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The BEST and Most Flexible Shuttle from Banff to Lake Louise

The BEST and Most Flexible Shuttle from Banff to Lake Louise

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When it comes to getting to Lake Louise from Banff, there are several options to choose from. If you want to visit for the day, we recommend doing a tour to Lake Louise, but if you want to spend a few nights there, then a shuttle is the quickest, easiest option to get from one hotel to the next. The convenience, flexibility, and quick service mean you don’t have to plan any logistics except what to do once you arrive in Lake Louise!

Surprisingly there are hardly any shuttles that go to Lake Louise from Banff. Weird, I know, but they are hard to come by if at all. But having lived in the Canadian Rockies and doing this trip many times over the years, we have found the absolute best shuttle to get you from Banff to Lake Louise!

How Far is Lake Louise from Banff?

Map showing the distance between Banff and Lake Louise
Map showing the distance between Banff and Lake Louise

There are two different routes to get to Lake Louise. The Trans Canada Highway and the Bow Valley Parkway. Most shuttles take the Trans Canada Highway because it is the fastest way to get to Lake Louise and is open year-round. The 57 km (35 mile) journey, while less scenic than Bow Valley Parkway, still offers some incredible views of the Rockies and passes under Banff’s famous wildlife bridges. 

As long as there isn’t any traffic, I’ve found that the ride takes about 40 minutes without stops. Maybe up to an hour during the winter when it’s snowing and they drive slower for safety reasons. You’re likely not to notice the time too much anyway since you’ll be busy taking in the epic views of the mountains!

Related Read: To reach Banff National Park, many people fly into Calgary. There are many great options to get from the Calgary airport to Banff!

What is the Best Shuttle from Banff to Lake Louise?

View out the window of the shuttle between Banff and Lake Louise
Sit back and enjoy the views!

When it comes to the best, this Brewster Express shuttle to Lake Louise is easily our top choice. It has always picked us up on time from our hotel in Banff and taken us right to our stay in Lake Louise. We have always gotten great service from the drivers, making it a breeze!

This shuttle makes many stops, but luckily the the Banff to Lake Louise segment of the trip is last, meaning once the shuttle has picked up the other Banff guests you’ll head directly to Lake Louise. We prefer taking the earliest shuttle, which arrives in Banff at 11:30 am, to get to Lake Louise around 1 pm. This allows us to check out of our Banff hotel and hop right onto the shuttle!

The shuttle bus is comfortable and climate-controlled so the short ride is enjoyable. You can take one piece of luggage and a handbag per person which is included in the price. However, if you are traveling with several suitcases or larger items they may be subject to an additional fee at the time of pick-up. We don’t travel with too much stuff so this has never been an issue, but the shuttle is accommodating, and if you do have extra bags it shouldn’t be a problem.

If you’re staying in Banff Town and want to spend the day at Lake Louise, you could book a roundtrip ticket for this shuttle. The earliest you can get into Lake Louise is around 1 pm and the latest shuttle back to Banff is at 5:15 pm. If you’re doing this option make sure to put the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise as your drop-off and pick-up point because that hotel is right on the lakeshore.

However, if you’re going to do a day trip we think there are some better options. You can check out the best ways to get from Banff to Lake Louise, depending on your travel needs. Or, read about our top choices for Lake Louise tours from Banff here.

To cut to the chase, for day trips, we recommend this hop-on, hop-off bus. I’ve also taken the public Roam Bus (more on this below!).

But if you plan to stay longer in Lake Louise, the shuttle transfer is ideal for a quick, convenient, and reliable ride there. But, please note that this shuttle is not wheelchair accessible. It is available every day, year-round, and starts at $41 CAD per person, per direction.

Is There a Public Bus from Banff to Lake Louise?

a view of the outside of a Roam Transit bus in Banff National Park with mountains in the background
A Roam bus in Banff National Park!

Yes, there is! Roam Transit is a public bus service that provides cheap, year-round transportation to Lake Louise from Banff. Depending on the time of year you visit, there are two different routes you can take up to the lake. 

Route 8X (Lake Louise-Banff Express) Offered every day, year-round, Route 8X to Lake Louise has both one-way or round-trip options available. You can catch the bus from the Banff High School Transit Hub or the Banff Train Station at any of its eleven daily pick-up times between 7:30 am to around 10 pm. It’s a super popular option for visiting the lake and you can expect there to be a line at most pick-up locations, so make sure to get there at least 15 minutes before your scheduled pick-up time.

I have taken this bus many times. Going directly to Lake Louise by way of the Trans Canada Highway you can expect your trip to take about an hour with comfortable seats and free wi-fi. The same bus back to Banff leaves from Lake Louise Lakeshore many times during the day with its final departure around 11 pm. All buses are wheelchair accessible, can hold several bicycles, and run on all major holidays. 

Tickets are $10 CAD per person one-way and you can reserve your spot and see the full schedule here. We highly recommend reserving your spot in advance because this is a very popular transportation option!

Route 8S (Lake Louise-Banff Scenic Route) – Between July and August, Roam busses offer an alternate route to Lake Louise via the beautiful Bow Valley Parkway. The trip on Route 8S will take a little bit longer but that means more time to soak up the views! While the distance to the lake via Bow Valley Parkway is similar to the Trans Canada Highway, a slower speed limit and frequent stops have had me on the bus for about an hour and a half sometimes. Again, it’s worth it for those sweet, sweet views of the Rockies you can’t get on the highway.

Identical to the buses used for route 8X, each is equipped with comfortable seats and wi-fi and is wheelchair friendly. The 8S schedule is released every year so check for updates regularly on their website before your trip, especially since they’ve suspended service some years.

With one-way tickets available for $10 CAD, you can reserve your spot and see the full schedule here!

Other Things to do While You’re in Banff National Park

Banff Upper Hot Springs
The Banff Upper Hot Springs!

Once you’ve arrived in this part of Alberta, there are so many things to do in Banff! But with so much to choose from, it might feel overwhelming. So below, I’ve picked some of my favorite activities in the area.

  • Look for wildlife – Banff is home to some pretty incredible wildlife. You might just spot elk, bears, deer, foxes, coyotes, bighorn sheep, and more! The best chance you have of seeing the most critters is on a wildlife tour in Banff. We really liked this small group tour where the guides tailor the itinerary to recent wildlife spottings, and you get to see highlights of the national park along the way.
  • Unwind at the hot springs – This is an absolute must after a long day of hiking out in nature. The Banff Upper Hot Springs has some incredible mountain views and is also one of Alberta’s best hot springs! It costs $16.50 CAD per person here for a pass, and I’d recommend going towards the end of the day when the springs are quieter.
  • Explore Banff town – While many nature-based activities are nearby, you shouldn’t neglect Banff town itself! Start your morning by visiting one of the cute local cafes, or grab patio drinks along Banff Avenue in the afternoon. To avoid traffic, check out the pedestrian-only Bear Street, with even more restaurants, cafes, and shops.

Related Read: If you are visiting Lake Louise in the summer, you also have to check out Moraine Lake (one of the prettiest lakes in Banff!).

Where to Stay in Banff

At the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
Me, in front of the Fairmont

When traveling between Banff and Lake Louise, you might be debating whether to stay overnight in one of these destinations – or spend a few nights in both. To help you decide, we’ve detailed the pros and cons of different areas in Banff National Park here.

If you already know you want to stay in Banff, you can check out the full selection of hotels in Banff town here. However, to save you time, we’ve listed our top recommendations for each budget below.

Fairmont Banff Springs – $$$

The Fairmont Banff Springs is by far the most luxurious hotel in Banff. It’s definitely not cheap, but the place is simply incredible – it seriously looks like a castle! Inside this one-of-a-kind hotel, you’ll find 11 restaurants, 14 shops, bowling, bars, a top-rated spa, a couple of pools, and so much more.

If you’re celebrating something special, such as a honeymoon, then this should be the hotel you choose! A one-night stay starts at around $744 CAD, and you can check prices and room availability for Fairmont online here.

Banff Inn -$$

The Banff Inn is a great midrange hotel that combines comfort with an incredibly welcoming atmosphere. I love staying here as not only is the hotel located right on Banff Ave, but all rooms are air-conditioned, and the staff is so friendly! In the hotel, you’ll find a hot tub, steam room, and sauna, as well as a restaurant and bar.

Rooms here at the Banff Inn start at around $266 CAD per night, and I highly recommend booking well in advance, as this is one of the most popular hotels in Banff.

Banff Rocky Mountain Resort – $$

Another fantastic midrange hotel is Banff Rocky Mountain Resort, which has a swimming pool, hot tub, gym, and all the rooms have kitchenettes or full kitchens. It’s the perfect place for families since they also have two and three-bedroom units to pick from.

The Banff Rocky Mountain Resort is located in a peaceful spot on Tunnel Mountain that’s only a 5-minute drive from Banff town! With rooms starting at around $143 CAD, you can check availability and book Banff Rocky Mountain Resort online here.

Samesun Banff Hostel – $

Samesun Banff Hostel is a great budget hostel with dorm rooms – perfect for those on a tight budget who want to stay in the heart of Banff town. Their common real is ideal for meeting like-minded travelers, and they also have an on-site restaurant where you can grab a meal before your wildlife tour!

As this is a backpacker place, you won’t find any private rooms available, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great stay here. Dorms start from $53 CAD in the low season, but this does rise come summer! That’s why it’s a great idea to check your dates ahead of time, and to book your space on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.

Important info: Accommodation in Banff can be tricky. For starters, you need to book well in advance if you want to have a large selection. I suggest booking a place ASAP! Using Booking.com is great too because lots of hotels offer free cancellation, so just lock in a place (or two) for now and make the final decision later!

Where to Stay in Lake Louise

Starting the Lake Agnes Tea House hike from Chateau Lake Louise
When you stay at the Fairmont Château Lake Louise, you can go hiking right from your hotel!

If you plan to spend more than one day in Lake Louise, then consider staying overnight. Being such a small village, options are very limited, so you should book as far in advance as possible. Below are my top three choices in all budget categories:

Fairmont Château Lake Louise – $$$

For those with a bigger budget, you can’t look past the Fairmont Château Lake Louise. The hotel sits on the shoreline of Lake Louise with epic views in the most stunning of locations. It is a staple in Lake Louise’s landscape, and you bet the rooms are as luxurious as the exterior makes them seem. They have 6 restaurants, an indoor pool, a spa, a fitness center, and private parking.

Stays at the Fairmont Château Lake Louise can cost as little as $500 CAD a night when you book this luxury getaway well in advance.

Lake Louise Inn – $$

The Lake Louise Inn is a budget-friendly option that’s comfortable and has all the basic amenities. The hotel features an indoor pool, hot tub, onsite restaurant and bar, fitness center, modern rooms, and even apartments for larger groups.

Prices For the Lake Louise Inn start at $130 CAD and you can easily book your stay on Booking.com!

Hl Lake Louise Alpine Centre – $

For budget travelers, the HI Lake Louise Alpine Centre is the best option in Lake Louise Village. The location is right in town, they have a shared kitchen, basic but comfortable rooms, and friendly staff. They have access to a small library, sauna, and a cozy common area with a fireplace. They offer either shared dorms starting at $50 CAD or private rooms starting at $140 CAD. They even have family rooms and a play area for kids.

You can book a stay on either Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.

Parks Canada Pass Quick Info

If you plan on spending time in Canada’s national parks (including Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Kootenay, and more) then you’re going to have to pay for a Parks Pass.

Single Daily Admission:

This type of pass is valid for one person for one day. It is ONLY the best value if you are traveling alone and only plan to visit a national park for a couple of days.

  • Adult (ages 18-64) is $11 CAD
  • Senior (65+) is $9.50 CAD
  • Youth/Child (17 or younger) is FREE

Group Daily Admission:

If you’re traveling in a group or with family, you can buy a single-day admission for your entire vehicle (up to 7 people in one vehicle.)

  • $22.00 CAD gets your entire vehicle entry for one full day

Parks Canada Discovery Pass

The “Discovery Pass” is what Parks Canada calls their year-long (365 days from the purchase date), multi-park entry pass. This pass will give 365 days of access to all participating national parks in Canada. This includes the most popular parks like Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Glacier, Mount Revelstoke, and so much more.

  • Adult (age 18-64) – $75.25 CAD
  • Senior (65+) – $64.50 CAD
  • Group/Family (up to 7 people in one vehicle) – $151.25 CAD

Hot Tip: Although more expensive up front, if you plan on spending more than 7 days in different parks in Canada within a 12-month period, then the Discovery Pass is actually the better deal!

Parks Canada Passes can be bought online here or at one of the Visitor Centers or booths at the entrance to many national parks.

Thanks for reading!

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie with coffees from Laggins Bakery in Lake Louise
Thanks for reading!

We are so glad that you are adding Lake Louise to your Banff itinerary! It’s such a beautiful place and we hope you have a stress-free ride on the shuttle and the best time visiting Lake Louise!

This is such an incredible part of Canada with so many areas to explore! Make sure to check out our other Banff blogs before you go, and you can learn about other parts of Canada here. To get started, here are three more blogs we think you’ll love:

30 MAGICAL Things to do in Lake Louise in Winter (2024 Guide!)

5 BEST Hikes in Lake Louise (that start from the Lakefront!)

15 Things to KNOW About Riding the Moraine Lake Shuttle (2024!)

john

Monday 25th of March 2024

I would like to bicycle from Lake Louise to Banff and take the shuttle back. Is there transportation that I can use to take my bike one way?

Destinationless Travel

Monday 25th of March 2024

Hey John,

Yes the Roam Public busses have bike racks but you are also allowed to take them on the bus inside.

Thanks Daniel