Flights are booked, but now what? We’ve got a full seven-day itinerary mapped out for you to help you plan your perfect trip to Banff National Park. All you have to do is say “yes” to a trip of a lifetime with extraordinary views, delicious meals, and adventures for every style.
DAY ONE – Journey Back in Time and Explore the History of Canada’s First National Park
Take a short walk from town to Cave and Basin National Historic Site where you can explore the interpretive exhibits, learn about the natural and cultural history of the area, and wander the boardwalks surrounding the springs.
Once you’ve brushed up on your history and learned which animals to expect through a tour of Banff Park Museum, you’re ready to search for some that are inhabiting the park today. Take a wildlife tour for a northern version of the safari. Winding mountainous roads may surprise you with a visit from our wild neighbours.
Exploring the valleys is hungry work and you’ve yet to see all that these mountains have to offer. Hop on the Banff Gondola and dine at 7,400 ft. With sweeping views brought to you by floor-to-ceiling glass windows, you’ll be hard pressed to find somewhere more phenomenal to enjoy your dinner. Sky Bistro’s regionally sourced menu focuses on bringing local farmers to your table, serving you the best of what Alberta and B.C. have to offer.
Now it’s time to sit back, relax, and search the skies above for the stars. On the sightseeing deck of the Banff Gondola, you’ll feel like you’ve left this world and entered a new one of dark skies speckled with stars.
DAY TWO – Watch the Sunrise from the Top of Tunnel Mountain
Rise and shine! Make your way to the top of Tunnel Mountain for sunrise. You’ll summit in approximately an hour for breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the town of Banff below. Check out some Locals’ Favourite Hikes for more adventure inspiration.
Skipping your morning coffee to make sunrise was well worth the sacrifice, but now that you’re on your way down the mountain, your next adventure will have to wait until you’ve had your fill. Stop in for a tasty bite at one of these breakfast restaurants with a view to refuel before the day continues.
For another perspective of the mountains, it’s time to head up to Mt. Norquay. The drive up is super scenic, so take the free shuttle and keep your eyes on the view. A quick whisk up the sightseeing chairlift and you’ve reached the sightseeing platform with views stretching in every direction. This is the perfect spot to stop for lunch with the Cliffhouse Bistro offering a contemporary menu with a mountain casual feel. Want to get a little higher? Book on the Via Ferrata tour to climb to the summit of Mt. Norquay and stand where few have stood before.
If you missed the Cave and Basin on your first day, head over for an after-dark tour lit by lanterns.
DAY THREE – Take your Sightseeing Views to Greater Heights
We have our fair share of gondolas in Banff National Park, and there’s a good reason why: they all bring you to different and equally incredible landscapes. The Banff Sunshine Gondola gives you easy access to a remote valley with lakes, wildflowers, and kilometres of walking trails as you straddle the border between Alberta and B.C.
Those alpine lakes you saw at Banff Sunshine will have you wishing you could explore them by canoe, SUP, or kayak. Back in Banff, you can rent all three at the Banff Canoe Club and head over to Vermilion Lakes. As you paddle along, keep a close eye out for beavers, birds, and even the odd elk along the shoreline.
Along your travels so far, you’ve met a local or two and they’ve likely shared their favourite parts about Banff and Lake Louise with you. One thing that’s sure to be on everyone’s list is the farmer’s market. On Wednesday’s throughout the summer, pop over for lunch, fresh veggies, local handmade wares, and live music.
You’ve hiked past lakes, paddled through them, but you haven’t seen all that these crystal waters have to offer. A short drive, or bus ride, from the town of Banff will take you along the Lake Minnewanka Loop, where you’ll see the lake itself along with Two Jack Lake.
DAY FOUR – Choose Your Own Adventure