Don’t let the size of Banff fool you, this tiny mountain town is bursting with plenty to do.
Whether you’re visiting Banff for one day or five, we’ve got ideas for how to fill your itinerary and see the very best the area has to offer.
If you’ve only got 24 hours in Banff, no problem. Start by soaking up that mountain air on a walk around town. Try the hiking trails up Tunnel Mountain or, if you’re looking for something less strenuous, take a walk along the Bow River on the Fenlands Trail.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Farm & Fire for some locally sourced fare. After lunch, spend some time learning about the history of this amazing place at one of the museums or cultural spots — Banff Park Museum National Historic Site or Cave and Basin National Historic Site are great places to start.
Finally, no day trip to Banff is complete without experiencing the views from the top of Sulphur Mountain at the Banff Gondola. From the summit, you can stroll along the interpretive boardwalk to Sanson’s Peak and have an unforgettable dinner of local fare and incredible views at Sky Bistro.
If you’ve got a little more time in Banff, add a fun tour around town with Open Top Touring to your itinerary. There are a variety of tours to choose from, but all include a trip around town in vintage-inspired automobiles with an expert guide who will share fascinating stories of the town’s storied past. You’ll also get gorgeous views and photo opportunities at every turn.
If you’re in town in early spring, hit the hills at Sunshine Village for some spring skiing. Or, in the late spring, summer and fall, hiking is an ideal way to soak in all the famous scenery. Popular trails nearby include Larch Valley or the Lake Agnes teahouse (but make sure to arrive extremely early to find parking). After your hike, go for a soak at the Banff Upper Hot Springs to relax and unwind.
For dinner, head to Brazen inside the Mount Royal Hotel. This chic spot honours the spirit of Banff’s pioneers and serves up contemporary takes on classic cocktails and seasonally inspired Canadian fare. After dinner, check out the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Throughout the year (and especially in summer), the centre has a great line-up of live music, lectures and readings.
Spending the better part of a week in Banff means exploring all the area’s best spots on a variety of day trips.
Head down the Icefield Parkway (about a two-hour drive) to Columbia Icefield Adventure. Here, a giant Ice Explorer takes you out to stand on and touch the incredible, ancient Athabasca Glacier. You’ll also take in the Sunwapta Valley from 918 feet in the air on the glass-floored Skywalk.
Looking to add a little adventure to your itinerary? Make the trip an hour and half west to Golden Skybridge. Home to Canada’s highest suspension bridges, Golden Skybridge offers incredible views of the Columbia Valley from up to 426 feet above an expansive canyon. There’s also a thrilling zipline, a ropes course, walking trails and a play area for the kids.
Closer to the townsite, you’ll want to get out on the water in Banff. Sign up for a cruise with Lake Minnewanka Cruise, which offers a range of options including the family-friendly Junior Explorer Cruise or Beer Voyage, showcasing some of the area’s best local breweries. You can also opt to rent your own canoe or kayak and explore on your own.
Whether it’s for one, two or five days, we hope to welcome you to Banff soon. Happy trails!