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The top 10 attractions in Banff

The top 10 attractions in Banff

Banff. It's a place that often comes to mind when you think about Canada's natural beauty. Full of mountain views, crystalline lakes, and wildlife, it's not surprising that this park and surrounding sights are at the top of almost every "must--visit" list.


But BanffExternal Link Title is more than just beauty, it's also full of adventure, culture, and charm. Under two hours from CalgaryExternal Link Title, it's a year-round destination -- snow dusted greenery in spring, sunny in summer, full of bold autumn colours in fall, and, of course, blanketed in snow in winter. Here are the top 10 things to do once you've planned your trip to this world-renowned place.


Banff Upper Hot Springs

Banff Hot Spring
Credit: Travel Alberta

The key to a good vacation? Relaxation. Head to the Banff Upper Hot SpringsExternal Link Title to experience just that in geothermal pools of mineral water -- perfect for easing tired muscles after a day in the mountains. Having been around for over 100 years, this spot is definitely popular, so it's recommended you visit early in the morning or later at night if you're looking for a lower key experience. At the bottom of Sulphur MountainExternal Link Title, you'll be treated to great views while you soak and it's especially pretty when snow is falling.


Canada's first national park

Banff National Park
Credit: Banff Lake Louise Tourism/Paul Zizka

If you like to boast about your trips, head to Banff if only to say you've been to Canada's oldest (and first) national parkExternal Link Title. Opened in 1885, the 6,640 square-kilometre park is home to mountains, glaciers, lakes, forests, and more -- perfect for wildlife and adventurous humans. In fact, the park's natural beauty draws over 3 million visitors a year. Wanting to avoid the crowds while visiting this UNESCO World Heritage SiteExternal Link Title? Read these tips.


Glacier lakes

Lake Louise
Credit: Johan Lolos

If you have a Pinterest board of travel inspiration, we know that there's at least one unbelievably blue glacier lake pinned to it. Besides the mountains, Banff's glacier lakes are another huge draw. Lake LouiseExternal Link Title is the most well-known, but Peyto Lake, Moraine LakeExternal Link Title, and Vermillion LakesExternal Link Title are all worth a visit too. Take a hike on a nearby trail and see them from the top, or get on the water in a rented canoe for an Instagram-worthy snap.


Town of Banff

Banff Townsite
Credit: Banff Lake Louise Tourism/Paul Zizka

Once you've had your fill of fresh air, come down from the mountains and check out the Town of BanffExternal Link Title. Here, you'll get a sense of the local culture through its unique shops, boutiques, restaurants, and experiences. Visit the Whyte Museum of the Canadian RockiesExternal Link Title to learn more about the area, or check out the Banff CentreExternal Link Title, a celebrated arts venue that's home to a variety of cultural events throughout the year.



Skiing Banff Alberta
Credit: Travel Alberta/Paul Zizka

When it's winter, that means skiing in Banff. There are three resorts within the area known as "Big ThreeExternal Link Title." Check out Mt. Norquay, the Lake Louise Ski Area, and Sunshine Village for all your downhill needs. With 8,000 acres of skiable terrain, you'll get good use of your tri-area lift ticketExternal Link Title.



Hiking Banff
Credit: Travel Alberta/Jake Dyson

From July to September, hikingExternal Link Title is prime in Banff. There's over 1,600 kilometres of maintained trails for all levels. Plus, taking a hike is a great way to escape some of the crowds in the drive-in areas of the park. Popular routes abound, but some of our favourites are Johnson LakeExternal Link Title, Johnston Canyon Upper and Lower FallsExternal Link Title, as well as the Bow River LoopExternal Link Title. No matter what trail you choose, be sure to equip yourself for the terrain and journey. This means packing water, food, having a clear plan, first-aid supplies, and a light source.


Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

Credit: Travel Alberta/Paul Zizka

"The Castle of the RockiesExternal Link Title" is worth paying a visit to. Whether or not you stay here, it's a spectacular place to explore. Opened in 1888, this hotel was built as Canada's railway expanded, and the architecture showcases the grandeur of the time. Stop in for a meal at one of their restaurantsExternal Link Title, visit the spaExternal Link Title, stop in for a game of bowlingExternal Link Title, or just stroll through the lobby.


Glacier Skywalk and Columbia Icefield

Glacier Skywalk
Credit: Brewster Travel Canada

You can't come to Banff without checking out the famed icefields and glaciers. Particularly the Columbia IcefieldExternal Link Title, the largest one in the Rocky Mountains. You can book a tour in an Ice ExplorerExternal Link Title (a big-wheeled vehicle designed to roll over the icy terrain) or see it from above at the Glacier SkywalkExternal Link Title. This cliff-edge walkway and series of glass platforms overlook the Sunwapta Valley. Here, it's really all about the views.


Gondolas and sightseeing

Banff Gondola


Speaking of views, the Banff GondolaExternal Link Title is a great way to experience the park from above. Very close to the village, this 8-minute ride takes you to the summit of Sulphur Mountain -- almost 2,300 metres up! Once at the top, take in the view, set out on one of the hiking trails, and check out the interpretive centre. If you're looking for more vantage points, there are more gondolas and sightseeingExternal Link Title chairlifts in other areas of the town.


Cave and Basin National Historic Site

Cave and Basin
Credit: Parks Canada


Just when you thought you've seen all the beauty this place has to offer, Cave and Basin National Historic SiteExternal Link Title enters the picture. Here, you'll find stunning caves to explore, trails to discover, and lots of activities to keep you entertained. Try the Discovery TourExternal Link Title, where you'll visit five areas of interest with a Parks Canada guide. By night, there's an evening tourExternal Link Title where you explore entirely by the light of a lantern.


With inspiration in mind and breathtaking photos to persuade you, learn more about booking your trip at the Travel Alberta website.