Best Things To Do In Banff
Updated: Aug 20, 2019
Our complete itinerary from our trip to Banff. Our favorite hikes and other things we did while visiting this beautiful mountain town.
Welcome to the cutest little town with a million different things to do. I wish we could have extended our stay in Banff, so many things to do with not enough time.
Our 4 days in Banff
Everything mentioned is something we did while in Banff, I will also put other recommendations of things we considering doing (but ran out of time) at the bottom.
Whether it was along hike or a short one we set a goal to go hiking every day while in Banff. We love hiking in Arizona and we were excited to hit some new trails. People of all ages are able to hike in Banff, but not all hikes are easy for everyone.
This is the longest hike we did during our time in Banff, 6.75 miles round trip. I highly recommend this hike if you like trails that are less populated. It's a moderately easy hike with a beautiful view at the end. I recommend bringing a picnic lunch to eat when you get to the lake. This hike has almost no lookouts during the hike (until you get to the lake) it's mostly covered by trees. It takes about 45 min from Banff to get to the trail, also there is no cell service.
This was probably the easiest hike we did and is suitable for all ages. It is very well paved and is only 3 miles round trip to the upper falls. During this hike you can see both the lower and upper falls, lower falls is 1 mile round trip or if you want to see both upper and lower it's 3 miles round trip. During this hike you walk along the water almost the entire time, very beautiful views. It's a very very very popular (and crowded) hike. I recommend going early in the morning to get good parking.
Bow Falls Tunnel Mountain Trail
This trail is right in Banff, you can access it from the city center. We only did 3 miles during this hike but this hike could take up to 2 hours if you do the entire trail. During this hike you get an awesome view of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and of Bow River. This trail is fairly easy and well paved. This is a great trail for biking and running. While on this trail remember the direction you came from because there are a lot of turn offs and different paths.
Other Things to do in Banff
We decided to canoe on Lake Louise, but you can also canoe on Moraine Lake. If you want to find parking for these hikes you will want to arrive at the parking lots at 6 AM. We managed to get parking after 4 PM for Lake Louise and parking at Moraine Lake after 5:30 PM, but we were told we got very lucky. These lakes are worth the hassle, very beautiful blue water with a beautiful view of the mountains. Canoeing cost us around $100 for an hour. Personally I think Moraine Lake's water is better, a very deep blue colored water.
If you would like to do the Gondola in Banff I recommend booking your ticket in advance and go during the week days so it is cheaper. The gondola ride is about 8 min up the mountain. Once you are up there, there is a short trail with beautiful views overlooking Banff. There is also a restaurant at the top that you will need a reservation for.
Things We Didn't Have Time To Do
Lake Agnes Tea House Trail
Random Thing to Know Before Going to Banff
Banff National Park Pass
You will need to pay for a pass to be parked anywhere in Banff National Park. You can purchase this pass on your drive in but I recommend purchasing online either when you get to your hotel or in advance. The car line to purchase the pass was long and you can drive to the right on the road if you already have a pass. You will then just need to put the pass in your window for rangers to see.
Renting a Car
Renting a car is 100% worth it. I recommend renting a car from right outside of the airport, the rental car center at the airport was busy and crazy. Having a rental car is necessary if you are wanting to a lot of hiking and adventuring outside of the regular touristy things.
After our trip I was so happy I brought my hiking shoes, a lot of the trails are muddy and slippery. Having shoes that are designated "get dirty" shoes was very nice, even if you aren't doing the intense crazy hikes.
Pack as many layers as you can, I think I brought 5 jackets and I used all of them. The weather changes very quickly and if you are out all day the weather ranges 10-20 degrees (f). Chilly mornings and nights, and can also get cold while hiking.
If you have any recommendations/ comments/ or questions about visiting Banff, please leave them in the comments section below!
Looking for restaurant recommendations? Check out my Banff Restaurant Guide!