Banff is a vibrant town set in amongst the Canadian rocky mountains. It’s the home of those stunning turquoise lakes that you see on Instagram or google images and features incredible wildlife so close you could touch. Banff is truly a place created in your wildest winter dreams.
How to make the most of your time in Banff? Follow this guide.
Where To Stay
This hostel is just outside of the hustle and bustle of Banff’s ‘city-centre’ and has a great atmosphere. It’s also competitively priced for the Banff area and we love an ensuite so big points awarded on that alone. The hostel feels like a chalet which only enhances your Canadian Experience.
Riverfront Estate Bed & Breakfast
Closer to the tanalizing city centre of Banff you can find this adorable Airbnb that is a bit more private and closer to the excitement. It’s also reasonably priced. If you are looking for a little less socializing and a little more intimacy this is the place for you!
Here is $45 off your first booking with Airbnb!
*Please note, you are at a high altitude in Banff & Lake Louise. Alcohol will hit you faster and harder. Don’t be that person who has thrown up all over at 8 pm because you thought you could do 4 shots of tequila and skull a pitcher of local craft beer. Take it slow, this new altitude will save you $.
-$10 bowling & Cheap pints
-Greek night with a free live dinner show
-Dance your ass off and get $9 timebombs.
-Live Country Music!
-See the best that Banff nightlife has to offer and mingle with other like-minded party animals
Rose & Crown Bar
-$5.50 pints & $6 Caesars
Skating after dark
Canada is known for its winter sports. Embrace our hobbies and head to the local rink for some after-dark skating (plus it’s super romantic).
How incredible does sitting in a hot spring on a mountain in the middle of winter sound? I know, too good to be true. Luckily for you, it’s not. Banff has a few hot springs you can choose from! Go, enjoy!
Ice fields parkway
Take a guided tour through the glaciers! Explore icefields and valleys, stone walls and waterways. Tours are 3 or 6 hours long, so wear your (warm) hiking boots!
Explore Banff Hotsprings hotel
This 130-year-old castle has been the home to many including stars like Marilyn Monroe. It survived the great depression and WWII, and it is still one of the most lavish hotels in North America. Take a tour of this historic landmark.
It’s one of those things, if you aren’t from Canada, you have probably wondered if Canadians dog sled to work every day? Or do we ride a polar bear or a moose? Sorry to burst your bubble, but we have cars. Dog sledding is more of a sport in most of Canada, although, yes it is still a means of transportation in some parts. You can participate in this throughout BNP and see the natural beauty throughout the landscape.
Horse Carriage through Banff
Feeling like getting cozy and romantic? You can take a horse-drawn carriage ride through Banff. If you wait until dusk you can tour through town and see all the lights shining bright (particularly around Christmas time) grab some hot chocolate and make it a date.
Historic Cave and Basin
Another hot spring worth mentioning, this one is a grotto and is the starting point of Banff National Park. There are various tours and it’s so instagrammable we can’t even (literally.. can’t… even).
Visit Lake Louise
I will always have a soft spot for Lake Louise. It’s so gorgeous, the Fairmont is breathtaking, the lake is incredibly turquoise and every moment gets turned into a memory. You can canoe on the Glacier runoff below Victoria Glacier and ski Louise on the other side of the valley. IT IS INCREDIBLE.
Where To Eat
Coffee, bagels, donuts, what more do you want?
The Bear Street Tavern
Some of the most bangin’ pizzas and other tasty eats like pork belly mac and cheese, Bison cottage pie or Alberta beef ribs. You’re welcome.
Located in the Banff Gondola building overlooking the mountains, this is a fine dining experience like no other. Get dressed up and head out for an *expensive* date night!
Casual (Cheap Eats)
Tommy’s Neighbourhood Pub
Just your local pub, with great food, great service and proper portion sizes. Pub fare at it’s finest!
Delicious, ALL Canadian pastry covered in various sweet toppings, shaped like a beaver’s tail.
What To Budget
We would recommend budgeting at least $100 per day in Banff. When you take into consideration roughly $50/night accommodation cost and approximately $40/day meals it adds up quickly.
Don’t forget to take into consideration the cost of the activities you absolutely must experience.
-The climate is really dry, so make sure you bring chapstick and moisturizers (and nasal gel if you are prone to bloody noses).
-It can get cold no matter what time of year and has been known to snow in August so bring a sweater even if you are visiting in the summer
-You can go clubbing in winter boots (leave the heels at home)
-Alcohol shops are privately owned and have different sales so shop around if you want the best deal
-Your smartphone isn’t going to cut it, no matter how great a photo you take it will never be as magical as being there in person
-You have to pay a fee to keep your vehicle in BNP
-Careful driving, there are lots of animals that roam the highway including bears. The highway patrol is always out waiting to catch you speeding, or littering. Throwing a cigarette butt out your window will cost you $150 and speeding fines are also pretty hefty.
-There is absolutely no hunting in the national park. If you are travelling with guns (which you shouldn’t be, it’s not Texas), check them into the local RCMP station for safekeeping while you stay in the park.
We hope this helps you navigate through Banff! It’s absolutely breathtaking and worth every second you can spend there.
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Check out more on Canada HERE.
Want more to do during Winter in Canada? Head over to The Best Winter Ever: A Guide to Winter in Canada.