things to do in Banff

Of all the wilderness resorts in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Banff is one of the most captivating. Snow-capped peaks keep watch over the historic town, while grizzly bears and elk forage for supper in the surrounding parklands.

We’ve rounded up all the best things to do in Banff so you can choose which to include in your itinerary. Will you be paddling the turquoise waters of glacial lakes, or is a helicopter tour over the endless forests more your idea of fun?

Ride gondolas up to the snow-peaked mountain ranges during wintertime and go skiing or snowboarding, or explore the landscapes on foot on one of the many hiking trails, rewarded with views of the surrounding landscapes.

Become one with nature during horseback rides, or when visiting awe-inspiring canyons and magical caverns inside the birthplace of Canada’s national parks — and don’t leave whitewater rafting off your Outdoor Adventure Bucket List either.

Situated in Alberta, the nearest major city to Banff is Calgary, and is ideal for a day trip if you’re craving that city feel.

Spoilt for choice with an unending amount of outdoorsy-centric activities, cozy resorts and captivating typography, it’s truly a perfect white winter wonderland!

Want to dive straight in? Browse our catalog now!

1 – Photograph and conquer Castle Mountain’s towering trails

Castle Mountain, Banff National Park

Castle Mountain is one of the most recognizable icons in Banff National Park. Standing imperiously between Banff and Lake Louise, the peak is a popular photo stop on many sightseeing tours.

Reaching high up into the clouds, this towering mass looks rather like a fortress keeping watch over the Bow River below. And whether you’re in town in winter, summer or spring, you’ll find no shortage of adventure activities on offer. When the weather’s warm, experienced hikers can tackle the challenging Castle Mountain Lookout Trail trail that ascends through the forest. There’ll be plenty of scrambling to reach the upper ridges, but the views from the top will be well and truly worth the roughly 3-hour trek – and that’s just one of the slew of trails on offer.

When the mountain is snow-covered, there’s plenty of opportunity for winter adventures too. Snowshoeing trails are open throughout the season, and can take you close to many species of wildlife that inhabit the area. There’s two terrain parks, 78 runs (the longest of which is 5 kms!) and it’s also one of the handful of resort-based cat-skiing operations in North America!

Either way, from the peak – roughly 2,766 meters above sea level (9,075 feet) – you’ll be blessed with panoramic views of the mountain ranges in all directions.

2 – Stroll along the Marsh Loop Trail

Marsh Loop Trail, Banff

The 3.4-kilometer Marsh Loop Trail is another fabulous hike in Banff National Park. Popular with birders, the path is super easy and ideal for families or those looking for a mellow meander.

Boardwalks and bridges add a little extra fun and there’s a wildlife viewing platform tucked away in the marsh. And

The trek makes its way to Sundance Canyon, where you’ll be treated to picturesque views of the mountains and Bow River, so don’t forget your camera. If you fancy a longer walk, you can continue on to the Sundance Canyon Trail – a 2-kilometer loop – for more breathtaking vistas.

Keep in mind: The Marsh Loop trailhead is only a 30-minute walk from the main streets of Banff, if you want to extend your walk.

Directions in Google Maps

3 – Ascend Sulphur Mountain on the Banff Gondola

Banff Gondola

You don’t need to hike for hours to enjoy the splendor of the Canadian Rockies. Just jump on the Banff Gondola and be whisked off up the slopes to the top of Sulphur Mountain.

From here you’ll see six different mountain ranges, as well as rivers snaking through enchanting evergreen forests. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the summit boardwalk to Sanson’s Peak before gliding back down into the valley.

Lasting around 8 minutes and covering about a mile in length, the ride up to Sulphur Mountain is an absolute treat – with views in all directions thanks to the 360-degree windows, it is considered one of the top things to do in Banff for nature-loving visitors of all ages.

If you’re feeling sporty, hike back down the trail that leads from the summit back into town.

Hot tip: if your legs get tired after a day of walking, the Sulphur Mountain Hike trailhead sits conveniently right next to the Banff Hot Springs; nature’s therapy.

4 – Explore the enchanting beauty of Lake Louise

Lake Louise in Banff National Park

Lake Louise has earned its place as Banff National Park’s crowning jewel. The waters are brilliant turquoise, and the evergreen forests whisper of adventure as they sway in the breeze.

In the summertime, it’s one of the most popular hiking and canoeing spots in all of Canada. However, if you want to avoid the crowds, consider visiting during the fall when the leaves are changing colors and creating a breathtaking backdrop. If you’re hunting for adventure, tackle the climb up to the top of Big Beehive for panoramic views of Lake Louise and the rugged mountains that surround it. If hiking isn’t your thing, you can always take a leisurely stroll around the lakeshore and enjoy the serene scenery from ground level.

In winter the Lake Louise Ski Resort comes into its own, with snowboarding, ice skating, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and tubing stealing the show (and even outdoor campfires under the stars).

The gondola — which operates year-round — takes you on a 14-minute ride to a height of 2,088 meters, where you’ll be blessed with breathtaking views of the landscape. With its dazzling blue waters and stunning scenery, it’s no wonder that Lake Louise is one of the most photographed spots in all of Canada.

5 – Grab a cuppa at the best coffee shops

best coffee shops in Banff

Nothing tastes better than a delicious cup of coffee after a couple of hours of outdoor adventuring or exerting all of your energy on the slopes.

Evelyn’s Coffee Bar is a firm local favorite – enjoy a drip coffee or iced frappe. Or feel instantly relaxed the moment you step inside the all-white minimalist Whitebark Cafe. And if coffee isn’t your, well, cup of tea, you’ll also find a handful of locally sourced teas from the Banff Tea Company.

Another crowd favorite, right in the middle of town is the Wild Flour Bakery, where you’ll get to pair your cup of coffee with a freshly baked croissant, muffin, scone or even a slice of pie from the in-house bakery.

You might already know the name; With branches all over Canada, it’s easy to get your fix of Good Earth Coffeehouse in Banff. Offering coffee concoctions that change with the seasons, every cup is scrumptious. It boasts a charming outdoor area where you can take a seat and relax in the summer; and serves up a delectable hot chocolate to warm the bones in winter.

As you can see, there’s clearly no shortage of coffee choices in Banff. Whether you’re in the mood for a cozy cafe or a quick pick-me-up, you’re never far from a caffeine fix.

6 – Ride a horse into the wilds

horse riding in Banff

When most travelers think of Banff, they think outdoor adventure. Hiking, skiing, canoeing on turquoise waters, and exploring the national parks — yet rarely does the image of exploring on horseback come to mind. But if you’re looking to get off the beaten path and immerse yourself in the stunning landscapes, there’s arguably no better way.

With expert guides to take care of all logistics, all you have to do is sit back in the saddle and practice your yee-haws as you explore the backcountry.  Lasting anywhere from an hour to 2 days, these trips depart from Banff and make their way along the Bow River into the mountains, with each distinctive tour showing off a different part of the region. Not to mention, they’re ideal for all ages and skill levels — even the younger adventurers can join in on the fun.

And when it comes to crowds, the only life you’ll encounter here is wild! This is the realm of majestic elk and busy beavers who build their homes down at the lake. Keep an eye out for roaming deer, soaring eagles, and even the occasional bear or moose.

Visiting in winter? A horse-drawn sleigh ride that takes you along slow-covered meadows is an absolute must – an ideal activity for a romantic afternoon or a family outing.

7 – Discover the Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum

Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum, Banff

A wonderful way to spend a couple of hours indoors, escaping from the rain or cold, is to explore Banff’s Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum; housed within a fort-like building, it is dedicated to the rich cultural heritage of the First Nations in Canada.

Sitting on the southern bank of the Bow River, right next to the Cascade of Time Garden, the 70-plus-year-old museum dives deep into the local First Nations culture, history and people, highlighting a variety of Indigenous stories that help put Banff’s surrounding wilderness into perspective.

With thousands of artefacts on display, even the most casual visitor will find something fascinating to learn here. Through things like beautifully decorated tipi, traditional clothing, unique hunting equipment and all kinds of storytelling artwork, you’ll develop a thorough understanding of how Indigenous peoples have lived in harmony with nature for centuries. All in all, visiting the Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum is one of the best cultural things to do in Banff.

While any visit promises to be a real eye-opener to discover the local First Nations people lived off the land and adapted to the environment, the weekly storytelling show – with plenty of music and dance – takes it to a whole new level.

8 – Discover Banff’s best on a hop-on hop-off bus tour

hop-on hop-off bus tours in Banff

Want to see as much of Banff as possible, but you’re short on time? Or (no judgement here) you simply want to put your feet up and enjoy the scenery without having to worry about hiking or driving? Then hop on a bus tour – a hassle-free and comfortable way to take in the best of Banff’s sights.Unlike most hop-on/hop-off bus tours in other cities, you won’t spend all your time in the city. These excursions are all about getting out and experiencing the wild natural surroundings of Banff National Park.

As you make your way through the area, you can check off some of the most famous landmarks – Lake Louise, Johnston Canyon, Moraine Lake, and the Lake Louise gondola — while learning all about the history and geology of these iconic spots along the way.

Plus, the nature of the hop-on/hop-off format means that you can take your sweet time, getting off here and there to explore on foot, pose for photos, or just take in the stunning views.

9 – Get active on Mount Norquay

Mount Norquay, Banff National Park

While it might not attract the same amount of spotlight as its more famous counterparts, Mt. Norquay remains a local favorite for outdoor activities — and sitting just a 15-minute drive from the town center, it’s an easy addition to any outdoor adventurer’s itinerary.

Mount Norquay is a year-round adventure playground. If you’re visiting in the summertime, ride the chairlift to the summit and enjoy some epic national park views, or hike one of the many trails that lead to scenic lookout points.

Easily the most revered activity of them all, however, is Via Ferrata. One of the most challenging yet rewarding things to do in Banff, Via Ferrata is a cliff-side climbing route where you’ll scale your way up the mountain, crossing bridges, scrambling over rocks and taking in breathtaking views along the way. It’s not cheap, but it’s one hell of an adventure.

In winter, on the other hand, Mt. Norquay transforms into a popular ski area with plenty of runs for snow bunnies of all levels – it’s particularly suited to families and beginners looking to hit the slopes, with lessons available for anyone looking to learn the basics.

10 – Enjoy a scenic drive on the Bow Valley Parkway

Bow Valley Parkway, Banff National Park

Another highlight of Banff National Park is the spectacular and quiet Bow Valley Parkway. Taking scenic drives to a whole new level, this meandering 48-kilometer route rolls through the countryside between Banff and Lake Louise.

There are plenty of pull-offs so you can admire the stunning views at leisure. You’ll see the iconic Castle Mountain looming up ahead, while flower-filled meadows line the highway during summer.

Hot tip: You won’t find too many eateries along the road so pack a lunch and stop at one of the many picnic areas along the way for a scenic lunch break (the Fireside Picnic Area is hard to beat). And if you’re feeling up for a longer adventure, consider taking one of the numerous hiking trails that start from the parkway – the Johnston Canyon hike (easy) and Corey Mountain hike (challenging) are both popular options.

Directions in Google Maps

11 – Explore the wonders of Johnston Canyon

Johnston Canyon, Banff National Park

While not quite as notable as Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, Johnston Canyon is still easily one of the most photographed spots in Banff National Park thanks to its landscapes and views that are nothing short of breathtaking. But rather than just snapping a few photos from above, why not lace up the walking shoes and hike down to the canyon floor?tra

Take your pick between the Lower Falls Trail and the Upper Falls Trails – both of which are relatively easy and suitable for all ages, but still present stunning views of the canyon, overhanging cliffs, natural rock tunnels, and beautiful waterfalls to admire.

The former – a 1.2 kilometer each-way walk– takes about an hour, while the latter – a 2.5 kilometer each-way walk– takes about two, each straddling like the banks of the Bow

Keep in mind: Due to its popularity, Johnston Canyon can get busy during the summer months. If you want to enjoy the trail in peace and quiet, consider visiting early in the morning before the snap-happy tourist crowds roll in.

Visiting in winter? Try your hand at snowshoeing or ice climbing!

12 – Soak your weary limbs in Banff Upper Hot Springs

Banff Upper Hot Springs

A surefire way to relax and rejuvenate after a day of outdoor adventure, the Banff Upper Hot Springs have been welcoming visitors since the 1900s – those who come in search of natural beauty and healing waters.

Sitting just 5 minutes from downtown Banff at the base of Sulphur Mountain, this historic spa serves as the perfect place to unwind and take in the panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains. Thought to be a natural aid for stress and pain relief, the soothing, mineral-rich water is sure to ease any post-hiking aches and pains.

The hot springs are open all year, so whether you’re venturing here during ski season or hiking season, the natural hot pools are always an option. While the mineral-rich waters’ temperature does change slightly depending on the season, they remain pleasant and toasty year-round – ranging anywhere from 37 to 50 degrees celsius.

13 – Encounter elk and bears on a wildlife tour

wildlife tours in Banff

Canada’s oldest national park has everything from glacial lakes to lush forests, towering mountains and icy glaciers. And each of these diverse landscapes is home to a variety of wildlife – you just have to know where to look.

Being such a vast, open-air wilderness area, with only the occasional small town dotted along the highways, Banff is a prime location for all kinds of native animals, big and small.

If you head out hiking in the mountains, there’s a good chance you’ll come across the likes of elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep and even the odd black and grizzly bears. And if you follow along the Bow River, keep your eyes peeled for the likes of bald eagles above and beavers below.

But the reality is that you’re relying on luck. If you want to guarantee a wildlife sighting, consider booking one of the wildlife tours in Banff. Operating in summer and winter and run by friendly, nature-loving locals, these insightful tours take you to the best spots for catching wildlife.

Feeling active? A wildlife-spotting canoe tour on the Bow River is a great option!

14 – Be awed at Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake in Banff National Park

When it comes to dramatic scenery, Moraine Lake is in a league of its own. The glacier-fed turquoise water looks almost unreal, while the views of the Ten Peaks provide a postcard-worthy backdrop.

But there’s so much more to this 50-hectare lake than just its beauty. Found in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, the area is an adventure wonderland, with all kinds of hiking trails and outdoor activities on the menu.

If you want to stay on land, then start with a stroll up the Rockpile Trail – a relatively easy (but popular) walking trail that serves up stunning sunset panoramas. For something more under the radar (and certainly more challenging), scramble your way up the Tower of Babel. Comparatively low-key and ideal for families, the Consolation Lakes trail is a wonderful, beginner-friendly alternative.

But if you’re happy to get out on the water, that’s when the real magic happens. Canoe rentals are available at the nearby Moraine Lake Lodge; while they’re not cheap, gliding across the lake and taking in that epic view from a different perspective makes it well and truly worthwhile

Hot tip: While the vistas are second to none year-round, the colors typically shine brightest in June, and the larch season turns everything a beautiful golden color in mid-September.

15 – Discover the Banff Park Museum National Historic Site

Banff Park Museum National Historic Site

History buffs, this one’s for you. Tucked away smack-bang in the middle of Banff Avenue, this charming natural history museum is a lovely way to while away an afternoon when you need a break from the elements.

The Banff Park Museum National Historic Site  showcases almost 5,000 different items from around the Rockies. And they’re not just any old pieces — think taxidermy animals like bison, cougars, and grizzlies, ancient mineral samples and all sorts of historical artifacts that shine a spotlight on the national park, its wildlife, and the indigenous people who first called this land home.

Not only are the exhibits here fascinating, but the building itself is an attraction in its own right as well. A restored 1903 log structure, this federal-style building is officially the oldest of its kind belonging to Parks Canada.

While you’re there: Just around the corner sits the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. They back a fantastic double-header for anyone looking to learn the ins and outs of life in the Rockies.

16 – Embarc on a scenic drive along the Icefields Parkway

Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park

While the Bow Valley Parkway is lovely (and undoubtedly quintessential), the Icefields Parkway has to be one of the most scenic drives on Earth. Stretching close to 230 kilometers, the route connects Lake Louise to Jasper and twists its way through both Banff and Jasper National Parks.

There are so many stops along the way that it’s impossible to see them all in a day, but some key highlights include Peyto Lake (shaped like a wolf), Bow Lake and the Athabasca Glacier (more on that in a moment).

While those three typically rake in most of the attention, they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Don’t miss the Saskatchewan River Crossing, where the North Saskatchewan, the Howse and the Mistaya all converge; the Glacier SkyWalk which rises 280 metres (918 feet) over the Sunwapta Valley; and, if you feel like stretching the legs, the 2-hour-long Parker Ridge hike.

No matter what you do (even if you don’t get out of the car), you’ll quickly see why this particular drive has been deemed one of the world’s most awe-inspiring – just don’t rush it!

17 – Walk on the Athabasca Glacier

Athabasca Glacier, Banff National Park

Sprawling 6 kilometers down a remote valley between Banff and Jasper, the Athabasca Glacier wields the title of being the most visited glacier in North America – a feat due largely to it being one of the more accessible.

Found along the Icefields Parkway (see #16), about 2 hours by car from Banff, this gargantuan block of ice is part of the Columbia Icefield, an enormous sheet that covers a whopping 325 square kilometers. Being a frozen, relatively desolate area, it feels worlds away from the rest of Banff’s busier attractions.

While you can definitely snap a few photos of the glacier from various pull offs along the parkway, it’s well worth paying a few more loonies to hop aboard one of the Ice Explorer vehicles. These giant, six-wheeled off-road units will whisk you out onto the Athabasca Glacier itself, with plenty of time to walk around on the ice and learn about its natural history.

Before you leave: Make sure to head to the nearby Columbia Icefield Skywalk as well; perched high above the Sunwapta Valley, it shows off the Rockies in all their glory.

18 – Chill out at Two Jack Lake

Two Jack Lake, Banff National Park

A beloved local chill-out spot in the summertime, and a winter wonderland for adventure enthusiasts in the colder months, the striking, emerald green Two Jack Lake is an all-season must-visit.

Just a short 20-minute drive northeast from Banff town, it’s most known for its sweeping views of Mount Rundle.

In summer, you can lounge on the lake’s pebble beaches, dip your toes in the crystal clear water, or even rent a canoe or kayak and paddle around the waters – if you’re feeling game, the water spills into the much larger Minnewanka Lake, where you can while away hours on the water.

In winter, Two Jack Lake transforms into a mecca for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, with multiple trails criss-crossing their way around the lake. And when it freezes over, simply lace on the skates for a picturesque ice skating session.

Directions in Google Maps

19 – Feel the thrills on a rafting expedition

rafting in Banff

Forget about canoeing on Two Jack Lake or Lake Moraine. That’s just the warm-up and the excuse to snap a couple of new Instagram pics. Reserved exclusively for adrenaline junkies, Banff’s rapids promise a white-knuckle ride and a show of true power from Mother Nature. And if you’re a newbie to the game, don’t worry – there are plenty of gentle routes that cater to all levels.

Most of the hardcore rapids can be found on the famous Kicking Horse River, which sits about an hour and a half from Banff, near the postcard-worthy town of Golden. The rapids here range from Class II to Class IV, which means you’re in for one hell of a ride.

But if you don’t want to venture that far, the Kananaskis River, which sits closer to Calgary, offers tons of hair-raising routes too – usually Class II and Class III. As the destination for a few rafting tours, you can simply book a day trip from Banff and get taken to the river without having to worry about any of the logistics. What’s not to love?

No matter which rafting spot you choose, you’ll be constantly surrounded by the jaw-dropping Rocky Mountain scenery, and a variety of local wildlife that call these mountains and rivers home.

20 – Have some family friendly fun at Johnson Lake

Johnson Lake, Banff National Park

There are lots of photogenic lakes in Banff National Park, but Johnson Lake is one of the most accessible for families and tourists. A wonderful place to while away a couple hours, you can chill out on the sandy beach, eat lunch in the picnic area, and even go for a swim during the height of summer.

The views from the shore are top-notch. You’ll have Mount Rundle, Cascade Mountain, and Sulphur Mountain rising up in the distance, which makes for a great family photo. But if you can arrange to rent a kayak for an hour or two, the perspective from the water is arguably even better.

Sitting just a 15-minute drive from town, the lake is an easy addition to a busy day of sightseeing or hiking. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot some wildlife like the infamous beavers and muskrats that call Johnson Lake home.

Don’t have a car? It’s easy to take public transport to this beautiful part of the country; simply hop on the Roam Route #6 bus from Banff town which will drop you off right in the Johnson Lake parking lot.

Directions in Google Maps

21 – Pamper yourself at Banff’s rejuvenating spas

best spas in Banff

Assuming you’ll be burning a fair few calories on your vacation, exploring the seemingly endless great outdoors, you’ll likely want to spend some time recuperating. That’s where Banff’s luxury spas come in.

From traditional massages and facials to unique treatments incorporating local ingredients like glacier mud or mountain honey, a heavy dose of R&R is never too far away.

A terrific place to start is the Red Earth Spa in the Banff Caribou Lodge, which offers a tranquil atmosphere with relaxation and therapeutic massages on the menu. It’s not too far away from Cedar & Sage Co., whose yoga, reiki, infrafred sauna and massage therapy service has helped it earn its stripes as one of the town’s top spa picks.

For some that feels a little more in-the-wild, check out Banff Meadow Spa or the Fairmont Spa Banff Springs.

The former boasts steaming outdoor rooftop spas with top-notch mountain views, and the latter – housed inside one of the province’s most spectacular hotels, the castle-like Fairmont Springs – offers the full gamut of indulgent treatments, including a Hungarian mineral pool.

22 – Enjoy a magical moment of peace at the Cascade of Time Gardens

Cascade of Time Gardens, Banff

A relaxing, easy-to-reach place to escape the bustle of Banff and enjoy some magical moments of peace, the Cascade of Time Gardens has been enchanting locals with its well-manicured displays since 1930. This terraced four-acre park is set into the hillside, with pathways winding up and down the slopes where waterfalls, bridges, ponds and gazebos are surrounded by beautiful flowers.

The blooms are at their best between May and September, but it’s fun to visit at any time of year. Stop in one of the timber pavilions for a picnic.

While most of the places on this list require a car and a drive out into nature, The Cascade of Time Gardens is conveniently located near the Bow River on Banff Avenue – a hidden oasis right in the thick of the action. It’s just a short walk from downtown, right next to the Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum (see #7).

Despite what you might expect, the Gardens remain open year-round. The blooms are at their best between May and September. Summer is great for a picnic; in the fall, the colors are stunning; and in winter, the snow helps the Garden transform itself into a whimsical walkthrough activity called “In Search of Christmas Spirit” – LED animal structures, music and all!

Directions in Google Maps

23 – Embrace nature at Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka, Banff National Park

Lake Minnewanka is as lovely as it is vast – and with the title of being the second-longest lake in the Canadian Rockies (at 21 km long), that makes it pretty darn lovely.

As part of Banff National Park, this gem epitomizes the Canadian Rockies in one easy sweep. Not only are its waters an almost glowing shade of turquoise, but there’s also a variety of outdoorsy things to do in Lake Minnewanka and its surroundings, making it an undisputed dream for adventure seekers.

It boasts some of the best hikes in the country, plenty of fishing opportunities, and challenging rock climbing trails on nearby cliffs.

While there are plenty of ways to experience this breathtaking lake, one of the most popular is by taking a boat tour. Besides getting to appreciate the jagged mountain peaks and glaciers from a different perspective, you can also learn about the rich history and wildlife of this area from the friendly crew. Keep an eye out for bighorn sheep, bald eagles, and even bears that call this area home.

Indigenous First Nations people believe that spirits are resident here, and it’s easy to see why when your boat tour takes you to eerily beautiful places like Devil’s Gap.

24 – Meet Boo at the Grizzly Bear Refuge

Grizzly Bear Refuge, Banff

You can’t visit the Rockies and not see a grizzly bear – it’s one of the most iconic things to do in Banff! And there’s no better place to do exactly that – in a safe, controlled, and informative environment – than at the Grizzly Bear Refuge.

Found over at the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, about an hour and a half’s drive from Banff in Golden, you’ll get to meet Boo – the infamous resident grizzly at the refuge. Not only will you get to see Boo in his natural habitat, foraging, playing and exploring around the 20-acre refuge, but you’ll also get to learn all about these amazing creatures from the expert guides.

Originally opened as a place to house orphaned cubs, the Refuge now plays a vital role in grizzly bear conservation and research.

Just remember that the Refuge is only open between May and September, usually shutting up shop when the bears hibernate for the winter.

While you’re in the area: If you’re already making the journey out to Golden, you better make the most of it. Perched 426 feet in the air, the Golden Skybridge is officially Canada’s highest suspension bridge. Combine that with the Golden Eagle Express Gondola which brings you to 7,700 feet above sea level, and you’ve got the perfect day trip itinerary!

25 – Go fishing in the Rocky Mountains

Rocky Mountains, Banff National Park

Thanks to four major rivers and more than 450 crystal clear lakes dotted around the area – as well as plenty of streams too – Banff National Park is a fisherman’s paradise. But with so many places to choose from, where should you go?

If you’re checking off quintessential postcard views, then Lake Louise and Moraine lake are your best bets. While the hiking and photo ops are what draw the crowds here, the fishing is also top-notch, with cutthroat trout and whitefish galore.

However, if you’re looking for a more tranquil experience, you’ll find a stack of spots along the Bow River or Spray Lakes Reservoir for a day of fly fishing.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a quiet escape off-the-beaten-path, then head to Lake Minnewanka. Sitting just outside of Banff town, this lake is the biggest in the region, and with that size comes plenty of fish too – including trout that have tilted the scales at a whopping 50 pounds!

Still searching? The glacier-fed Hector Lake and Peyto Lake are both stunning, relatively untouched and will never be overcrowded.

So whether you’re a seasoned angler or just looking for a peaceful day surrounded by nature, Banff has something for everyone when it comes to fishing. Just remember to check for permits and regulations before you start casting.

26 – Visit the Park Distillery Restaurant and Bar

Park Distillery Restaurant and Bar, Banff

You’re on vacation, after all, so why not treat yourself to a good old fashioned tipple?

Found on the main street of town, the Park Distillery Restaurant and Bar is a local favorite among foodies and cocktail connoisseurs. Not only do they serve up delicious meals with ingredients sourced from local farms and ranches, but their spirits are also distilled on-site using glacier-fed water from the Canadian Rockies.

You can even take a tour of the distillery — as you go on behind the scenes at the Park Distillery, you’ll be treated to tasting flights and get to learn all about their unique distilling process. Toast the day with a glass of botanical Alpine Gin or some oh-so-smooth Wild Turkey Bourbon.

But if you’re not in the mood for a drink, don’t fret – their food is just as impressive. From bison burgers to smoked meats and rotisserie chicken that melts in the mouth, there’s something on the menu for everyone.

27 – Head to Banff’s party-centric bowling alley!

bowling in Banff

While indoor bowling might not be your first thought when it comes to things to do in Banff, you can’t argue that it’s great option for families and groups looking for some lighthearted fun and a break from the great outdoors.

Part bowling alley, part bar, part restaurant and collectively a fantastic way to spend an afternoon or evening, High Rollers on Banff Avenue provides a thoroughly modern take on the old-school sport.

Along with six bowling lanes where you can show off your skills, it also has a few pool tables, foosball machines and arcade games.

It’s also home to some of the most delicious New York-style pizza in town, so there’s that. And with fish tank coctails to share, almost 50 local craft beers on tap, and a thoroughly high-energy atmosphere every night of the week, it’s no surprise that High Rollers has quickly become a much-loved Banff institution.

Hot tip: happy hour from 3pm to 5pm Monday to Friday, but if you’re really looking to let your hair down, check out “Banff’s Best Party!” from 9pm on Sundays.

28 – Embrace the adventure on the Bow Falls Trail

Bow Falls Trail, Banff

Want a bit of waterfall action in your vacation photo album? Then hike along the beautiful Bow Falls Trail that winds along beside a fast-flowing mountain river. This 2.7-kilometer linear route is mostly flat and ideal for families.

Once you reach the roaring rapids, you’ll know that Bow Falls is just around the corner. The 9-meter-high falls are a popular spot for tourists, so don’t be surprised if you have to wait your turn to get that iconic photo. But trust us, it’s worth the wait!

Open year-round, and beautiful no matter the season, this scenic trail is a must-do for nature lovers and photographers alike. And if you’re lucky, you’ll spot some wildlife along the way – keep an eye out for elk, deer, and even coyotes, particularly in the summer months!

Looking for a more challenging hike? Then check out the nearby Hoodoos Trail – this 10-kilometer trek is also relatively flat, but much longer and with more secluded sections.

29 – Enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride

horse-drawn sleigh in Banff

Banff isn’t just a summer destination. In fact, during the winter months, it transforms into something even more magical. With snow carpeting the landscape, it’s time to jump in a horse-drawn sleigh and explore in style.

Cozy up under woolen blankets as you journey through the mountain meadows and stop to toast marshmallows over a backwoods campfire. There are lots of romantic things to do in Banff, but this tops them all.

A beloved activity for families too, this charming experience usually lasts around 40 minutes and is suitable for all ages – you don’t have to know anything about horses yourself, simply sit back, get comfy, and let the expert guide lead the way.

If you’re conscious of budget, you can join a small-group tour with a guide that drives the horse-drawn sleigh through Banff’s snowy forests. But if you prefer something more intimate, private couples’ rides and private family rides are on the ticket as well.

30 – Enjoy a picnic at the Cascade Ponds

Cascade Ponds, Banff

Under the watchful gaze of the nearby Cascade Mountain lies a series of serene pools that make a great setting for picnics. Located just off the Trans-Canada Highway, the Cascade Ponds are super accessible and oh-so-scenic.

Stroll between the little lakes using the photogenic bridges or take to the water by paddleboard for a closer look. While absolutely beautiful in all seasons, when the colors change in the fall, this spot becomes a photographer’s paradise.

Don’t forget to pack a tasty picnic, or bring a few meats for a cook-up at the provided BBQ pits – one of the few places in Banff where this is allowed.

You’ll find the ponds right next to Two Jack Lake (see #18), Johnson Lake (see #23), or Lake Minnewanka (see #22), all of which serve as lovely spots for an afternoon of kayaking.

Directions in Google Maps

31 – Go on a Banff Legends and Landmarks walking tours

Banff Legends and Landmarks walking tours, Canada

A totally epic way to adventure through the National Park is gearing up with walking poles and hiking boots, and trekking through the hillside and points of interest on foot under the guidance of a local, expert Rocky Mountaineer.

Sweep in panoramic Canadian Rockies vistas and mountain views with the Bow River running through, and pass by must-explore landmarks like the Cave and Basin National Historic Site.

There are these magical walking tours in the evening time too when the sun begins to dip behind the mountains. Guided by headlamps, traverse the area under the starry night sky.

32 – Hunt for spirits at Bankhead Ghost Town

Bankhead Ghost Town, Banff National Park

On face value, Banff – and the Rockies – ooze beauty. But, delve a little deeper and you’ll discover a lesser-known, slightly darker side to the national park.

If the idea of dark tourism tickles your fancy; if you want to peer into the paranormal and unearth a spooky side to Banff, then there’s no better place to do so than at the Bankhead Ghost Town.

Hidden in the mountains of Banff National Park, this former coal mining settlement was abandoned in 1922 and is slowly being taken back by the forest.

You’ll see timber cabins, rail tracks, and even an old air-powered locomotive as you wander around this creepy site.

Directions in Google Maps

33 – Wind your way up the conveniently located Tunnel Mountain Drive

Tunnel Mountain Drive, Banff

When it comes to must-do drives in Banff, it’s typically the Bow Valley Parkway and Icefields Parkway that get all of the attention.

But there’s a third; a lesser-known sleeper that’s no less scenic and arguably has more wildlife sightings per kilometre than either of the other two, with deer, elk, even the occasional bear making an appearance — and you don’t even need to leave Banff.

Tunnel Mountain Drive is just over 8 kilometers long, runs between the Surprise Corner on Buffalo Street to Banff Avenue, winding its way around Tunnel Mountain. That means, unlike the bigger drives mentioned beforehand, it’s an easy one to tick off your Banff bucket list in well under an hour.

Visiting in winter? When the snow falls, the drive shuts its doors. While this makes it a no-go for drivers, it becomes heaven on earth for cross-country skiers and snowshoers.

34 – Canoe down the Bow River

canoeing in Banff

Winding its way through the heart of Banff National Park, the Bow River is a hub for outdoor activities, with fishing, hiking, and canoeing aplenty.

You’ll be surrounded by wilderness on all sides, with views of snow-capped Cascade Mountain and Mount Norquay along the way. And while you can certainly rent a canoe and set off on your own, it’s highly recommended to join a guided “Big Canoe” tour instead. Not only are the guides experts in navigating the river, but they’ll also wax about the history, geology and wildlife of the area. Will today be the day you spot a moose?

Want some other options? While the Bow River is the closest, sitting just out the back of town, you can also head out on the waters of the Vermillion Lakes, Two Jack Lake, or Lake Minnewanka for equally stunning vistas.

35 – Venture into the enigmatic Grotto Canyon

Grotto Canyon, Banff

While Banff rakes in all the attention, its little brother down the road in Canmore is home to a slew of notable outdoor adventure activities too. And arguably, there’s none more worthy of a day trip than the one and only Grotto Canyon.

Only accessible on foot, this dramatic ravine puts you in the heart of nature.

In summer you can hike through the narrow-walled gorge and be rewarded for your efforts with a tumbling waterfall. See if you can spot the Hopi pictographs on the ancient rocks along the way too. Moderately challenging but certainly not out of the realm for the unapologetically unfit, the trail should take about 2-3 hours to complete.

Winter brings a whole new adventure where you’ll walk on the frozen creek and see glittering icefalls.

While you’re there: After your hike, reward yourself with a well-deserved dip in the Canmore natural springs, or tuck into a hearty feed at Tavern 1883 or The Grizzly Paw.

36 – Discover the Cave and Basin National Historic Site

Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Banff

Culture vultures and history buffs, this one has your name all over it. As the birthplace of Canada’s first national park, the Cave and Basin National Historic Site is part of the country’s fundamental backstory. But it’s also so much more; it’s a magical place filled with ethereal blue grottos, bubbling hot springs, and stories of Indigenous inhabitants dating back tens of thousands of years.

You’ll start your visit at a small but informative museum that rolls back through the history of Banff. But the real treat is when you enter the main grotto – a natural hot springs cave that’s lit up in an enchanting blue glow.

The Cave and Basin National Historic Site has several trails and boardwalks to explore, taking you into the heart of the wilderness. Tours are available if you want to delve a little deeper into the natural world as well.

37 – Go snowshoeing in the backcountry

snowshoeing in Banff

The sizzle of summer may be gone, but that doesn’t mean the adventure has to stop. In winter, Banff is transformed into a snow-dusted wonderland begging to be explored. And while you’ll find thousands of people hitting the ski hills for some powder shredding, there’s another option if you’re hunting for a quieter escape: snowshoeing.

But with literally kilometers of wilderness on offer, where do you start? Lake Louise, the Sunshine Village Ski Resort (and Sunshine Meadows), Kootenay National Park and its historic Pain Pots, and the foothills around Mt. Assiniboine are all excellent options. Simply put though, if there’s snow on the ground, strap on a pair of snowshoes and head off in any direction – you’re bound to find something beautiful.

If you’re not confident navigating the backcountry, then consider heading out with a guide on an official Banff snowshoeing tour. They’ll take care of all the equipment, map out a route for you, and share their fascinating insights along the way.

Regardless of which trail you venture on, make sure to stop for a moment to gather your breath and appreciate the silence. Maybe you’ll come across moose or wolf tracks as you leave your own footprints in the crisp white powder.

38 – Visit the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff

At the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, you’ll discover how local people have learned to live in harmony with nature. Travelers come here from miles around to hear stories of those who have forged an existence in this mountain wilderness.

Check out the exhibitions and explore heritage homes to appreciate what it means to thrive here. Old photographs and diary entries really bring the pioneering age to life, and the array of stunning landscape paintings will surely inspire your own creativity (or, at the very least, your sense of adventure).

You’ll leave the museum with a deeper understanding of Banff’s history as well as its modern-day culture. If you’re lucky, there may even be special events during your visit – just check the website in advance to see what’s on.

The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies sits a stone’s throw from the Banff Park Museum National Historic Site. Together, these two institutions make for a day of educational sightseeing. And, when you’re done with the museums, take a stroll through Banff town to explore its charming streets and quirky shops.

39 – Have a blast at Calaway Park

Calaway Park, Banff

Affordable, family-friendly and only an hour’s drive from Banff, Calaway Park boasts the coveted title of being Western Canada’s biggest amusement park. With 32 attractions to enjoy, covering everything from white-knuckle thrills to gentle family-friendly rides, it’s easy to while away a summer’s day within its grounds.

Little adventurers will love spinning around in the teacups and off-roading in the mini Baja Buggies, and even the adults can enjoy the high-octane twists and turns of the Vortex. On those particularly sizzling summer days, make a beeline for the Bumper Boats or take the plunge down the refreshing Timber Falls.

You’ll find this beloved theme park on the western outskirts of Calgary. So why not make a day of it by heading into town to check out Nose Hill Park, the Peace Bridge, or the time capsule that is Heritage Park?

Keep in mind: Calaway Park closes every year in the winter, typically open from mid May to early October.

40 – Discover the majesty of Kootenay National Park

Kootenay National Park, Banff

Kootenay National Park is a bit of an insider secret, so if you want to escape the crowds, this is the place to come.

Full of unique landscape elements, such as the multi-colored Paint Pots, the mineral hot springs and deep canyons that run along Highway 93 South, this park is a nature lover’s paradise.

And if you fancy stretching the legs, it’s hiking trails galore. For something easy, take a stab at the Numa Creek route, about a 4-hour walk. Or, for something more strenuous, the 6-hour Kindersley / Sinclair Loop is a crowd favorite.

Sitting roughly 40 minutes from Banff, Kootenay sells itself as the ideal spot for a day trip. So pack a picnic, lace on your walking shoes and head out to explore one of Alberta’s hidden gems (or book a tour and let the experts handle it all).

41 – Master the waters on a stand-up paddleboarding adventure

paddleboarding in Banff

Far trickier than it looks, stand up paddleboarding (SUP) is the latest craze hitting Banff’s lakes. But there’s a good reason why it’s catching on.

Not only do you get an awesome workout – it’ll work the core to maintain your balance – but the views are simply unbeatable.

You’ve got hundreds of lakes to choose from, but if you’re a SUP newbie, then Johnson Lake is probably your best bet. You can rent boards and wetsuits from right on the lakeshore, making it a hassle-free experience.

Of course, you can also grab a board from town and head to spots like Lake MInnewanka or Two Jack Lake. But, you’ll have to transport the board yourself.

42 – Breathe the fresh air at Vermilion Lakes

Vermilion Lakes, Banff National Park

You’ll find the Vermilion Lakes in Bow Valley, just a short drive from Banff. The lush marshlands are an easy escape from urban life, and perfect for anyone after a quick burst of wilderness immersion.

Come at sunrise to see wildlife at its most active, or bring a picnic and settle down for a relaxing afternoon on the shore. Feeling energetic? Then rent a bike or hire a canoe to explore deeper.

The Vermilion Lakes isn’t just one lake, but a chain of three connected lakes. Each offers its own stunning views of Mount Rundle and the surrounding peaks; and rest assured you’ll see plenty of friendly wildlife in the area, especially if you do a lap of the 4.3 kilometre scenic road.

Directions in Google Maps

43 – Get a hole in one at the golf course

golf in Banff

One of the best things about golf is the scenery, and there’s nowhere more majestic to play than the Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course. The setting is jaw-dropping, the layout is challenging, and the welcome is warm.

Keep your eye on the ball as you tackle the obstacles and don’t get distracted by the views. There are 18 holes to negotiate so take your time and enjoy the ambiance.

After making your way around the 6,729-yard, 27-hole course (which includes the century-old Stanley Thompson 18 and Tunnel Mountain 9), grab a table at the on-site Stanley’s Smokehouse. Besides a rich menu of BBQ and Canadian classics, the restaurant also boasts a sunny terrace – perfect for sipping on cocktails or a glass of sangria under the sun.

44 – Have a mountain biking adventure

mountain biking, Banff

You can see a lot of Banff on foot. It’s a pretty small town, after all. But if you want to cover more ground in less time – or just fancy a thrill-seeking afternoon – then cycling is the way to go.

Whether you join a guided tour or simply rent your own wheels and follow your nose, a ride around Banff allows you to get off the beaten track and discover parts of the national park that few visitors get to see.

Families will enjoy cycling along the Sundance Trail, with its sweeping panoramas and scenic picnic area. Meanwhile, adrenaline junkies can crank up those gears and take on the narrow Stoney Squaw Trail. For waterfalls and pine forests, pedal the Hoodoos Trail and take a breather at “Surprise Corner” for picture-postcard views.

Looking for something different? Consider joining one of th e-bike tours in nearby Canmore, an underrated town known for its rugged charm and laid-back vibe.

45 – Dine, drink and unwind with views at the best rooftop patios

best rooftop patios in Banff
Credit to Magpie and Stump

Whilst there are no skyscrapers around, rooftop patios are a popular sighting in Banff.

One of the most vibey options in town is El Patio, taking inspiration from Mexico. Walls are splurged with colorful murals and its wooden terrace pops with color whether it’s the furniture, food or drinks.

Step inside a brewery located in the middle of a forest at Three Bears Brewery & Restaurant. Comprising two levels, take a seat upstairs on the outdoor patio with its retractable roof, or at the beer garden.

Enjoy a round of pool and check out the daily drink specials at Rose & Crown. There is live music every night of the week, and they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Or feast on plates made from fresh, local, seasonal ingredients on the summer patio at The Bison Banff.

Elk & Oarsman is Banff’s favorite sports bar, boasting 360-degree views of the Rockies from the rooftop patio. You can always catch the latest game or sporting event.

46 – Swish through the snow at Banff Sunshine Village

ski in Banff Sunshine Village

As winter descends and the mountains turn from black to white, a new side to Banff is unveiled — one that’s full of adrenaline, adventure, and some of the world’s best powder. Finding itself on many a postcard, the Banff Sunshine Village is widely recognized as one of the best ski resorts in Canada, with a whopping 3,300 acres of skiable terrain.

But it’s not just a haven for skiers and snowboarders – there’s a bounty of other activities to keep you entertained on this envied mountain. In wintertime, you’ve got everything from tubing to snowshoeing on offer. And if you prefer to hit up the backcountry, you’ll be pleased to hear that Delirium Dive has been named one of the top ten off-piste destinations in the world.

If you do happen to be visiting in the summer, you’re certainly not missing out; the landscape remains a hiker’s paradise. Make sure to take a ride on the Standish Chairlift (to over 2,400 meters above sea level) for some epic views of the Canadian Rockies. And while you’re up there, check out Sunshine Meadows, a place of rare beauty and undeniably one of the most stunning alpine meadows in North America – join a hosted trail walk run by the Interpretive Center if you want to learn more about the area.

Hot tip: For snow bunnies who don’t settle for second-best, consider staying at the ski-in ski-out lodge to make the most of your visit.

47 – Scramble up dramatic canyons

canyoning in Banff

Guaranteed to light a fire in any adrenaline junkie’s belly, Banff’s canyon walls lure climbers of all skill levels. Similar to abseiling, although often into pools of water (sometimes even behind waterfalls), canyoning is one of the most exhilarating ways to experience the hidden nooks and crannies of the Rockies.

If you’ve never tried, now’s the time! Heart Creek Canyon, which is about a half-hour drive from Banff on the northeastern edge of the national park, is the go-to spot for beginners. But if you’re a seasoned canyoner and crave a real challenge, head for nearby Ghost Canyon, where waterfalls rage and the heart rate is sure to soar.

Either way, you can expect a thrilling combination of rock slides, rappels, and refreshing pool jumps!

Don’t worry if it’s your first time, the experienced guides will be there to keep you safe. Just go with the flow and don’t forget to admire the scenery.

48 – Soar above the mountains on a helicopter tour

helicopter tours in Banff

From ground level, Banff’s mountain peaks are mighty impressive; Cascade Mountain, Mount Norquay, and the Sundance Canyon make up just a sliver of the landscapes that’ll leave you breathless. But to really appreciate the grandeur of this landscape, you simply need to take to the skies.

Whether you sign up for one of the Discover Banff Tours helicopter flights or book something more bespoke, the views from above are like nothing you’ve ever seen before. You’ll enjoy a bird’s-eye view of glimmering lakes and dramatic peaks, with carpets of green hugging the mountainsides all around.

See the sun reflecting off glaciers that snake down the valleys, and watch for wildlife emerging from the forests. Some flights include a landing and a remote hike to scenic viewpoints as well.

Plus, your friendly pilot will be on hand to answer all** your questions about the geology, history, and wildlife of this magnificent land, ensuring you walk away with a stack of new fun facts to share with your friends back home.

49 – Feast at the Banff Ave Brewing Co.

Banff Ave Brewing Co

Enjoy a rip-roaring night out at the Banff Ave Brewing Company. Using spring water from the Canadian Rockies, the in-house beers are the finest in town. For citrus tones, go for the White Wit, or for a malty flavor, opt for a Black Pil.

The food here is fab too, with pub-style grub to soak up the ale. Get your chops around a juicy burger or try poutine and fried chicken wings.

You’ll find this beloved 2-story brewpub on Banff Ave, right in the middle of town. It’s open every day from around midday to midnight (1am on the weekends), and throws a slew of events throughout the week.

From live music to games nights and sports screenings, there’s always something going on here. No matter what’s on the cards, the friendly atmosphere and lively ambiance make this a must-visit spot after dark.

50 – Feel the thrill of rock climbing

rock climbing in Banff

If you’re looking for exhilarating things to do in Banff, why not give rock climbing a go? Experience the adrenaline of ascending dramatic cliffs while surrounded by the majestic Rocky Mountains. Then rappel back down to earth when you’re done.

If you’re venturing out independently, then you’ve got hundreds of different options – many of which are around the Lake Louise area. For anyone still relatively new to the game, Sunshine Rock and the Black Band Area on Tunnel Mountain both offer a great challenge, while more experienced climbers might want to tackle the Gooseberry on Tunnel Mountain or the Mother’s Day Buttress on Cascade Mountain.

Arguably the best of the bunch (or, at least, the most popular) is Via Ferrata. Requiring a little bit of everything – hiking, bouldering, ladders, and rock climbing – it’s a full-body workout with killer views to boot.

Of course, if you’re totally new to the sport (or just want some local guides to show you the best spots), a slew of half-day and full-day Banff rock climbing tours are available too. And if you’re a bit too nervous to head into the wild, you can always test your craft at the Sally Borden Fitness and Recreation’s Climbing Gym.

Visiting during winter? Then strap on those crampons and scramble up a frozen waterfall on an ice climbing adventure for spine-tingling thrills.

51 – Devour farm-fresh food at the Bison Restaurant

Bison Restaurant, Banff

When you start feeling peckish from all the outdoor activities, Banff’s food scene will not disappoint. From cozy cafes to high-end (and high-altitude) restaurants, this charming mountain town doesn’t fall short when it comes to delicious dining options.

Tucked away in downtown Banff, the renowned Bison Restaurant is a wonderful starting point. Its Canadian farm-to-fork specialties have earned it a spot among the top 10 Canadian fine dining restaurants (as voted by TripAdvisor), and its panoramic terrace vistas are second to none. If you’re not sure what to order, the bison ribeye, grilled Arctic char are crowd favorites, and the candied orange chocolate cake is the perfect dessert to finish things off.

But when it comes to in-the-heavens views, there’s no competition to Sky Bistro. Perched 7,510 feet atop Sulphur Mountain, this restaurant not only serves diners with a 360-degree view of Banff’s stunning landscape, but compliments them with scrumptious Canadian-inspired bites, with locally sourced artisan specialties.

Not to be overlooked, the Magpie & Stump Restaurant is a hard to beat for downtown Mexican far – and the wooden, homely decor doesn’t go astray either. If Greek is more your style, make a beeline for the Balkan on Banff Avenue. While they’re always known for their mouth-watering dips and lamb dishes, the venue takes it up a notch when the weekly Greek dancing nights kick off.

Rounding out the list, The Grizzly House serves up fondue to die for, and exotic meats like rattlesnake and alligator that you won’t find anywhere else; while Farm & Fire Banff is the new kid on the block, serving up wood-fired dishes alongside happy hour cocktails.

52 – Stay at the luxurious Fairmont Banff Springs

Fairmont Banff Springs, Canada

Looking for an indulgent hotel in a setting to die for? The Fairmont Banff Springs is nestled in the heart of the national park, emerging like a castle from the forested mountain slopes.

Play a round of golf, relax with a massage in the Willow Stream Spa, then slumber luxuriously in a room with a view. When it comes to dining, you’re spoiled for choice, but the Lookout Patio is always a good bet.

For the serious foodies — or anyone who wants to feel like royalty, there are out-of-this-world food tours to join here as well … and it all happens inside the palace, ahem, hotel!

How to get to Banff?

The closest airport to Banff is in Calgary, and the drive between Calgary International Airport to Banff is 1.5 hours.

Instead of worrying about transport only once you get to Calgary, opt for pre-organized airport transfers in Banff from the airport directly to your stay in Banff. There’s no need to stress over paying a fair price for taxis, and everything is taken care of the moment you arrive.

Upon exiting the airport, your private driver awaits you holding a sign with your name on it, and then it’s into your comfortable vehicle to be chauffeured to your accommodation.

Where to stay in Banff?

Ensure your time in the Rocky Mountains is an extra comfortable holiday by staying at the best hotels and ski resorts around town.

With the most attention to detail and located in an idyllic quiet setting, the stunning Beaujolais Boutique B&B at Thea’s House is one of the top choices for couples. Decorated to provide max comfort, enjoy the luxuries and personal touches.

With a distinctly more modern feel than a lot of stays around the area, the rooms at Canalta Lodge are bright (thanks to the pops of yellow color) and cozy. Enjoy s’mores around the fire and there are guest hot tubs.

An amazing option for families, as well as couples, Sunshine Village Resort is a ski lodge just outside the center of Banff and is the perfect pick for outdoor enthusiasts.

Done up in rich cabin woods adding all the extra authentic mountainy feels, Moose Hotel & Suites is an elegant choice in the heart of Banff.

For the best of both worlds, book a stay at the Rimrock Resort Hotel where you’ll feel worlds away from the hustle and bustle, but still close enough to the town center to conveniently get around.

Boasting rooms that are extra spacious and clean, plus an awesome indoor pool, you can’t go wrong at Banff Inn.

Where to go next?

Traveling one hour and 20 minutes from Banff, there are many other things to do in Calgary. As the biggest city in Alberta, it’s a fabulous pick for travelers craving some urban time and city-life, whilst still submerged by nature and the Great Outdoors.

If you’re looking for things to do in Jasper, this stunning destination is best saved for an overnight stay, located 3.5 hours from Banff. While it’s true you’re spoilt for outdoor adventuring in most places around Canada, located in the heart of the Jasper National Park, this is Mother Nature at its finest. Hike to lakes, massive falls, and glaciers, plus plenty more!

To reach Vancouver, flying is recommended as the journey by vehicle is 9.5 hours. With so much things to do in Vancouver and its surroundings, you’ll need at least a weekend in this metropolitan city.

If your time in the Banff area is limited, consider multi-day trips around the iconic Rockies. Choose between an overnight venture or if your time permits, opt for a three to four-night trip exploring Lake Louise, Johnston Canyon and Sulphur Mountain.

There are tons of other incredible destinations to explore in the rest of the country. Here are some of the best places to visit in Canada.

Final thoughts

Whether you’ve chosen this sleepy town for a full-on skiing vacation or one to unwind in the most picturesque and relaxing setting, there are plenty of things to do in Banff for families, couples and outdoor enthusiasts.

Have you ever visited Banff before? Or perhaps you’re a regular to the Alberta landscapes? What are some of your best memories when traveling here? Share with us in the comments, we love to hear from our readers.

As always, happy and safe travels!

Heather is a freelance travel copywriter and blogger based in the beautiful English Lake District. She has worked in the travel industry for over 20 years, having enjoyed roles in marketing, sales, content and even as a tour rep abroad. Her writing has appeared in several international publications, and she has partnered with tour operators and hospitality providers across the world to promote their services. Heather can often be found on safari in Kenya, haggling in the Moroccan souks or living the high life in Scottish castles. Back at home, she spends her time camping in the Cumbrian fells and playing the double bass.