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9 FUN Banff Tours from Calgary: Our Favorite Tours and Why

9 FUN Banff Tours from Calgary: Our Favorite Tours and Why

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Looking for the best tours of Banff from Calgary? You’ve come to the right place!

We’ve spent a lot of time exploring Banff National Park, and it’s safe to say it’s secured a special place in our hearts! Stunning powder-blue lakes, photo-worthy mountain peaks towering in the background, lush alpine forest landscapes, and cute critters roaming around. What more could you ask for?!

Luckily, it’s super close to Calgary too. At only about a 90-minute drive away, Banff is easily visited on a day trip or guided tour.

Booking a tour to Banff from Calgary means you can just show up and enjoy – no worrying about driving, directions, or missing out on the best activities. But with so many (there really are a ton!) tours to choose from, how do you pick the right one?

Read on for our recommendations and comparison of the 9 best Banff tours from Calgary.

Quick Pick: Our Personal FAVORITE Tour

Castle Mountain Viewpoint along the Bow Valley Parkway
Castle Mountain Viewpoint along the Bow Valley Parkway

We hate to pick favorites…but this full day Banff tour is our clear winner if we had to choose just one.

Whether you’re touring Banff in winter or summer, I highly (highly) recommend trying out this guided tour. With passionate guides, one of the best itineraries we’ve seen on a tour in Banff, and stops at some incredibly scenic locations, what more could you ask for?

Tickets are just $117 CAD per person – great value for money considering it’s a 10-hour tour if you ask me!

1. Lake Louise and Yoho National Park full-day tour

A person canoes on Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park, Canada
Emerald Lake!
The Lake Louise Boathouse
The Lake Louise Boathouse

If Banff and Yoho National Parks are calling your name, this full-day tour of Lake Louise and Yoho is an awesome way to see them both. An extra bonus of this tour? We didn’t have to worry about parking at Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, which is super limited and requires pre-planning if you’re in a rental!

These tours operate year-round, and summer visitors will take in the unreal blues of Banff’s Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, Yoho’s famous Emerald Lake, and the incredible Natural Bridge rock formation along the Kicking Horse River.

Don’t underestimate the winter scenery, though – the snowy mountain ranges are jaw-dropping, and snowshoeing on the lakes is something we’ll never forget.

What we loved about this tour was that they gave us ample opportunity to explore each stop, so we could hop on short trails around Lake Louise, find the perfect photo op, or just find a quiet spot to take in the beauty of the parks.  

Pickup in Calgary is at the Coast Calgary Downtown Hotel, and this tour runs between 8 – 10 hours (depending on whether you start in Calgary or Banff) and can accommodate groups of up to 50 guests.

This tour costs $160 CAD per adult and includes park entrance fees, gratuities, and a comfy air-conditioned ride! 

2. Discover Banff National Park – Banff town, Lake Minnewanka, Lake Louise and more

Lake Minnewanka with a beautiful mountain backdrop
Lake Minnewanka!
Bailey at Morant's Curve on the Bow Valley Parkway
Morant’s Curve in Banff is stunning!

For an amazing day out seeing all of the top spots in Banff National Park, it doesn’t get much better than this full-day Banff tour. It’s an absolute blast, no matter what time of year you decide to visit!

We were blown away by the carefully crafted itinerary on this tour, and were delighted to see it has a maximum group size of 12 people, perfect for a personalized day trip from Calgary to this stunning destination!

Our guides were so passionate about all of the areas we were visiting – it was honestly infectious! Along the way they were cracking jokes, telling fascinating stories, and of course, they’re always there to lend a hand when you need someone to hold the camera too.

Some of the amazing spots we visited included Lake Minnewanka, Two Jack Lake, Lake Louise, and the beautiful town of Banff. In winter there’s also a trip to Canmore scheduled into the trip, and in the summer it also doubles as a Calgary to Moraine Lake tour.

We loved just how customizable the trip was, we just had to let our guides know what we preferred to do, and they were happy to accommodate. Or you can just go with the flow!

Depending on where you’re staying in Calgary, pickup and drop-off may be included in the rate or at a small extra cost. Tickets for this awesome experience cost $177 CAD, which we think is an awesome deal considering all transport is included!

Related Read: Looking for more fun activities while in Alberta? Check out our favorite day trips from Calgary to see it all!

3. Columbia Icefield tour

Bow Lake from the Bow Lake Lookout on the Icefields Parkway
Bow Lake!
Daniel on one of the large Ice Explorers on the Athabasca Glacier on a tour
Explore the Columbia Icefield!

We were in for a real treat with this Columbia Icefield full-day tour, as we got to journey through some of the most stunning landscapes in Alberta to the amazing Columbia Icefields! It’s hands down one of the most beautiful drives in North America.

It was so incredible to see the top sights along the Icefields Parkway, including the Waputik Range, Bow Lake, and the Crowfoot Glacier. Our eyes were permanently glued to the windows, how could they not be with views as beautiful as these?

But the absolute best highlight of this tour for us was the visit to the Columbia Icefield, one of the largest non-polar icefields in the world. So what’s so special about this place, you may ask? Well, it’s here that you have the option to upgrade your tour to include a ride on the all-terrain Ice Explorer, where you then cruise along the Athabasca Glacier.

You even get to stop off on the way for a walk on the glacier too, which was so, so cool!

Although this tour has a maximum of 50 participants, we didn’t find it crowded at all, with the guides doing a great job of making everyone feel a part of the tour and answering any questions we had. The tour itself operates between May and October, with tours on Wednesdays and Saturdays, so make sure to plan accordingly!

Tickets for this tour cost $210 CAD without the Ice Explorer tour, however, we seriously recommend making the most of this opportunity and adding this on for a mind-blowing experience! The entire trip, with admission on the explorer tour, costs $305 CAD.

Related Read: Can’t get enough of beautiful mountains and frozen glaciers? Here are more of our favorite Icefields Parkway tours.

4. Icefields Parkway private tour

Bailey with her dog rex at the Peyto Lake Lookout
Peyto Lake!
Mistaya-Canyon-on-the-Icefields-Parkway-in-summer
Mistaya Canyon!

We love hopping on tours and meeting new people, but sometimes it’s nice to go on your own private tour, too! This Icefields Parkway private tour is a pretty awesome way to experience the world-famous Icefields Parkway, with stops at major Banff highlights like beautiful Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Bow Lake, Bow Summit, Peyto Lake, and Mistaya Canyon.

We got to explore the Columbia Icefields Discovery Center, where we learned about the glaciers for which the Icefields Parkway is named. In our opinion, it’s one of the major highlights of the area!     

One of the best parts about this particular tour is that it’s a private experience, so we had the opportunity to request customized stops to see the sights we wanted to see or maybe spend a little extra time in some places.

The tour picks up from Calgary or Banff (in their lovely comfy van!) and this tour can accommodate between 2 to 14 guests, so it’s an excellent option for families or groups of friends.

Tickets for this tour vary depending on numbers, from around $691 CAD per person for smaller groups of 4 to $553 CAD per person if you’re going for max capacity. Tours are approximately 10–12 hours long, but since you aren’t doing any of the driving or worrying about logistics, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the ride in between stops.

The price includes park entrance fees and transportation, but activities like the Glacier ice walk, canoe rentals, and lunch and snacks are extra.

5. Lakes, glaciers, and thrilling peaks private tour

Scenic views at Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park
Scenic views at Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park
Bailey at the saskatchewan river crossing viewpoint
Saskatchewan River Crossing viewpoint

Personalized tours give us an amazing sense of freedom, letting us hand-pick your destinations while taking away stressful responsibilities like driving, parking, and filling up on gas! This exclusive private tour gave us a fascinating inside look into the cultural heritage of the Icefields Parkway, with some truly spectacular sights along the way!

With pickup from both Calgary and Banff, the tour itself lasts between 6 and 11 hours, depending on where you’re staying. It’s also the only open-air Jeep tour in Banff! Our guide on the trip was Jerzy, who instantly showed his knowledge by taking us to some hidden and beautiful lakes with barely any tourists around.

There’s a minimum of two guests and a maximum of three on this tour, so we really did have plenty of one-on-one time with our guide every step of the way! What we like most about their itinerary is that they emphasize getting outside and connecting with nature by taking a stroll on the trails in and around the lakes to escape crowds.

The itinerary is full of incredible locations, including the top spots like glacier-fed Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and Bow Lake, but it also adds Peyto Lake, Herbert Lake, and the Saskatchewan River Crossing.

Of course, as it’s a private tour, we could also customize it to our liking – but we decided to ask our guide for some suggestions to switch it up, as we had already been to one or two of the locations!

This is also an awesome tour to take in the wintertime, with tons of optional activities to jump in on, like ice skating on the lakes, snowshoeing, or just gazing at the towering mountains glistening with snow. Tickets start at $320 CAD per person.

6. Canadian Rockies 2-day tour

Bailey at Surprise Corner to Hoodoos Viewpoint over Banff National Park
The Banff hoodoos!
Bailey looks down at the Upper Falls at Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park
The Upper Falls is amazing!

Itching for more than one day to explore Banff and Yoho? We can’t blame you – we’ve spent countless days exploring here and still can’t get enough! This Canadian Rockies 2-Day Tour is the perfect way to explore Banff National Park, with one night spent in a comfy hotel, before checking out Yoho National Park the next day.

We think that’s a pretty awesome deal, especially considering we got to enjoy the major highlights of each park without doing the driving, parking logistics, or pre-planning! Day 1 starts off strong at Sulphur Mountain for an optional ride up the Banff Gondola (we added this on!), then onto grabbing some photos in charming downtown Banff.

The afternoon was filled with natural attractions like Bow Falls, Hoodoos Trail, and Johnston Canyon, with lots of time to explore each one before we checked in to our hotel in Banff. Day 2 is just as awesome, with stops at the Spiral Tunnels, along the Continental Divide at Emerald Lake, and the popular (for good reason!) Lake Louise and Moraine Lake on your way back to the starting point.

Park entrance fees, accommodation, and tour guides are all included in the ticket, but we did need to grab our own food in Banff and optional extras like the Banff gondola ride are an additional cost.

This tour runs year-round, so there might be slight adjustments when certain sites are closed for the winter, but they’ll sub in somewhere just as awesome, plus winter tour-goers get to try snowshoeing at Lake Louise for free! 

Ticket prices for the full package (including the gondola ride) do vary depending on the number of adults who join, with it costing $554 CAD per adult based on a group of 4.

7. Rockies 4-day tour from Calgary

A bridge in Maligne Canyon over a waterfall during summer in Jasper
Maligne Canyon
Scenic road down the Icefields Parkway in Canada
The Icefields Parkway!

We love Banff and Yoho National Parks for their epic beauty, but the slightly quieter neighboring Jasper is also packed with mountain vistas, serene lakes, and a charming small town that are well worth a visit. So, why not amp it up and jump on this 4-day Rockies tour?!

For those with the time and budget, this trip is an excellent way to explore what the Canadian Rockies is all about. Geared towards those visiting from outside of Calgary, it includes a pickup from the Calgary Airport and a hotel for the night, so visitors are taken care of from the get-go!

On Day 2, we headed towards the Rockies and sites like the Columbia Icefields and Peyto Lake, taking the Icefields Parkway all the way to Jasper, where we spent the night. Meals aren’t included in the tour, but there are plenty of amazing restaurants in Jasper to check out.

View of Maligne Lake, Canada
Maligne Lake Jasper!

Day 3 stops off at popular spots like Medicine Lake, Maligne Lake, and Maligne Canyon before making our way to postcard-worthy Banff town to explore and spend the night. On the last day, the big hitters like Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and Emerald Lake came out to play as we slowly made our way to the drop-off point.

There’s the option to end this tour in a few different locations like Banff or Calgary, or getting dropped off at the airport where you started (make sure your flight is after 9:30 pm, though!).

Tickets start at around $900 CAD per person for a group of 4 and include 3 nights’ accommodations, park admission, airport pickup, a comfy ride with an awesome driver, and a knowledgeable tour guide. Guests pay for food, snacks, and any extra activities, so remember to factor that in! 

8. Banff, Jasper, and Yoho 5-day Fairmont experience in the Rockies

A canoe at Spirit Island, Maligne Lake, Canada
Just stunning!
Scenic view of Banff National Park as seen from the Banff Gondola
Heading up Sulphur Mountain!

For those with a little extra time and want to explore at a slower pace, then this Banff, Jasper & Yoho 5-Day Tour is ideal!

After an overnight stay in Calgary, we headed off to Banff to check out popular spots like Bow Falls, Hoodoos Trail, and the beautiful Sulphur Mountain. The star of the show on this day, hands down, has to be our stay at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, also known as the “Castle of the Rockies”!

This is easily the most luxurious hotel in Banff, with two incredible pools, and a relaxing spa with 27 treatment rooms! And don’t even get us started on the views – they are literally to die for. When we were feeling peckish, there were an incredible 12 restaurants, bars, and pubs for you to choose from, including the amazing 1888 Chop House!

After a super relaxing night’s sleep, it’s time to enjoy a grand total of 6 beautiful stops on Day 3! Two of our favorite stops on this day are at Bow and Peyto Lake, as gazing out at the turquoise waters is nothing short of mesmerizing!

But hands down, our favorite moment has to be the stop at the Columbia Icefields, where we added on the Columbia Icefields Skywalk, but we also had the option of doing the Ice Explorer tour (driving out onto the glacier!).

Making our way up the incredibly scenic Icefields Parkway, we settled in for the night at Banff’s chill neighbor, Jasper. Day 4 includes 4 unique stops at some of Jasper’s most impressive attractions, which gave us time to explore Medicine Lake, Maligne Lake, and the bridges and trails deep in Maligne Canyon!

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

After heading back to Banff for the night, we ended the last day on a high note with 6 stops, including time at Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and Emerald Lake. There are a few different locations to end this tour on, and we decided to finish in Banff to give us more time to explore.

We think this tour is a pretty great option if time and budget allow it, as it really let us experience so much of the parks without feeling like we were being rushed from one place to the next. Plus, this tour starts from the airport pickup, so all you have to do is grab your flight, hop on the bus, and then the rest is taken care of! 

The price per person drops the more people who come on the tour, and you can include up to 4 people in your booking, so it’s perfect for small groups and families. For 2 adults, tickets cost $1,873 CAD per person. Accommodation for 4 nights, park admissions, tour guides, and super comfy transport are all included as well!

9. Lake Louise and Abraham Lake (winter only)

Ice bubbles at Abraham Lake
The ice bubbles at Abraham Lake are really cool to see in the winter months.
Bailey at Lake Louise in winter
Lake Louise in winter!

If you have the opportunity to visit Banff in the winter, you’re in for a real treat! This full-day tour runs exclusively during the wintertime, as this is when you’ll see Lake Louise and Abraham Lake in all their frozen majesty.

We began our day on this tour with pickup from the Banff Aspen Lodge, but the tour also picks up guests from Coast Calgary Downtown Hotel & Suites. A short time later we were standing in front of our gorgeous first destination! Lake Louise in winter really is a special sight, with the snow blanketing the mountains, the trees … everything!

While we were here, we got to visit the very famous Lake Louise Ski Resort, which really has a ton of stuff to do! On this tour, there’s the option of purchasing the basic package or the upgraded package, with the latter including a ride on the gondola at Lake Louise or the opportunity to go snow tubing. It’s great fun for the whole family and highly recommended if the budget allows.

For those who decide to opt for the basic package, you’ll have two hours to check out any of the available activities nearby, like going for a scenic walk down the nearby trails. Of course, any paid activities must be paid for separately.

Abraham Lake was our next destination, and we were delighted to find a tour that could take us to this scenic area, as it’s a little bit more remote, being just outside of the Banff National Park. That’s why it’s so great to go as part of a tour, we didn’t need to worry about parking or the driving aspect at all!

You know, when I first saw Abraham Lake in winter, I couldn’t help but think of that cute yellow fish called Bubbles from Finding Nemo! As the water freezes over, the methane bubbles get trapped in the layers of ice, which creates a unique spectacle you just have to see for yourself.

With a maximum of 25 participants per tour, this experience doesn’t feel crowded at all, and it’s a great way to see Lake Louise from Calgary if that’s where you’re based. The basic tour package costs $154 CAD per person, a great deal, not least considering the price of gas at the moment.

Why take a tour from Calgary to Banff?

The view of Banff from the top of Mt Norquay
The view of Banff from the top of the Mt Norquay Sightseeing Chairlift!

Banff is pretty accessible if you’re traveling in your own car or a rental car, but take a minute to hear us out on why you should consider hopping on a tour instead! For starters, it is way more convenient to jump on a guided tour than do all the planning yourself. 

We’ve explored just about every corner of Banff, Jasper, and Yoho, but nothing beats having someone take care of all the planning for you. Figuring out which sites to visit, opening times, driving time, hotels, entrance fees, and parking time slots can get overwhelming quickly!

It really is awesome to have someone narrow it down, especially with so many sites to choose from. Guides and drivers will also make readjustments as necessary for bad weather or unexpected closures, which is a huge bonus when life suddenly throws a wrench in our itinerary! 

Tours are also perfect for those who only have a little bit of time to explore. Only have a day to spare in Calgary? No sweat – just hop on a day tour and visit some of Banff’s highlights, like this tour to Lake Louise and the Icefields Parkway.

Got just a few days to spare? Let someone else plan them, so your time gets spent wisely at the best sites! You’ll spend zero time worrying about all the logistics and more time getting excited about setting your eyes on gorgeous lakes around Banff and mountain peaks!

Another thing we’ve noticed is some visitors are surprised at the cost of rental cars in Canada, and the associated fees, too! Rental cars can get pretty pricey, plus you’ve got to allocate funds to extras like gas, parking fees, and shuttle fees for certain areas, for example, parking at Moraine Lake is no longer available.

When you factor it all in, tours are a way more cost-effective way to visit! Guides and drivers also have a wealth of knowledge about the park (and some of the best advice for secret spots!), so it’s a great way to learn about the area from some of the folks who know it best.

And maybe the most underrated perk of all is that instead of driving yourself and looking for road signs and parking, you’ll just get to kick back, relax, and be totally mesmerized by the unbelievable scenery the Canadian Rockies are so famous for! 

Top attractions to visit in Banff on a tour from Calgary 

Bailey at the The Nancy Pauw Bridge in Banff
Bailey at the Nancy Pauw Bridge in Banff
Bailey relaxes on a rock at Lake Louise
Lake Louise!

Moraine Lake: Walk up the Rockpile trail and gaze at the powder-blue glacial lake with the Ten Peaks staggering in the background. There are so many things to do at Moraine Lake – hop in a canoe for a closer look, pick one of the many surrounding trails to explore like the Moraine Lake Lakeshore Trail or Larch Valley Trail (spectacular if you visit in autumn), or pop into the super cute Snowshoe Café!

Lake Louise: The poster child of Banff, Lake Louise has epic blue hues and towering mountains, with the iconic Fairmont Hotel overlooking it all. Canoe, hit the Lake Agnes Tea House trail, summit one of the surrounding mountains, or just hang out at the dock and take it all in! If you’re here during the colder months, there’s no doubt that Lake Louise in winter is a top-rated ski destination, so if you love to slay those slopes, definitely check it out!

Banff town: The perfect little mountain town to explore! Visit awesome bars and restaurants on Banff Ave like the Rose & Crown, get a blast from the past at the Banff Park Museum, or enjoy a brew with a view at the Three Bears Brewery and Restaurant.

Icefields Parkway: Consistently ranked as one of the most scenic drives in the world, the Icefields Parkway offers 232 km (144 miles) of amazing views with scenic spots like Athabasca Falls and Peyto Lake. And don’t forget about the jaw-dropping views at the Athabasca Glacier and Columbia Icefield to check out along the way! 

Yoho National Park: A Rockies favorite, Yoho National Park will spoil you with beautiful lakes, waterfalls, towering mountains, and over 400 km (248 miles) of trails ranging from easy strolls through alpine forests to challenging hikes up mountain summits.  

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!

Daniel and Bailey pose for a photo in the Rocky Mountains of Canada
Thanks for reading!

I really hope that our guide to the best tours in Banff from Calgary has given you some fresh ideas for planning your next trip! The Canadian Rockies will always hold a special place in our hearts, and I’m sure they will for you too.

Feel free to leave a comment below and let us know what you’ll be getting up to when you’re over here! We’ve also included three more blogs below that we think will be helpful for your journey. Safe travels!

25 Absolute BEST Things to do in Calgary in Summer

5 BEST Moraine Lake Tours from Calgary to See All the Highlights!

8 BEST Banff Bus Tours (So You Don’t Have to Drive!)