The larger of two towns in Banff National Park, Banff is a a picturesque town nestled in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this small and physically breathtaking town offers the adventurous and the outdoors lovers a plethora of great mountain activities.
WHAT TO DO
A small town, Banff can easily be explored by foot. There is markedly different vibe in the town in summer and winter, but as Banff is situated in a national park, there are great outdoor activities year round.
Winter or summer, visitors can soak in the Banff hot springs, which is a modern facility in a historic spa and boathouse. The alpine views are sure to impress as you soak in the hot pools. You can also take the Banff gondola, which offers spectacular views of the Canadian Rockies and costs $13 each way (many take the gondola up and hike down in the summer).
In the winter, many people travel to Banff for its skiing. There are three major resorts all located close to town (Lake Louise Mountain Resort, Sunshine Village and Ski Norquay) and many hotels in Banff offer shuttle service to and from the ski resorts. Following your day on the mountain, you can grab a drink at an apres-ski or soak in the hot tub of your hotel. If you aren't a skier, you can snowshoe, go for an icewalk (see the stunning waterfalls and rivers).
In the summer, there are a ton of great hiking trails located close to Banff. You can also take a cruise around Lake Minnewanka, whitewater raft or see the Columbia Icefield in person. Located just 3 minutes from the center of Banff, you can also take a tranquil canoe trip down the Bow River.
Banff does not have an airport and is most easily accessed by flying into Calgary, which is about an hour and half drive from Banff. If you d get a flight into Calgary, there are a few different airport shuttles which will take you from the airport to Banff. If you chose to drive, booking your airport parking in advance can save you both time and money.
WHERE TO STAY
Because Banff is located in a National Park, there is a wide range of accommodation options in this city. You can find a hotel in Banff for any budget, from backpacker lodges to mid-range hotels and luxury hotels like the Fairmont Banff Spring Hotel. There are a few hostels in Banfff, as well as budget lodges for those who want to save their dollars for lift tickets or sightseeing.