll enable you make preparations for attending to the nationwide parks and hikes.
Finest Mid-Vary Resort in Banff – Moose Resort and Suites
When you have the cash to splurge if you go to Banff we extremely advocate the Moose Hotel and Suites.
We stayed right here on our final go to to Banff after taking the Rocky Mountaineer prepare journey from Vancouver, and cherished our keep.
This traditional-style lodge has an awesome bar and restaurant, and the rooms are spacious and classy.
Finest Luxurious Resort in Banff – Fairmont Banff Springs Resort
The Fairmont Banff Springs is without doubt one of the most iconic luxurious motels in Canada, and in case you can afford it, you gained’t remorse staying on this world-famous lodging.
Positioned simply outdoors of city close to Bow Falls, this towering advanced is over 125 years previous and is a very lovely place to see.
The property can greatest be described as decadent, and the rooms are stately and tastefully embellished.
The bars and eating places are a few of the greatest within the nation too, so even in case you can’t afford to remain right here, it’s value popping out for a drink or a chunk to eat.
The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is one other unbelievable luxurious lodge situated proper on the lake. It’s not as near downtown Banff as Fairmont Banff Springs Resort, however it’s a extra secluded possibility.
So there are good luxurious choices irrespective of the place you wish to keep within the Banff and Lake Louise space.
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