Being home to some of the most celebrated mountain scenery in the world, Banff townsite, lying a few kilometres within the gates of the national park that bears its name, is the birthplace of the Canadian national park system, and as such, is one of Canada‘s most visited attractions, with more than 4 million visits to the town and surrounding park per year.
Back in 1885, railway workers taking a break from the arduous labour that was part and parcel with their profession heard about a hot spring located in a cave not far from their camp. After experiencing the divine nature of this natural miracle, they took it upon themselves to broadcast the existence of this wonder to the world, and not long after, the Canadian government had granted the area protection from certain types of development as Canada’s first national park.
Of course, when the first tourists rolled in on the newly constructed railroad, the hot springs were far from the only thing that stuck in their minds, as some of the most exquisitely carved mountains in the Canadian Rockies rose up with a short distance of Banff’s townsite.
More than 100 years later, it is one of the most enduring segments of any foreign traveler’s first visit to Canada. Despite the crowded nature of this place in peak season, it is well worth a visit even if your itinerary has you traveling through here during July and August (book campsites and accommodations well in advance to avoid disappointment), as the visages of glaciers, steep limestone, sandstone and shale peaks, and abundant wildlife will make up for the mass of people you might have to endure at some of the more popular attractions.
So scale some mountains, photograph as many mountain goats as possible, and stare contemplatively across the Vermillion Lakes at Mount Rundle. It is a seminal part of the true Canadian experience, something that any traveler visiting Canada should experience.
Banff City Guide: A Brief History Of Banff, Alberta
Banff, a small town nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, has a rich and fascinating history dating back thousands of years. The area was first inhabited by the indigenous people of the First Nations, who hunted and fished in the region for generations.
In the mid-1800s, European explorers and fur traders began to arrive in the area, attracted by the abundance of fur-bearing animals such as beavers, foxes, and bears. The town of Banff was officially founded in 1885, following the discovery of hot springs in the area by railway workers.
Banff quickly became a popular destination for tourists, with visitors flocking to the town to experience the natural beauty of the Rockies and the healing properties of the hot springs. In 1887, the Canadian government designated the area as a national park, making it the country’s first national park and the world’s third.
Over the years, Banff has continued to grow and evolve, with the development of ski resorts, golf courses, and other tourist attractions. Despite the town’s modern amenities, however, the natural beauty of the area remains its biggest draw, with visitors from around the world coming to hike, bike, ski, and explore the stunning wilderness that surrounds Banff.
Today, Banff is a thriving tourist destination, with a vibrant cultural scene, a range of accommodations, and a wide variety of outdoor activities for visitors of all ages and interests. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or an adventure seeker, Banff has something to offer everyone, making it one of the most popular destinations in Canada.
Banff Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in Alberta
Start your cultural explorations in Banff with the Cave & Basin National Historic Site, the site that began the age of preservation of natural areas in Canada in the late 19th century. Be aware that outside of the peak summer season, this site can be closed on Mondays and/or Tuesdays, so factor this into your plans. The cornerstone attraction here is the grotto within a cave that was artificially built, but most patrons bathed at the bathhouse that you’ll see on arrival at the site, with this facility being closed for the final time in 1992. Please show respect for the endangered Banff Springs Snail by NOT sticking your hands in the water, as tempting as it may be!
True thespians will simply adore The Banff Centre, an artistic and educational facility built here in 1933 that has attained worldwide recognition for its work to promote art, culture and the creation of new progressive ideas to change the world for the better. In addition to its educational programs, this campus regularly hosts musical, film screenings and other performance art events, making this facility a can’t miss attraction for the culture vulture.
For those looking to immerse themselves in the personal experiences of the mountain men and women that have called Banff their home over the past century or so, the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies is a place that is dedicated to telling their stories. Visual art depicting mountain scenes, artifacts relating to the alpine life, and even houses of seven prominent figures in the town’s young but active history are all featured here, which makes for an excellent rainy day activity.
Natural Wonders and Attractions: Trip to Banff, Alberta
The best way to get in touch with Banff National Park is to get out in the forests and mountains surrounding the town by going for a hike. Trailheads can be found all over town, with difficulties ranging from easy strolls like on the Fenlands Trail (which leads you through the montane forest to the Vermillion Lakes viewpoint), and hikes like the moderately challenging Tunnel Mountain Trail, which is steep and long enough to provide a workout, while being short enough to summit, gaze out upon the town below for a lengthy spell, and then return to the bottom all in the space of a few hours. The Sulphur Mountain Trail is a great choice for those looking for a difficult and steep trail that will grant views and a 50% savings on a gondola ticket (100% if you walk back down too!)
Of course, if looking at the trajectory of the Sulphur Mountain trail makes you weak in the knees, then taking the Banff Gondola is a quick and easy way to get up to the roof of Banff. Accessible in any season, you will be able to not only get great pics of the town from up here, but of the entire Bow River Valley, which is lined by the equally impressive front ranges and main ranges of the Canadian Rockies, topped by snow in all but the peak of summer and early fall.
If all this physical effort has your muscles screaming bloody murder, then a trip to the Banff Upper Hot Springs is in order. The modern replacement for the defunct Cave & Basin Springs, the hot water that rises up from deep within the geometrically heated reservoirs within Sulphur Mountain will sooth your battered body, while granting you the opportunity to gaze upon how the mass of humanity looks minus most of their clothes … fun!
If a day out on the water appeals to you, then heading to Lake Minnewanka for a boat cruise will fulfil this need handily. The narrated cruise trolls the lake looking for wildlife that makes frequent appearances on most journeys, and even if they are feeling a little curtain shy on the day that you do, the combination of lake and mountain scenery will more than make up for this disappointment.
Winter time equals play time at Banff’s Big 3 Ski Areas, with Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise Ski Resort all attracting locals and snow enthusiasts from all over the globe in hot pursuit of some of the best powder in the world. Norquay is a favourite of veteran skiiers and boarders locally, as it features shorter lines, uber steep faces, and the quickest home to ski lift time of the three resorts. Sunshine Village is the highest of the three areas, with a base elevation of 7,000 feet. This allows the ski season to start in early November, and continue on with copious snow straight through to the 3rd weekend in May. Lake Louise Ski Resort is famous for having one of the most expansive in bounds terrain in North America (4,200 acres), as it offers skiing on both faces of the mountain on which it sits.
About 45 minutes northwest of Banff is the village of Lake Louise, which is world famous for one of the most iconic lake views in the world. This vista can be found behind the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, and after snapping an epic selfie of yourself and the aquamarine jewel behind you, you can avail yourself of the luxuries of the hotel in front of you, rent a canoe in order to have that true Canadian experience of paddling out into a scene that you have dreamt of so so many years before this trip, or you can hike to the teahouses in the heights above, and purchase some of the best chocolate cake you have had in your life upon arrival (trust me on this one!)
Before leaving the Lake Louise area, don’t forget to check out Moraine Lake, a lake so beautiful that it was once featured on the back of the Canadian $1 bill (which was decommissioned more than 25 years ago). It is only visitable in the summer, so don’t miss the opportunity to not only visit it, but to hike its many trails (get a group of four, as park rules require it due to the heavy presence of bears in the local area).
Finally, if you are coming from Calgary (like most people), head towards Jasper on the Icefields Parkway, ranked by countless travel publications as one of the world’s most beautiful drives. Marvel at the glaciers along the way (Bow and Crowfoot Glaciers chief among them), as well as the many jewel-like lakes along the route (don’t miss Peyto Lake for the world, as it is composed of a shade of blue that will be seared into your memory forever more), and stop every time you feel like taking a pic (be sure to pull completely off the road, as some geniuses actually stop in the middle of it) … you are on the trip of a lifetime, so don’t take it for granted!
source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube
Top 10 Things To Do in Banff, Alberta For Visitors
- Visit Lake Louise – One of the most photographed locations in Canada, Lake Louise is a stunning turquoise lake surrounded by majestic mountains. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll around the lake, hike to the nearby Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House, or rent a canoe or kayak to explore the lake’s serene waters.
- Take a dip in the Banff Hot Springs – These natural hot springs have been attracting visitors for over 100 years and offer a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. The hot springs, which are heated by geothermal energy, are the perfect place to unwind after a long day of exploring Banff National Park.
- Go skiing at Banff Ski Resorts – Banff is home to three world-class ski resorts – Mount Norquay, Banff Sunshine Village, and Lake Louise Ski Resort – offering visitors a range of skiing and snowboarding experiences. The resorts offer a wide range of runs for skiers of all levels, as well as other winter activities like ice skating, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.
- Hike the trails in Banff National Park – Banff National Park is a hiker’s paradise, with over 1,600 km of trails offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. From short, easy walks to multi-day backcountry treks, there are hiking options for every level of experience.
- Take a ride on the Banff Gondola – The Banff Gondola is a scenic ride that takes visitors to the top of Sulphur Mountain, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Once at the top, visitors can explore the interpretive center, hike to the summit, or dine at the mountaintop restaurant.
- Explore the historic Banff Springs Hotel – Known as the “Castle in the Rockies,” the Banff Springs Hotel has been welcoming visitors for over 130 years. The hotel is a must-visit destination in Banff, with its stunning architecture, luxurious amenities, and rich history.
- Go wildlife watching – Banff is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including elk, deer, bears, and wolves. Visitors can take a guided tour to observe these majestic animals in their natural habitat, or explore the park’s many scenic drives and hiking trails to spot wildlife on their own.
- Visit the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity – The Banff Centre is a world-renowned arts center that offers a wide range of programs and performances, including music, theater, dance, and visual arts. Visitors can attend a concert or show, take a workshop or class, or simply explore the center’s stunning campus.
- Go on a scenic drive – The Icefields Parkway is a 230 km stretch of road that connects Banff and Jasper, offering stunning views of glaciers, mountains, and lakes. Visitors can take a leisurely drive and stop at scenic viewpoints along the way, or take a guided tour to learn more about the area’s natural history.
- Relax in the Banff Upper Hot Springs – The Banff Upper Hot Springs are natural hot springs located at the top of Sulphur Mountain, offering a stunning view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The hot springs are the perfect place to unwind and relax, with their mineral-rich waters and scenic setting.
Whether you’re a nature lover, adventure seeker, or history buff, Banff has something to offer everyone. These top 10 activities are just a sample of the many experiences that await visitors to this beautiful destination.
What To Eat and Drink in Banff, Alberta
Banff is not only a stunning destination for outdoor adventure, but it also has a vibrant culinary scene with a range of dining options. Here are some must-try foods and drinks in Banff:
- Alberta Beef – Alberta is known for its high-quality beef, and Banff is no exception. Visitors can enjoy a juicy steak at one of the many steakhouses in town, or sample a classic Canadian dish like poutine topped with beef.
- Wild Game – Banff’s location in the Rockies means that wild game like elk, bison, and venison are common on menus. Visitors can try a delicious game burger, stew, or even a charcuterie board featuring wild game meats.
- Maple Syrup – Maple syrup is a quintessential Canadian ingredient, and visitors to Banff can sample it in various dishes, from sweet breakfast options like pancakes and waffles to savory dishes like roasted vegetables or grilled meats.
- Craft Beer – Banff is home to several local breweries, offering a range of craft beers to sample. Visitors can try a flight of beers at one of the brewpubs or take a brewery tour to learn more about the beer-making process.
- Ice Wine – Ice wine is a dessert wine made from grapes that have been frozen on the vine, resulting in a concentrated and sweet flavor. Banff’s location in the foothills of the Rockies makes it an ideal location for growing ice wine grapes, and visitors can sample this delicious wine at local wineries.
- Canadian Whiskey – Canada is known for its whiskey, and visitors to Banff can sample some of the country’s best varieties. From classic Canadian Club to craft distillery offerings, there’s a whiskey for every taste.
- Bison – Bison is a lean and flavorful meat that’s native to North America. Visitors can try it in a variety of dishes, from burgers to steaks, at restaurants around Banff.
- Fish – Banff’s location near many rivers and lakes means that fresh fish is a common menu item. Visitors can enjoy trout, salmon, and other fish in dishes like fish and chips, fish tacos, or grilled fish fillets.
- Rocky Mountain Oysters – Despite the name, Rocky Mountain Oysters are not actually oysters but rather deep-fried bull testicles. This unique dish is a popular local delicacy and can be found at some of the town’s more adventurous restaurants.
- Caesar – A Caesar is a Canadian cocktail that’s similar to a Bloody Mary but made with Clamato juice, a blend of tomato and clam juices. Visitors can enjoy a classic Caesar or try variations with different toppings like bacon, shrimp, or even a mini burger.
- Saskatoon Berries – Saskatoon berries are a small, dark purple berry that’s native to Western Canada. Visitors can sample this sweet and slightly tart fruit in desserts like pies, tarts, or jams.
- BeaverTails – Beavertails are a popular Canadian pastry that’s shaped like a beaver’s tail and topped with a variety of sweet toppings like cinnamon sugar, chocolate, or maple. Visitors can find this treat at local shops and food trucks.
- Wildflower Honey – Banff’s mountain meadows are home to a variety of wildflowers, which make for some of the best honey in Canada. Visitors can sample local wildflower honey in dishes like yogurt or cheese plates, or even take a jar home as a souvenir.
- Elk Jerky – Jerky is a popular snack food in Canada, and elk jerky is a local favorite. This chewy and flavorful snack can be found at local markets and specialty food shops around Banff.
- Canadian Bacon – Canadian bacon is a type of bacon that comes from the pork loin, rather than the belly, and is a popular breakfast meat in Canada. Visitors can try it in classic breakfast dishes like eggs Benedict or as a topping on pizza.
- Nanaimo Bars – Nanaimo Bars are a classic Canadian dessert that originated in Nanaimo, British Columbia. They consist of a crumbly chocolate and graham cracker crust, a creamy custard filling, and a layer of chocolate on top. Visitors can find this delicious dessert at local bakeries and cafes.
Whether you’re looking for classic Canadian dishes or unique culinary experiences, Banff’s food and drink scene has something for everyone. Be sure to try these must-try foods and drinks during your visit to Banff.
Top Restaurants In Banff, Alberta, Canada
Banff, nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, has a vibrant culinary scene with a range of dining options. Here are some of the top restaurants in Banff:
- The Bison Restaurant – This farm-to-table restaurant focuses on using locally sourced ingredients to create delicious and innovative dishes. Their menu features a range of Canadian cuisine, including wild game meats and seafood.
- The Maple Leaf – This steakhouse is a Banff institution, serving up high-quality Alberta beef in a cozy and rustic atmosphere. They also offer a range of seafood and vegetarian options.
- Park Distillery – This restaurant and bar is located in the heart of Banff and specializes in Canadian cuisine and craft spirits. They offer a range of dishes made with locally sourced ingredients, as well as a variety of cocktails and spirits made on-site.
- Saltlik – This steakhouse offers a range of high-quality steaks, seafood, and other dishes in a modern and upscale atmosphere. They also have a rooftop patio with stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
- The Grizzly House – This fondue restaurant has been a Banff institution since 1967 and is known for its unique and delicious menu. Visitors can try a range of fondue dishes, including cheese, meat, and chocolate.
- Nourish Bistro – This vegetarian and vegan restaurant offers a range of delicious and healthy dishes made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. They also have a great selection of cocktails, wines, and craft beers.
- Three Ravens Restaurant & Wine Bar – This fine dining restaurant offers a range of gourmet dishes made with local and organic ingredients. They also have an extensive wine list featuring Canadian and international wines.
- Tooloulou’s – This Cajun and Creole restaurant offers a taste of New Orleans in the heart of Banff. Visitors can try classic dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, and po’ boys, as well as delicious cocktails and live music on weekends.
Whether you’re looking for fine dining or casual eats, Banff’s restaurant scene has something for everyone. Be sure to try these top restaurants during your visit to Banff.
Tours For Visitors To Banff, Alberta, Canada
Banff offers a range of tours and activities for visitors to explore the stunning natural beauty of the area. Here are some top tours for visitors to Banff:
- Banff Gondola – The Banff Gondola is a scenic ride that takes visitors to the top of Sulphur Mountain, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Once at the top, visitors can explore the interpretive center, hike to the summit, or dine at the mountaintop restaurant.
- Icefields Parkway Tour – The Icefields Parkway is a 230 km stretch of road that connects Banff and Jasper, offering stunning views of glaciers, mountains, and lakes. Visitors can take a guided tour to learn more about the area’s natural history and stop at scenic viewpoints along the way.
- Wildlife Tours – Banff is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including elk, deer, bears, and wolves. Visitors can take a guided tour to observe these majestic animals in their natural habitat and learn about their behavior and habitat.
- Canoe or Kayak Tours – Banff is home to several pristine lakes and rivers, offering visitors the opportunity to explore the waterways by canoe or kayak. Guided tours are available, or visitors can rent their own equipment and explore at their own pace.
- Hiking Tours – Banff National Park is a hiker’s paradise, with over 1,600 km of trails offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Visitors can take a guided hike to learn about the park’s history and wildlife, or explore the park’s many scenic hikes on their own.
- Helicopter Tours – Helicopter tours offer a unique perspective on Banff’s stunning natural beauty. Visitors can take a scenic helicopter ride over the mountains, glaciers, and lakes, with the option to add on a glacier landing or hiking excursion.
- Horseback Riding Tours – Horseback riding tours offer a fun and unique way to explore Banff’s stunning landscapes. Visitors can take a guided trail ride through the park’s forests, meadows, and mountain trails, with options for all skill levels.
Whether you’re looking for a scenic drive, outdoor adventure, or wildlife viewing, Banff’s tours offer something for everyone. Be sure to book your tour in advance to ensure availability and make the most of your visit to Banff.
Banff Accommodations Guide: Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels
Banff offers a range of accommodations to suit every type of traveler. From luxury hotels with stunning mountain views to cozy bed and breakfasts with personalized touches, there’s something for everyone in Banff. Here’s a closer look at Banff’s accommodations:
- Luxury Hotels – For those looking for upscale amenities and stunning views, Banff offers several luxury hotels. From spas and fitness centers to private hot tubs and outdoor pools, these hotels offer the ultimate in comfort and indulgence.
- Mid-Range Hotels – Mid-range hotels provide comfortable accommodations at a more affordable price point. These hotels often feature amenities like free Wi-Fi, on-site restaurants, and fitness centers, making them a great option for travelers on a budget.
- Bed and Breakfasts – If you’re looking for a more intimate and cozy accommodation option, Banff’s bed and breakfasts are a great choice. With comfortable rooms and a homemade breakfast served each morning, these accommodations offer a personalized touch and friendly hosts who can provide local recommendations.
- Vacation Rentals – For a home-away-from-home experience, vacation rentals provide fully equipped kitchens, private living spaces, and often stunning mountain views. These accommodations are ideal for families or groups of friends traveling together.
- Hostels – Travelers on a tight budget can find affordable accommodations at Banff’s hostels. With shared dorm-style rooms and communal spaces like kitchens or lounges, these accommodations are perfect for solo travelers or those looking to meet fellow travelers.
- Campgrounds – For a unique and affordable way to experience Banff’s natural beauty, the national park offers several campgrounds. With on-site amenities like showers and fire pits, these campgrounds provide a great opportunity for outdoor adventure.
No matter what type of traveler you are, Banff’s accommodations have you covered. Be sure to book your accommodations in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure your preferred option and enjoy a memorable stay in Banff.
Day Trips From Banff, Alberta, Canada
Banff is surrounded by stunning natural beauty and offers a range of day trip options to explore the surrounding area. Here are some top day trips from Banff:
- Lake Louise – Located about 45 minutes from Banff, Lake Louise is a must-see destination in the Canadian Rockies. The turquoise-blue lake is surrounded by towering mountains and offers hiking trails and canoe rentals in the summer and ice skating in the winter.
- Yoho National Park – Yoho National Park is located just across the border from Banff and offers stunning views of waterfalls, glaciers, and mountain vistas. Highlights include Takakkaw Falls, Emerald Lake, and the Burgess Shale fossil beds.
- Columbia Icefield – The Columbia Icefield is one of the largest ice fields in the Canadian Rockies and is accessible via the Icefields Parkway. Visitors can take a guided tour to walk on the Athabasca Glacier or explore the interpretive center to learn about the area’s geology and ecology.
- Johnston Canyon – Located about 30 minutes from Banff, Johnston Canyon offers a scenic hike through a narrow canyon, with several waterfalls along the way. The hike is accessible year-round and is a popular destination for both summer and winter visitors.
- Kananaskis Country – Kananaskis Country is a wilderness area located about an hour from Banff and offers a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, and fishing. The area is also home to several hot springs and natural mineral pools, perfect for a relaxing soak.
- Moraine Lake – Similar to Lake Louise, Moraine Lake offers stunning turquoise waters and is surrounded by mountain vistas. The lake is accessible via a short hike from the parking lot and offers canoe rentals and hiking trails in the summer months.
- Canmore – Canmore is a charming mountain town located about 20 minutes from Banff and offers a range of shopping, dining, and outdoor activities. Visitors can explore the town’s art galleries, breweries, and boutiques, or take a hike in the surrounding hills.
No matter which day trip you choose, Banff’s stunning natural beauty and outdoor activities will make for a memorable adventure. Be sure to plan ahead and bring proper gear and clothing for the activities you have in mind.
Banff Transportation Guide
Banff is easily accessible by car or public transportation. Here’s a guide to transportation options in Banff:
- Car – Many visitors to Banff choose to rent a car to explore the surrounding area at their own pace. There are several car rental agencies located in Banff, and the town is easily accessible via the Trans-Canada Highway.
- Airport Shuttle – The Calgary International Airport is the nearest major airport to Banff, located about 1.5 hours away by car. Several airport shuttle companies offer transportation between the airport and Banff, with options ranging from shared shuttles to private transfers.
- Public Transportation – Banff is serviced by several public transportation options, including the Roam Transit bus system, which offers routes throughout Banff and to nearby attractions like Lake Louise and the Banff Gondola. There are also several taxi companies in Banff for short trips around town.
- Bike Rentals – Banff is a bike-friendly town, with several bike rental shops located throughout the town. Biking is a great way to explore Banff’s scenic trails and pathways, and many rental shops offer guided tours and maps to help visitors navigate the area.
- Sightseeing Tours – For those who prefer not to drive, there are several sightseeing tour companies that offer transportation and guided tours of Banff’s top attractions. These tours are a great way to explore the area’s natural beauty and cultural landmarks with the convenience of a knowledgeable guide.
No matter what transportation option you choose, Banff’s stunning natural beauty and outdoor activities are easily accessible and waiting to be explored. Be sure to plan ahead and book your transportation in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to ensure availability and make the most of your visit to Banff.
Where To Visit After Your Trip To Banff?
- Jasper National Park – Located about three hours from Banff, Jasper National Park offers a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, skiing, and wildlife watching. The park is home to the Columbia Icefield, several glaciers, and Maligne Lake, known for its crystal-clear waters.
- Calgary – The vibrant city of Calgary is located about an hour and a half from Banff and offers a range of cultural attractions, including museums, art galleries, and festivals. Visitors can also explore the city’s dining and shopping scene or attend a sports game or concert.
- Lake Louise – Just a short drive from Banff, Lake Louise offers stunning views of turquoise-blue waters and surrounding mountain vistas. The lake offers hiking trails, canoe rentals, and horseback riding in the summer, and ice skating and skiing in the winter.
- Kananaskis Country – Located about an hour from Banff, Kananaskis Country is a wilderness area with a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, and fishing. The area is also home to several hot springs and natural mineral pools, perfect for a relaxing soak.
- Drumheller – Located about two hours from Banff, Drumheller is known for its unique landscape of hoodoos, or rock formations, and its dinosaur fossils. Visitors can explore the Royal Tyrrell Museum or take a hike in the Badlands to see the stunning scenery.
- Waterton Lakes National Park – Located about four hours from Banff, Waterton Lakes National Park offers stunning scenery and a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, kayaking, and wildlife watching. Visitors can also explore the charming town of Waterton, with its local shops and restaurants.
- Fernie – Located about three hours from Banff, Fernie is a charming mountain town known for its skiing and outdoor activities. The town offers a range of dining and shopping options, as well as several hot springs and mineral pools.
- Glacier National Park – Located about three hours from Banff, Glacier National Park offers stunning vistas of snow-capped peaks, glaciers, and waterfalls. Visitors can explore the park’s hiking trails and scenic drives, as well as its historic lodges and cabins.
- Canmore – Canmore is a charming mountain town located just outside of Banff and offers a range of outdoor activities, shopping, and dining. Visitors can explore the town’s art galleries, breweries, and boutiques, or take a hike in the surrounding hills.
- Abraham Lake – Abraham Lake is a man-made reservoir located about two hours from Banff and offers stunning views of ice bubbles, a unique natural phenomenon caused by frozen methane gas bubbles. Visitors can take a guided tour to explore the area or take part in ice climbing or snowmobiling.
- Crowsnest Pass – Located about two and a half hours from Banff, Crowsnest Pass offers a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, and skiing. Visitors can explore the area’s historic sites and museums, or take a scenic drive through the Crowsnest Pass and its stunning mountain views.
- Revelstoke – Revelstoke is a small mountain town located about four hours from Banff and offers a range of outdoor activities, including skiing, snowmobiling, and hiking. Visitors can also explore the town’s local shops and restaurants or take a dip in the area’s hot springs.
- Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump – Located about two hours from Banff, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers a glimpse into the lives of the area’s indigenous people. Visitors can explore the interpretive center and take a guided tour to learn about the history and culture of the region.
- Bowron Lake Provincial Park – Located about eight hours from Banff, Bowron Lake Provincial Park is a wilderness area known for its canoeing and kayaking opportunities. Visitors can paddle through a network of lakes and rivers, with the opportunity to spot wildlife like moose, beavers, and bears.
- Victoria – Located on Vancouver Island, Victoria is a picturesque city known for its British colonial architecture and stunning gardens. Visitors can explore the city’s museums and galleries, take a whale watching tour, or stroll through the famous Butchart Gardens.
- Yoho National Park – Yoho National Park is located just across the border from Banff and offers stunning scenery, including the famous Takakkaw Falls and Emerald Lake. Visitors can explore the park’s hiking trails, campgrounds, and scenic drives.
- Jasper SkyTram – The Jasper SkyTram offers stunning views of the Canadian Rockies, with a 7-minute ride to the top of Whistlers Mountain. At the top, visitors can enjoy panoramic views, hiking trails, and a restaurant.
- Vancouver – Vancouver is a vibrant city located on the west coast of Canada and offers a range of attractions, including museums, parks, and beaches. Visitors can explore the city’s diverse neighborhoods, take a ferry to nearby islands, or enjoy the city’s vibrant culinary scene.
- Kootenay National Park – Kootenay National Park is located just south of Banff and offers stunning scenery, including the Radium Hot Springs and Marble Canyon. Visitors can explore the park’s hiking trails and scenic drives, as well as its historic lodges and cabins.
- Columbia Icefield – The Columbia Icefield is located about two hours from Banff and offers a unique opportunity to walk on a glacier. Visitors can take a guided tour to explore the glacier and learn about its formation and ecology.
Whether you choose to explore Banff’s neighboring towns and wilderness areas or venture further afield, Western Canada offers a range of experiences and natural beauty to discover. Be sure to plan ahead and research each destination to make the most of your travels.
No matter which destination you choose, Banff’s natural beauty and outdoor activities make it a great starting point for exploring the surrounding area. Be sure to plan ahead and bring proper gear and clothing for the activities you have in mind, and enjoy the stunning landscapes and experiences that Western Canada has to offer.
Banff Travel Guide: Final Thoughts
Banff is a breathtaking destination that offers an unparalleled blend of natural beauty and outdoor adventure. Nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Banff is a year-round playground for visitors from around the world.
Throughout history, Banff has been an important location for indigenous peoples, fur traders, and later, explorers and tourists. Today, Banff continues to attract visitors with its stunning mountain vistas, crystal-clear lakes, and endless outdoor activities.
In this travel guide, we have provided a comprehensive overview of the top things to see and do in Banff. From exploring the area’s natural wonders, such as the famous Banff National Park, to experiencing its vibrant culinary scene and thriving arts and culture scene, there is something for everyone in Banff.
For those seeking outdoor adventure, Banff offers a range of activities throughout the year. From skiing and snowboarding in the winter to hiking, biking, and wildlife viewing in the summer, Banff’s natural beauty and outdoor activities are unparalleled.
For those seeking a more relaxed pace, Banff’s charming town center offers a range of shops, restaurants, and galleries to explore. Visitors can also indulge in the area’s renowned hot springs or take a scenic drive to admire the area’s stunning landscapes.
Accommodations in Banff range from luxurious hotels to cozy bed and breakfasts, ensuring visitors can find the perfect place to stay no matter their budget or preferences. Transportation options are also plentiful, with car rentals, public transportation, and tours available to help visitors navigate the area.
No matter your interests or travel style, Banff is an ideal destination for making unforgettable memories and experiencing the natural beauty and wonder of Western Canada. So, pack your bags and prepare for an adventure of a lifetime in the stunning destination of Banff.
Amidst the towering peaks of the Rockies, Lies a land of wonder and beauty, Where nature reigns supreme, And adventure is always within reach.
Banff, oh Banff, you are a treasure, A place where the soul finds true pleasure, With turquoise lakes and snow-capped peaks, And endless vistas that stretch for weeks.
Hiking trails that wind through the woods, And glaciers that glisten like jewels, Hot springs that soothe the body and mind, And wildlife that roams free, unconfined.
In Banff, the air is pure and crisp, And every moment is one to cherish, As you explore this land of dreams, And bask in nature’s endless themes.
So come, dear traveler, and discover, The magic that lies within this wonder, And let Banff steal your heart away, As you revel in its beauty every day.