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Things to do in Banff

Things to do in  Banff

Welcome to Banff

Nestled among the soaring peaks and pines of Banff National Park in Canada, the town of Banff is an ideal base from which to explore the mighty Rockies. With Calgary 85 miles (136 kilometers) to the east and the shimmering waters of UNESCO–listed Lake Louise 36 miles (58 kilometers) to the west, Banff is a beautiful slice of Alberta. You can take in sweeping views from the Banff Gondola at Sulphur Mountain, and be on the lookout for hoodoos (tall pillars of rock_. Outdoor adventure is the name of the game, and visitors can see the sights on a guided bus tour with narrated highlights, or enjoy active pursuits ranging from horseback riding to kayaking. If you’re visiting Banff in search of adrenaline-pumping thrills, hit Kicking Horse River on a white-water rafting trip. The river swells in the summer months, providing challenging currents and exhilarating class IV and up rapids—some tours end in a barbecue lunch. Alternatively, take to the skies on a sightseeing helicopter flight for uninterrupted views over the snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains, or tackle the heights on a via ferrata tour, in which fixed iron ropes assist climbers of all abilities. Animal lovers can trek by horseback along rugged trails through the wilderness; or spot native bears, elk, and moose on a dusk wildlife safari.

Top 10 attractions in Banff

#1

Moraine Lake

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Surrounded by the dramatic Valley of the Ten Peaks, Moraine Lake has to be one of the most photographed spots in Canada. The iconic blue lake is like a giant bathtub, filling up with melted glacier water in early summer until it reaches its apex in mid to late June. But why is Moraine Lake so vividly blue? That’ll be the refraction of light off the glacial rock flour (tiny particles) in the lake. Featured in countless National Geographic issue as well as on Canada’s $20 bill from 1969 to 1979, Moraine Lake and its backdrop of snowcapped peaks is world-famous. Half the size of Lake Louise but perhaps even more picturesque, the lake is best seen at sunrise or sunset, when the surrounding mountains are colored pink and reflected in Moraine’s cool blue waters. The main viewpoint is from the shoreline which makes a great route for a gentle stroll. If you fancy getting out and about on those icy waters, canoes are available to rent at the Moraine Lake Boathouse.More
#2

Banff National Park

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Banff National Park is one of two parks protecting Alberta’s Rocky Mountains bordering British Columbia; the other park is Jasper. You’ll see some of the most astounding landscapes on the planet in Banff National Park: snowcapped mountains, huge river valleys, alpine forests, ludicrously blue lakes and charming mountain hamlets. Covering 6,641 square km (2,564 square miles), Banff was the first national park to be declared in Canada, focusing on the area’s famous thermal hot springs. Most visitors come to Banff National Park for the legendary skiing, spectacular views and peerless rock climbing and hiking. The park has information centers in Banff, Lake Louise and Upper Hot Springs.More
#3

Bow Falls

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Bow Falls are located on the Bow River in Alberta’s Banff National Park, within walking distance of the Banff Springs Hotel. The short, wide, cascading falls are a popular sightseeing stop, likely because of how accessible the natural destination is - the falls can be easily enjoyed by people of all abilities and all ages. Trails for pedestrians and for cyclists wind along the south shore of the Bow River and its rapids, and the pedestrian trail climbs up to the clifftop where the falls begin. (Bicycles aren’t allowed at the top.) The viewing areas at Bow Falls offer vistas of the river and the falls themselves. A cement promenade located at the base of the cascading falls has a few benches to sit on, though most people sit on the ledge of the promenade and enjoy the views from there. At the far end of the promenade is a small sandy beach where rafting and kayak tours often begin.More
#4

Bow River

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What begins as a drip of water from the melting Bow Glacier turns into the stunningly beautiful Bow River, which flows slowly and steadily through the Rockies in Canada’s oldest national park. The river also flows through Banff, Canmore and Calgary, making it a constant presence on any journey through southern Alberta. The best way to appreciate the beauty of Bow River is by heading out on the wheelchair-friendly walking and cycling path in downtown Banff to complete the short trip to Bow Falls. Countless picnic tables and park benches make Bow Falls an ideal lunch spot, and float trips, in giant inflatable rafts, begin right at the base of the falls, too. Both wildlife and wildflowers are often seen along the river, where canoe trips are popular. The river is divided into three half-day canoeing sections, all of which require intermediate experience: Lake Louise to Castle Junction, Castle Junction to Banff and Bow Falls to Canmore.More
#5

Johnston Canyon

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Johnston Canyon is one of the most popular day hikes in Banff National Park. It’s a fairly easy hike on man-made trails to reach the canyon’s two waterfalls, making it a great activity for families and people of every fitness level and age. Johnston Creek flows through Johnston Canyon, a deep blue creek that has cut through the limestone rock over centuries on its way to join the Bow River, creating steep canyon walls with waterfalls, pools, and tunnels. The Johnston Canyon hiking trail begins just behind Johnston Canyon Lodge and gets very busy during peak summer hiking hours, with hundreds of hikers following the catwalks and staircases to the canyon’s Lower and Upper Falls. (Try hiking the trail in the very early morning or right before sunset if you’d like to avoid the crowds.) Less than two miles (3km) past the waterfalls are the Ink Pots: several cold, blue-green mineral pools that bubble to the surface in an open meadow beside the creek.More
#6

Yoho National Park

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#7

Lake Minnewanka

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The glacier-fed Lake Minnewanka lies just minutes from the town of Banff, and the sight of the Canadian Rockies jutting straight up out of the 17-mile-long body of water proves breathtaking. Lake Minnewanka is the perfect location to begin exploring the wilderness protected by both Banff National Park and the larger Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage site. Cruises operate around the lake during the summer, but there are plenty of other ways to get out on the water. Minnewanka is the only lake in the Banff area to allow privately operated motorboats, and there are 16-foot aluminum boats available for rental as well. For a more authentic adventure, canoe rentals provide the opportunity to explore for a day or more, as several backcountry campgrounds are located around the lake. Setting out on the area’s trails is definitely worth the effort, too, even if it’s only to complete the two-mile stroll to the Stewart Canyon Bridge that spans the Cascade River.More
#8

Banff Lake Louise

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No wonder stunning turquoise Lake Louise is known as the jewel of the Rockies. Set in a small glacial valley, surrounded by snow-topped mountains, the lakeshore is threaded with hiking trails and viewpoints. On a clear day, you’ll see the reflected glory of this spectacular place captured in the lake’s mirror-like surface. Another iconic site is the luxurious Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise resort at the northern end of the lake. While you’re here, ride the gondola to the summit of Mt Whitehorn, go skiing if there’s snow, head to the trails circling the lake or visit the nearby Moraine Lake.More
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#10

Victoria Glacier

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Trip ideas

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Recent reviews from experiences in Banff

star-5
A fun evening out
Angela_R, Sep 2020
Banff Ghost Walks
It was a great way to see a different side of Banff.
star-5
Max was a great tour guide!!
Cole_D, Aug 2020
Banff Ghost Walks
Its a great little tour to see banff and some amazing stories about banff history.
star-5
Day trip to Banff was splendid
vinodbudala, Jan 2020
Winter-Banff/ Sulphur Mountain One Day Tour
Spectacular views of Rocky Mountain range and a beautiful Banff town with a natural Hot spring.
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Do this tour your first day in Banff!
marie0619, Sep 2019
Lake Louise and the Icefield Parkway - Full-Day Tour
You get to see so much.
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Wonderful Day
GeraldN48, Jul 2019
Mountain Lakes and Waterfalls Day Trip from Banff
We really enjoyed our tour of the beautiful mountain lakes and waterfalls from Banff.
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Fantastic!
flygirl12100, Jul 2018
Hop-On and Hop-Off Banff Bus
It was so easy to see all of the sights without having to deal with parking.
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Just Do It
mmn1951, Jul 2018
Hop-On and Hop-Off Banff Bus
Several options to see & spend time in the places you are most interested.
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Great Way to see Banff
jasminevminor, Sep 2018
Evening Wildlife Safari
This tour was a fantastic way to see Banff and we highly recommend it!
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Fantastic tour and a fantastic...
Megan V, Oct 2017
Banff National Park Tour with Lake Louise and Moraine Lake
Stunning places to visit.
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We had a wonderful experience with...
Robert K, Oct 2016
Mountain Lakes and Waterfalls Day Trip from Banff
We had a wonderful experience with the Mountain Lakes and Waterfalls Day trip from Banff - our driver and our tour guide Nicole were outstanding.
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Great guiding and beautiful views...
brenda c, Jul 2016
Banff to Jasper One-Way Tour
Best way to get from Banff to Jasper and stop to see the sights if you dont have a car.
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Great tour. Tour guides were great...
patricia r, Oct 2016
Banff City Sightseeing Tour - Roundtrip from Banff
We took this tour on one day and then the Mountains and Waterfalls the next day.
star-4
A great way to see some Banff...
E traveller K, Sep 2016
Banff City Sightseeing Tour - Roundtrip from Banff
A great way to see some Banff highlights in one day.
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Great way to see the sights of Banff...
Britney J, Sep 2012
Summer Tour: Banff and its Wildlife
Great way to see the sights of Banff and learn about its history.
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For those without their own...
Alan J, Jun 2011
Athabasca Glacier Snow Trip from Banff
For those without their own transportation, good way to see the sights and hear a lot of information about the area between Banff and the glacier.
star-4
It was a good overview of things to do...
Doreen H, Apr 2009
Winter Tour: Banff and Its Wildlife
It was a good overview of things to do in Banff.
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Introduction to Banff and its Wildlife
MaryP1717, Oct 2019
Summer Tour: Banff and its Wildlife
We went to Bow Falls, saw the magnificent Banff Fairmont Hotel and learned about rebuilding of the hotel.
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The Perfect Tour
HeatherEL14, Sep 2019
Lake Louise and the Icefield Parkway - Full-Day Tour
We spent a perfect amount of time at each stop and we never felt rushed but were able to see a lot of different locations throughout the day.
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Exceeded our expectations
Farscape 9, Jul 2019
Discover Grizzly Bears from Banff
The amazing scenic stops were at Takaka Falls, Emerald Lake and Natural Bridges.
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Grizzly Bear Refuge, Golden, British Columbia
wyble, Aug 2018
Discover Grizzly Bears from Banff
The purpose of the trip was to see a grizzly bear in a 20 acre refuge on Kicking Horse Resort in Golden, BC, Canada.

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