Header Notice

Winter is here! Check out the winter wonderlands at these 5 amazing winter destinations in Montana

The Top Seven Things To Do In Banff, Canada


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Ruthie Lockard


Overview of Banff, Canada

Welcome to Banff, Canada – a breathtaking destination nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Renowned for its stunning natural beauty, Banff offers visitors an array of outdoor activities, picturesque landscapes, and a charming town with a rich history and vibrant culture. With its towering mountains, crystal clear lakes, and abundance of wildlife, Banff is truly a nature lover’s paradise.


Home to the majestic Banff National Park, Canada’s oldest national park, this area is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park covers an expansive 6,641 square kilometers and features diverse ecosystems, from glaciers and towering peaks to dense forests and alpine meadows. It boasts an impressive range of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, canoeing, and wildlife viewing.


One of the highlights of any visit to Banff is Lake Louise, a shimmering turquoise gem surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Whether you choose to hike along the lake’s breathtaking shores, take a canoe out on its tranquil waters, or simply soak in the natural beauty from the comfort of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, this iconic destination is sure to leave a lasting impression.


For those seeking an unforgettable scenic drive, the Icefields Parkway is a must-see. Stretching 230 kilometers between Lake Louise and Jasper, this route offers unparalleled views of glaciers, turquoise lakes, and dramatic mountain peaks. Be sure to stop at the Columbia Icefield to experience a guided glacier walk or ride on the famous Glacier Skywalk.


No visit to Banff is complete without a trip on the Banff Gondola, which ascends to the summit of Sulphur Mountain. From the top, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, providing a breathtaking perspective of the region’s beauty. For those looking to relax and rejuvenate, a visit to the Banff Upper Hot Springs is a perfect choice. Soak in the warm mineral-rich waters while enjoying the stunning mountain vistas.


Hikers will be delighted by the enchanting Johnston Canyon, known for its stunning waterfalls and limestone caverns. Follow the well-marked trail and be rewarded with breathtaking views and the opportunity to spot wildlife along the way. Another must-see attraction in Banff is the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, often referred to as the “Castle in the Rockies.” This iconic landmark exudes elegance and charm while offering luxurious accommodations and world-class dining.


With its awe-inspiring natural landscapes, diverse array of activities, and the warmth of its mountain community, Banff is a destination that captivates visitors from around the world. Whether you’re an adventurous outdoor enthusiast, a nature lover seeking tranquility, or someone who appreciates the charm of a historic mountain town, Banff has something to offer everyone.


Explore Banff National Park

Banff National Park is a natural wonderland that attracts millions of visitors every year. As Canada’s first national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it offers an abundance of outdoor activities and breathtaking scenery. Spanning over 6,641 square kilometers, the park is a haven for hikers, wildlife enthusiasts, and outdoor adventurers.


One of the most popular activities in Banff National Park is hiking. With over 1,600 kilometers of trails, ranging from leisurely strolls to challenging multi-day hikes, there is a trail for every fitness level. The park features a diverse range of landscapes, including towering mountains, glacial lakes, and dense forests. Some of the must-visit trails include Plain of Six Glaciers, Sentinel Pass, and Johnston Canyon.


Wildlife encounters are also a common occurrence in Banff National Park. Keep your eyes peeled for the park’s iconic inhabitants, including grizzly bears, black bears, elk, moose, and bighorn sheep. Birdwatchers will be delighted by the park’s avian diversity, with species such as bald eagles, ospreys, and Canada geese calling Banff home.


In addition to hiking and wildlife spotting, Banff National Park offers a range of other activities. Take a scenic drive along the Bow Valley Parkway to spot wildlife and enjoy stunning vistas. For thrill-seekers, whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse River or skiing down the slopes of Lake Louise Ski Resort are unforgettable experiences.


If you prefer a more leisurely pace, there are plenty of picnic spots and designated viewpoints where you can soak in the beauty of the park. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the jaw-dropping landscapes.


Whether you choose to explore Banff National Park on foot, by bike, or on horseback, you will be astounded by the park’s natural beauty and its ability to inspire a sense of awe and wonder. As you venture deeper into the park, you will find yourself surrounded by pristine wilderness, with the sounds of nature soothing your soul.


Banff National Park is a magical place that offers a sanctuary for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Immerse yourself in its grandeur, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and let the natural wonders of Banff National Park leave an indelible mark on your heart.


Visit Lake Louise

Lake Louise is a jewel in the crown of Banff National Park and is world-renowned for its breathtaking beauty. Nestled at the base of towering mountains, this iconic turquoise-colored lake captivates visitors with its stunning scenery.


One of the best ways to experience the splendor of Lake Louise is by taking a leisurely stroll along the lakeshore. The picturesque trail offers uninterrupted views of the surrounding mountains, including the magnificent Victoria Glacier. As you walk, you’ll be mesmerized by the vivid hues of the water, caused by light reflecting off fine particles of glacier rock.


For a unique perspective of Lake Louise, rent a canoe and paddle across its crystal-clear waters. Feel the tranquility wash over you as you glide along, surrounded by the majestic Rockies. The reflection of the mountains on the mirror-like surface of the lake creates a magical and awe-inspiring sight.


If you’re seeking a more immersive experience, embark on a hike in the Lake Louise area. The trails vary in difficulty, catering to both seasoned hikers and beginners. The Lake Agnes Tea House hike rewards you with panoramic views of the lake from a higher vantage point, while the Plain of Six Glaciers hike takes you through dense forest and offers stunning views of glaciers and mountain peaks.


During the winter months, Lake Louise transforms into a winter wonderland. The frozen lake becomes a giant ice skating rink, and the surrounding area turns into a paradise for winter sports enthusiasts. Strap on a pair of skates and glide across the shimmering ice, or try your hand at ice fishing. For those looking for a little more adventure, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are popular activities.


Lake Louise is not only a natural beauty but also a hub for luxury and relaxation. The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, an opulent hotel overlooking the lake, offers world-class accommodations, fine dining, and indulgent spa treatments. Treat yourself to a relaxing massage or dip in the heated outdoor pool, all while taking in the majestic views.


A visit to Banff National Park would not be complete without experiencing the magnificent and serene Lake Louise. Whether you choose to wander along its shores, paddle on its waters, or simply bask in its beauty, you will undoubtedly be enchanted by the iconic turquoise lake that has captured the hearts of visitors from around the world.


Take a Scenic Drive along the Icefields Parkway

The Icefields Parkway is not just a road; it’s a journey through some of the most breathtaking landscapes on Earth. This world-renowned scenic drive stretches 230 kilometers from Lake Louise to Jasper and is considered one of the most awe-inspiring stretches of highway in the world.


As you embark on your journey along the Icefields Parkway, you’ll be surrounded by towering mountains, sparkling glaciers, and pristine lakes. The road meanders through the heart of the Canadian Rockies, providing uninterrupted panoramic views of the natural wonders that lie in its path.


There are numerous must-see stops along the Icefields Parkway. Perhaps the most famous is the Columbia Icefield, one of the largest icefields in North America. Here, you can journey onto the Athabasca Glacier aboard an Ice Explorer, a specialized all-terrain vehicle that takes you onto the glacier itself. You’ll have the opportunity to walk on ancient ice while learning about the geological history of the area.


As you continue your drive, don’t miss the opportunity to stop at Peyto Lake. This glacier-fed lake showcases a mesmerizing shade of turquoise, which contrasts beautifully with the surrounding rocky peaks. A short hike to the viewpoint provides a breathtaking perspective of this natural wonder.


Further along the route, a stop at the Mistaya Canyon is a must. Here, you can witness the raw power of the river as it carves through the narrow canyon, creating a spectacle of swirling waters and cascading falls.


The Icefields Parkway is also a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts. Keep your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep, mountain goats, elk, and even black bears that roam freely in the area. Binoculars and a camera will be your best companions as you spot these magnificent creatures against the backdrop of stunning mountain vistas.


Along the route, there are plenty of designated viewpoints and picnic areas where you can take a break and soak in the majestic surroundings. Whether you’re capturing the perfect photograph, enjoying a picnic lunch, or simply taking a moment to breathe in the fresh mountain air, the Icefields Parkway offers countless opportunities for relaxation and wonder.


Driving the Icefields Parkway is a truly unforgettable experience. As you wind your way through this breathtaking landscape, you’ll be constantly reminded of the power and beauty of nature. The sheer magnitude of the mountains and the pristine wilderness that surrounds you will leave an indelible impression on your soul.


So, hop in your car, roll down the windows, and let the grandeur of the Icefields Parkway take your breath away as you embark on a journey you’ll never forget.


Ride the Banff Gondola to Sulphur Mountain

For those seeking breathtaking views of the Canadian Rockies without the need for hiking boots, a ride on the Banff Gondola to Sulphur Mountain is the perfect solution. The Banff Gondola offers a scenic and effortless ascent to the summit of Sulphur Mountain, where unparalleled panoramic vistas await.


As you step into the gondola and begin your ascent, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the town of Banff and the surrounding Bow Valley. As you climb higher, the sprawling landscapes of Banff National Park come into view, with majestic mountains dominating the skyline.


Once you reach the summit of Sulphur Mountain, a world of wonder awaits. The Banff Gondola has a state-of-the-art visitor center that provides a wealth of information about the area’s geology, wildlife, and history. Explore the interactive exhibits and learn about the rich natural heritage of Banff National Park.


But the real highlight of the Banff Gondola experience is the awe-inspiring views from the observation deck. Step outside and be greeted by a 360-degree panorama of mountains, valleys, and forests. The breathtaking vistas stretch as far as the eye can see, with the iconic Mount Rundle and the Fairholme Range commanding attention.


For those feeling more adventurous, take a walk along the Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk. This elevated interpretive walkway offers unique perspectives of the surrounding landscapes and provides insights into the flora, fauna, and geological features of the area.


No matter the season, the Banff Gondola and Sulphur Mountain offer a unique experience. In the summer months, enjoy the vibrant colors of alpine wildflowers and bask in the warm sunshine. During winter, marvel at the snow-capped peaks and the glistening frost that transforms the landscape into a winter wonderland.


After taking in the stunning vistas, head to the Summit Restaurant for a delightful dining experience. Indulge in delicious Canadian cuisine while enjoying unparalleled views of the surrounding mountains. If you prefer a more casual setting, the Cliffhouse Bistro offers light snacks and refreshments.


Whether you’re a nature lover, outdoor enthusiast, or simply someone who appreciates magnificent views, a ride on the Banff Gondola to Sulphur Mountain is a must-do when visiting Banff. The combination of stunning landscapes, informative exhibits, and the thrill of the gondola ride make for an unforgettable experience that will leave you with lifelong memories of the Canadian Rockies.


Relax in the Banff Upper Hot Springs

After a day of exploring the magnificent landscapes of Banff National Park, there’s no better way to unwind than by immersing yourself in the warm and soothing waters of the Banff Upper Hot Springs. Located just a short drive from the town of Banff, this historic hot spring offers a tranquil oasis amidst the stunning mountain scenery.


The Banff Upper Hot Springs is known for its mineral-rich waters, which emerge from deep within the earth and are heated by the geothermal forces below. The healing properties of these waters have been enjoyed by visitors for over a century, making it a popular destination for relaxation and rejuvenation.


As you enter the historic bathhouse, you’ll be transported back in time to an era of Victorian elegance. The architecture reflects the heritage of the area, and the serene atmosphere invites you to let go of the stresses of everyday life.


Once you slip into the warm waters of the hot springs, surrounded by breathtaking mountain views, you’ll feel any tension melt away. The mineral-rich water is believed to have therapeutic benefits, soothing tired muscles, and promoting a sense of well-being.


Take a moment to float on your back and gaze up at the towering peaks above, or find a comfortable spot along the edges of the pool to simply soak and unwind. The steam rising from the water adds to the ambiance, creating a sense of peaceful tranquility.


The Banff Upper Hot Springs is an experience that can be enjoyed year-round. During the snowy winter months, there’s something truly magical about relaxing in the warm waters while snowflakes gently fall around you. In the summer, the open-air pool offers the perfect opportunity to bask in the sun and enjoy the surrounding mountain vistas.


A visit to the Banff Upper Hot Springs is not just about the healing waters; it’s also about the overall experience. The on-site café offers a selection of refreshments and snacks, allowing you to prolong your relaxation session. Take a moment to sit back, savor a hot beverage, and embrace the peaceful ambiance of this natural oasis.


Whether you’re seeking a break from outdoor adventures or simply want to indulge in some self-care, the Banff Upper Hot Springs offer the perfect escape. Rejuvenate your body and soul as you soak in the warm mineral-rich waters and revel in the beauty of the surrounding mountains. It’s an experience that will leave you feeling refreshed, revitalized, and ready to embark on your next Banff adventure.


Go Hiking in Johnston Canyon

If you’re a hiking enthusiast or simply enjoy immersing yourself in nature’s beauty, a visit to Johnston Canyon is a must-do when in Banff. This awe-inspiring canyon, located just a short drive from Banff town, offers a captivating hiking experience that will leave you in awe of Mother Nature’s creations.


The hike through Johnston Canyon takes you along a well-maintained trail that weaves its way through the canyon’s narrow walls. As you trek deeper into the canyon, you’ll be mesmerized by the sight of the Johnston Creek rushing alongside you, carving its path through the limestone cliffs.


The highlight of the hike is undoubtedly the series of stunning waterfalls that cascade down into crystal-clear turquoise pools. The Lower Falls, the first major waterfall you’ll encounter, is a sight to behold. Feel the mist on your face and listen to the thunderous roar of the water as it crashes into the pool below.


Continue along the trail, crossing picturesque bridges and passing through narrow tunnels carved into the rock, until you reach the Upper Falls. Here, the cascading water plunges down from a higher vantage point, creating a breathtaking display of natural beauty.


If you’re feeling adventurous and want to go beyond the Upper Falls, the trail continues to the Ink Pots. These natural mineral springs, characterized by their vibrant blue-green color, bubble up from the ground in a serene meadow setting. The Ink Pots offer a peaceful sanctuary where you can sit, relax, and take in the surrounding beauty.


Throughout the hike, keep an eye out for the abundant wildlife that calls Johnston Canyon home. Birdwatchers will be delighted by the diverse avian species, including the American dipper and the black swift, which can often be seen flying and nesting near the waterfalls.


Johnston Canyon is a popular attraction, so it’s recommended to visit early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid crowds. During the winter months, the canyon takes on a magical appearance as the waterfalls freeze into breathtaking ice formations, creating a wonderland for ice climbers and outdoor enthusiasts.


Whether you choose to hike to the Lower Falls, venture further to the Upper Falls, or continue all the way to the Ink Pots, the experience of trekking through Johnston Canyon is one that will leave you in awe of nature’s power and beauty. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of this natural masterpiece and create memories that will last a lifetime.


Discover the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

Perched majestically amidst the stunning landscapes of Banff National Park, the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is an iconic landmark that exudes elegance and charm. Known as the “Castle in the Rockies,” this luxurious hotel offers a unique blend of history, grandeur, and unparalleled hospitality.


As you approach the Fairmont Banff Springs, you’ll be greeted by its impressive turreted façade and stunning mountain backdrop. Step inside, and you’ll be transported to a world of timeless elegance and opulence. The hotel’s grand lobby boasts high ceilings, beautiful chandeliers, and exquisite architectural details that capture the essence of old-world luxury.


Take a stroll through the Fairmont Banff Springs, and you’ll discover a multitude of amenities and experiences to indulge in. Dine in style at one of the hotel’s exceptional restaurants, where award-winning chefs create culinary masterpieces using locally sourced ingredients. From gourmet cuisine to casual fare, there’s something to satisfy every palate.


The hotel also offers a range of recreational activities for guests to enjoy. Tee off at the championship golf course, relax with a spa treatment at the renowned Willow Stream Spa, or take a dip in the indoor and outdoor pools while enjoying breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.


For those seeking cultural enrichment, the Fairmont Banff Springs showcases a rich history that dates back over a century. Explore the hotel’s Heritage Hallway, adorned with photographs and artifacts that tell the story of the hotel’s past. Join a guided historical tour to learn about the hotel’s connection to the Canadian Pacific Railway and the role it played in the development of tourism in the Canadian Rockies.


Accommodations at the Fairmont Banff Springs are nothing short of luxurious. From cozy guest rooms to spacious suites, each room is elegantly appointed with modern amenities and features spectacular views of the surrounding mountains or the Bow River. Immerse yourself in the comfort and tranquility of your room and wake up to the breathtaking beauty of Banff.


As you explore the Fairmont Banff Springs, you’ll also discover a variety of boutique shops, where you can find unique souvenirs, clothing, and local artwork. The hotel’s picturesque grounds offer opportunities for leisurely walks, and the nearby trails provide access to even more of Banff’s natural beauty.


Whether you’re a hotel guest or simply a visitor, a visit to the Fairmont Banff Springs is a must for anyone seeking a taste of luxury and an appreciation for history. Explore its grand interiors, indulge in world-class dining, and immerse yourself in the stunning surroundings. The Fairmont Banff Springs is the epitome of elegance and serves as a gateway to the extraordinary experiences awaiting in the Canadian Rockies.